Nubya Garcia at the Barbican
Tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia made an ecstatic return to the stage at the Barbican as part of the centre’s Live from the Barbican series, where people can live stream quality cultural content at home. In the new socially distanced era of concerts, it felt unfamiliar but thrilling to see live music again; a less than half-full auditorium was strange and exposing but also somehow special. The band seemed giddy to be back performing after seven months. Energetic drummer Sam Jones showed off for the audience, while the lead danced away, effusively appreciative to play in front of a crowd again when she emerged from behind the sax.
The concert took its material from the British-Caribbean talent’s debut album Source which was released earlier this year to critical acclaim. The musician is also a bandleader and composer, and is thriving within London’s growing scene for modern jazz with fresh and exciting sounds.
The show’s songs were long and free-form, roaming and complex, as showcased by the dub-influenced Source which opened the act. Garcia is an expressive performer; her instrument playing was lyrical and generous. Daniel Casimir executed a luxurious double bass solo as an introduction to the track Pace, which then featured trumpeter Ms Maurice in a lead duet with the British-Caribbean artist. This combination went down a treat with the crowd. The generous leader afforded each band member with at least one solo, highlighted by Joe Armon-Jones showing his virtuosity on the keys. The overall vibe was kind and euphoric which allowed the musicians to let go and enjoy themselves, proving to be a thrilling watch.
The lighting and stage setting of the Barbican was, as usual, perfect – atmospheric but not domineering. An encore of Boundless Beings that featured Garcia solo at first was a fittingly emotional end to the evening. It can be unfamiliar for some to experience music without vocals. The free-form, semi-improvised structure has the potential to feel long and rambling to listeners but for jazz aficionados, this was a cool and eclectically-influenced show.
Photo: Tom Howard
Live from the Barbican runs until 13th December 2020. For further information and future events visit the Barbican’s website here.