Polar Waters

Jaswon’s boldest statement yet – a personal manifesto for what jazz can and should be right now, nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century.’’
Brian Glasser
, Jazzwise

Ubuntu Music – UBU0125
CD, Digital & Vinyl Formats: Friday 2nd June 2023

Ubuntu Music is delighted to announce its continued relationship with the Joshua Jaswon Octet, for the upcoming release of Polar Waters, the second album in the series, which will be available worldwide from 2nd June 2023.

The Joshua Jaswon Octet is a Berlin-based contemporary jazz ensemble, featuring a broad cross-section of exceptional young musicians from Europe’s leading jazz scenes. Led by Jaswon, the London-born saxophonist and composer, the ensemble released its debut album, Silent Sea on Ubuntu Music in October 2020, which was selected by BBC Music as one of the best jazz recordings of 2020-2021 and received 4- and 5-Star Reviews across the UK and international media.

Following this release and successful tours in Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Hanover) and the UK (Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and London), the Octet recorded its second album, Polar Waters, which will be supported by an Autumn 2023 tour.

The music from Silent Sea, the first album, has been featured across a range of radio stations, including the BBC, Jazz FM and Worldwide FM. This music was also selected for Best Track and Best Album of The Year polls in Jazzwise Magazine and by Worldwide FM’s radio presenters. In addition, the music was featured in Spotify Editorial Playlists including Jazz X-Press, Jazz Today, Swinging Singing and Destination: Jazz.

“Impeccably performed…a powerful soundtrack for desperate times”
BBC Music Magazine / 5 Album Review

Joshua describes the idea behind the project: “As I started writing new music for the Octet, I wanted the compositional method to somehow relate more strongly to creative processes and approaches that had been informed and influenced by science and the natural world. These early ideas led to encountering the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and the three SciencePoetry (SciPo) anthologies. SciPo explores the creative common ground between science and poetry, and I was hugely interested in collaborating with some of these writers to create a new body of work that traversed the borders between poetry, science and music.

“Following discussions with editor and poet Elsa Hammond and in-depth exchanges with Claire Cox, Catherine Faulds and Carrie Etter about their creative processes, I started composing new music based on the texts of a selection of poems from these anthologies. The finished works were recorded in 2022 and are presented here as ‘Polar Waters’.”

“Jaswon’s pan-European Octet deftly combine driving jazz with lyrical condemnation”
Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman

In developing the music for this album, Jaswon wanted to make bolder compositional decisions and push the limits of how words, form and improvisation could interact.

Further drawing out the distinct musical personalities of each member of the Octet into the group’s collective sound was a part of the ensemble’s natural evolution from its first record and something that has developed through extended time living with and performing the music. Jaswon was focused on exploring the fluidity of roles, sound colours and textural combinations in the ensemble and how this related to both the collective and individual.

The premise of writing for ‘voice with ensemble’ has now largely evaporated, with instead the writing able to engage with eight sound possibilities and the myriad of tonal possibilities contained within.

Josh describes his extended relationship with Ubuntu Music: “I’m very excited that the Octet’s second album is being released with Ubuntu Music. The record is a musical continuation and development from where we left-off with Silent Sea and it felt right to continue this journey of discovery with the dynamic Ubuntu label.”

Martin Hummel, Director of Ubuntu Music, concludes: “It was a pleasure to release ‘Silent Sea’, Josh’s first album in the series, which received universal critical acclaim across the board. ‘Polar Waters’, the second, picks up where ‘Silent Sea’ concluded, with outstanding compositional crafting, which is brought to life by a talented, culturally diverse European Octet. ‘Polar Waters’ will most certainly delight Josh’s followers, old and new.”