Logan Richardson ‘Afrofuturism’ 2LP/CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 4/5

With a fantastic tenth year anniversary in 2020 now under their belt which consisted of some stunning album releases from Kenny Warren Trio and Michael Olatuja, Whirlwind Recordings now turn their attention to kick-starting the next ten years of undoubtedly glorious jazz projects thus introducing ‘AfroFuturism’ by Logan Richardson.

Marking the fifth solo album from the saxophonist, producer and composer, Richardson, the Kansas City, Missouri, native is continually cited as a leading voice within contemporary jazz. With past album releases through Blue Note Records (‘Shift’, 2015) and Ropeadope Records (‘blues PEOPLE’, 2018), Richardson continually finds himself a key contributor to a variety of US and overseas musical collectives.

It’s actually incredibly exciting to recount the extent of Richardson’s far-reaching and indelible touch across the wide variety of projects that he’s graced over the years: a member of the NEXT Collective for the 2013 Concord Jazz release, ‘Cover Art’ along with fellow members Ben Williams, Walter Smith III and Jamire Williams; a frequent collaborator to the revered talents of Italian musician and producer, Nicola Conte, having appeared on several of his albums as well as having secured a spot within Conte’s Spiritual Galaxy supergroup for the 2018 project ‘Let Your Light Shine On’ for MPS Records; a frequent collaborator for Gerald Clayton, Christian Scott… Logan Richardson’s talents are consistently sought out and cited as a stand out amidst a thriving global jazz community.

With ‘AfroFuturism’, the keen improviser takes the opportunity to dig further into his musical repertoire seeking to perhaps reinvent the music people may have come to expect from a Logan Richardson release.

At the same time, there’s something very explorative about what Richardson is striving for throughout this album – like looking into a crystal ball, he seems to be ascertaining how far jazz can travel into its own future while continuing on its journey of fusion and its incorporation of varying styles and genres. ‘Trap’, for example, sees Richardson exploring a soundscape more commonly associated with contemporary and southern hip-hop. These sparse, spaced-out compositions permeate into other of the album’s tracks like the Laura Taglialatela assisted ‘Farewell, Goodbye’ and, again, with the futuristic ‘Photocopy’ and ‘According To You’. ‘Black Wallstreet’ however plays like a delectable piece of epic cinema with haunting strings by Ezgi Karakus that make the song something more akin to a piece of classical music gold.

‘The Birth of Us’ and ‘Round Up’ – featuring the updated assembling of his Blues People band boasting a line-up of guitarist Igor Osypov, keyboardist Peter Schlamb, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Ryan J. Lee – certainly warrant mention for their thrilling scope and energy.

If ‘AfroFuturism’ represents Logan Richardson’s vision for jazz’s future then it’s a future that will continue to see jazz music thrive while in the incredibly capable and competent hands of luminaries like Richardson brave enough to usher in its brave new era.

Imran Mirza

Read also:
Logan Richardson ‘Shift’ CD (Blue Note) 4/5