Talent is something, sure, but few artists truly possess the talent for having talent, audacity and skill to create a sound that transcends genres and captivates audiences quite like Yussef Dayes. The British drummer is a leading figure in the world of nu-jazz, his distinctive vision leaves an indelible mark wherever it's heard. His performances alongside VIVID and Rising festivals last year left many astounded and solidified his reputation as an extraordinary talent.
He has reconnected with old friend and collaborator, the incomparable Tom Misch, for a new track called 'Rust', serving as the second single from his forthcoming debut album, Black Classical Music. It's a harmonious stroke of tradition colliding with cinematic innovation, a heady improvisation that, once the record button was pressed, has landed on this remarkable four minutes of evocative music.
Released through Gilles Peterson's revered Brownswood Recordings in collaboration with Dayes' own Cashmere Thoughts record label, the single serves as a testament to the seamless fusion of his and Misch's respective styles. It draws inspiration from Dayes' previous project, the acclaimed Black Focus, created in collaboration with Kamaal Williams. The track showcases Dayes' mastery of percussion, with a sultry and infectious rhythm that harks back to the iconic Pink Panther era.
Present at the embryonic stage of the explosive South London jazz scene and obviously a master of his instrument, Dayes' carefully curated drumming has provided character, style, and immeasurable contributions to the landscape. In 2016, he was heard for the first time by many as part of United Vibrations, an unconventional act that fused Afro-beat with forward-glancing jazz and rock. That same year brought the release of Black Focus, a jazz-funk collaboration with Kamaal Williams under the name Yussef Kamaal. In 2020, he issued What Kinda Music with Misch for Blue Note. In February 2021, the Yussef Dayes Trio released the live Welcome To The Hills. In September 2022, The Yussef Dayes Experience: Live At Joshua Tree EP appeared on the Brownswood label.
The carefully crafted drumming, a hallmark of Dayes' contributions to the UK jazz scene, weaves an intricate tapestry of sound. Subtle tom accents add intrigue, while well-executed fills strike a delicate balance between restraint and expression. Tom Misch's bass lines intertwine seamlessly, enriching the composition and complementing Dayes' musical vision.
Dayes will be headlining at London's Royal Albert Hall on October 12, following the release of his album a month prior, deservedly taking his place among the ranks of star-studded performers who have appeared at the iconic venue over the past century. Black Classical Music will be brought to thrillingly vivid life within the storied surroundings. At a hefty 19 tracks, Dayes' distinctive drum licks and Rocco Palladino's bass are the sturdy anchors at every turn, aided by Charlie Stacey (keys/synths), Venna (saxophone), Alexander Bourt (percussion), and a whole host of honorable features, including Chronixx, Masego, Jamilah Barry, Tom Misch, Elijah Fox, Shabaka Hutchings, Miles James, Sheila Maurice Grey, Nathaniel Cross, Theon Cross, and the Chineke! Orchestra—the first professional orchestra in Europe to be made up of a majority of Black and ethnically diverse musicians. Centered around themes of family and legacy, the record is a journey of healing and spirituality.
Dayes details the upcoming album in his own words; “What is jazz? Where did the word derive from?Birthed in New Orleans, born in the belly of the Mississippi River, rooted in the gumbo pot of the Caribbean, South American culture & African rituals. Continuing a lineage of Miles Davis, Rahssan Roland kirk, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong ~ music that is forever evolving & limitless in its potential. The groove, it’s feeling, the compositions, the spontaneity, with a love for family, the discipline & dedication in maintaining the very high bar set by the pantheon of Black Classical Musicians. Chasing the rhythm of drums that imitated one’s heartbeat, the melodies for the mind and spirit, the bass for the core. A Regal sound for this body of music.”
Black Classical Music out September 8
(Watch this space for an update on the vinyl release)