Yussef Dayes – 'Jazz is a vessel to express my feelings freely'

This article is from 2017

Yussef Dayes

South London drummer Yussef Dayes prepares to entertain Edinburgh with his rhythmic, funky and improvised sound

Though jazz is often overlooked as a mainstream genre in the UK, there's been a surge in interest of late thanks partly to the innovations and creativity of a select few. This burgeoning scene has materialised through musicians whose choice to take their influences from a range of areas has ultimately created a new style of jazz.

One such artist behind this contemporary shift is drummer Yussef Dayes. Last year, he released the rhythmically striking, jazz-funk charged Black Focus with keyboardist Kamaal Williams. Inspired by experimental 1970s jazz as well as more modern bass-heavy grooves and beats, the album is a fascinating collision of styles and expresses a certain spontaneity.

'I take influence from all kinds of music, whether it be jazz, grime, drum & bass, jungle, hip hop, broken beat or West African music,' Dayes explains. 'For me, jazz is a vessel to express my feelings freely on my instrument. Improvisation plays a big part in my approach and compositions. Keeping it spontaneous and going with the moment allows me to be free on the drums.'

Though the duo are no longer playing together as Yussef Kamaal, Dayes and Williams will still be performing Black Focus separately, with alternative lineups to give fans the opportunity to experience their album's explosive live energy. Dayes will be bringing a slice of this to Edinburgh as he presents his version of the project to audiences at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. 'We'll be bringing the fire!' Dayes says enthusiastically. 'I'll be performing with Mansur Brown and Charlie Stacey, who are both crazy talented. We've been recording some new music, so you'll have to hear for yourselves where we're going with it.'

Yussef Dayes Presents Black Focus, West Princes Street Gardens Spiegeltent,15 Jul, 10pm, £12.50.

Yussef Dayes presents Black Focus

A major voice on London's new jazz scene. Signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownwood Label, the drummer's killer fractured and broken beats are a huge influence across London's shapeshifting musical make-up - taking in jungle, grime, hop-hop and broken beat and the bass-heavy ambience of black pirate radio. His band, with…