‘The Dream Jazz Manifesto’ by Jelly Cleaver is one of those albums that will be stuck on repeat for a very long time.
Once you hit play it soon becomes apparent that the depths of this record go pretty deep and Cleaver is an artist who is pushing jazz forward way beyond her peers.
Dwelling on existential and Buddhist philosophies as well as feminist and decolonial analysis, the nine-song record is heavily influenced by Cleaver’s activism against the UK hostile environment policy and deportation and detention systems. Check out the brilliant ‘Yarl’s Wood’ and ‘Renny’s Poem’ which features spoken word from activists Renny who was a hunger striker at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
Across the album, Cleaver brilliantly fuses the disparate sounds of jazz, alt R&B, punk, alternative rock, and lo-fi soul (often in one song) to create something genuinely new and fresh. But the key to the whole record is the fine balance which Cleaver keeps throughout the stylistic mashup with her thought provoking lyrics, incredible musicianship, beautiful harmonies and engaging songs.
The album includes the ethereal and arresting lead single ‘VI VII V’. Other standouts include ‘Song That He Wrote’ with its delightful ebb and flow, ‘Ego’ one of the more punkish moments on the record and the title track.
A graduate of the hugely respected Tomorrows Warriors organisation many of the musicians on the album also play with her in Tomorrows Warriors Female Frontline including Roella Oloro, Isobella Burnam, Loucin Moskofian, Lorenz Okeno-Osengor and Kaidi Akinnibi.
Check out ‘The Dream Jazz Manifesto’ on the Bandcamp player below, and buy here.