More and more jazz-influenced artists are picking up on the spiritual jazz tradition, adding to it more and more elements from a number of musical genres. That does not necessarily have to be a big leap since spiritual jazz leaves a lot of open musical space for such additions. It all depends how inspired and imaginative these modern additions are.
New London, England-based quartet Qwalia, led by drummer Yusuf Ahmed offer such a proposition on their debut Sound And Reason.
The band is assembled of musicians who play with David Byrne, Joy Crookes, Nubiyan Twist, Frank Ocean, Jordan Rakei, Sampha, Cat Stevens, and more; Yusuf is joined by Tal Janes on guitars and vocals, Ben Reed on bass and keyboardist Joseph Costi.
As Yusuf explains, “We set up altogether in one room, dimmed the lights, pressed record, and just played. We came away with over 13 hours of music, which was consolidated into three albums worth of material. The final record is mainly a result of pulling faders up or down to create space and structure out of what was already there from the live recording. The production process felt akin to a sculptor chipping away the excess stone to reveal a statue that was already there, and occasionally putting some makeup on it!”
The result, along with the spacious, often contemplative elements associated with spiritual jazz, brings some rhythmic patterns present not only in jazz but also hip-hop, funk, and with obvious inspiration, in the hands of seasoned musicians playing in the band, the results are both inventive and inspiring.