Album reviews

Tomorrow’s Warriors – ‘I AM WARRIOR’

Tomorrow’s Warriors – I AM WARRIOR
(Limited Edition Double Vinyl Album from Tomorrow’s Warriors. Album review by Adam Sieff)

I AM WARRIOR marks the 30th anniversary of Gary Crosby and Janine Irons’ vitally important and hugely influential jazz development organisation that has contributed so much to jazz music in the UK and beyond. I AM WARRIOR is their rallying cry and is also the title of a double vinyl album of specially commissioned music by Tomorrow’s Warriors alumni, performed by the new generation of Young Warrior musicians, with all proceeds going back to keeping the charity’s lights on and enabling young musicians to access the programme free of charge.

I am Warrior album cover

Recorded over three shows between 2019-21 at Camden Town’s Jazz Café (the venue where their weekly Sunday jam sessions started), there are sixteen tracks (with another four bonus tracks on the digital download) of Warriors collaborative excellence here. The repertoire is written by a who’s who of high-flying Warriors: Denys Baptiste, Sheila Maurice-Grey, Peter Edwards, Binker Golding, Camilla George, Mark Crown, Zara McFarlane, Rosie Turton, Soweto Kinch, Shirley Tetteh, Cherise Adams-Burnett, Mark Kavuma, Cassie Kinoshi, Femi Koleoso, Nathaniel Facey and Benjamin Burrell, practically all of whom perform alongside the young musicians in a variety of exciting horn led lineups.

The quality of the arrangements and playing throughout is extremely high across the board. There are a number of tracks that really stand out, although there’s nothing here that didn’t make it on merit. One highlight is Peter Edwards’ elegantly swinging The Warrior Way, while Camilla George’s terrific Emem takes off with rewarding solos and interplay. Rosie Turton’s warm South African flavoured Joyful Sound is wonderful and Binker Golding reworks his composition Exquisite She-Green (here called Exquisite Green Revisited) with a testing arrangement that the young Warriors deliver with finesse. The four downloadable bonus tracks are all well up to the general standard, Cassie Kinoshi’s Hummingbird in particular is mysterious and beautiful.

The vocal tracks are an important ingredient, especially Denys Baptiste’s deeply grooving Warriors Rise As One featuring Cara Crosby-Irons and Loucin Moskofian as well as Zara McFarlane’s masterful flag waver I Am Warrior.

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The whole album works well played through from start to finish as the shared musical DNA holds everything together. An excellent mix by Sonny Johns certainly helps things.

There are too many young musicians to mention individually and it doesn’t seem fair to pick out a few because they are all worthy of your attention. I’m sure that many will become fully fledged Warriors and pass on their knowledge and passion for jazz music to the next generation, keeping that ‘Each One, Teach One’ ethos going. In the meantime, buy this album, enjoy the music and know you’re helping Gary, Janine and the team ‘inspire, foster and grow a vibrant community of artists, audiences and leaders who together will transform the lives of future generations by increasing opportunity, diversity and excellence in and through jazz’.

LINK: I AM WARRIOR on Bandcamp

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