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New Regency Orchestra

THE JAZZ CAFE

June 30, 2024

Today, I’m rewarding you with the perfect soundtrack for summer. New Regency Orchestra is an up-and-coming Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble from London’s burgeoning Latin jazz scene. Founder Lex Blondin was hooked by hip-hop and jazz early on, but once discovering classic salsa, mamba and Cuban music, as he told Songlines, “I recognised that the same energy that’s in hip-hop was in salsa too. That was my way in.” He spent the lockdown combing through classic recordings and planning the project that would become the New Regency Orchestra. Partnering with Andy Wood and Eliane Correa, he brought together a host of musicians to bring his vision to life. In the end, the ensemble settled at 19 members (but that could change).


Reworking jazz and Latin classics from the masters who blended the genres in the 50s, the group released “Mango Walk,” a modern take on saxophonist Kenny Graham’s 1951 track. Graham was a pioneer in blending bebop with African and Latin influences through his group, the Afro-Cubists. It’s fitting that NRO would honor his legacy. This month, the collective released its eponymous debut album to critical acclaim and a great enthusiasm for its mission to revive this infectious genre in the UK.


As a bonus, I’ve included a link to a short clip from the group’s performance at the 2023 We Out Here festival so you can a taste of their vibrant and engaging live show. The word electrifying is bandied about quite a bit from critics, and you can see why.

“Mango Walk”

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