Soweto Kinch review – rap freestyles and jazz freak-outs

Ronnie Scott’s, London
The saxophonist and his trio explore the border between jazz and hip-hop, switching fluently between styles in their restless search

It’s been 15 years since alto-saxophonist Soweto Kinch breathed life into the British jazz scene with a Mercury-nominated debut album, Conversations With the Unseen. He appeared to be first in a generation of musicians who had been brought up conversant in both jazz and hip-hop, a fusion he’s pursued ever since – sometimes a little clumsily, but with a passion and a forthrightness that’s always worth hearing.

Kinch isn’t a great rapper – his verbosity on tracks such as Nostalgia suggests the influence of Saul Williams, but his scansion recalls the limerick about the young man from Japan whose poetry never would scan. He is, however, an entertaining freestyler and an ebullient MC, and it does give him a certain connection with the audience, in the same way that a previous generation of jazz instrumentalists might have dabbled in crooning.

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