BY JAMES TWOMEY
The South London jazz scene just keeps on giving with a huge number of successful artists coming out of the area over the past five years, and Anjelica Cleaver may be the next big thing as she blends avant-garde styles with an activist message.
Anjelica’s debut album, The Dream Jazz Manifesto, launched on May 21 in front of a big crowd at The Windmill pub in Brixton and is the latest jazz edition from an area with an outstanding reputation.
“I’m psyched to see what people think about it,” said Anjelica.
“When I play it to people who are established in the jazz scene, they seem to like it, I played it to Gary Crosby who is a legend and he seemed to like it, too. I’m very excited.”
Anjelica, 23, lives in Brixton and describes her album has a mixture of jazz, rock and punk which delves into political issues with her experiences of activism playing a big part.
Anjelica said: “The arc of the album is about being lost and confused but then finding a home and a purpose with the activist messages towards the end.
“I believe we need to change the world we live in, the institutions and laws we live by.
“The whole album is why I became an activist, accepting the status quo is easy if you’re not affected by it.
“The album was recorded over a year-and-a half and I had taken in lots of random inspirations over that time.
“I was reading Angela Davis and got involved in migration charity work as well as going to lots of different gigs and listening to different artists.”
There are certainly plenty of South London jazz artists to choose from at the moment as artists such as Moses Boyd and Sons of Kemet have moved jazz from the fringes stirring a revival of the genre.
“The South London jazz scene in Brixton, Peckham and Deptford is like a massive community, a little jazz family where you know all the musicians and the audience,” said Anjelica.
“Jazz had a renaissance in the 1980s and it’s having another renaissance right now.
“These guys are going to all the main festivals at the moment, which is great to see, the family is doing well.”
For a debut album, the variety in musical style and genre from song to song is impressive, and the call to action activist messages, particularly around migration detention and deportation, speaks to a core demographic in South London, and especially in Brixton.
You can find The Dream Jazz Manifesto on Bandcamp at https://jellycleaver.bandcamp.com/album/the-dream-jazz-manifesto
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