‘London is the place for me’ might be an apt description of young trumpeter Mark Kuvuma who, although born in Uganda, has made the capital city his home and is a permanent resident there. In fact, Kuvuma has become just one part of the burgeoning young lions who figure in Jean Toussaint’s outstanding formation, and the former has even been featured as a guest soloist with the Wynton Marsalis Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Interestingly, among the influences on this debut for the enterprising Ubuntu label, that has a keen ear for new talent, is the 1960s sound of saxophonist Wayne Shorter that can be heard most immediately, especially on the brooding original, ‘Into The Darkness’, which is a strong nod to the composition, ‘Prince Of Darkness’ that featured as a Wayne Shorter piece on Miles Davis’ 1967 album, ‘Sorcerer’. Indeed, the use of a sextet with the added saxophone of Mussinghi Brian Edwards is very much in the lineage of the mid-late 1960’s progressive jazz formations.
A tribute to his musical teacher, Joe Morgan, arrives in the form of ‘Papa Joe’, while for a taste of Kavuma’s talents as a composer, the ballad, ‘Barber G’, is an indication perhaps that the trumpeter is keen to reflect his everyday surroundings. Another major influence on this album is that of gospel music and the church more generally, though not in any undue preachy manner. Mark Kavuma grew up in his immediate family with church music in close proximity with exposure to hymns and, as a consequence, that has informed his musical outlook. Here, that influence is most evident on the final piece that ends the album fittingly, ‘Abide With Me’. Of note also are the excellent photography by Carl Hyde and one of the most compelling front covers of the year to date by Gaurab Thakali. A promising debut recording.