Alfa Mist – On My Ones
(Sekito SEKITO007. Download/Vinyl Album Review by Adam Sieff)
This release comes as something of a surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t have. As a keyboardist and producer, Alfa Mist has had a productive few years making a number of significant contributions to the new London jazz scene. In particular, his work with drummer Yussef Dayes, especially Love is the Message (also featuring guitarist Mansur Brown), the collaborations with Tom Misch and Jordon Rakei, the release of his excellent Structuralism album last year and a headline QEH Meltdown show all laying the foundations to a strong and vibrant career.
As the title suggests, On My Ones is a set of six solo acoustic piano pieces, released as a digital EP and on 10” vinyl, which is the ideal format here. It’s good to see the artist stepping back from production and just playing piano. As he says: “When it’s just you and the piano you can’t really hide behind anything or mask your thoughts. On My Ones is an honest conversation with myself. Although it’s largely improvised, I wouldn’t call it solely a jazz project. I feel like all the compositions come from different places.” It’s brave too, and it works.
There’s an air of melancholy weighing over the proceedings and the music feels as if it could have been recorded in late autumn (which may very well have been the case). The songs are kept short, none longer than four and a half minutes (the shortest is only 2:18). But that’s to their benefit, as each piece sets out all it needs to without outstaying its welcome. High Risk, the opening track, has a brooding, almost rumbling feel. The following Sorry and 14 share a similar rhythm pattern but differ in tone, with the latter’s more positive and hopeful melody. Next is Newham Village (the artist is a Newham boy), with a wistful and a bittersweet melody that’s just out of reach. Amigo is next, but the best may well be the last, as Withered, a song about loss, is probably the most realised of all the compositions here.
A well respected jazz artist once told me that a particular young player could become a great musician if he could only unlearn what he had been taught at music college. As a self-taught pianist, Alfa Mist conveys emotion through this music more positively than many more highly trained musicians I have heard. And that’s really what it’s all about.
3 March Earth, London
4 March Earth, London
5 March SWX, Bristol
6 March Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
7 March SWG3, Glasgow