Yussef Dayes “Black Classical Music” 

October 2023 | MUSIC, 23/10

At just 30, this English drummer is already a fixture on the London jazz scene. He was introduced to the style as a child through his father’s record collection, and was only 10 when he met Billy Cobham. Cobham was to help him perfect his apprenticeship. With his two brothers, who were not to be outdone in their musical gifts, and saxophonist Wayne Francis, they formed United Vibrations. He collaborated with keyboardist Kamaal Williams on one album, then recorded another with Tom Mish. He also works as a producer and composer, and is the author of a series of live albums. For the first album under his own name, rhythm and percussion are the mainstays of the music. But the influences are multiple and the melodies are well present to provide us with over an hour of dense but accessible compositions. We come across free jazz, Caribbean music, rap and pop, and in each track, Africa is never far away with a relentless groove. A record with a rich heritage, but one that knows how to look further afield. It seems that the English jazz scene owes Yussef Dayes a debt of gratitude.