Yussef Dayes – Tioga Pass

5th September 2023 · 2020s, 2022, Jazz, Music

Alarming news – in my old age I may be starting to like jazz. Yes, I’m afraid a lifetime of jazzophobia may be under threat after I heard this dude, Yussef Dayes yesterday. On a sunny day on my car radio, his music blew my mind.

This was the first tune I heard. Then I went to YouTube and came across last year’s extraordinary outdoor session as the sun set over the desert in Joshua Tree.

Yussef started drumming when he was just four years old and was tutored by the great Billy Cobham when he was ten.

While his music is definitely jazz, it has elements of funk and soul, and afrobeat, and he says he’s equally influenced by the grime and hip-hop he heard growing up on the streets of south London – and the jungle music made by his elder brother Ahmad – as he is by Coltrane, Gil Scott-Heron and his idol Sun Ra (his debut single in 2009 was a tribute called Ra!).

You can hear all that in his slinky sinuous style on the skins in the live clip below, aided and abetted by percussionist Alexander Bourt. They’re an ensemble where each musician contributes equally: I love the extraordinary basslines of Rocco Palladino, the sinuous sax of Malik Venna and the keyboards of Elijah Fox.

I shall be eagerly awaiting Yussef’s forthcoming album, Black Classical Music. In the meantime, this set – Live At Joshua Tree – is available as an EP on fellow Stokey boy Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label.