Mark Kavuma Crafts a Bigger ‘Banger’

Great art can emerge from any residency. A staple of jazz through the decades—from Ornette Coleman’s 1959 series at New York’s Five Spot to Steam Down’s raucous weekly jam at London’s Matchstick Piehouse today—the residency provides a simultaneously safe and challenging space to develop new songs and, crucially, gauge the reaction of fans.

That rich tradition is in full bloom on Thursday nights at the Prince of Wales pub in London’s Brixton neighborhood. That’s where 26-year-old trumpeter Mark Kavuma takes the stage with his Banger Factory band and routinely whips the room into a frenzy with a mix of standards and original compositions.

“Ninety percent of my songs are about a person or a place,” Kavuma said on a recent day in London. “It’s all driven through emotion and story. The residency has become the perfect place to test material. If it doesn’t bang, you know because the people aren’t dancing. And if it does bang, there’s no better feeling.”

Kavuma’s sophomore album, The Banger Factory (Ubuntu), places him at the center of London’s rapidly expanding jazz scene, which also includes saxophonists Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia, and tuba player Theon Cross.

Read the feature in Downbeat Magazine.

[This piece was published on 21/10/19]