An ensemble consisting of musicians who’ve also played parts in the groups Maisha and Ezra Collective, Cykada’s eponymous debut album was recorded back in 2017 at the pivotal Total Refreshment Centre venue in London. Over five tracks, the jazz collective embraces a fiery, upbeat style: the opening song “Creation” showcases saxophonist James Mollison and guitar player Javi Pérez sparring and intertwining over a pulsing afrobeat-inspired rhythm; the heady “Realize” is fueled by furious fanfares of brass; and “Dimension Stepper” broadens the scope of influences by tapping into UK garage vibes and adding electronic elements to the mix.
Cykada’s infectious, energized musicianship peaks with the climatic closing cut “Third Eye Thunder.” The song’s mid-section features a stripped-down sax and drums break, before building into a maelstrom of funky improvised riffs and then fading out in a dramatic sludge of ambient atmospherics. Consider Cykada another essential building block in the grand UK jazz renaissance.
Cykada, Cykada (Astigmatic Records)