Alto-saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch is one of the leading lights in two usually distinct British music scenes – those of Hip Hop and Jazz. He won the Rising Star Award at the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards, Best Jazz Act at the 2003 and 2007 MOBO Awards, and the prestigious White Saxophone award at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Born in London to a Barbadian playwright father and British-Jamaican actress mother, Kinch began playing the saxophone at age nine. It will please Birmingham locals to hear that he then moved to live in Handsworth and attended school in Edgbaston and later completed his A levels in Bromsgrove. During this time, he took a strong interest in jazz, yet alongside Parker, Ellington and Coltrane, Kinch lists The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest and Big Daddy Kane as big influences.
Kinch’s skills as a Hip-Hop MC and producer have garnered support slots with KRS One and TY, and praise from Mos Def and Rodney P. He also wrote the score for Jonzi D’s Hip Hop theatre production Markus the Sadist. However, despite this, he told Britishhiphop.co.uk that “at the moment I’m fighting retailers to even put my album into the hip hop section”. Perhaps the retailers’ reluctance stems from Kinch’s aversion to stereotypical subject matter – “Spitting about thug fantasies doesn’t interest me” he said “we Brits can find some fresh ground”..
Kinch, like Roots Manuva and Ghostpoet who are also performing at the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul festival this year, is one of the few UK artists creating truly original hip-hop. The Guardian described a recent live performance as “a scalding display of post-Coleman alto-sax” with “a virtuosic and intelligent exposition of political rap”. This year’s festival show is likely to be unmissable .