FJR founder, Jordannah Elizabeth’s November 2020 review for New York City Jazz Record.
British tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia continues to emerge as a significant voice with her leader debut SOURCE. This sensuous collection is admirably played by Joe Armon-Jones (piano), Daniel Casimir (bass) and Sam Jones (drums), produced by Garcia and Kwes, the latter working with notable artists like Solange and Bobby Womack. This combination of musicians and producers is sonically compatible and gels well on an intuitive level as well as technically. Garcia is an imaginative storyteller, SOURCE a reflection of her swirling inner world of familial history, highs and lows of attaining well-earned prestige and personal struggles of grief while experiencing the world through an Afrodiasporic lineage and lens.
Opening “Pace” begins with deep bass ornamentation and ethereal piano and drums, over which Garcia plays fluidly and confidently. Her notes are strong, steady and clear, giving her sonic command throughout the album as she lays out her story. The title track features a fusion of reggae and vocal accompaniment layered with an echoey hall reverb, making the track sound like it is submerged in a primordial reality, continuing to showcase the album’s otherworldly sound and expands on its international appeal. The album ends with “Boundless Beings”, featuring guest vocalist Akenya. She and Garcia double the melody, offering a postmodern romantic ballad.
This album has its own distinct sound, Garcia merging undertones of Guyanese folk songs along with carnival culture of London and the Caribbean. While there are moments of sadness and stealthy overtures of a world and perspective only she can understand, this album has a connective force that draws the listener in. Her rich and eclectic background, ear for natural melody, and emotional arrangements make SOURCE a resoundingly pleasurable album.