Live reviews

REVIEW: Tomorrow’s Warriors presents I Am Warrior at the Jazz Cafe

Binker Golden conductiing Roella Oloro (piano) and Donovan Haffner (alto)
Photo credit: © MSpictures.Mochles 
Tomorrow’s Warriors presents I Am Warrior
(Jazz Cafe, 12 January 2019. Review by Leah Williams.) 

It is no exaggeration to say that Tomorrow’s Warriors has almost single-handedly changed the face of contemporary jazz across London and beyond. Founders Janine Irons and Gary Crosby set up the music charity in 1991 with a mission to improve diversity and equality in jazz by offering tuition, support and opportunity to musicians of all ethnicities, genders and backgrounds. The pioneering artist development programme has since seen a plethora of extraordinary talent take the jazz world by storm.

The likes of Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia and Femi Koleoso are all making waves in the music world – and that’s just the beginning of the list. As Soweto Kinch said while introducing the evening: “I could spend all night telling you about the incredible musicians who’ve passed through Tomorrow’s Warriors and the impact they’ve gone on to have.”

Soweto Kinch
Photo credit: © MSpictures.Mochles
Sunday jam sessions at the Jazz Cafe were the foundation of Tomorrow’s Warriors and where many of its biggest names would have first begun cutting their teeth. So for this special celebration of the Warriors movement, and to raise funds to keep the programme running, current young Warriors joined some of these illustrious alumni back on the stage where it all began.

The pieces played were specially written for the concert and #IAmWarrior fundraising campaign by seven of the Warriors’ well-known ex-students: singer Zara McFarlane, guitarist Shirley Tetteh, pianist Peter Edwards, saxophonists Soweto Kinch, Binker Golding and Cassie Kinoshi, and trumpeter Mark Crown.

The result was a fantastic breadth of creativity and dynamism showcasing both the different musical voices of these Warriors alumni and the exciting talent emerging from its current cohort. Pieces ranged in complexity, focus and style but the young musicians rose to the challenge of both the music and the setting, showing how effective this development programme is and why it is so important for the future jazz scene.

Joe Bristow
Photo credit: © MSpictures.Mochles
One of the highlights had to be Shirley Tetteh’s Sutures, which brought her distinctive style of contemporary jazz to the fore with vocals and instruments coming together in an intricately woven piece of storytelling. Binker Golding’s rapport with the young musicians, many of whom he teaches at Tomorrow’s Warriors, also shone through in his tune Exquisite Green Revisited that treated us to some of the high-octane energy Binker’s music is known for, with syncopated blasts across a lyrical soundscape keeping the musicians and audience on their toes.

Zara McFarlane
Photo credit: © MSpictures.Mochles
After the main concert the music continued with a jam session, with ever more Warriors’ alumni appearing and other young musicians given the chance to shine on stage. An en masse, inter-generational version of Caravan concluded the evening in an appropriately celebratory fashion, leaving the audience full of the positive vibes that epitomise the Warriors’ way.

Imagining a London jazz scene without the many incredible talents that have been nurtured by Tomorrow’s Warriors is almost inconceivable and the next generations of young artists are relying on the programme for their development and future careers.

Binker Golding
Photo credit: © MSpictures.Mochles
The current Warriors house band is:

Ife Ogunjobi – trumpet
Joe Bristow – trombone
Donovan Haffner – alto saxophone
Maddy Coombs – tenor saxophone
Cara Crosby-Irons – vocals
Loucin Moskofian – vocals
Roella Oloro – piano
Tommy Remon – guitar
Isobella Burnham – bass guitar
Hamish Moore – double bass
Zoe Pascal – drums

Leah Williams is a freelance journalist and editor working across many different sectors and has been a regular reviewer and feature writer for LJN since 2016.

LINK: Donations to Tomorrow’s Warriors I Am A Warrior campaign

Categories: Live reviews

1 reply »

  1. Nice piece and laudable sentiment but sorry what you say at the beginning is an exaggeration.

    No one has ''single-handedly changed the face of contemporary jazz across London and beyond''.

    Many people instead have contributed, the whole upsurge is arrived at via a collective endeavour: chief among them the individual artists who often adhere to no overall 'school' and have to plough on when funding dries up or promoters lose interest; and then there are the small labels run by driven individuals; promoters big and small in clubs and concert halls famous and not so famous are also vital and do not often get known beyond their grassroots work; and not to forget the many educators in a range of music colleges; plus the advocates in the media and behind the scenes in the arts community who make a difference.

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