The British woman who has recovered the sound of the golden age of jazz

The world is turning 180 degrees on many cultural levels, and music cannot be left behind. We could think that all the manifestations of the industry in terms of female empowerment and / or against racism, are part of a new discourse of societies … and it may be true, but we have to take it as a long-term plan of action, because things cannot go back to the way they used to be.

However, to be fair, those speeches during ceremonies, summarized in a tweet, in some songs songs and interviews of Artists in which they ask us to be inclusive, less racist and more empathetic are not so new. Few were those who, before 2020, dared to say things as they are, before May when the world saw the images of George Floyd being murdered by a white policeman in the United States.

As we said, things cannot go back to the way they were before. And it is here where the names of this new wave of Afro-descendant artists who regain their roots with their voice sound with special attention., but also with its image, its lyrics, its sounds, its speeches. Today is Yazmin Lacey’s turn.

Who is Yazmin Lacey?

If songs could be tested, Yazmin Lacey’s songs would taste good: a smooth, sweet flavor without being cloying, those that make you close your eyes and smile. This is the music of this woman born in East London, worse whose place of business is in Nottingham (where the legend of Robin Hood was born, by the way).

Lacey grew up in a family full of musicians, but she had no intention of dedicating herself to music, much less singing. Yes, she was one of those girls who sang, and everyone told her that she had a good voice, but that she never felt such a strong attachment to her, that she decided to become an artist and make a career out of music. It all started when he moved to Nottingham.

Yazmin Lacey / Foto: Bandcamp

They say that During a night of drinking, someone asked him to sing. He did it, and he did it so well, that a woman who was there asked him to sing in some kind of acoustic club. Maybe it was the glasses, but Yazmin Lacey said yes. This is how she became an entertainer by night, but as a volunteer at a non-profit for children by day. A new artist had been born, and we have to say that we appreciate that drunkenness.

From 2014 he began to participate in different acoustic shows in various venues in Nottingham. As time went by, he got to know each of the members to form su primera banda, The Running Circle: Pete Beardsworth (on keyboards), Tom Towle (drums), George French (bass), Charlie Bone (guitar) and Owen Campbell (Latin percussion).

Gilles Peterson and the formal start of his career

His voice and his music came to be hated by Gilles Peterson, an announcer, producer and DJ. that for little more than 30 years, has been in charge of finding the best British artists. He is the founder of the Talkin ‘Loud label, which has brought in quite a few artists for a Mercury Prize nomination. So we are not talking about a small thing. Peterson put the song “Marie” and “Red” (Congi) into his Future Bubblers project. All of this led to Lacey and The Running Circle being able to record their first EP.

‘Black Moon’ y ‘When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees’

Yazmin Lacey and The Running Circle wrote and produced, along with the Three Body Trio and Broadstrokes, his first EP titled Black Moon in 2017. This material has six songs, among which are “A Mother Lost”, “Protection” and the song that gave it its name, “Black Moon”. Gilles Peterson named it the Best Record of the Week for BBC Radio 6.

The reception was so great that in 2018 they recorded their second EP under the name of When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees. Here the number was reduced, but she sounded more comfortable with her band, and with the possibility of experimenting between genres. While Black Moon concentrated on a somewhat traditional jazz, to When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees gave way to something from Motown that made it even more versatile, and showed that his voice even though it always stays under the same tone / rhythm, it can be accompanied by more instruments and sounds.

Just listen to the song with which it starts, “90 Degrees”, and then give way to “Burn & Rise” (a trip to the 90s, we assure you), and close with “Body Needs Healing”. We would be wrong to only recommend three out of five. The whole EP is worth it.

Portada de ‘Black Moon’ (2017) de Yazmin Lacey.

“Morning Matters”, his latest EP

To get to Morning Matters, Yazmin Lacey and her band performed at various festivals in the UK, especially those specialized in jazz. After the release of the singles “Not Today Mate” and “Morning Matters”, and the good reception of some media, it was that in April 2020 he released his third EP. It’s a delight…

The song that gives the album its name sums up Lacey’s style: her voice invites you to get up. This album, said by the same artist, is dedicated to all the people who have a hard time hugging in the morning, starting the day, those who try to have a better life from the first moment of the day. You don’t have to be a lover, much less a jazz connoisseur. Lacey makes it easy, makes it possible.

Morning Matters has the collaboration of the best contemporary artists of the jazz scene in the United Kingdom. Is it so drummer Femi Koleoso and trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi presentes en “Own Your Own” y “Morning Matters”. La pianista Sarah Tandy in “Morning Matters.” And in the drums and production of “Lately” and “Morning Sunrise”, it appears Moses Boyd.

What makes it so special?

It is a difficult question. But we have to say that his voice, which fits perfectly with his sophisticated lyrics. His style has recovered the sound of the golden age of jazz, but combined with the urban rhythm of England, and surprisingly, of a place like Nottingham. However, what surprises us the most is that it reminds us of some American bands and artists of the 70s and 90s.

Yazmin Lacey isn’t a Dakota Staton or Ella Fitzgerald, but she could get into her at that fast pace. She is also not as sober as Sarah Vaughan. Maybe she looks a little more like Shirley HornBut the reality is that Lacey is undoubtedly one of the greatest soul and jazz artists of recent years. And it seems that his career is only going up. In his music, if you pay close attention to it, it has details of hip-hop and a bit of pop, something that had not been heard and that promises to evolve and continue to surprise.

The importance of Yazmin Lacey

It is not so much the importance of Yazmin Lacey on its own, but of a wave of new artists (mostly British) recovering their African roots. between various genres such as jazz, rap, gospel, garage, reggae, R&B and Motown. Lacey is on an incredible roster of artists like Jorja Smith, Rachel Chinouriri, Tiana Major9, Arlo Parks, Tierra Whack, and even Canadian Thanya Iyer.

All of them are black, and they recover their ancestry by keeping their names, and they even make a statement with the clothes they choose to go on stage. It is an unconscious effort to tell a story that was intended to bury, but that now emerges strongly.

For this year, Mercury Prize nominees showcase a huge variety of artists ranging from the most commercial and pop, to the underground of the British scene. Appear over here Moses Boyd with the disk Dark Matter, the same one who collaborated and produced a couple of songs by Morning Matters. They also highlight Stormzy with Heavy Is the Head Y Michael Kiwanuka with Kiwanuka. Let’s hope next year, one of the aforementioned, sneaks onto the list. Lacey well deserved would already have an LP.