You'll want to familiarize yourself quickly with saxophonist Zem Audu. The New York-based musician was born in Nigeria before his parents quickly relocated his family to England. "The question I always get asked is, 'Where are you from?' I don't want to neglect that I was born in Nigeria and just say I'm English because of my passport," shares Audu. "I don't want to not mention that I live in the States after being here for seven years. And I don't want to not mention growing up in England just because I live here now. I have to say all of these places because that's my story."
This story is highlighted in his forthcoming album Spirit, which is due for a June 16 release date via Origin Records. Joining Audu in his 11-track narration are pianist Benito Gonzalez, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer John Davis. Fusion guitar legend Mike Stern also makes an appearance in Spirits in five tracks.
"The different spirits and elements that have shaped my sound - and, looking at the macrocosm, that have shaped my life - all come out in this music," Audu shares concerning the background for his upcoming project. "The broad range of music that I've appreciated and enjoyed, the different countries that all this music comes from, the different technologies that have influenced my production style, the energy and pressure of New York City. The thread that runs through this album is finding something that's very specific to me."
Today we provide a sneak peek into the spirits and elements that go into Zem Audu's musical world in the form of "Nebula," a meditative track that puts listeners into a feel-good headspace. Anchored by deepest of grooves emanating from Williams and Davis (two musicians who have shared stage and studio on more than one occasion), "Nebula" gives space for Gonzalez and Audu to take thoughtful solos that add to the vibe of the song rather than just having it feel like a necessary part of the compositional process because it's idiomatically correct.
"Nebula is in a steady 5/4 beat. I feel beats like structures having their own unique vibrations and effects on us," comments Audu during an email exchange with Revive. "Like different houses that we can enter and explore. For me, it's all supposed to groove! The number 5 has it's own symbology relating to the human form, nature, and inner awareness. The soulful vibe of the tune was inspired by feelings of reverence, mystery, and curiosity. The title is analogous to the formless space that we go to when creating."