Sage Secrets - PYJÆN (EP Review)
29 May 2020
EP Rating 4.5/5
Live Potential 4.5/5
Solo Performances 4.5/5
Diversity in Songs 5/5
Favourite Songs Sage Secrets, Gold Plated, Bittersweet
The word ‘eclectic’ is something of a cliché in music writing but for PYJÆN I feel I need to use it. They both fit into, and avoid, an array of genres, nestled somewhere in the realms of jazz, hip-hop, funk, afro-beat, and even with elements of rock and disco.
Rather than fixating on their genre though, the main thing to focus on is the pulsating fun their music holds for the listener.
PYJÆN are a London based quintet, who met up in Trinity Laban College, and their playing is as tight as ever. Dani Diodato’s guitar playing is smooth, as is the euphoric horn section of Dylan Jones and Ben Vize on the trumpet and saxophone respectively. Finally, Charlie Hutchinson’s drums and Benjamin Crane’s bass keep the rhythm grooving and the heads nodding.
After a successful 2019 self-titled EP, which was given praise by Gilles Peterson and Huey Morgan, PYJÆN are back with five memorable tracks.
The EP opens with the title track, ‘Sage Secrets’, featuring the magnificent Blue Lab Beats. With this fine pairing of artists, the tune holds the perfect harmony of jazz and hip-hop. Irresistibly groovy, and with a scorching horn section, this tune is one I will be playing again and again. It features a great keyboard solo and some smooth guitar flashes in between its grooves. As the voice says at the end, ‘that was sick!’
'PJFC', the second track, has been likened to ‘football chant celebrations’. They capture that vibe with a feeling of frenzied euphoria, a bouncing rhythm and horn stabs.
The third track was my personal favourite. ‘Gold Plated’ features the wonderful vocals of Odette Peters, and has that golden neo-soul feel to it. It opens with soft keys and introduces the vocals delicately. Peters’ voice is a soulful delight, sounding somewhere between Amy Winehouse, Biig Piig and Zoe’s Shanghai.
In track four, ‘Sugar Rush’, the soloing of Jones and Vize shines out. Like its name suggests it is a sweet track, and blissfully summery. I can picture a carnival when I hear this one.
The EP wraps itself up with ‘Bittersweet’, beginning with the soft strumming of Diodato’s guitar. It initially sounds like a rock song with an arena-like atmosphere before Jones’s trumpet comes in, followed by the beat of the drums. It feels melancholic at some points and uplifting at others, fitting its title perfectly. Trumpets and distorted guitars come together in a sweet clash. This track reminded me of ‘Because of You’ by Theo Croker and it had elements of Kamasi Washington’s emotive slow tunes as well.
Hearing this EP made me think about summer coming back and easing the lockdown blues. It made me long for the day when we will be able to see bands like PYJÆN live again.
PYJÆN’s new EP is a welcome one, which was released on the label DeepMatter on the 29th May. The band have played at prestigious London venues like the Jazz Cafe, the Vortex and Ronnie Scott’s alongside festivals such as Glastonbury, Brainchild and Love Supreme. With a temporary halt to live performances, it is comforting that new releases are still coming out and keeping the jazz scene alive and well.
Read Ally's interview with guitarist Dani Diodato here.
Buy and stream Sage Secrets here:
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