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Young Jazz artists are the rebirth of Jazz’s cool

9 January 2019 Articles Latest Music

By Nomali Cele

Rebirth of Cool, the theme for our 2019 Jazzuary, is about all the little ways Jazz is kept current and up to date for this time and future generations. It is flipping the script on Jazz constantly being perceived as “old” and welcoming those who’ve previously misunderstood int into the fold. Young Jazz artists are one surefire way to do that. These young Jazz artists encourage a conversation between jazz and other genres and artforms.

Robert Glasper

All right, Glasper is 40, which not exactly young but his work has done plenty to elevate young Jazz artists. Robert Glasper is the kind of artist whose work, years from now will be synonymous with this era of Jazz. Glasper elegantly and creatively straddles the worlds between Jazz and hip hop. Glasper’s Midas Touch can also be felt across live experiences and film soundtracks.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spalding is an accomplished young Jazz artist. The bassist and vocalist has had one of the most incredible careers of any young Jazz artist. With five albums under her belt, Spalding’s perspective keeps getting better.


Thandi Ntuli

Thandi Ntuli is an interesting young Jazz artist to watch. She holds both South African Jazz and American Jazz traditions closely creating a resonant sound. The gifted pianist and vocalist has been one of the few young Jazz artists to watch for nearly a decade and it’s satisfying to watch her skills and vision unfurl.


Benjamin Jephta

When Jephta was 24, he was awarded the Standard Young Artist of The Year accolade for Jazz. He has been performing since he was 15 years old, which shows. His sound and sensibilities have been maturing right along with him. He’s a part of a beautiful South African Jazz fraternity with the likes of Thandi Ntuli, Spha Mdlalose, Luyanda Madope and many other young Jazz artists.

Kamasi Washington

Saxophonist Kamasi Washington is a Jazz artist fit for his time. He had one of the most lauded albums of the 2010s decade with 2015’s “The Epic”. His music is neither treated as niche nor as novel. He is contemporaries and, frequent collaborators, with Kendrick Lamar, the first hip hop artist to win a Pulitzer Prize.