Maisha raise Afro-futurist spirits at Ghost Notes

Maishaonline

Scrolling down the posts on Facebook, from people pleading for spare tickets, you get a sense of just how in-demand tonight’s headliners really are. This evening, Londoners from all over, converge on Peckham’s newest venue, Ghost Notes, for the launch of There Is A Place, the highly anticipated debut album from South London seven-piece, Maisha, and you’d go as far as to say, it’s a roadblock. Led by drummer and composer Jake Long, Maisha’s brand of long-form, spiritual jazz has further broadened the lexicon of the UK’s well-documented rising jazz movement and sought to enthuse its more meditative and outernational roots.

Following the release of the group’s expansive live EP Welcome To A New Welcome on Jazz Re:Freshed in 2016, Maisha went on to open the trailblazing nine-track We Out Here compilation before joining back up with Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood imprint for their debut full-length LP. Alongside an impressively-sized guest chamber ensemble, Long pulls in a heavy cast of UK jazz luminaries including guitarist Shirley Tetteh and multi-reedist Nubya Garcia, and it's Garcia whose tender and journeying flute intro that calms the bustling room to a hush. The group channel the delicacy and dynamism of Pharoah’s ‘Thembi’ on the album’s title track and on ‘Osiris’, their tribute to Alice Coltrane’s ‘Journey In...’, yet tactfully balance it alongside the rhythmic ferocity and Afro-futurist weight of fellow Tomorrow’s Warriors alumni Sons of Kemet and Ezra Collective, on ‘Eaglehurst / The Palace’.

Garcia and guest trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lidstrom’s eastern-influenced melodic phrases wander across Long’s reflective and lifting compositions that feel just that bit more thrilling with an accompanying string section, while percussion, provided by Tim Doyle and Yahael Camara-Onono, is meaningful and seeks to reconnect and give thanks to the music’s early forbearers and origins in Africa. Tetteh’s intricately crafted guitar lines dazzle throughout and Twm Dylan’s long and winding double bass riffs are greeted with ecstasy from tonight’s crowd. However, it’s clear Maisha’s genius begins and ends with Long. Not only is Long aware of its vast history, but seeks to actively engage with the legacy of spiritual jazz, and place this group of musicians in its future-facing continuum.

Fabrice Robinson

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