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Part of the diverse and electrifying twenty-first century London jazz scene, drummer/composer Jas Kayser makes her leader debut with Jas 5ive, the latest in UK label Jazz re:freshed’s series of disks that introduce exceptional young talent to the world outside of London clubs. Unsurprisingly for a drummer, Kayser emphasizes groove in her music, adroitly blending funk, hard bop and Afrobeat to keep the rhythms danceable and at a boil. None of it’s at the expense of tunes, however. Check the closely harmonized horn lines of “Dream,” as saxophonists Giacomo Smith and Mark Hurrell lay down the melody over a glistening web of guitar and rhythm lines, or the way axeman Jamie Leeming acts as percussive counterpoint to Kayser’s wash of cymbals on “Jamie’s Blues.” Rapper Aalvk joins in for “Half-Race Face,” a moody throb of a song that combines African melody, jazz funk fusion and Christos Stylianides’ freeform trumpet solo – it’s like Billy Cobham jamming with the Kuti family. Kayser brings the EP to a close with the appropriately titled “Stupid On the Beat,” alternating caffeinated congas and minimalist guitar riffs for a song that gives you frequent breathers as it rachets up your blood pressure. With the strengths displayed on Jas 5ive, it won’t be long before Kayser makes her mark on larger labels and the wider world.
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