“Fill the room with love.” “Bring your whole self.” “God is not your fault.” These are but a few of the choice Alabaster DePlume quotes that music section editors helplessly made into headlines for their enthralled coverage of the London-based saxophonist, composer, and bandleader’s album To Cy & Lee, which The Guardian called “beautifully tender” and “the jazz breakthrough of 2020.”
Language has long been a prominent feature of DePlume’s music, incarnated in his caustic, caressing voice and his pointedly political lyrics. But To Cy & Lee, his International Anthem debut, is an instrumental mirage drawing inspiration from Japanese and Celtic folk, Ethiopian jazz and Studio Ghibli film scores, and DePlume’s work in mental-health support. New compositions performed with Sarathy Korwar and The Comet Is Coming’s Dan Leavers breathe alongside works from prior albums such as Copernicus, The Jester, and Peach, which gave its name to DePlume’s freewheeling monthly residency at London’s Total Refreshment Centre.
Few artists speak as eloquently as DePlume does about the healing spontaneity that can descend upon a properly cultivated musical space, and he adopts a role more like an encouraging shaman guiding musicians and witnesses through a ceremony than a conventional bandleader.