Tuba player Theon Cross (best known as a member of Sons of Kemet) will release a solo album, Fyah, next month, featuring new song, “Activate.”
The track, which opens the eight-track album, intrigues with a sweet, bouncy rhythm courtesy of longtime collaborator Moses Boyd, and dives into a mix of traditional New Orleans bass influences and Caribbean rhythms. Tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia occasionally takes the lead.
Fyah is Cross’ full-length bandleading debut, and his first solo release since 2015’s Aspirations EP, which was also a collaboration with Boyd and Garcia. From the sounds of “Activate” and other recently released track, “Panda Village,” it’ll challenge people’s preconceived notions of the tuba.
“People always underestimate the tuba,” Cross told DownBeat in a recent interview. “People aren’t familiar with it, or associate it with playing on the one and three, quite simply. If I play it through a whole gig, and it’s quite intricate, I can break people’s conception of what it is.”
After a barnstorming year in Sons of Kemet, whose 2018 album Your Queen is a Reptile was nominated for the Mercury Prize, Cross looks set to keep up the momentum in 2019.
Fyah is due out on February 15. Listen to “Activate” below: