LIVE: Moses Boyd: live from the Barbican

In another superb edition to the Barbican series, the jazz drummer and orchestrator who's renowned for his blistering and balanced playing style exacts this energy in a show that passed all too quickly.
Posted: 20 April 2021 Words: Wes Foster

The Barbican return with yet another startling set; their live streams have found a format that not just creates live events, but also manages to bring in a more interesting introduction to the artists themselves with small interviews or introductory pieces. Through this, they create an intimacy in a different way to the usual live setting: through the artist speaking directly to the viewer, conversing about their practice rather than reacting to an audience as they may in the usual settings. For jazz and classical musicians especially, this has meant that their performance has found a new audience, but also offers a much greater access point to their music, which can at times be more difficult to approach.

Moses Boyd is a jazz drummer and orchestrator who has become known for a blistering playing style and his involvement across multiple groups (as well as those he leads) that share this inimitable style, even when taking different approaches. In part, this comes from taking inspiration from a variety of spaces and this can be heard in the way that his drumming is semi non-traditional to jazz, giving It this sense that there is more weight behind his playing. It is impressive to watch not just because of the physicality, but also for how thorough it is compositionally.

Compositions flow into one another, but unlike most other jazz, do not flow from one another. This makes his music seem closer to traditional songwriting, but also allows the gig to flow past more gently. This is in a good way, I hasten to add because it means that the breaking up of these ‘chapters’ creates real definition in the playing, something that instrumental music can be a more difficult facet.

Playing through tracks from last year’s album, Dark Matterhe perfectly balances quiet, soft playing with harsher barrages. It is exactly this energy that makes the show pass all too quickly. Despite there being no audience present, he manages to control a flow and feel extremely well, and judge superbly the overarching narrative of the set, despite it being more abstract than a normal gig. Although this is a superb introduction to his playing and music, I can only imagine how much more this would be in a small jazz club instead, where the playing has a real tangible connection to an audience.

To hear more from Moses Boyd, click here.

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