Surrounded by her friends, family, and fellow musicians, Zoe Rahman took to the Hall One stage, beaming with appreciation and a true love for her craft. Looking out into the audience, no seat was left empty, packed with people of all ages ready to enjoy the wonders of London’s contemporary jazz scene. Rahman’s choice of musicians on stage seemed to reflect her engagement with the diverse contemporary jazz scene in Britain.
My music isn’t straightforward and needs people with depth to their playing, who can understand its complexities…
Known for her powerful technique and captivating performance, Zoe Rahman has become a highly sought-after musician, working with Courtney Pine, George Mraz, Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra, and many other artists. A MOBO Award winner, Mercury Prize nominee and Ivor Novello Impact Award winner, her recent release ‘Colour of Sound’, is regarded as her most ambitious album yet. With its thrilling and unique arrangements, Zoe Rahman has responded to the losses and constraints of the last two years by going bolder and brighter. Through its large-ensemble arrangements, unique harmonic movement, charming melodies, and moments of contrast, ‘Colour of Sound’ brings out the best of Zoe Rahman, which was unquestionably exhibited at her album launch.
The band commenced the night with the album’s first track ‘Dance of Time’, a texturally intriguing number, which layers melody upon melody building to this wonderful full ensemble sound. Zoe Rahman’s energetic improvisation cuts into the web of interlocking horn melodies, with the audience’s attention being brought to her technical and virtuosic playing. The way Rahman communicates a clear message through her performance takes each composition to a whole new level and was an honour to watch.
‘For Love’ channelled a moment of distinct resonance; a memorable descending melodic line brought in by the whole ensemble, going through rhythmic and harmonic shifts as the piece went on. Idris Rahman’s tenor saxophone solo explored microtonal sounds, as well as the more raw and raspy sounds of the instrument.
All the tracks on the album, particularly ‘Little Ones’ and ‘Unity’, are built on Zoe Rahman’s elaborate harmonic and modal influences, translating her British-Bengali roots intertwined with her deep knowledge of jazz harmony. ‘Peace Garden’ was a moment of calm, a trio number based around delicate, floating piano lines and shimmering cymbals.
The connection between all the players on stage was uplifting, with Rahman giving a platform to a new wave of young female players, doing amazing work in their own right. This image of contemporary jazz in Britain and its continued evolution is incredibly exciting, and to see it grow and develop in the hands of musicians and composers like Zoe Rahman is truly inspiring.
Piano – Zoe Rahman, Bass – Alec Dankworth, Drums – Gene Caldarazzo, Trumpet and Flugelhorn – Alex Ridout, Trombone – Rosie Turton, Flute – Rowland Sutherland, Tenor Saxophone and Clarinet – Idris Rahman, Alto Saxophone – Helena Kay, Guest Trumpet- Byron Wallen
- Dance of Time
- For Love
- Little Ones
- Sweet Jasmine
- Peace Garden
- Conversation with Nellie
- Go with the Flow
- Maya (Kindred Spirits)
- Red Squirrel (Dreamland)
All photos by the award winning photographer Monika S Jakubowska
Last modified: September 12, 2023