Jazz Café, Saturday 16th June 2018
Hip-hop is a global culture that has reached all corners of the world and nobody embodied that more than Japanese producer, DJ and record label owner Jun Seba (more familiarly known in reverse as Nujabes). Tragically killed in 2010 in a traffic collision in his home city Tokyo his sad passing has seen his innovative and influential work celebrated all over the world. During his lifetime he released two albums, Metaphorical Music and Modal Soul, both of which were heralded as flawless examples of instrumental and jazzy hip-hop. He also released various other projects such as soundtracks, limited vinyl releases and ran the Hydeout Productions record label who are able to boast Japanese, British and US artists among their glittering alumni.
Occupying that claustrophobic space between electronic trip-hop such as DJ Shadow or The Avalanches and the beat-tape instrumental hip-hop generation made popular by the likes of J Dilla and Madlib, his death has seemingly elevated the appreciation for his brilliance even further. Atmospheric, jazzy and deeply soulful his rich variety of samples were selected and orchestrated to perfection and he is rightly acknowledged as one of the best post-90s producers in the subterranean hip-hop scene. This influence has led to him becoming one of the big pioneers of the Bandcamp / Soundcloud lo-fi genre, which was once a small niche but is now a recognisable micro-genre.
It was London’s turn to pay homage to his music on a warm Saturday evening inside the ever-reliable Jazz Café. A diverse crowd packed out the place to watch Stompy’s Playground, an eleven-piece ensemble, who specialise in recreating electronic-based music with their vast array of multi-talented musicians. Aided by Kidkanevil on the decks they impressively worked their way through the various chapters in Nujabes’s catalogue, emphasising the jazzy breaks and samples which he was so drawn to.
The audience were treated to wonderful re-imaginations of his slow-moving, melodic sounds which left them transfixed by the beauty of their re-creation. The group were equally adept at feeding off the high-energy of the crowd, with members of the group taking turns to execute and extend the climatic intensity of some of Nujabes’s finest moments.
To do his music justice is always a very tall order but Stompy’s Playground were able to capture and hold the soul of his brilliance and deliver a show that perfectly celebrated his life and music. It is also another triumph for the Jazz Café who rightly retain their place at the top of the pile when it comes to satisfying music lovers with their inventive line-up of shows. A great night and a wonderful tribute to a man who continues to live on through his music.
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