Pioneering British vocalist, composer of contemporary orchestral funk and two new projects of groundbreaking futuristic jazz, soul and hip-hop
Since bursting onto the cultural landscape in 2013, Laura Mvula has become one of the U.K.’s finest exports. From her Mercury Prize nominations and Mobo Award wins to her Brit Awards and Ivo Novello nods, she has found herself at the forefront of the current funk and soul revival. With effortless originality and a molasses-rich voice that contains echoes of Nina Simone, Ms. Mvula invites listeners into a glowing, poetic world. Last summer she released The Dreaming Room, the follow-up to her 2013 debut album, Sing to the Moon. Prince was an outspoken fan of Sing to the Moon and listened to it before shows. Ms. Mvula’s second album often resembles pop music, but with episodic, unusual song structures. There are off-center drums and explosions of vocal harmonies; “Angel” shifts from a cappella to a countryish guitar figure and then to a Baroque harpsichord backing in the space of three minutes. The Dreaming Room never feels self-conscious or jarring; it’s less the work of an artist showily disregarding the rules than one who didn’t wish to learn them in the first place. Laura Mvula was featured at the AFROPUNK Festival 2016, and recently in American Songbook 2017, at Lincoln Center, where she performed an amazing, sold-out concert.
Taylor McFerrin is a jazz/soul/electronic musician and producer whose eclectic sound has been described by The Times as “a sliver of intricate, sun-dappled, jazz-soaked electronica.” His first recorded appearance was as a background singer on “Jubilee,” a song included on his music-legend father Bobby McFerrin’s 1982 debut album. Moving on three decades, following a series of singles and EPs, Taylor released his amazing debut record Early Riser in 2014. The album featured guest appearances from Naipalm (Hiatus Kaiyote), Thundercat, Robert Glasper, Cesar Mariano, Marcus Gilmore and, returning a favor from thirty-two years prior, Bobby McFerrin. Taylor continues to tour worldwide supporting the release of his album both as a solo act, and as a duo featuring jazz drummer prodigy Marcus Gilmore. In addition to headline shows around North America, he has performed alongside artists such as Erykah Badu, The Roots, Nas, Robert Glasper and Talib Kweli. NPR has lauded McFerrin’s music stylings as “unpredictable frolicks between ethereal singing and stream-of-consciousness scatting; and of dark-tinged corners of production that burst into shimmering light when you least expect it.”
Smooth as silk, Blue Lab Beats is musical production team that was conceived by the brilliantly funky engineers NK-OK and Mr. D.M. Raised on the rap of UK Grime, their sound would evolve into a modern jazz medley that is wholeheartedly their own. Often pairing with the freshest acts, such as Age Of Luna, Ruby Francis, Louis VI, and crafting remixes for Emelie Sande Jodie Abacus, Dua Lipa and Rag n Bone Man, these two certainly have a knack for merging with crisp new talent. The magic all happens at their musical workplace, Blue Lab Studios, a modest space that produces colossally cool efforts. A recent Jazz FM performance caught the attention of the music world, clocking up over 200K+ views in just over a week (currently at ½ a million), that set in motion worldwide bookings and a sold-out debut headline show at Mau Mau Bar. With musical influences from Thelonious Monk to A Tribe Called Quest, these Londoners have great taste and it clearly shows in their dynamic work. Hailed as the One’s To Watch by many this year, Blue Lab Beats have been featured on the front cover of the esteemed Blues and Soul Magazine, and seen support from Dazed, Clash and Afropunk.