- Remy Jude
Celebrated young jazz/hip hop artist ALFA MIST hits Kitchen Street on a wild and windy evening. Having moved on from the darkly chilled hip hop of 2015 EP Nocturne to the jazzier territory of 2017’s Antiphon, such is his growing reputation that the tempestuous weather fails to deter a sizeable crowd.
Local poet and rapper REMY JUDE delivers his verse in a relaxed flow, pacing the stage, an intensity to his gaze, and mixes up the personal (Miss Her, about his mother) with social commentary (“The world is better when you sit and listen,” and Lest We Forget). To the side of the stage Moon is dropping some very cool beats for Jude to wax over (think Andy Compton/Amp Fiddler), before some heavy dub really gets the crowd moving. Anya Marsh joins Jude for a couple of numbers, adding a lovely counterpoint to his spoken delivery to end a well received set that definitely puts him in the ‘one to watch’ category.
Alfa Mist eases himself into position behind the keyboard and without preamble the band slide into the chilled-out Intro from Nocturne; a relaxed keyboard motif, drums and bass immediately lock tight before a muted trumpet kicks in. It’s the only foray into Mist’s earlier work, the rest of the set is taken exclusively from Antiphon. The album has been heralded as something of a contemporary jazz masterpiece, a progression to a more abstract expression of the themes of alienation, insomnia and depression covered in Nocturne.
Here, in the intimate confines of Kitchen Street, the band begin to cook on Kyoki. Gaspar Sena’s drumming is unflashy but totally on it, Kaya Thomas-Dyke’s bass bounces fluidly along, providing a platform for spectacular solo contributions from Johnny Woodham (Trumpet) and Jamie Leeming (Guitar). Mist himself rounds things off with an exquisite keyboard passage, leaving us in a state of anticipation, eagerly awaiting more from each musician.
Mist’s rapping on 7th October is top notch, the crowd all smiles and gentle movement as the band stay in the groove before the funky keyboard intro of Errors ushers in a beautiful, smouldering Woodham trumpet solo. A few of the crowd can be seen enjoying an eye’s-closed meditation during this one.
Bass player Thomas-Dyke (who contributes vocals on Nocturne, and also the album artwork for Antiphon) steps up to the mic for the exquisite Breathe. She delivers a spine-tingling vocal performance that carries the melody over Sena’s pattering, delicate drum patterns, her phrasing crystal clear, a classic performance that could have been plucked from a New York speakeasy in the 40s. The song’s sudden switch to a cinematic outro is typical of the mood changes that Mist effortlessly seems to weave into the fabric of the album, and which this ensemble have no trouble presenting live.
There are a few older jazz heads in the crowd, sagely nodding in approval at this new kid on the block whose music manages to feel both classic and contemporary at the same time, its hip hop sensibility sitting easily alongside its jazz vibe. However, it’s good to see such a predominantly young audience, an audience who clearly know – and are enthralled by – the music, and who applaud each sublime solo as the band play us out with the funky riff of Brian and the uplifting optimism of Potential.
Mist’s music may reflect his introspective character but is delivered here with a masterful technique and a joyful feel that elevates the spirit.