Published Nov 04, 2016As a debut, Black Focus is dope. Inspired by '70s jazz/fusion, it's tightly constructed and conceived across 10 tracks; UK-based percussionist Yussef Dayes and keyboardist Kamaal Williams know jazz and its progenitors, and are able to transform this knowledge into a dexterous take on the genre.
Weaving between broken beats, synth swirls and brassy ambiance, the project is firmly new wave, but with callbacks to names like Herbie Hancock and Joe Harriott and references to hip-hop, post-bop and UK grime. A track like "Lowrider" is pure vamp energy, "Mansur's Message" features bottom-heavy funk without overstaying its welcome, "Strings of Light" bubbles with notes of jungle and the sonic expanse of "O.G." hums with a delightfully frenetic energy.
Much has been said about jazz in the new millennium, and alongside names like Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus and Robert Glasper, Yussef Kamaal should now be considered in that conversation. (Brownswood)