Nag Champa have just released their first EP and this Yorkshire based British band produce authentic sounding jazz. “Authentic” did I really say that? It translates as bloody good jazz music! I believe that they are all students at the Leeds College of Music. Back in the olden days as my eclectic music taste developed I was very much into jazz funk. As a result I explored the music of a lot of jazz artists; Norman Connors, Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock to name but a few.
Nag Champa seem to draw their influences from a lot of jazz greats, including some of those that I have come across before. The opening track on the EP, “Slow Me Down” builds up to a very funky workout reminiscent of the Crusaders. Maya Kally’s vocals are both easy on the ear and soulful at the same time. The band are very tight, but I would like to see them play in a live setting to see how well that recorded excellence translates in the live setting. I do have it on good authority though that they are even better live.
Is there a strong market for jazz music these days? Of course there is and the success of likes of Gregory Porter and Jamie Cullum are proof of this. Nag Champa take on Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” on this EP and they pull it off brilliantly. They handle a cover just the way I believe covers should be handled, by making them very different from the original and they take the song in a new direction. “Daydreamer” has a nice dreamy feel of chilled but funky jazz and along with the previously mentioned “Slow Me Down” has lyrics written by singer Maya Kally. I also love the synth and keyboard wig out towards the end of this track which is very Herbie Hancockesque.
If you like jazz or jazz funk then I am sure that you will love Nag Champa. If you don’t see yourself as a jazz fan check them out anyway, I don’t think that you will be disappointed. For a first release this is an accomplished set of songs and performances which highlights great potential for bigger things in the future. Definitely a band to watch out for. Check them out on BandCamp (where you can buy the EP) and Facebook. Can we see them at Live In Leeds and the Apollo Festival in York next year please?