Boomkat Product Review:
Captivating, heads-down testament to UK jazz scene leader Emma-Jean Thackray, starring Soweto Kinch.
At the head of her septet ensemble, Emma-Jean throws down two swaggering deep burners lead by her woozy trumpet, entwined with Soweto Kinch’s saxophone counterlines and driven by dual drummers. The two parts depict the London-based Yorkshire lass on the ascendent, drawing on formative Taoist philosophy in-the-moment for a pair of one-off recordings that preceded her acclaimed debut album, ‘Yellow’ of 2021 and this year’s exemplary 12” with Talking Therapy Ensemble.
Recorded straight-to-disc at Artone’s vintage recording studio in Haarlem, The Netherlands, ‘Um Yang 음 양’ borrows from the Korean Taoist iteration of Ying & Yang for a harmonious balance of rhythm and melody, groove and free improvisation, in pursuit of classic modes. ‘Um’ sees her trumpet alloyed with Kinch’s sax and the cool polyrhythmic swinge of her dual drummers, Dwayne Kilvington and Dougal Taylor, plus free congas by Crispin Robinson, knitting a heads-down, earthy lattice for her vocals to weave across. ’Yang’ on the other hand, is where she and the septet cuts more sozzled but disciplined. A cacophonous intro gives way a rolling Afrobeat suss and the wickedly groggy sousaphone of Ben Kelly, prompting comparisons with a New Orleans marching band let loose in London. No overdubs or edits, it’s proof, where needed, that Emma-Jean is one of a kind in the current field.