Jul 27, 2021 10:30 AM
John Pizzarelli’s Ode to Pat Metheny
It was in his darkest hour, during the early stages of the 2020 lockdown, that guitarist-vocalist John Pizzarelli…
“If you’re not working with people that are pushing you,” said drummer Yussef Dayes, “then it’s missing something.”
A serial collaborator, the London native has followed a distinctive path, weaving his sound through underground jazz and left-field popular music. He first gained recognition during the mid-2010s as a member of the socially conscious quartet United Vibrations. Dayes’ progressive duo with keyboardist Kamaal Williams—named Yussef Kamaal—sculpted the milestone album Black Focus for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label in 2016, helping to define the sound of London’s contemporary jazz scene. And in 2019, he released Duality (Good Grief), a sultry and electronic-driven two track EP. Most recently, Dayes teamed with guitarist/vocalist Tom Misch for the album What Kinda Music (Blue Note)—a fluid ride through jazz, electronica and hip-hop that includes a guest spot by rapper Freddie Gibbs.
“Genres and stuff ... I don’t really put things into boxes like that,” Dayes said. “For me, I’m inspired by Black music; that’s where I come from. It’s about letting people decipher for themselves what they want it to be.”
Dayes’ skills as a live performer have elevated his status as a performer to watch. At his mostly improvised shows, motifs from his best-known works are combined with fresh ideas, as the drummer revels in call-and-response; the seeming ease with which he devises complex but danceable rhythms is stunning. Regardless of tempi or genre, he can flirt with time, hold back beats and elasticize the air. Dayes seems determined to reach drumming nirvana and bring the audience with him.
With his swagger and unpredictable stage persona, the drummer exudes rock-star appeal. What he does next is anyone’s guess—but this we can bank on: “I’m gonna be dropping something with my trio—[bassist] Rocco Palladino and [keyboardist] Charlie Stacey. The [songs will] all interrelate in some ways—but they’re all very different. It’s my time, now.” DB
Jul 27, 2021 10:30 AM
Jul 20, 2021 4:10 PM
Bill Evans’ discography is immense, beginning with his first recordings as a sideman in 1953 and running through…
Aug 9, 2021 10:28 PM
New Orleans musicians reacted with distress and disbelief — along with some relief — to the latest COVID…
Jul 20, 2021 4:08 PM
The history of jazz is fraught with artists who’ve died too young. But what lives on is their music — the legacy of…
Aug 27, 2021 2:14 PM
Editor’s Note: This article is from the August 2021 DownBeat Critics Poll issue.
At the time of this writing,…