Blowing up: six of Britain’s new jazz musicians on making a living out of their passion

The British jazz renaissance continues with the rise of six astonishing young talents, creating a musical storm despite the cost of living crisis

For much of the last decade, improvised music in the UK has been carving out its own path. Interweaving everything from saxophonist Nubya Garcia’s breathless west African rhythms to Ezra Collective’s Afrobeat fanfares and tuba player Theon Cross’s dubby bass frequencies, a new generation of instrumentalists has been combining the music of their cultural heritages with an underlying jazz sensibility.

It is notoriously difficult, though, to make a living in the music industry, in particular with jazz. A 2008 study on the economics of jazz found that half of jazz musicians’ total income came from live performances. Not surprisingly, a 2020 survey – mid-pandemic – conducted by Encore Musicians revealed that 64% of musicians were considering leaving the profession. Today, with audiences still below pre-pandemic levels and the cost of living crisis producing new issues, we spoke to six up and coming artists about the opportunities and obstacles for those beginning a career in jazz.

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