This was clearly the gig that so many wanted to see. The hall was packed, tickets had sold out and still they kept coming in the vain hope of squeezing in to see the SEED Ensemble led by alto saxophonist and composer Cassie Kinoshi.
The first tune was Neptune, written about a slave ancestor of Cassie Kinoshi. The four piece rhythm section started the tune before the horn section came on stage and added their voices to the tune. In all this was a ten piece band (two trumpets, one alto sax, one tenor sax doubling on flute, one trombone and one tuba. The rhythm section comprising of keyboard, guitar, double bass and drums) plus a vocalist and they produced a wall of sound that was almost breathtaking.
The second track, Mirrors, track seven on the highly acclaimed debut album Driftglass was where I got to hear the guitar playing of Shirley Tetteh I had hoped to hear more of on her Friday set. This tune opens with Shirley Tetteh laying the foundations of tune with great guitar work supported by drummer Patrick Boyle before being joined by tenor saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael. This is one of those tunes that starts quietly and just grows as other band members join in: a very well composed tune.
The Darkies references the problems that English born black people face in this so called green and pleasant land; people who are musicians in a jazz band called SEED Ensemble. The tune opens with a very good double bass solo from Rio Kai but there were also solos from trumpeter Miguel Gorodi (a player I should like to find out more about as his technique was stunning) and tuba player Theon Cross. Also from the Driftglass album came Afronaut featuring Zana on vocals. The tune also featured a solo from keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones. This was a great example of where jazz and rap come together and work as a complete piece.
Come Home is a new tune with the lead solo spot going to composer Cassie Kinoshi who plays as strongly as she writes. There were also a trumpet and keyboard solos but it was the alto sax spot that stood out and all underpinned by a very good rhythm lead by drummer Patrick Boyle.
Wake was the most emotionally tune to be aired in this set. The song is a response to the Grenfell tragedy of June 2017. The way it was performed live is different to how it plays out on the album and, in my opinion, was all the more powerful for being so. However, one thing that both versions have in common is a very strong solo from trombonist Joe Bristow.
The final tune of the evening is also the last track of the Driftglass album: Interplanetary Migration. It is an upbeat number that, unfortunately did not include the vocal talent of Mr. Ekow, as it does on the album. This was a terrific upbeat number on which to bring the ninety minute set to end and highlight just how good this band are as an ensemble.