- Brian Donaldson
- 22 August 2021
A cacophony of jazz and storm of lights as International Festival welcomes the future sound of London
'What a vibe'. Moses Boyd, the golden boy of London's modern jazz scene, is delighted to be back in Edinburgh where he first played alongside sax man Binker Golding in 2017 at the Jazz & Blues Festival. This time around, he is the focal point, a drummer with one Mercury Prize nomination under his belt and widespread acclaim for his melding of several genres (grime, garage, syncopated and dancefloor jazz among them) to produce a unique and contemporary sound.
He may now be the leader of his gang at the International Festival, but Boyd is not averse to allowing them, as any good jazz boss would, the chance to take the floor and display their dynamic wares. There are several opportunities across the near 90 minutes here for guitarist Artie Zaitz, alto saxophonist Donovan Haffner and bass/keys man Renato Paris (Boyd quips at one point that he is just being paid one wage for doing two jobs) to grab the limelight, and they do so with zeal.
That Mercury shortlisted record, Dark Matter, is the source material for tonight's gig, but the light show also plays its part. The cover of Boyd's 2020 break-out album features a black union jack graphic, an image which also appears on screen behind the band at various moments. This looped film celebrates various elements of the black British experience including steel drum bands and groundbreaking Channel 4 sitcom Desmond's.
The light show is a tornado of colours which complement the music whether it's driving and insistent or gloomy and swooning, and it can't be a coincidence that prominent in there are sultry reds, lightning-flash whites, and foggy blues. This is modern Britain, Boyd seems to be suggesting, and this is its sound. But above all, this gig is about letting yourself go. 'It's been a while since I played a seated gig,' he remarks near the end, enticing the crowd to its feet and 'letting the spirit take you'. They oblige and everyone, the band's leader included, departs with a wide smile across their face.
Moses Boyd performed at Edinburgh Park, Tuesday 17 August.