Tomorrow’s Warriors: I Am Warrior

Recorded at London's Jazz Café, Tomorrow's Warriors help paint a picture of widespread jazz fluency among young British musicians

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The first generation of musicians represented by bassist Gary Crosby’s Jazz Warriors emerged in the 1980s and 90s. This double album, issued as a limited-edition vinyl but available to buy as a download, showcases the most recent one to be fostered by Crosby and partner Janine Irons’ London-based jazz education and mentoring organisation. It was recorded at three gigs between 2019 and 2021 at The Jazz Café in Camden.

The programme is an inventory of various post-50s idioms in and out of jazz including hard bop, modal jazz, soul jazz and reggae. If sticking close to its influences, it’s all very ably performed with generally strong soloing. The set opens with Mark Crowns’ The Fighter, a dynamic Messengers-style vibe, before Peter Edwards’ modal The Warrior Way pulses along over an urgent rimshot beat.

Among other examples, Zara McFarlane’s reggae groove I Am Warrior (also a single release) is lifted by its vocal appeal, more obviously invoking jazz in a scatting sequence. Soweto Kinch’s The Change is energised by the way the composer tears into it, as if illustrating what lies off familiar paths while Emem (Peace), Camilla George’s saxophone feature, revives after seeming to run out of puff halfway through.

Denys Baptiste’s Warriors Rise As One is a vocal piece with its heart and soul in the right place, and Mark Kavuma’s We Warriors, sounding like Coltrane’s 1961 Spiritual, has Allexa Nava’s soprano saxophone meditating for three-quarters of its length alongside Jonah Grimbly’s keyboard impressions before they ride into the sunset.

The bands comprise around a dozen players each, a lot of them directed by Binker Golding. Four bonus tracks by Cassie Kinoshi, Benjamin Burrell, Nathaniel Facey, and Femi Koleoso can be downloaded. Overall, it’s another example of how accomplished jazz playing seems to have become almost second nature among young musicians in the UK.

Discography
The Fighter; The Warrior Way; Exquisite Green Revisited; I Am Warrior; Sutures; The Change; Hear Me; Emem (Peace); Joyful Sound; Warriors Rise As One; Like You Said; We Warriors (93.33 including DL bonus tracks)
Cara Crosby-Irons, Cherise, Loucin Moskofian (v); Soweto Kinch, Donovan Haffner (as); Maddy Coombs (ts); Ife Ogunjobi, Sheila Maurice-Grey (t); Joe Bristow (tb); Jonah Grimbly, Roella Oloro (kyb); Shirley Tetteh (g); Hamish Moore, Amy Gadiaga, Isobella Burnham (b); Binker Golding (MD, ts); Sultan Stevenson (MD, kyb); and others. London, 2019-2021.
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