The New Emancipation is Soweto Kinch's third album, arriving four years after the British saxophonist released A Life in the Day of B19, an ambitious concept album sub-titled Tales of the Tower Block. It finds Kinch continuing to explore a variety of different musical styles, from jazz to hip hop via neo-soul, vocal sketches and so on, sometimes mixing approaches within a single song.
An Ancient Worksong opens proceedings like a mixture of Oliver Nelson and Sun Ra, Kinch's warm alto playing set against a chorus of reeds played by Byron Wallen, Shabaka Hutchings and Harry Brown. Its brief duration climaxes with the leader's theatrical declaration seeming more like a prologue to Trying to Be a Star, which follows close on its heels. Kinch transforms into soulful broken-beat mode, with the vocal production here suggesting 4hero circa their classic Two Pages period.
A People With No Past is a breathless race of a song. During its seven-minute length Kinch delivers a fast-paced, post-bop series of solos against Justin Brown's engaging flurry of drums and fine solos from guitarist Femi Temowo. The song's an exhilarating ride, full of melody and movement, energy and texture. Importantly it makes for a welcome contrast to the varied styles that surround it.
Paris Heights is a sketch satirising exploitative debt collectors, unscrupulous employers and their victims; but it seems overextended at nearly eight minutes. Suspended Adolescence comes as a relief with engaging melodies and imaginative solos. Wallen's spacious, beautifully-paced trumpet and characteristically creative technique is a particular delight.
The New Emancipation is a tremendously energetic set that once again sees this celebrated British artist ambitiously exploring a variety of contemporary and classic styles. It's difficult to think of anyone currently able to produce a more convincing and engaging mix than Soweto Kinch.
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