“An accomplished brew of African, Caribbean and urban dance grooves, R&B and 60s Blue Note-ish ensemble harmonies” The Guardian (Jazz album of the Month) ****
‘’One to watch’ The Observer
“Cassie Kinoshi is one of the most talented bandleaders and composers working in Britain” Evening Standard ‘Albums of the Week ****
“SEED Ensemble set the bar high on their majestic debut” Mojo ****
“An accomplished melange of flavours where jazz is marinated with West African and Caribbean musical elements as well as well as hip-hop and R&B”Record Collector ****
“Kinoshi’s debut bursts with often achieved ambition” Jazzwise ****
“Kinoshi’s ambitions run further than the scene’s established reference points of soul jazz and Afrobeat” The Wire
“Mixes new and old beats with spiritual jazz” Financial Times ***
SEED Ensemble’s critically acclaimed debut album ‘Driftglass’ was today shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize Albums of the Year. Released earlier this year via contemporary music/arts movement and record label jazz re:freshed, the ten-piece collective is led by composer, arranger and alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi.
On her nomination Kinoshi proudly added, “I am extremely honoured to have been shortlisted for a Mercury Prize. Thank you for your belief in both mine and my bands’ work. It means a lot to have our first release celebrated and share our message with you.”
Combining jazz with inner-city London, West African and Caribbean influenced groove, SEED Ensemble explore a blend of genres through both original compositions and arrangements. “SEED Ensemble is my way of celebrating the vibrant and distinctive diversity that has significantly influenced what British culture has become over the centuries. I also hope that aspects of the music succeed in planting a “seed” of awareness within the current climate of our society. It’s important to me that I shine a light on political subject matter which is often disregarded by the masses and highlight what it means to exist as a young Black British citizen today,” says Kinoshi.
Commenting on being shortlisted for the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize Albums of the Year, jazz re:freshed Executive Director Yvette Griffith said, “We are so proud of Cassie. Being shortlisted for the Mercury Prize for her debut release ‘Driftglass’ with her SEED Ensemble is so well deserved. Cassie’s music is extremely powerful and relevant. As an exceptional millennial black female composer & arranger, Cassie brings a unique voice and perspective to UK music with her larger than life, socially conscious compositions.”
Forming SEED Ensemble in 2016, Kinoshi is already a giant on the UK jazz scene, known for her work with jazz septet, Nerija, (Parliamentary Jazz Award Winners 2017, Best Newcomer) and afrobeat jazz group, Kokoroko.
Across ‘Driftglass’, Kinoshi embraces styles both past and present to create something that we can call modern. Band members cut across race and gender with original compositions inspired by the social issues of our times. Compositions such as ‘The Darkies’ are a take-that riposte to a resurgence in 1950s-style racism while ‘W A K E (for Grenfell)’ featuring Cherise Adams-Burnett on vocals, is dedicated to Grenfell Tower’s victims of social schism and starts with the band repetitively intoning the words of a poem by Harlem Rennaissance poet Langston Hughes “Tell all my mourners to mourn in red, cause there ain’t no sense in my bein’ dead.”
Projecting this new musical vision are some of London’s most up-and-coming young jazz musicians essential to the modern identity of British jazz including tuba player Theon Cross, trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, tenor saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael and one of London’s leading guitarists, Shirley Tetteh.
On ‘Driftglass’, Kinoshi adds, “‘Driftglass’ takes its name from a collection of short stories of the same name by African-American science-fiction author Samuel R. Delaney. The quotation can be interpreted as a beautiful metaphor for how fluid and intimate improvised music is. I find it extraordinarily beautiful how environment, emotion, performance space and audience directly impacts how one composition can evolve, grow, ebb and flow over time.”
Alongside working frequently within the world of jazz music and live performance, Kinoshi has also written for short film and videogame as well as professional classical ensembles such as the Benyounes Quartet and members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Notable artists Kinoshi has worked alongside include Dele Sosimi, Zoe Rahman, Nathaniel Facey, Yazz Ahmed and Laura Jurd.
In 2012, Kinoshi was shortlisted for the BBC Young Composer of the Year award and was nominated for Jazz FM Breakthrough Act of the Year 2016 as part of the ensemble Nerija. Her compositions and performances have been showcased on BBC Radio 3 (Jazz on 3/Late Junction) and at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance (Bonnie Bird Theatre).
Outside of theatre, Kinoshi has written and arranged music for events such as Women of the World Festival 2017 (Royal Festival Hall), EFG London Jazz Festival 2011-17 (Barbican Centre/Cadogan Hall/South Bank Centre) and Felabration! 2016 (British Library).
Last year, she won the 2018 Ivors Academy Award for Jazz Composition for a Large Ensemble for the track ‘Afronaut’ (feat. XANA), taken from ‘Driftglass’.
A BMus Hons Composition graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, she is currently Mercury Musical Developments’ and Musical Theatre Network’s most recent Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer Scheme recipient.
Kinoshi recently contributed to the BBC 4 documentary, ‘Jazzology with Soweto Kinch’ and is currently writing for the LSO Panufnik Scheme 2018-19.
- The Darkies
- Afronaut feat. XANA
- Stargaze #1: KATIN
- The Dreamkeeper
- W A K E (for Grenfell) feat. Cherise Adams-Burnett
- Stargaze #2: LAU
- Interplanetary Migration feat. Mr Ekow
Cassie Kinoshi – Alto Saxophone & Composer
Miguel Gorodi – Trumpet
Sheila Maurice Grey – Trumpet
Chelsea Carmichael – Tenor Saxophone & Flute
Joe Bristow – Trombone
Theon Cross – Tuba
Joe Armon-Jones – Piano & Rhodes (WAKE (For Grenfell), Stargaze #1: KATIN, The Dreamkeeper, Interplanetary Migration)
Sarah Tandy – Piano & Rhodes (Stargaze #2: LAU, The Darkies, Mirrors, Afronaut)
Shirley Tetteh – Guitar
Rio Kai – Double Bass
Patrick Boyle – Drums