A growing phenomenon known as the “sisterhood of the saxophone” has brought attention to a new generation of female sax players. And now, a new star is emerging from the epicenter of a rebirth of the cool, the revitalized jazz scene flourishing in the UK, bandleader and composer Nubya Garcia.
Growing up in a musical family, her first instrument was a violin. She also played the recorder, a woodwind many of us remember from childhood. Garcia also tried the clarinet and the piano for a while until she found her calling with the tenor saxophone. As with many others in the scene, Garcia’s music has been heavily influenced by giants like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, but what sets them apart is the eagerness to add other genres into the mix to create fresh, new sounds. Assimilating hip-hop, afrobeat, funk, and world music, artists like Garcia are creating a global brew that hasn’t been heard before.
Garcia confidently brings her melodic hooks and improvisational skills to her first recording, Nubya’s 5ive, released in 2017. That recording earned a great deal of attention, with NPR noting, “she and her band strike an engrossing balance between long stretches of dreamy exploration and surges of vital, virtuosic intensity.” Rolling Stone gave it 4 stars, writing, “5ive is remarkable, an intoxicating combination of vibrant soloing and stay-in-your-head hooks...”
Her four-track EP, When We Are, was released this year, with Daniel Casimir and Ezra Collective’s Joe Armon-Jones on keyboards and drummer Femi Koleoso. And critics are loving it. Dummy Mag heralds the title track as “a near seven-minute soundtrack to the energetic and mobile, with plenty of twists and turns to sustain excitement.” No doubt, more excitement is to come from this rising star.