Maisha are a London-based Ensemble led by drummer/composer/arranger Jake Long. Their music brings a fresh slant to the lineage of modal jazz from the 60’s and 70’s taking influence from artists such as Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders.
Fusing these influences with other music and cultures that inspires them, they cross between genres with a focus on genuine improvisation and expressive experimentation.
Maisha have carved their place as a pioneering force in the London Jazz scene. Their 2016 debut EP, ‘Welcome to a New Welcome’, released with Jazz Refreshed quickly launched Maisha into the British Jazz scene. In 2018 Maisha were selected to be a part of Brownswood Recordings’ seminal ‘We Out Here‘ Compilation album, that gives an overview of London’s new thriving jazz scene; they became one of its influential breakout acts.
Signed to Brownswood label, they issued ‘There Is a Place‘, their debut long-player in 2018. The album made it onto streaming charts across the globe and grabbed the attention of jazz critics, also making many journals’ ‘best albums of the year’ list. The record drew great success and propelled the group into touring internationally. During this time they struck a live partnership with renowned alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, which later lead to an album collaboration released on Night Dreamer Records in 2020.
Founding Maisha in late 2015, Long recruited tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia and guitarist Shirley Tetteh. (Both who also play together in Nérija.) He also gathered the talents of in-demand session and touring pianist/keyboardist Amané Suganami (Jorja Smith), bassist Twm Dylan (Rosie Turton), and drummer/percussionist Tim Doyle (Cykada, Chiminyo). After Writing and Rehearsing together for a short time the band did their first ever performance at ‘Royal Albert Pub’/ ‘Good Evening Arts’ in Deptford. In May 2016, they digitally issued their debut EP, ‘Welcome to a New Welcome’, which featured 3 live tracks from that first gig at ‘Royal Albert Pub’. The EP was released by Jazz Refreshed and blasted its way to the upper rungs of the British jazz charts and prime appearances on international DJ’s set lists.
When Gilles Peterson and Shabaka Hutchings were planning the release of We Out Here, Maisha‘s composition “Inside the Acorn” was selected as set opener because it reflected the panoramic cultural and musical diversity of London’s interconnected scene. Other artists included Garcia‘s own quartet, Ezra Collective, Theon Cross, Moses Boyd, Hutchings, and pianist Joe Armon-Jones. The 2018 compilation became a standard-bearer for London’s jazz scene, Maisha‘s “Inside the Acorn” got airplay at the BBC, on French national radio, and ran up the streaming charts.
After gigging extensively around London Maisha got into the studio to record their debut album. The recording took place at Soup Studios in London and was Recorded and Mixed by David Holmes. In addition to the aforementioned sextet, they hired percussionist Yahael Camara-Onono (Balimaya Project) and trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lindstrom (Cykada, Levitation Orchestra) who expanded the core lineup, as well as a string quartet and harpist Maria Zofia Osuchowska. After playing the record to Gilles Peterson they where signed to Brownswood Recordings and the Album was released in 2018. There Is A Place further showcased the band’s technical ability as well as there sensitivity towards the music with each instrument given equal value in creating the sound. It drew universal acclaim from daily and monthly publications (some were not responsive to the innovations on the London jazz scene until Maisha); club DJs across Europe, Asia, and North America; and jazz critics who selected the set as one of the year’s best offerings, lauding it as joining the dots from Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, to Kamasi Washington and Sons of Kemet. In 2019 the album was also nominated for at ‘Jazz Album of the Year’ in the Worldwide Awards.
Maisha‘s touring regimen expanded greatly with There Is a Place‘s chart success. They played everywhere from Belgium to Turkey, from London to Poland, and everywhere in between. Maisha became a must-see act for critics and fans alike at music festivals. Due to new touring demand of the ensemble and how busy everyone in the band was with different projects Long had to expanded
the ensemble and create an almost rotating cast of musicians that would join him on the road. So along side the initial line up the likes of Binker Golding, Tamar Osborn, Wayne Fransis, Al Macsween, Artie Zaitz, Arnaud Guichard along side others would be seen gigging with Maisha. Long feels that the change in line up allows the music to go in completely different directions each gig and allows the musicians to really bring their own voice into the music.
In 2019, Peterson staged the inaugural We Out Here Festival. He placed Maisha on the lineup to play their own gig and to back 78-year-old American saxophonist and jazz funk legend Gary Bartz, who remarked at how impressed he was with how closely they listened to one another. That performance went so well the complete outfit also performed at Royal Festival Hall as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, then spent three days at a recording studio in the Netherlands, with direct-to-disc specialists Night Dreamer Records. The ensemble cut five tracks, including remakes of Bartz‘s “Uhuru Sasa” from Harlem Bush Music: Uhuru (Milestone, 1971) and “Doctor Follows Dance” from Follow the Medicine Man (Prestige, 1973). The other three tunes were collectively written by Bartz and Maisha while in the studio. The simply titled Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions was issued July 2020, two months before Bartz‘s 80th birthday. Since then Maisha have released a brand new EP ‘Open the Gates’ which includes a 17-minute Epic that draws deep rhythmic and musical tangents out of a simple melody and bassline. The two track EP comes backed with a beautiful live recording of Osiris (taken from 2018 album There Is A Place), where the band amp up the original’s energy even higher, the track’s lyrical refrain pushed to maximum effect. Released on Brownswood Recordings, the record is manufactured in partnership with The Vinyl Factory, who have pressed it on 100% recycled vinyl.