Let the beats speak \\ The rhythm-makers propelling new sounds in jazz and beyond
With live performance essential to the subsistence of almost all modern musicians, it’s unsurprising that beats have become a prominent feature of contemporary jazz. Be it an unorthodox club space or open air festival stage, few musical elements are as adaptable and penetrating as a beat. Produced acoustically or electronically, rigidly sequenced or stank face-funky, beats have the power to move us physically and emotionally. Innovators would be ill-considered to ignore today’s rhythm-makers.
An artist who exemplifies this trend among modern rhythm-makers is Louis Cole of multi-genre outfit KNOWER. Graduating from the Jazz Studies program at USC Thornton in 2009, his formal training belied his broader influences, which included Nintendo video game music, drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep. Emerging from the program as a musician of technical excellence, he followed his creative desires away from the safety net of his educational guidance. He developed the ability to play at tempo the breaks that had been sped up to form the fortified sound of UK Jungle. Such inventiveness opened the door to a world of musical possibilities, which he and vocalist Genevieve Artadi now explore with music that has been described as “crazy-cool heavy electro jazz funk progressive pops” by Japanese rapper and journalist Kazuaki Watanabe.
To this list of rhythm-makers add ‘Beat Scientist’ Makaya McCraven, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave, Daisy Palmer, Lizy Exell of Nerija, Moses Boyd, Jake Long, Maxwell Owin and Manu Delago; it becomes clear just how central beats and beat makers are to jazz-influenced music.
EZH | Joshua French