Who are the Jazz artists behind the world’s biggest pop stars?

20th February 2019

Some of the biggest pop stars in the world are backed by some of the world’s biggest jazz musicians. Did you know that Neil Cowley played piano for Adele’s first two albums, ’19’ and ’21’? Check out our ‘who plays with who’ list below. 

Solange \\ Jazz sideman: Braxton Cook

Solange – writer of one of the biggest alternative hits of the decade, ‘Cranes in the Sky’ – performed with saxophonist Braxton Cook for the first time at The Guggenheim Museum. Having toured numerous times with Christian Scott, the New York based artist launched a solo career as both a saxophonist and vocalist in 2017 with his debut album ‘Somewhere In Between’. He plays with Tom Misch too – watch the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. Also check out his latest album, ‘No Doubt’; a record tinged with old skool R&B.

Chance the Rapper \\ Jazz sideman: Will Miller

Will Mellor is the trumpeter behind new Chicago band Resavoir – and he’s also better known as a member of American indie band Whitney.’ Where else have you heard him before? Plenty of hip-hop records. He’s recorded with Chance the Rapper (‘Acid Rap’) as well as with A$AP Rocky, Lil Wayne and the late Mac Miller.

Kano \\ Jazz sidemen: Theon and Nathaniel Cross

South East London brass brothers Theon (tuba) and Nathanel Cross (trombone) are known across the UK Jazz scene – despite Nathaniel being yet to release a solo record – yet they’ll be recognised by grime fans, too. As part of Kano’s touring band, they’ve captured fan’s imaginations and in some cases, actually stolen the show; Theon’s Sousaphone performance in Kano’s set was listed as the no.8 highlight at Glastonbury 2017 by BBC Music.

Little Simz \\ Jazz sidewoman: Sheila Maurice Grey

The playing of Sheila Maurice Grey’s trumpet was enjoying millions of hits on Spotify before her band KOKOROKO went viral on Youtube with ‘Abusey Junction’. She appears on several tracks for Little Simz’ ‘Stillness in Wonderland’ album. Her talents have also been demonstrated for Loyle Carner, writing the brass arrangements for his tune ‘Mrs C’. Check out Sheila performing ‘Backseat’ with Little Simz at Global Citizen Live. 

Sam Smith \\ Jazz sideman: Reuben James

When he’s not at Ronnie Scott’s and other Jazz venues playing with his trio, you’ll most likely find Reuben James with Sam Smith. He recorded with him for his debut album ‘In the Lonely Hour’, and has toured with the International superstar ever since.

Read our interview with Anderson .Paak collaborator Kadhja Bonet 

Jorja Smith \\ Jazz sideman: Femi Koleoso

BRITs and Grammy nominee Jorja Smith is found on stage with Ezra Collective drummer. Femi Koleoso. Having toured extensively together on her Lost and Found tour, the 21 year old has often given Femi room to shine – in 2018, the 21 year old singer featured on Ezra Collective track ‘Reason In Disguise’. Check out Femi Koleoso playing with Jorja Smith for her NRP Music Tiny Desk Concert. 

Adele \\ Jazz sideman: Neil Cowley

Neil Cowley has played keys on some of the century’s most critically acclaimed pop albums; notably Adele’s first two instant classics; 19 and 21. You can also note Professor Green, Emeli Sande, Birdy and Stereophonics as acts who have called on Neil, who launches a new solo project this year.

Main Image via Fadar Magazine 

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