Just seen these limited vinyls drop online this week, serious jazz business on the Night Dreamer label – grab ’em direct off the artist while you can – Emma-Jean Thackray is an outstanding figure in the UK jazz scene and Um Yang is an inspired piece. The composition is a long-dreamed project dedicated to the Taoist philosophy of duality and harmony and Thackray leads a septet featuring Soweto Kinch and Steam Down’s Wonky Logic, recorded straight to vinyl for Night Dreamer (WTM covered this unique label, where sessions are pressed straight away for release previously).
Check out this beautifully produced video about the project.
Since debuting in 2016, Thackray has directed the London Symphony Orchestra, performed at the NY Winter Jazz Fest, played Glastonbury five times in 2019 alone, and launched her own record label, Movementt (in association with Warp). Thackray’s music is championed by Gilles Peterson, Theo Parrish and Jamie Cullum, having collaborated with Makaya McCraven, Junius Paul and Angel Bat Dawid. When hosting a monthly radio show on Worldwide FM, she champions the range of influences that have inspired her life.
Raised in Yorkshire, UK, Thackray inherited a grounding in Taoism from her father, and approaches her music with the same pursuit of harmony between Um and Yang (the Korean Ying and Yang). Thackray has applied this ideology with the ensemble for Um Yang featuring not one but two percussionists, as she leads on both trumpet and vocals.
Night Dreamer Records recorded Um Yang straight-to-disc at Artone’s vintage recording studio in Haarlem, Netherlands, capturing it in one-take live, without overdubs or edits, on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th October, 2019.
“Recording in Artone was such a dream,” Thackray recalls. “It had all the fantasy analogue equipment you daydream about one day being able to use. The desk looked like something Uhura would use. All the instruments were natural, woods and metals, no plastic in sight, and everything was to be hit or blown, all analogue.
“I really needed everything to be natural and real, because the music is about the universe, about the energy of all things, and what is more real than that.”