Stories » Sons Of Kemet 'Your Queen Is A Reptile' makes COMPLEX '10 essential jazz albums by london musicians'

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Sons Of Kemet 'Your Queen Is A Reptile' makes COMPLEX '10 essential jazz albums by london musicians'

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Chances are, at some point in the last year, you've heard, seen or read something about the new wave of UK jazz. Across the capital and beyond, a new generation of trumpet players, saxophonists and singers have revolutionised what we think of as jazz and how we think about the people who listen to it. No longer the preserve of older, middle-class audiences, London jazz embraces its youth, drawing on grime, dub, reggae, bashment, Afrobeats and more to create a vital new sound.

The response has been extraordinary, with acts such as Kamaal Williams landing Top 10 hits and Ezra Collective hitting the top of BBC Radio 1's Hype Charts. Whether it's Sons Of Kemet at the Mercurys, Moses Boyd's residency on BBC Radio 1Xtra or any of the countless shows that the UK's best talents have been playing  across London and beyond, it's been hard to avoid the UK jazz revolution. Praised for its accessibility, for new listeners wanting to break into the scene, there's still a daunting amount of music to digest. That's no fault of the musicians making it-most of whom have been laying the foundations of today's renaissance since their early teens-it's just the nature of jazz, with bands and individual members constantly working on new projects. 

2019 looks set to be the scene's biggest year yet, so we decided to collate the 10 essential London jazz albums to serve as a primer on the sound and its origins. 

Sons Of Kemet are the elder statesmen of London jazz. Made up of drummers Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick, tuba player Theon Cross-who also plays in Kano's live band-and saxophonist/bandleader Shabaka Hutchings, the group are still in their thirties but have been making some of the most pioneering music in London-both together and on their own-for almost a decade. Your Queen Is A Reptile earned the group a Mercury nomination and a place on the iconic jazz label Impulse! Records.

Made up of a series of bombastic, high-energy tracks, each named after an alternative black queen-i.e. "My Queen Is Harriet Tubman"-it's a takedown of colonialism and monarchy that still slaps, despite the heavy subject matter. Jungle icon, Congo Natty pops up on "My Queen Is Mamie Phipps Clark" to lend some psychedelic dub flavour that will blow your speakers apart.
Image via Pierrick Guidou

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