In Review: Nubiyan Twist - Freedom Fables
This will sound like the most blindingly obvious and unenlightening statement to make, but bear with me: Nubiyan Twist definitely didn’t predict that a global pandemic would prevent them from playing live shows. What I mean by that, rather than it being some frankly insane criticism about an apparent lack of medical and socio-political foresight from a collective of jazz musicians, is that this new album – Freedom Fables – is one that would so evidently flourish in a live setting, and one that was no-doubt lovingly created with such an environment in mind.
Most obviously, the two-step rhythm that shuffles its way to a euphoric build-and-drop on previously released single ‘Tittle Tattle’ is raucously fun, offering a glimpse at the potential for the same sort of joyous frenzy that contemporaries Ezra Collective muster with their ever-present show-closer ‘Juan Pablo’ (and in fairness, the kind of inescapably infectious energy that Nubiyan Twist offered up in spades on previous project ‘Jungle Run’’ and at the accompanying live shows).
Elsewhere, the band’s long standing admiration for an array of African styles is in evidence; legendary Ghanaian vocalist and Ebo Taylor protégé Pat Thomas lending a real air of highlife authority on ‘Ma Wonka’, while K.O.G are on hand to represent a newer generation of Ghanaian talent with their high-energy take on West African grooves shining through on ‘If I Know’.
That said, not everything on Freedom Fables is nearly so uptempo. Tunes like album opener ‘Morning Light’ and ‘Flow’ – featuring vocal contributions from Ria Moran and Cherise respectively – settle into a more laidback neo-soul groove, with funky basslines offering a platform for flourishes of saxophones, horns and synths. Similarly, the Ego Ella May collaboration and lead single ’24-7’ captures the band’s obvious aptitude for more sultry, soulful stylings.
As with a lot of jazz projects, this a record built on collaboration; between the numerous band members themselves of course, but also between Nubiyan Twist and the array of guests that they have invited to be part of this project. Each vocalist, each guest performer, has their own story to tell and unique ingredient to add into the mix as the project travels across continents and generations, bringing together some of the most captivating elements along the way to create an end-product that is both joyously diverse and yet at the same time entirely cohesive.