Following in the footsteps of UK jazz heavyweights, Nubya Garcia, Ashley Henry & Kaidi Tatham, London-based, Berklee-trained drummer/composer and Jazz FM’s Breakthrough Act of last year, Jas Kayser unveils her much anticipated debut album this April 2022, for Jazz Re:Freshed’s iconic 5ive series.
Meditative jazz arrangements, finessed afrobeat fusions, and energising studio production, Jas’s 5ive reveals a glimpse into the future of one of UK’s most exciting young artists/instrumentalists. As ruminating as it is danceable, 5ive offers a sincere and candid reflection on themes of identity, self-discovery and family, as well as navigates deep questions, from Jas’s upbringing to her travels abroad.
Having returned from completing her undergrad and masters degrees at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, the trajectory of 26-year old, Dorset-raised Kayser has been quietly exponential. Over three short years, Jas has performed in bands led by a who’s who of leading UK talent, from Alfa Mist, Poppy Ajudha, Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings, to Brit Award and Grammy-nominated singer, Jorja Smith, and has presented her band at Boiler Room Festival for gal-dem as well as Jazz Re:Freshed’s Showcase at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Even Rock legend Lenny Kravitz invited Jas to Paris to perform a drum duet and cameo in his 2018 ‘Low’ video (currently sitting at 96 million Youtube streams). But it’s Jas’s latest solo work, packed with a suitcase full of influences ranging from Michael Olatuja, Richard Bona, Terri Lyne Carrington to Chris Dave and Pedrito Martinez, that provides the most detailed account of her complete abilities as drummer, bandleader and composer.
Expanding on the strong West African foundation of her Fela-inspired, 2020 three-track EP, Unforced Rhythm Of Grace, Jas’s 5ive deduces the similarities between afrobeat and jazz, with a technical precision and social/cultural framing unique and unlike much to have come before. Its mellow, pop-infused production, and catchy arrangements echo the many hours Jas has spent with the UK’s latest chart-bound talent.
"Making this record took me on a path of reflection. The goal was to reflect on my life experiences socially and culturally as well as musically. With music I have been able to travel which has helped me to learn about myself. It's been an awakening for me. Thinking, what is culture? What is the musical connection? And the importance to feel recognised and accepted for being you.”
Encouraged by mentors (Terri Lyne Carrington, Danilo Perez, Ralph Peterson, Neal Smith) to address social concerns, and exploring her dual heritage during time spent in the US, Panama & UK, Jas enlists spoken-word artist and her twin brother Aalvk, and jazz vocalist Ava Joseph on her 5ive, posing questions surrounding migration, tolerance and identity.
"Going to Panama, one of the most diverse countries in the world, I felt seen. I found myself and as a result of that I’ve become a lot more confident in accepting who I am. Darkness In The Light is a story about losing yourself and finding the beauty in the light."
Whether it’s drum theory or the social function of art, talking with Jas, you sense how resolute and clear she is in her musical vision, and where her future is focused. Outside of releasing albums and touring, Jas is focused on shifting perceptions around women in jazz, citing underrepresentation amongst other factors as to why there are so few female drummers working in music today.
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