Genre-smashing jazz band from Leeds: IKESTRA


Recently Istanbul seems to be in autumn with raindrops keep falling from the grey skies, which reminds me of British weather. I don’t know whether it is pure chance or a destiny to come across a new British jazz band, it is always a joy to discover fresh music. After my favourite Roller Trio, Leeds has introduced me another experimental jazz band, IKESTRA. Actually, I have heard of them before but couldn’t find the time to listen. Well, it seems that they were waiting for this kind of weather.

IKESTRA is a 7-piece band with Sam Bell on percussion, Sam Gardner on drums, Henry Guy on bass, Joe Harris and Craig Scott on guitars, Tom Henry on keys and synths, and Anna Stott on vocals. The band name relates to the oneness symbolised in the ‘I’ and is in tribute to Sun Ra’s legendary Arkestra. IKESTRA was founded in 2010 by Joe Harris. It has been through several personnel changes before settling on the current line-up in early 2011. The musicians have all been active in the Leeds music scene for years and share a mutual love of improvised music, especially jazz. According to them, they make genre-smashing music, which can be described as a mixture of all genres from afro beat to hip hop, from avangarde to popular music with either soft transitions from one genre to another in a single song or blending two or three of them; however, it is always balanced in a particular way.

IKESTRA is going to release their self-titled debut album from Destroy All Records in March and their first single “Sprinter” has already been released. It is a nu-jazz song, a mixture of soul and funk with chill-out beats, which makes you feel good while listening. The intro with repeating funk riffs takes you on a journey with Anna, where you start humming the song along with her and then drops you off at a place in which afrobeat and soul welcome you. The rhythm section is especially worth listening as the band is good at uniting different beats with such ease. Considering this song, I can assume that the other songs may well be like in the shape of corkscrew stairs where each climb leads to another new floor while letting you see the other floors as well. Besides the sound, Anna Stott’s voice is also fitting in with the song, which adds a lot to the wholeness of the song. As far as I see from some videos and read some comments, their live performance is powerful and groovy as well. Taking all these into consideration, I can say that I am looking forward to listening to IKESTRA’s album.

For more information about IKESTRA:

For Turkish, click here.

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