The Yussef Dayes Experience Live at Joshua Tree (Presented by Soulection) - EP

Yussef Dayes

The Yussef Dayes Experience Live at Joshua Tree (Presented by Soulection) - EP

Rhythmic powerhouse Yussef Dayes has been at the forefront of London’s new jazz scene since his debut release, Black Focus, became a crate-digging staple in 2016. Pairing lightning-speed drum breaks with West Africa-referencing polyrhythms, Dayes went on to craft a new percussive language that is as capable of accompanying improvised jazz instrumentation as it is driving the groove on the dance floor. While touring the US in 2022 with his supergroup of instrumentalists, The Yussef Dayes Experience, Dayes decided to make a pit stop in California’s Joshua Tree National Park to record a special live performance. “We’d been traveling through all these cities, and I wanted to get into nature,” he tells Apple Music. “I’m always interested to see how my music sounds outside of the studio and the new vibrations it can create.” Acting as a companion piece to 2020’s ferocious live album Welcome to the Hills, this EP showcases a more pensive side to Dayes and his tight-knit quintet—traversing the lyrical saxophone melodies of “Mystics” to the hip-hop swing of “Raisins Under the Sun.” “We’re connecting with nature and letting the vibe flow,” he says. Read on for Yussef Dayes’ thoughts on the EP, track by track. “Raisins Under the Sun (Desert Version)” “This is one of the intro tracks to our live set, which I wrote last year with my bassist Rocco Palladino, keys player Charlie Stacey, and the saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings. It’s the perfect, vibrant song to start with since it’s all about the power the sun brings to us and how it charges up our energy. Joshua Tree is in the desert, so it was super hot when we were setting up and playing—it changed the style of our music, as we had to keep the instrumental intricacies but respect the heat at the same time.” “Odyssey” “When we’re playing as a band, it can often feel as if the instruments are just gliding through space and connecting with the rhythms that unify so many genres. ‘Odyssey’ is a reflection of that free-flowing feeling—it’s a track that references hip-hop, and it feels like the perfect setting for a rapper to freestyle over before it gets faster and more complex towards the end. We wrote it last year and never made a video for the track, so I wanted it to be on the EP, as it deserves the attention.” “Golden Hour” (feat. Rocco Palladino) “My bass player Rocco is a big part of the sound we create as a band, and it has taken time to create that understanding where we can lock in together, or bend time as we push and pull between who’s leading the rhythm. ‘Golden Hour’ was a freestyle jam made to reflect that connection between us. We were all improvising as the sun was going down and trying to capture the moment, which is how new tunes are written for me. The drum and the bass are the key ingredients in music, and Rocco speaks through his instrument.” “Mystics” (feat. Venna) “I haven’t made music with a saxophone player for a while, but when we brought Venna into the band last year, he just added the exact sauce and swagger that we needed. He brings so much energy to our performances and encapsulates how we want to push the music forward, while respecting what has come before. ‘Mystics’ is one of my favorite tunes in the set—it has a sweet vibe to it and it’s truly mystical. When we were playing it, a bobcat came past to check us out. It was as if there were spirits passing through that space and the music we were making.” “Rhythms of Xango” “I’ve known my percussionist Alex Bourt since I was a kid, and he’s an amazing drummer who has taught me a lot. Recently, I was interested in adding percussion to our live setup, and this track is an ode to the purity and importance of rhythm, with just the two of us playing together. Rhythm is a key ingredient, and we have to let it shine. This reflects all the rhythms I’ve heard while traveling around El Salvador and Senegal, and the ultimately healing properties of the drum.”

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