By Ammar Kalia | Published July 2020
Yussef Dayes is a unique drummer to behold: poised, precise and uncompromisingly relentless. His work with keyboardist Kamaal Williams as part of the Yussef Kamaal group was a touchstone for the London jazz resurgence. And since then, Dayes has gone on to form his own trio and collaborate with the likes of guitarist Mansur Brown.
With that pedigree, Dayes’ collaboration with guitarist/vocalist Tom Misch is a surprising move toward pop marketability. What Kinda Music quells Dayes’ vital rhythmic energy in service of Misch’s crooning, making for a serviceable, yet ultimately underwhelming listen. The opening title track sets the tone: a hip-hop referencing string melody supplemented by a Dayes breakbeat before Misch’s singing comes to the fore. Throughout, any sense of intrinsic interplay between the musicians or a foregrounding of Dayes is stifled. Instead, the hooks continue, as on the Radiohead-referencing “Festival,” and seems like a woeful misuse of both artists’ talents. A glimpse of the record’s potential, though, comes on the Aretha Franklin-sampling “The Real”—a tantalizing mix of rare groove and classic soul. Sadly, it’s too little, too late.
What Kinda Music: What Kinda Music; Festival; Nightrider; Tidal Wave; Sensational; The Real; Lift Off; I Did It For You; Last 100; Kyiv; Julie Mangos; Storm Before The Calm. (50:48)
Personnel: Tom Misch, guitar, synthesizer, vocals; Yussef Dayes, drums; Rocco Palladino, bass; Freddie Gibbs (3), vocals; Kaidi Akinnibi (12), saxophone.