Soweto Kinch is a multi-award winning jazz saxophonist and hip-hop MC. He is so interesting that I wrote my entire third year dissertation about him! He has played alto saxophone with the groups such as Tomorrows Warriors and The Jamaica Jazz Warriors before embarking on his solo career, releasing concept albums with a mixture of jazz and hip-hop. Kinch is also a seasoned MC, and has taken part in rap battles (you can find them on YouTube – just search for the Don’t Flop battle rap competition) and worked with prolific rap artists.
As part of the EFG London Jazz Series, Soweto Kinch played a trio set at the Hideaway Jazz Club in London (19/11/2015). Quite literally hidden away on a side street in Streatham, The Hideaway Jazz Club was a perfect jazz setting. The room was set up with tables and chairs, and a main stage. There was a table service available, with waiters and waitresses visiting the tables to take your orders, and some people ordered food too.
I barely left my seat during the performance as it was so captivating. Soweto Kinch blistered his way through the set, mostly playing tunes from his latest album The Legend of Mike Smith. He was accompanied by bass and drums, which gave him the harmonic freedom to experiment with the pieces.
Kinch played a mixture of jazz and hip-hop, switching from straight-ahead jazz saxophone solos to rapping over a beat he had composed on his laptop. Some songs even had a baroque-feel and his eclectic musical taste was displayed throughout.
Later in the set Kinch asked the audience to suggest words beginning with the letters that constituted the club name – Hideaway. He then rapped, incorporating those words. Tough suggestions such as Amethyst and Delirium were given, however Kinch took them in his stride and delivered a complex coherent rap (he even incorporated my word Wales which I shouted out). It was a thoroughly entertaining asset to his performance and he managed to blend jazz and hip-hop together in a relatable way.
His album The Legend of Mike Smith is an exploration of the seven deadly sins in modern day life, and this was evident throughout the show. Many of the songs were based around them such as ‘Superbia’. His show was highly interactive, and he divided the audience in two at one point, provoking a call and response atmosphere and asking us to shout in turn ‘privatise the gains, socialise the losses’. A thought-provoking concert, Kinch gave an enthralling performance and I would highly recommend going to see him if you can. There is a mix of jazz and hip-hop which may put off members of either camp, however if you are after great musicianship and boundary-pushing tunes – Kinch is not one to miss.