“She can play one note and you can tell what her artistic intentions are,” said Shabaka Hutchings, the breakout star of the new British jazz, to The New York Times in a profile of Nubya Garcia, the London-based tenor saxophonist who, before age thirty, worked her way to the top of one of the world’s liveliest jazz arenas today.
In the same piece, Garcia’s peer Moses Boyd, a Mercury-Prize-nominated drummer with whom she appeared on the influential Hutchings-produced scene snapshot We Out Here in 2018, compared her to John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. Meanwhile, The Guardian hailed her as a virtuoso in whom “restraint and generosity go hand in hand.” This high praise was built up through Garcia’s prolific work as a bandleader and collaborator—with British peers like Sons of Kemet as well as American-based experimenters such as Makaya McCraven and Moses Sumney—but it burst forth from her 2020 album, SOURCE, a soulful and celebratory fusion of jazz, dub reggae, cumbia, and other strains of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. With double bassist Daniel Casimir, pianist and organist Joe Armon-Jones, and drummer Sam Jones, Garcia breathes sympathetic contours and summatory solos into lush, melodious compositions, relying on the unwavering clarity of her playing to gracefully span relaxed and energized moods, pure and alloyed emotions. The album crossed over from jazz to popular plaudits in NME and Pitchfork, where Andy Beta said that it instantly established Garcia as “a foundational voice in the larger, ongoing story of the London jazz scene.”