Nérija Blume Domino Records
Part of the illustrious alumni that surrounds London project Tomorrow’s Warriors, Nérija sit at the forefront of innovation within modern UK jazz. A seven-person (mostly women) group who blend individual passions with a commitment to the unified voice, their debut album Blume is an astonishing display of technical virtuosity, rhythmic flair and emotional kick.
Opening piece Nascence seems to ooze itself out of the speakers, a languid display of texture and mood. Nérija refuse to let this settle, however. Last Straw has a disciplined groove, utilising the club culture influences of Lizy Exell (drums) and Rio Kai (bass). The title track is propelled by those sighing, somnambulist chords, voiced superbly by the trailblazing Cassie Kinoshi, while Swift has a raw, unfettered funk, leaning on Shirley Tetteh’s jagged guitar. Riverfest is a joyous salute from this intimately unified ensemble, while Nubya Garcia’s tenor saxophone – now so instantly recognisable – pervades the bold, stirring Unbound.
Indeed, it’s the way Blume can spiral out into fantastic realms while continually returning to the source that makes the record so fascinating. Recorded on a floating studio by the Isle of Dogs with producer Kwes at the controls, Nérija’s debut is undoubtedly one of the most contagious, perplexing and inspired UK jazz releases to come your way in 2019.