Live from the Barbican: Moses Boyd
The latest in the Live from the Barbican series finds Moses Boyd and his band rescheduled from a January fixture – typical drummers, always coming in late. Jokes aside, Boyd could hardly be more on point, his hands moving so fast that even the broadcast-quality sound of the Barbican stream struggles to keep up with the drummer’s polyrhythmic attack.
Shrouded in blue smoke, the group perform songs from Boyd’s acclaimed 2020 album Dark Matter, mixing a heady brew of jazz, dance and electronica. Some tracks (Stranger Than Fiction) emphasise the jazz and others (Only You), the dance, but that infusion runs through each piece, proudly displaying afrobeat (BTB) and dub influences (Y.O.Y.O.) in this melting pot of a setlist.
Some of the music falls into slightly aimless, noodly territory, missing a bass guitar to anchor the grooves, but pianist Renato Paris ably provides the low end, as well as ethereal synth pads from his three-keyboard setup. The way he and Boyd playfully spar on 2 Far Gone is inspiring, the musicians nudging one another further into the cosmic blue.
Each track spotlights a different soloist, moving the focus around the stage to feature Nathaniel Cross’s atonal trombone, Quinn Oulton’s free saxophone and Artie Zaitz’s lightning-fast guitar – more than a match for Boyd’s tight, trippy technique. The drums are literally centre stage, the bandleader bringing a human, soulful feel to highly syncopated jungly beats, cutting through the dissonant textures with an unmistakable jazz flow.
Since the death of Ginger Baker it is difficult to imagine many drummers leading sets at the Barbican. That Boyd should do so in the context of dance music makes for an original, invigorating outing – or in the case of the livestream, a feat of musical teleportation.
Photos: Mark Allan/Barbican