Soweto Kinch - B Is For Birmingham

Multi-award wining alto saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch burst on to the jazz scene in 2003 when his album Conversations With The Unseen was released. It marked an updated twenty first century consciousness for a new generation of young black British jazz musicians who were in the process of identifying their own musical identity. The Birmingham-based player openly name checked and drew upon the pre-Windrush generation and beyond of jazz musicians who played in British clubs and dance halls in the 1930s and 40s.

The world of Ken “Snakehips” Johnson, and Coleridge Goode suddenly did not seem so distant. Joe Harriott, only known to a hip few, was now an aural role model. Since his groundbreaking debut and win at the Montreux jazz festival world saxophone competition and endorsement by jamming pal Wynton Marsalis, Soweto has became known internationally for his postbop style, and his rapping, particularly for the deliciously ingenious rap, ‘Jazz Planet’. For some time he has been preparing for a new two part follow up to Conversations. The first instalment of his two-part urban soundscape is out this month, the second next year. Interview: Andy Robson Soweto Kinch - B Is For Birmingham
The press guy sticks his head round the door. “All done guys? Some bloke called Quincy Jones needs the room.” “Who he?” says Soweto Kinch. “Is his name on the door?” As he speaks he narrows his eyes, trying to look mean. It’s “trying” because, well, Soweto, with all due respect, is a bit of a pussycat. Under pressure, this relaxed, gentle eyed young man who defaults easily to a laugh on any and every subject, would, frankly, struggle to knock the skin off his custard. Which of course is not meant to be the image at all. Listen to the coruscating alto runs or the fierce bragging of his raps, check out the locales of his upbringing.

Born in Ladbroke Grove, west London, of Jamaican and Barbadian parents and raised in B19, the urban hot house that is Newtown and Lozells in Birmingham. They are the kind of areas that strike fear and dread into Daily Mail readers and the stereotype predestined for Kinch should be that of the righteously angry, hoodie wearing, heat packing, bling-laden yoof of indescribable inarticulacy. Indeed, the very title of his new album, A Life In The Day Of B19: Tales Of The Tower Block conjures up images of concrete walk ways in the sky, graffiti-scrawled walls, and lives lost behind anonymous front doors.

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