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Soweto Kinch: Conversations With the Unseen

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Out of Birmingham, England, Soweto Kinch (age 25) is an artist of a new sort-a rapper, but also an alto saxophonist who clearly has imbibed everything from Bird through Osby. His Conversations With the Unseen is far from the first attempt at hybridizing jazz and hip-hop. What distinguishes it is that it isn’t really a hybrid at all, but rather a jazz album with a discrete hip-hop component.

After his two-minute rap “Intro” (a standard hip-hop device), Kinch launches into a spiky head called “Doxology” with his quartet-Femi Temowo on guitar, Michael Olatuja on bass, Troy Miller on drums. Kinch’s tone is bright, his attack aggressive, his flow of ideas seamless. Temowo favors a dry vintage sound that brings Liberty Ellman to mind. Together, Kinch and Temowo play unison figures exceptionally well, and Kinch has made sure to privilege that sound throughout the recording.

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