Getting stuck into the new year with a fresh, contemporary jazz attitude, Rocafort Records introduces the new Kumadé EP from exciting Swiss-French quartet KUMA, led by keyboardist Matthieu Llodra and saxophonist Arthur Donnot.
Confidence, rhythmicality and solidity are the first impressions that hit you from this tight outfit of young but highly experienced musicians. After nine years of holding down a 10-night residency at the prestigious Cully Jazz Festival, Llodra and Donnot have honed down their skills in front of a live audience making tension, pacing and release their speciality in compositional strategy. Grooves and moods are created with just the right amount of rise and fall, push and pull, melodic catches and improvisational wanderings.
The EP is well balanced out with two spaciously laconic, ethereal tracks – Alfama and The Core – that could easily belong on some ECM-inspired soundscape, juxtaposed with Kumadé and I.G.A.T.F. that pack a fuller punch, fat and chunky in all the right places, hinting at a 1970s style George Duke at his funky-fusion best.
Despite a whiff of nostalgic reference, rest assured that the KUMA timbre is fresh and exploratory, as innovative and curious as any protagonist from the current UK jazz explosion. Keep an ear out for these young Jedi masters, all of them at the top of their game. More assured, impressive releases are due out this year.