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  • Writer's pictureBasement Leeds

NAALÍ Collective Headline Sunday Joint

NAALÍ COLLECTIVE have been a staple of the Leeds jazz scene since their debut gig last September at Belgrave. Previously supporting amazing bands such as State of Satta, Corto Alto and Plantfood, they headlined the alluring HiFi Sunday Joint for the first time on 6th March. Featuring jazz, soul and world music, the Sunday Joint has been so crucial for giving platform to diverse Leeds artists and there was a strong sense of achievement for the band in headlining.

From the second I descended into the venue; I was overtaken by the earthly atmosphere emanating from the stage. Decorated with plants, tapestries and even a rainbow umbrella, it does much to encapsulate their vision to address the important issues of today, such as the environment and queer lived experience. This, alongside creating a homely and intimate setting, welcomes and brings the audience closer to the band.

Having seen NAALÍ COLLECTIVE a few times when opening for other bands, I was excited to see what they could bring to the table with a full-length set. Vocalists Lina Holt, NAALÍ ’s pioneer and main writer, and Yasmina Nahas are great at capturing an audience and demanding their full attention. The soundscapes created by keyboardist Jacob Hargreaves, bassist Amanda Nossen and percussionist Billy Burls are nothing short of lush, with arpeggios from the first two being part of what makes this band so great. Nossen particularly reminded me of bass maestro Thundercat with a very calming tone which ran through the ingenious chords of the music.

(Photo: Misha Warren)

It’s quite difficult to place NAALÍ COLLECTIVE in one genre. The band clearly has influences from all over the musical world including avant-garde jazz and future soul. The track which shows this fusion of genres the best is the encore track ‘Is It Rhythm’ which had an electric beat change during the latter half of the song. This caught half the crowd off guard and had the other half cheering so loud, it almost drowned out the rest of the band. This song also highlighted the heroic brass section of the collective, compromising of saxophonist Gustavo Andrade, trombone player Adam Wilkin and guest trumpeter Olivia Cuttill who joined the band for the last three songs. Unlike other acts you might see at HiFi on a Sunday night, the brass section always plays a supporting role to Lina’s vocals but will still manages to wow you with a solo which pushes the limits of rhythm and syncopation when you least expect it.

Olivia wasn’t the only guest tonight as cellist, Luca Vitale, joined the stage for a cover of Erykah Badu's ‘Out My Mind', merged with the original 'Thousand Days'. From the second he started playing, it was immediately apparent how essential he was to the song. NAALÍ COLLECTIVE excel at creating intimate soundscapes, and this contemplative weeping cello provided a beautiful accompaniment to Lina and Yasmina’s voices. It will be exciting to see how Luca and the rest of the band work together in future.

The last guest of the night was rapper Phenicia Jay, who rapped on the hauntingly important Male Gaze, a song about the experiences and fears women and marginalized genders face under the patriarchy. Its delivery was even more striking, given the performance took place nearly a year on from the killing of Sarah Everard. The song begins with dark hazy vocal effects doubling Lina’s voice, implying it’s not just her experience, but the struggles of women all around the world. Phenicia delivered a commanding verse here and had the entire crowd head-banging. I had seen them perform with NAALÍ before but given the context, their performance felt especially venomous and authoritative.

NAALÍ’s ability to draw a diverse crowd, of both those within and outside of the Leeds Conservatoire, is sure to determine their base continues to diversify and flourish. I’m sure they’ll be very proud with their first headline gig, especially since all new material went down so commendably.

Watch the new live session here:

Engineered by Oscar McKie and Adam Bentham of The Recording Box.

Mixed and Master by Oscar McKie of The Recording Box.

Videography Misha Warren.

More to be released. Keep up to date on NAALÍ's instagram.

Words by Harvey Duncan

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