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Kazemde George - I Insist (Greenleaf)

21 October 2021

Saxophonist Kazemde George has performed alongside several certified badasses, including Jason Moran, David Murray and Solange Knowles – so you know he can play. What I Insist, his first album as a leader, proves is that he can write and lead a band as well. With a title deliberately alluding to Max Roach’s classic 1960 LP We Insist! Freedom Now Suite, the record moves through the African diaspora infusing the Americas, touching on iterations of jazz from the States, Haiti, Brazil, Cuba and Panama that often reflect his own Caribbean heritage. George and his crack band – pianist Isaac Wilson, drummer Adam Arruda, bassist Tyrone Allen II and singer Sami Stevens – pull in various rhythmic approaches, from the Cuban changüí of “Understanding” and funky soul of “Happy Birthday” to the Brazilian groove of “Things Line Up” and the swinging bop of the title track. The record isn’t presented as a sampler, however. George holds everything together through the consistency of his writing, the melodic flair of his improvisation, and his ability to execute a vision through a core group of musicians. An auspicious debut, I Insist deftly shifts George from the status of valued sideperson to confident leader.