‘Warriors’ is the new album release from the Mark Kavuma-helmed collective, The Banger Factory, unveiled as part of Kavuma’s own Banger Factory Records recording home.
The impact of a certain global pandemic – and the subsequent lengthy lockdown periods – are still factors that loom heavily over the entertainment industry. From a music perspective, the ominous period of face masks, Zoom-based interactions, social distancing and excessive amounts of hand sanitizer led to some daunting times that forced both artists and the music industry to act and respond accordingly with many on both sides leading the way – stream-based performances became a frequent social media fixture, Bandcamp Fridays helped to support independent artists and labels, and a significant rise of podcasts all helped to keep musicians visible when collaborating and performing through traditional methods frankly weren’t possible.
It’s dealing with this level of adversity that The Banger Factory employ as their starting point and inspiration when considering the term “warriors”. The album serves as a salute to those artists who still managed to nurture their creativity through such adverse conditions and still manage to contribute to London’s beloved jazz community. And ‘community’ also is something of an operative term here as well… as well as putting together this incredible ensemble of musicians, as stated in the opening of this article, Kavuma’s commitment and dedication to not only his craft but to London’s overall scene is further encapsulated by the birth of Banger Factory Records.
As stated by Kavuma on the label’s Bandcamp page, “My dream is to showcase the London jazz community. I want the label to inspire and empower … and show other artists and up-and-coming musicians that it is possible for them to create, flourish and innovate.”
It’s an incredibly noble sentiment and one that is being executed to perfection. Although a comparatively young label, Banger Factory Records can lay claim to some already stunning releases like the all-star lineup that comprised Kinetika Bloco and their ‘Legacy’ album in 2021, which featured UK heavyweights Nubya Garcia, David Mrakpor and Theon Cross alongside Kavuma’s production; The collaborative ‘Back to Back’ project from earlier this year that paired Kavuma with Artie Zaitz generated some fantastic music as well and while the label affords Mark Kavuma the musical platform to express his boundless creative freedom, it is also providing that platform for others to thrive amongst as is the case for the latest Banger Factory release.
Headed up by the horn trio of Kavuma on trumpet, Theo Erskine on tenor sax and Ruben Fox on bass clarinet, the remaining ensemble is comprised of pianist Deschanel Gordon, Conor Chaplin on double bass and Luca Caruso on drums. And true to their word, across the album’s six original compositions, the theme of “warriors” is explored through some genuinely sensational pieces. The glorious near-ten-minute opening track ‘Warriors Part 1’ sets the stage through its rich and multi-faceted journey that affords moments for everyone to shine before making way for the more vivacious energy of ‘Warriors Part 2’. ‘Chomolungma’ warrants further mention thanks to its dreamy and sublime soundscape and the exquisite swing of ‘Senzo’ delivers as the perfect closer.
As a term, “warrior” absolutely means different things to different people. If I may, a warrior to me is defined not by how many times they fall but by how many times they get back up. So many countless events in the last few years have brought us all to our knees as individuals and as a global community, and while their ripple effects continue to impact us all, now isn’t the time to remain on our knees… it is the time to rise.