“The result is rich and singular. Cole’s duo exchanges with each guest are marked by elegance and curiosity” – The Wire
“Genuinely thrilling flights of invention … a level of unaffected sincerity that’s rare in UK contemporary jazz … one of the most exciting releases of the year.” – Jazzwise – on K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us
“It is the highly gifted 24-year-old saxophonist Xhosa Cole who is currently making most waves … Cole has the rich expressive range and technical skills that characterise significant soloists.” – The Guardian
“It is Cole’s maturity and strong vision that freshen the content of an established jazz form and marks him as a ‘must see’” – The Financial Times
“The 24-year-old tenor saxophonist/composer is a British sensation and proves that he’s here for blood with this release … He’s got technique, talent, artistry and a burning desire that shows throughout the set.” – Downbeat
Xhosa Cole, the acclaimed 26 year-old award-winning saxophonist, is to release his second album on Stoney Lane Records this November – Ibeji, a collaborative project of duos featuring seven eminent percussionists of African descent.
Following his celebrated debut K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us in 2021, Xhosa new project features a series of disparate saxophone and percussion duets, set alongside exerts of conversations and interviews between Xhosa and his seven collaborators woven into the narrative of the album. Ibeji takes its name from the Yoruba orisha (West African spirits) for ‘twins’, exploring the themes of duality, double consciousness, codes, clave, masks, brotherhood, ancestors, rituals, racism, identity, and the diverse expressions of African traditions and music throughout the diaspora.
To mark the album’s announcement, Xhosa has premiered the lead single from the album titled “Andy’s Shuffle” with The Wire, who recently interviewed him about the record for their latest issue.
HEAR / SHARE “ANDY’S SHUFFLE” HERE
Recorded in his home city of Birmingham, the album brings Xhosa together with percussionists Adriano Adewale, Lekan Babalola, Jason Brown, Corey Mwamba, Mark Sanders, Ian Parmel, and his brother, Azizi Cole.
A collaboration that strikes deeply with Cole is with NYC drummer Jason Brown. “A pillar of the London and New York jazz scenes – every conversation with Jason challenges me to strive for a higher level of authenticity and integrity – two of the driving forces that keeps this music alive.” Andy’s Shuffle brings them both together to celebrate the legacy of the late Jamaican-born and Birmingham-based saxophonist Andy Hamilton MBE. “His branches reach many British jazz musicians, including Shabaka Hutchins and Soweto Kinch. ‘Jazz is about reincarnation’ – wise words from Uncle Lekan that have resonated a lot with me and helped to contextualise my voice within the vast family of jazz and African diasporic music. I’m acutely away that much of my musical language can be traced back to the innovations of some great black musicians from across the globe. In many ways this track is the bridge from my first record into this new, broader sound-space.”
The title track, meanwhile, is at the heart of the whole Ibeji album. “When brainstorming together, Lekan Babalola hipped me to the Yoruba orisha word for twins – ‘Ibeji’ – the perfect name for this project. The album explores the concept of duality that is integral to Yoruba concepts and culture. The duality of two musicians, of the musician and the instrument, of the music and the dancer. Lekan taught me this tune from his childhood and it felt like a great way to end the record. Lekan’s percussion parts were all recorded at his studio and being in the room hearing him build layers of the clave and percussion that make this deep rhythmic structure was something I’ll never forget.”
All Roads has even closer ties for Xhosa, working closely with his brother, Azizi. “All roads lead to the same destination is one of my brother’s trademark lines. I couldn’t think of a better way to sum up the work on this album – in this instance, all of our roads lead back to the heart of the great continent of Africa. This piece sums up the great blessing of our connections, between brothers, family, friends and community in all is numerous forms! Improvisation is at the heart of my artistic process and walking into Sansom Studios with a car full of gear and no plan was the generative for this piece. There is no creative process like working alongside family and the joy of this track is reflects the delight of creating in a space with someone who shares a lifetimes worth of references.”
2021 was a defining year for Xhosa. The release of his debut album led to headline appearances from Ronnie Scott’s to Pizza Express, numerous BBC appearances, and supporting international jazz legend Cécile McLorin Salvant at Cadogan Hall for the London Jazz Festival. He launched the first live shows with his new ensemble Rhythm-a-ting, exploring the music of Thelonious Monk, whilst also featuring as part of Hans Koller’s Bird Migration Big Band, and Pat Thomas and Orphy Robinson’s Black Top. Xhosa was commissioned by the Flatpack Film Festival to compose a 90 minute original work for the silent film Sidewalk Stories, and is now working towards the launch of Ibeji this autumn and into 2023 – the November live shows in Birmingham and London featuring renowned US drummer Hamid Drake.
In 2018, he won the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year, has appeared twice at the BBC Proms, and was awarded the 2021 the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Newcomer. Xhosa began playing Tenor Saxophone at the community music school run by Andy Hamilton in Ladywood, Birmingham, moving through several community outreach arts programmes in his home city.
Ibeji releases on 11th November 2022 on Birmingham label Stoney Lane Records, available on CD, all digital platforms, with limited edition 180g double vinyl available to pre-order for early spring 2023 release – HERE
1 – Doo-shima (feat. Ian Parmel) 09:22
2 – C–L—A–V-E— 02:24
3 – Andy’s Shuffle (feat. Jason Brown) 06:29
4 – Jazz is About 01:30
5 – Hear The 02:26
6 – Dance of Ancestra (feat. Adriano Adewale) 05:04
7 – Masks-Rituals-Ancestors 02:08
8 – Our Search For (feat. Mark Sanders) 09:20
9 – Mark Skit #1 01:24
10 – IG Live 20-04-2021 04:22
11 – Native Tongues (feat. Jason Brown) 03:57
12 – CDC 05:22
13 – Beat-9.wav 00:53
14 – Double Displacement (feat. Corey Mwamba) 03:46
15 – Mark Skit #2 00:46
16 – All Roads (feat. Azizi Cole) 06:29
17 – AAC 02:47
18 – Alhamdulilah 01:47
19 – Ibeji (feat. Lekan Babalola) 04:18
Xhosa Cole – Saxophone
Recorded 2021-22, Samson Studios, Birmingham
Key Ibeji dates – November 2022:
13th November – London Jazz Festival: Café Oto, feat. Jason Yarde, Hamid Drake, Yahael Onono
15th November – Symphony Hall, Birmingham – feat. Soweto Kinch, Hamid Drake, Ian Parmel