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Talking to the saxophonist, composer, bandleader Camilla George ahead of ‘Ibio-Ibio’ single release

Talking to the saxophonist, composer, bandleader Camilla George ahead of ‘Ibio-Ibio’ single release

Visionary saxophonist, composer, bandleader and innovator Camilla George releases her new single ‘Creation – Abasi and Atai’ featuring respected rapper SANITY and acclaimed hip hop drummer Daru Jones.

Following on from the warm welcome for her recent singles ‘Abasi Isang’ and ‘Ekpe’, Camilla continues her creative roots quest dedicated to her Ibibio lineage, which hails from south-eastern coastal Nigeria. ‘Creation – Abasi and Atai’ is the third single taken from Camilla’s forthcoming third album ‘Ibio-Ibio’, a celebration of roots, creation and community, out 30th September on Ever Records/!K7 Music.

‘Creation – Abasi and Atai’ represents the Ibibio creation myth of the supreme God and Goddess Abasi and Atai, who created their people in their own likeness. This slick slice of jazz/afrofunk showcases Camilla’s effortless saxophone talent, plus the phenomenal lyrical flow of SANITY and revered drummer Daru Jones (Jack White, Pete Rock, Talib Kweli).

‘Ibio-Ibio’ is the nickname of the Ibibio people, the most ancient settlers in Nigeria,and the album is a feast of lush instrumentation combining afrobeat, hip hop and jazz, and co-produced by Camilla George. Across eight tracks, Camilla’s virtuosic alto saxophone performance collaborates with a stellar line-up of some of the hottest players in London’s jazz scene including Daniel Casimir (bass), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Winston Clifford (drums), Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Rosie Turton (trombone), Renato Paris (vocals), Sarah Tandy (keys),plusSenegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyate, acclaimed US drummer Daru Jones and Birmingham’s finest MC SANITY.

Camilla George said “’Creation – Abasi and Atai’ represents the genesis of my Ibibio people, as created by rulers Abasi and Atai, who represent togetherness, family and community. The Ibibio people are regarded as the most ancient of all ethnic groups in Nigeria and the story of how their world began is so little known and its meaning is so inspirational. It’s been incredible to work with SANITY and Daru Jones on this track, the flow between us was phenomenal, and it is a fitting closing single ahead of the release of my third album as it couldn’t be more relevant right now to stand for community and togetherness.”

Camilla George has carved out her own unique identity in the vibrant London scene, with her strong cultural roots and love of fusing African and Western Music. She has studied with several jazz greats including sax giant Jean Toussaint. Following her critically acclaimed debut album ‘Isang’ (pronounced E-Sang which means ‘journey’ in Ibibio) in 2014 and much lauded follow up ‘The People Could Fly’ in 2018, Camilla has established a sound that is a hypnotising blend of Afrofuturism, hip hop and jazz, with a politically minded subtext that has a powerful connection to her Nigerian identity, lineage and heritage, reflecting African history, culture and slavery. Camilla and her band have supported Courtney Pine and Dee Dee Bridgewater and played several festivals, from Cheltenham Jazz, We Out Here to EFG London Jazz Festival. She has also been a member of celebrated group Jazz Jamaica since 2009.

1) Tell us about how world music influenced your latest project and influenced your sound? 

I was influenced by my love of #Fela and also by some of the traditional Ibibio songs and music but also modern jazz musicians such as Kenny Garrett whose compositional process has always fascinated me.

2) How has the industry evolved towards women and towards diversity since starting out?

I think particularly on the UK scene, there is a real emergence of female musicians and band leaders. Organisations like Tomorrow’s Warriors have played a big part in this by creating a safe and comfortable place for younger female artists to learn their craft.

3) What cultural elements do you bring to your music?

My music is influenced by my Nigerian roots and particularly the beliefs and cultures of the Ibibio people which is something I have always found fascinating.

4) How have you grown as an artist since you first album?

I think I have grown as an artist compositionally and I hope that I continue to grow. I feel more confident writing for larger ensembles also.

4)  Paint the picture how does a Jazz album influenced by Nigerian Ibibio tribe, sound?

The Ibibio people are my inspiration and I researched our traditions and mythology but the album was always meant to be an amalgamation of different styles; jazz, afro beats and hip hop.

5) Do you have a fave sound or song on this Album?

I think my favourite tune on the album is Abasi Isang because of the sheer joy and getting to play with the horn section!

6) Tell us about some of the instruments you use?

The instruments used in this album range from a traditional jazz Qt line up- alto sax, bass (upright and electric), piano (and keys) and drums to Kora, a horn section (trumpet, sax and trombone), vocals and rap. The album also features three drummers!

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7) To date what has been one the biggest moment since you started out?

I think the biggest moment is yet to come- on 2nd Oct we will be supporting the legendary Femi Kuti at Het Depot! I can’t wait for that gig!

8) Which Jazz greats do you admire past or present and why?

Wow! Where to begin! Past jazz greats that have touched me would have to be Sonny Stitt, Parker, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Jackie Mclean. My all time favourite modern day artist has to be Kenny Garrett! 

10) Where do you call home?

 I still cherish my Nigerian roots but I think nowadays home for me is West London where I have lived since coming to England when I was a child.

Camilla George will lead an album launch for ‘Ibio-Ibio’ with special guests at London’s Jazz Café on 16th November. Camilla has been toured the UK, Ireland and Europe across summer, from Ealing Jazz FestivalWe Out Here, to Blue Note Milan and supporting Femi Kuti in Belgium.  ‘Creation – Abasi and Atai’ is out now and ‘Ibio-Ibio’ will be released on 30th September on digital, CD and vinyl and available to pre-order now here.