On “Dark Matter,” Moses Boyd Proves Free Jazz’s Dancefloor Potential

Since its emergence in the mid ’60s, free jazz has maintained a reputation as not so much a musical style as an academic institution—a playground for music theorists and technically-minded musicians. Drummer Moses Boyd argues the exact opposite: free jazz isn’t esoteric; it’s a free-flowing exchange of ideas between artist and audience that’s accessible to all. “The dancefloor is very much a part of me,” he explains, hinting at the deep, varied nature of his discography to date.

Boyd rose to prominence in 2015 as one half of the fiercely propulsive free-jazz duo Binker & Moses (saxophonist Binker Golding was the other half), who both received the MOBO award that year for Best Jazz Act. His solo 12”, Rye Lane Shuffle, released shortly thereafter, referenced the languorous house of Theo Parrish as much as the freneticism of Tony Allen. Throughout 2017 and 2018, he broadened his stylistic horizons even further, producing singer Zara McFarlane’s reggae-jazz album Arise, collaborating with South African gqom producer DJ Lag on “Drumming,” and releasing the collaborative mixtape Displaced Diaspora. That kind of stylistic breadth would be impressive for a career musician, let alone a 28-year-old, and that trajectory is one of the things that sets Boyd apart from more orthodox peers such as Golding, pianist Joe Armon-Jones, and saxophonist Nubya Garcia.

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[This piece was published on 18/02/20]