From the source that keeps providing, the South London nu-jazz scene, comes Oscar Jerome with his highly-anticipated debut album ‘Breathe Deep’ (release date July 10th 2020 via Caroline International). You might know Oscar from his work as guitarist with the spirited afrobeat collective KOKOROKO, another emerging force from the Trinity Laban/ Tomorrow’s Warriors jazz hothouses. In fact he was the lead writer of their mega popular ‘Abusey Junction’, the hip-hugging YouTube stormer with 55 million views (and counting). More than that Jerome has become a key player in reinstating the capital’s vibrant jazz credentials having collaborated with everyone from Shabaka Hutchings to Moses Boyd and Yussef Dayes.
So the release of ‘Breathe Deep’ really is quite a thing. Building on the soulful jazz balladry of his previous EPs, the signs are that the debut album will have even more sweep and ambition. For sure the wealth of collaborators on the record including friends from Ezra Collective, Sons of Kemet and Maisha as well as singer songwriter Lianne La Havas, suggests a chemistry that will stir up a potent dynamic mix.
Whereas the previously released taster from the album ‘Sun For Someone’ highlighted the natural warmth and humility of Jerome’s singing and playing, the second single ‘Your Saint’ represents a more widescreen statement of intent. Featuring the smooth horns plus percussive lift of his KOKOROKO bandmates and the rapper poet Brother Portrait from the seminal arts collective Steam Down, the track has an electrifying political charge and compositional flow. It draws on his despair at the plight of homeless refugees on the Paris Metro, and exposes in Oscar’s words how the West’s inablility ‘to welcome and help people that are fleeing conflict and poverty is completely hypocritical to their claimed values’.
If the energy, commitment and invention of ‘Your Saint’ is anything to go by then the release of the ‘Breathe Deep’ album will be an important one on many levels and another indication of Oscar Jerome’s significance right here-right now.