Nubiyan Twist are a Leeds-conceived, London-based, genre-fluid musical collective orchestrated by guitarist/producer Tom Excell. Their expansive, eclectic music is a seamless meld of soul, funk, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, Indian classical music, gnawa, soukous, and electronic dance music. Ranging from ten to twelve members, the band includes three primary vocalists in Nubiya Brandon, saxophonist Nick Richards, and percussionist Pilo Adami, as well as a four-piece horn section, dubbed live electronics, and a large rhythm section that all serve to create powerful live performances in intimate jazz clubs, and on large dancefloors and festival stages. Their 2019 sophomore full-length Jungle Run on Strut featured guest spots by Afrobeat drum legend Tony Allen and Ethiopian jazzman Mulatu Astatke. After a handful of singles in 2020 and early 2021, including "Tittle Tattle" (feat. Cherise), "Buckle Up" (feat. Soweto Kinch), and "If I Know" (feat. K.O.G.), they issued the long-player Freedom Fables in March 2021.
The band was formed in 2011 at the Leeds College of Music by a group of players around Excell. They spent four years woodshedding, shifting personnel, and playing whatever gigs were available just as the 21st century cross-hybrid music scene was coming into view. Their 2015 self-titled full-length debut on Wormfood received strong support from the jazz and hip-hop press, and earned them support gigs with De La Soul, Hot 8 Brass Band, Quantic, and the Robert Glasper Experiment. The recording also inspired an album of remixes. A year later they issued the five-track Siren Song EP, and in 2017 the Dance Inna London/All the Pieces EP. The A-side featured a guest vocal by Supercat with remixes by Dem Juju Poets and Renegades of Jazz, while the flipside included a pair by Wonky Logic and Voyeur. All the while, Nubiyan Twist were hard at work honing their live chops at home and on tour. Their reputation spread across the fertile London and European scene, and David Byrne selected them for 2017's South Bank Meltdown Festival, which Byrne curated. In late 2018, the band signed to Strut and issued their sophomore full-length, Jungle Run, in February; it established their reputation in Asia and the Americas, as well as in Europe. Gilles Peterson's Worldwide FM played and promoted the album and the band played a three-hour live in-studio session hosted by Strut label boss Quinton Scott. That live session was also chosen as album of the week by DJ Morning Mari. It received abundant airplay on French, Belgian, German, and Swiss radio, and placed respectably on global streaming charts.
In 2020, the collective retreated to the studio. They issued a handful of singles including "24-7" (feat. Ego Ella May), "Tittle Tattle," "Flow" (feat. Cherise), and "Buckle Up" (feat. rapper and saxophonist Soweto Kinch). All were included on third album Freedom Fables produced by Excell. Throughout the nine-song set the band drew inspiration from jazz, hip-hop, Afrobeat, and U.K. soul; they included vocalists throughout. Also featured on the roster were Ghanian musician Pat Thomas and pianist/songwriter Ria Moran. Titled Freedom Fables, the album was issued in March of 2021. ~ Thom Jurek