Nimbus Sextet – Forward Thinker


Nimbus Sextet’s dazzling, virtuosic debut album Dreams Fullfilled was released in 2020. Due to the Covid emergency, the group were unable to promote the album live. Instead, they utilised spirited performance videos to spread the word about their unique energy, receiving heavy playlist action on Jazz FM, BBC Radio 6 Music and stations across the planet for the LP and the quick follow up Helix EP.

18 months later the group are ready to release the follow up album, Forward Thinker – the musicial progression the title suggests. Recorded and produced again by Nuovi Fratelli (production duo Wayne A. Dickson and Luigi Pasquini), Forward Thinker is a highly sophisticated seven-tracker, with intricate arrangements by Bandleader and keyboardist Joe Nichols, a jazz-funk sound that nods heavily to Herbie Hancock et al’s 70s output.

The album opener and second single (released April 5th) ‘High Time’ sees a hugely successful vocal turn from singer Charlotte de Graaf, over superb Roy Hargrove / Soulquarians style brass arrangements and dynamic playing from the band make this a barnstorming entrance to the record.

Title track ‘Forward Thinker’ is a seriously nimble and funky bass and drums propelled cosmic jazz-dancer. Despite the high energy levels, this is probably the most restrained track on the album, the super sharp brass and constant groove making this an exhilarating winner, reminiscent of Idris Muhammed. A surefire jazz-dance staple in the making.

‘Woodview’ offers a short piano piece of deep and emotional contemplation that suggests the wistful romanticism of Alice Coltrane. This leads seamlessly into the slow burning ‘Another Place’. Setting off where ‘Woodview’ ended, the gentle piano led piece is a supporting vehicle initially for trumpeter Euan Allardice’s lyrical soloing, before an abrupt change of direction as the whole band breaks into a staccato Latin-ish rhythm that unleashes a raw burst of Michael Butcher on the sax.

The album’s second side offers a concept trilogy where Nichols explores the emotional journey that he went on during lockdown. ‘Search For Solace’ sees the band breaking out and really exploring their ensemble playing. The slick drums and bass of Alex Palmer and Mischa Stevens hold down the hip hop funk groove alongside Joe Nichols’ gorgeous piano riffing as the piece grows and expands with standout solos and some delicious moments of release, especially during a wonderful psychedelic synth section that artfully picks up into the deep, rhythmically complex second movement ‘From The Shadows’ that carries us back gently to earth.

The conclusion of the trilogy and first single from the album, ‘To The Light’ is another killer dancing tune that epitomises the band’s ability to absolutely own the jazz-funk groove. Like their playlist-busting version of Yussef Kamaal’s ‘Lowrider’ on their Helix EP, Nimbus Sextet make this appear easy. Nichols’ fingers are on fire as he completes run after run of hyper-speed funkiness over a hard-hitting horn and rhythm section. This track is going to slay the festival crowds this Summer.

Forward Thinker is an outstanding contemporary exploration of Jazz-Funk, from one of the most exciting new jazz groups to emerge in recent years.

Released on 27 May 2022