Two words for you: drums and keys. That’s all London duo Yussef Kamaal need to create some of the most intense and ripplingly creative live shows in town. Since 2007, drummer Yussef Dayes and keyboardist/producer Kamaal Williams have been taking to the stage with little more than a couple of chord progressions in the bag. The results are so compelling and contemporary, the pair were signed to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood imprint after just a 20-minute live set.
Damn right we’re talking about jazz. But jazz that’s cooking in the bass-saturated ambience of London’s pirate radio. Classic ‘70s jazz funk influenced by the likes of Herbie Hancock and Mahavishnu Orchestra flows in new channels shaped by modern broken beat. They namecheck both the piano playing of Thelonious Monk and the drum programming of Bugz In The Attic's Kaidi Tatham.
Released at the end of 2016, Yussef Kamaal’s debut album Black Focus was recorded with Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics with a commitment to making it all about the flow. Here you can hear the duo play one of the tracks from the LP - Strings of Light, with its wash of keys over Afrobeats. Plus a bonus groove made up on the hoof during soundcheck at a gig in Italy. This could just be the start of a new, bass-indebted era for London jazz.
Get to know Yussef Kamaal a little better and check out exclusive performances of Strings Of Light (from 03:00) and Try Not To Talk To Me If You Can Help It! (10:20).