Swinging sounds, swinging plants: Nubya Garcia

I was looking for one musical artist on YouTube and found something else that interested me more: the little thumbnail image of a saxophonist surrounded by plants made me click on this video featuring Nubya Garcia, an artist that I was not familiar with before now – but now, wow! I’m ready to dive deeper and listen to more of her music after hearing this! I always enjoy the NPR Tiny Desk concert series, and this one is a “home” version, since it was recorded a year ago during the pandemic prior to vaccines rolling out, and NPR was encouraging performers to record their sessions in their own location.

At any rate, take a listen, and notice the swinging plant, that keeps moving throughout the performance, and I’ll explain more below the video.

The plant is swinging because she’s on a boat! In this video, Nubya Garcia and her band are at Soup Studio, a recording facility built on a decommissioned floating lighthouse moored on the River Thames.

Another thing that initially caught my attention about this video was the idea of a saxophonist with backup singers – I can’t say that I’ve seen that combination before. Garcia herself doesn’t sing – at least not yet that I’ve seen – yet the backup singers provide some harmony throughout the songs that makes plenty of sense and gives it a unique sound. It’s jazz, yet there’s Latin rhythms along with a reggae and dub vibe as well. She explains this mix with this statement: “It’s about my heritage, my ancestry, exploring those places and those stories from my parents and my grandparents.”

A few things I’ve learned about her: Nubya, a native of London (but born to Trinidadian and Guyanese parents), started playing the saxophone at age 10. She enrolled in a jazz program at the Royal Academy of Music and later earned her degree at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

You can listen to more of Nubya Garcia’s music on Spotify here.

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