If you’ve been following the UK and London jazz scene at all over the last couple of years, you’ll already be familiar with Theon Cross, having made a name for himself as part of the Mercury Award nominated, and award-winning quartet Sons of Kemet. He’s also a permanent fixture in South London-based collective Steam Down.
Despite being recognised as something of a stalwart in the contemporary London jazz scene Cross has yet to release a full length recording under his own name. Although this is all set to change later this month with the release of his debut album Fyah on February 15th via Gearbox Records, which will also feature several other emerging members of the London scene including drummer Moses Boyd and tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia (who you may remember from the Harvey Sutherland track we featured back in October)
“Candace of Meroe” is the second track from Fyah to have dropped, with first single “Activate” dropping early last month. Joining Cross on “Candace of Meroe” are Wayne Francis (Ahnansé) on saxophone, Artie Zitz on guitar, Tim Doyle on Percussion and Moses Boyd on drums. Named after a Queen of the Kingdom of the Kush, the track, which incorporates elements of Caribbean music, offers the perfect introduction to the talents of Cross and his cohort. Frankly, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone play the tuba quite like Cross.
It’s an utterly fun track. There are times when it’s tight and controlled, and then at other moments it all gets quite frantic. There is a lot to like and admire here, from Francis’ sax through to Boyd’s impeccable drumming. It’s a welcome reminder that Cross is definitely one to watch.