Album of the Week: Yussef Dayes - Black Classical Music | 2023 Week 36

Album of the Week: Yussef Dayes - Black Classical Music | 2023 Week 36

Influential English drummer & composer’s highly anticipated debut solo album is a crowning achievement in the modern jazz scene + new records from Courtney Barnett, James Blake, Teezo Touchdown, Tirzah and more!

It’s almost hard to believe that Black Classical Music is Yussef Dayes debut solo album, given his output and collaborations so far. One of the most exciting drummers & composers in the contemporary London jazz scene, Dayes has been a regular collaborator with the likes of Kamaal Williams, releasing the phenomenal Black Focus album back in 2016, and more recently teamed up with Tom Misch in 2020 for the collaborative album What Kinda Music.

Now, a lifetime in the making, Dayes’ highly anticipated solo album is finally out, and for any existing fans or just fans of expressive, exploratory music rooted in jazz that pushes far beyond that, the epic Black Classical Music is sure to delight. A colossal record weighing in at nineteen tracks, Black Classical Music offers a treasure trove of spiritually uplifting sounds, offering a great balance of instrumentals and songs featuring vocals, with cuts ranging from collaborations to solo efforts, covering a wide palette of sounds.

While rooted in contemporary jazz with a hip hop influence, the compositions on Black Classical music span everything from ambient interludes to modern r&b and afrobeats to dancehall and reggae style sounds, the latter of which makes sense when you see that Jamaican superstar Chronixx is on the appropriately titled “Pon di Plaza”. Other notable guests include the likes of regular collaborator Tom Misch, Masego, Shabaka Hutchings and Theon Cross, with many more lending their talents, showing the respect Dayes has across a number of genres and scenes.

Sure to appeal to fans of hip hop, modern jazz or just about anything with an emphasis on beats and grooves, Black Classical Music is a phenomenal debut solo album that strikes the balance between accessibility and authenticity, with a few potentially challenging passages and longer compositions not falling into a commercial pop package - and nor should they - balancing out the record’s more digestible, shorter cuts in fine fashion.

Introducing the album, Dayes puts it best himself when it comes to these sounds:

"What is jazz? Where did the word derive from? Birthed in New Orleans, born in the belly of the Mississippi River, rooted in the gumbo pot of the Caribbean, South American culture & African rituals. Continuing a lineage of Miles Davis, Rahssan Roland kirk, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong ~ music that is forever evolving & limitless in its potential. The groove, its feeling, the compositions, the spontaneity, with a love for family, the discipline & dedication in maintaining the very high bar set by the pantheon of Black Classical Musicians. Chasing the rhythm of drums that imitated one's heartbeat, the melodies for the mind and spirit, the bass for the core. A Regal sound for this body of music."

We can’t wait for Yussef’s body of music to continue expanding.

The best of the rest of this week's records:

700 Feel - Muscle Memories Vol 1 [700 Feek] AUS


Courtney Barnett - End of the Day (music from the film Anonymous Club) [Milk! Records] AUS


Dying Fetus - Make Them Beg for Death [Relapse Records] USA


GAIKA - Drift [Big Dada] ENG


James Blake - Playing Robots into Heaven [Polydor] ENG


Romy - Mid Air [Young] ENG


Teezo Touchdown - How Do You Sleep at Night? [Sony] USA

Hip Hop

The Chemical Brothers - For That Beautiful Feeling [Universal] ENG


Tirzah - trip9love​.​.​.​?​?​? [Domino] ENG


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