Jazz and Jazz-ish \\ Eight acts you need to know in 2018

At the start of 2017, we predicted that you’d be listening to Joe Armon-Jones, Poppy Ajudha and Jaimie Branch amongst others. In some of our tip-offs, as with Ashley Henry and Elena Pinderhughes, we were so ahead with our forecast, that it’s this year they’re dropping fresh material.

There are several artists that we’ve championed who will be breaking new ground this year. Sons of Kemet will be releasing their new album Your Queen is a Reptile on Impulse! in March, Yussef Dayes will be making a big return following the disbandment of Yussef Kamaal, and one of last year’s noted artists, Oscar Jerome, will continue to rise with his overwhelming support from BBC Radio. This is not a feature list to tell you whose breaking into the ‘big time’; these are eight artists who will be the marked newcomers by the end of the year; it doesn’t get any fresher than this. These are the artists you’ll be listening to in 2018.

\\ Puma Blue

Vocalist and guitarist Puma Blue developed an excited fan base whilst supporting Jordan Rakei on his UK tour in late 2017. A teaser for his upcoming video has received tweets of “I have never been more excited my god xx [sic]”, “*internal screaming*” as well as invitations to America; “pls come to DC so i can hug you [sic]”. We first heard Puma Blue when he released his Swum Baby EP last year; a wavy, nu-jazz record with melancholy a la Jeff Buckleyalthough he describes himself as ‘crooner-blu’. Whatever his identity, he’ll be finding some die-hard fans with arms wide open in 2018.

\\ Chris Dave

Of all the sideman-bandleader stories you’ll come across in 2018, the stepping forward of Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave will be one of the loudest. He’s one of Rolling Stone’s greatest 100 drummers of all time and has appeared on some of the most successful albums of the last two decades. Not restricted to genre boundaries, you’ll find him in the liner notes of D’angelo’s Black Messiah, Robert Glasper’s Black Radio through to Adele’s 21 and Justin Beiber’s Purpose. Dave’s purpose however, is to stun us with his black book on his debut album, Chris Dave and the Drumheadz; Anderson .Paak, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Bilal are amongst the guest collaborators. Incredibly slick with grooves far deeper than your standard, you’ll be playing this release throughout 2018.

Read our interview with Braxton Cook \\ How Julliard left me Somewhere In Between

\\ Yazmin Lacey

Vocalist Yazmin Lacey has been bubbling up throughout 2017; quite literally, she’s one of Gilles Peterson’s Future Bubblers. Her Black Moon EP dropped all too quietly; it’s thanks to selectors like DJ Gilla for spinning Yasmin Lacey in their sets that attention for the singer has crescendoed. Her voice, persuasive with rich and wistful modern soul, will be louder and travel further in 2018. Fans of Zara McFarlane and Fatima, get on this.


\\ Mansur Brown

Yussef Kamaal disbanded in 2017, with Kamaal Williams having taken over the band’s socials with his own project. Don’t think for a moment however that the unstoppable force of Yussef Dayes isn’t busy cooking up a fresh sound; Step in, Mansur Brown. The guitarist released an EP on Jazz re:freshed with his band Tri-force in 2016. It’s with Dayes however, that he’s about to make an International impact. If you’ve been following Yussef Dayes on Instagram, you’ll know; he’s been sharing short clips of studio sessions with Brown, whose licks have an insatiable chemistry with Dayes’ busy rhythms. Soulful, tight and Londonish, Mansur Brown will be a name that crops up again and again in 2018.

\\ Lava La Rue (Nine8 Collective)

MC Lava La Rue caught our attention with her audio-visual project LavaLand Part 1, released via cassette with an accompanying lyric book. Also founder of NINE8 Collective, she runs her own fashion label. The entrepenuner carries the mischief and youthfullness—her age is a mystery, although she wrote the lyrics to last year’s release at just 16 years old. Her lyrics carry the confidence of someone who recognises no limit; she sounds equally unbothered, intelligent and headstrong. She’s an alluring performer, inviting audiences to sit on the floor with her before she drops verses, staring out at the crowd as if looking at the stars. What we should realise however, is that we’re looking at a nebula.

Lava La Rue opens the EZH stage at Love Supreme Festival in London — Get tickets

\\ Noya Rao

Leeds four piece Noya Rao have marked a tilt towards neo soul for the Gondwana label. Part Hiatus Kaiyote, part BADBADNOTGOOD and part Northern charm, their debut Icaros sounds fresh with catchy hooks, putting them in a solid position for festivals this year. If you can, catch them on their UK tour this April. Rolling on a cosmic wave, we expect Noya Rao to bring Leeds into the spotlight in 2018.

\\ LayFullStop

Manchester rapper and vocalist LayFullStop has been picking up momentum inside and outside of her hometown. Championed by producer Werkha, her flow is melodic and dulcet without lacking in sharp phrasing and witticism. There’s rumours of a fresh project from LayFullStop dropping soon. Keep your eyes on this. 

\\ Ben Lamar Gay

The songwriter/composer behind our Album of 2017 Bottle Tree, Ben Lamar Gay is one of Chicago’s best kept secrets. He’s a popular cornetist in his home city’s live circuit but you’d be just as likely to catch him creating ‘interstitial ambience’ with effects pedals and his horn in place of a DJ set—if you were at the first night of CHICAGOXLONDON, you’ll know what we mean. Following some International touring as part of Makaya McCraven’s band, he releases his debut album this year on International anthem. Bottle Tree reveals the work of three fascinating minds. We can’t wait to get better acquainted.

ben lamar gay ezh bottle tree

Who are you tipping for 2018? Tweet @EZHmag

EZH | Tina Edwards