A guide to UK jazz in 2018

By in Features

Featuring 29 records from a prolific year.

Few movements have been more energised in the UK this year than that of jazz-influenced music. While this wasn’t necessary new, what made 2018 special was the number of artists who released debut albums or break-through EPs in the last 12 months.

Connected by a spirit of improvisation, expression and collaboration at the heart of jazz, this music is defined by its resistance to labels, emerging instead from hybrid influences that span from Alice Coltrane to Wiley, Herbie Hancock to Madlib. For the head, heart and feet, it is music that can – and regular does – turn a church into a dance floor.

From artists like Joe-Armon Jones and Maisha on Brownswood, to Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia and Kamaal Williams who sought to release music on their own labels, there remains a DIY edge to jazz in the UK that resists commodification. Reaching out to Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham and beyond, the music also shed its reputation as a London thing, as collaborations with Jo’burg and Chicago among others meant UK jazz became truly international in 2018.

Recorded live on The Vinyl Factory’s monthly show on Soho Radio, VF Editor-in-Chief Anton Spice sprinted through almost thirty records in two hours to provide an overview of what went down in 2018.


Ezra Collective – Pure Shade (Brownswood)
Joe Armon-Jones – We Almost Went Too Far (Brownswood)
Maisha – Eaglehurst / The Palace (Brownswood)
Nubya Garcia – When We Are (Nyasha Records)
Moses Boyd – Axis Blue (Exodus)
Oscar Jerome – Do You Really (Self-released)
Tenderlonious – Yussef’s Groove (22a)
Yussef Dayes & Alfa Mist – Love Is The Message (The Vinyl Factory)
Kamaal Williams – Broken Theme (Black Focus)
Mansur Brown – Shiroi (Black Focus)
Yazmin Lacey – 90 Degrees (First Word)
The Expansions – Ivory Mountain (Albert’s Favourites)
Soothsayers – Tradition (Wah Wah 45s)
Anthony Joseph – Dig Out Your Eye (Heavenly Sweetness)
Emma-Jean Thackray – Ley Lines (The Vinyl Factory)
Don’t Problem – Jacques (Self-released)
Alabaster DePlume – I Want A Red Car (Lost Map)
Capitol K – Landlocked (Faith & Industry)
Ishmael Ensemble – Tunnels (Severn Songs)
Pete Beardsworth – To The Place (Running Circle)
Nat Birchall – A Prayer For (Jazzman)
Chip Wickham – Shamal Wind (Lovemonk)
Emanative – Dawn Child (Sunrise) (Jazzman)
Szun Waves – Constellation (The Leaf Label)
Sarathy Korwar – The Creator Has A Master Plan (Gearbox)
Yazz Ahmed – The Lost Pearl (Hector Plimmer remix) (Naim)
Ben Vince – Alive & Ready (Where To Now?)
Collocutor – Black Satin (On the Corner)
Sons of Kemet – My Queen Is Harriet Tubman (Impulse!)

Explore the rest of VF’s end of year round-ups below:

Our 50 favourite albums of 2018
Our 20 favourite 12″s and EPs of 2018
Our 10 favourite 7″s and 10″s of 2018
The 15 best turntables of 2018
The best amplifiers of 2018
The best speakers of 2018
The best headphones of 2018
A guide to the Japanese reissues of 2018

Image: Divya Scialo, from the inner sleeve of Joe-Armon Jones’ Starting Today