Whatever you think of when you hear the word “jazz” should go right out the window before you start listening to Nérija because what you’ll hear is redefining what jazz is in our global, interconnected culture.
The London-based septet is composed of Nubya Garcia (tenor saxophone), Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (alto saxophone), Rosie Turton (trombone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Lizy Exell (drums) and Rio Kai (bass), and each member has their own separately lauded projects (including Kokoroko, who we’ve previously covered).
On their first self-titled EP, the group show off a range from delicate, interwoven melodies to upbeat, free-spirited jams (and this is all just on the track “Valleys”). Elements of Dixieland, Afrobeat, and classic big band sounds erupt through the various tempo and style shifts the group effortlessly takes as they play with and off each other.
On their latest single, “Riverfest”, from their upcoming debut album Blume, the horns roll and flow like moving water, over sly, toe-tapping drumming and starry guitar lines. There’s a warm, timeless air to the song, that takes turns towards more understated, bass-driven sections before coming back up for air.
For anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a fan of jazz, you may be surprised to find yourself drawn into the incredibly accessible, yet no less skilled songwriting and playing of Nérija. Listen to a couple of their tracks below and look out for Blume on August 2nd.