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Liverpool Jazz Festival


Xhosa Cole Trio

Xhosa Cole - saxophone
James Owston - bass
Jim Bashford - drums


Winner of the 2018 BBC Young Jazz Musician of the year, Xhosa Cole is an embodiment of the success of numerous community arts programmes in Birmingham including the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra. Having grown up in Handsworth and first played the tenor at Andy Hamilton’s Ladywood Community Music School, he’s now part a long legacy of Birmingham saxophonists including Soweto Kinch and Shabaka Hutchings. Cole has performed at the BBC proms and composed music for a Birmingham based string orchestra. He also played on Mahalia’s debut album LOVE AND COMPROMISE, and completed a 22-date UK tour and all while a scholar at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Cole also received the Parliamentary Jazz Award for ‘Best Newcomer’ in 2019 and Jazz FM ‘Breakthrough act of the year’.


At times like these we need a touch of humour…Xhosa Cole arrived on the scene to lighten the load somewhat with his playing and very funny observations. He remined us that due to the restriction in place for so many months the band may bit a little rusty, but had practised for the show. In addition he informed us that he had driven from Birmingham with a slow puncture and hoped that some of the heavy vinyl record he had on board would be reduced to drop the weight on the offending tyre!!!


More quips followed during a set which was bursting with youthful exuberance and high levels of musical talent. ‘Mack The Knife’ opened the set with each player performing the most superb solo passages. The arrangement was brilliant, complex yet accessible. ‘Cheesecake’ followed with lyrical sax solos punctuated by some wonderful drumming moments. ‘I’ve Got A Crush On You’ provided Owston with the opportunity to introduce the song with some of the best double bass of the festival. The song was notable for its strong rhythmic backdrop and final sax flourish. ‘Played Twice’ is from the latest record, K(NO)w THEM, K(NO)W US, which on the strength of its play concluded in yet another purchase from their merch stand. A great ending to a great festival.


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