ALBUM OF THE DAY
Xhosa Cole, “K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us”
By John Morrison · July 30, 2021 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP, T-Shirt/Apparel

The connecting thread of jazz’s past to its present and future is apparent throughout K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us, the debut album from 24-year old Birmingham, England saxophonist and flautist, Xhosa Cole. Paying homage to jazz greats like Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, trumpeter Woody Shaw, and others, on K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us Cole and his ensemble expand on jazz’s tradition with their imaginative takes on beloved compositions.

James Bashford’s drum solo sets the tone on the opening rendition of Shaw’s “Zoltan” before settling into a bouncy marching rhythm. Cole and Jay Phelps’ trumpet play together beautifully for the main theme, then take fierce, intertwining solos. For “Played Twice,” Cole’s ensemble takes on one of Monk’s most complex and quirky tunes, tackling the piece’s shifting, irregular rhythms with skill and great attention to detail.

Cole and his ensemble pull from these great songs of the past while reminding us that there are still living, working musicians around the world who have the virtuosity required to play them. By reenvisioning these classics, K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us builds upon jazz’s rich musical heritage and reinforces the necessity of looking back in order to move forward.

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