Honey & Groat

20/10/2022Swiss-French Four-Piece KUMA Returns To Rocafort W/ A Shapeshifting, Jazz-Led Debut LP

You might say we were just waiting for their debut full-length to hit the shelves. Swiss-French four-piece KUMA ('bear' in Japanese) released its debut EP "Kumadé" on Barcelona's Rocafort Records imprint back in 2020, showing obvious flashes of brilliance, reconciling a classically trained foundation with hiphop culture and a freeform electronic undercurrent. KUMA are very much a contemporary jazz outfit blending whatever comes to mind and always eager to go against the grain.

"Honey & Groat" is the name of their recently released ten-tracker, boasting some far-out artwork on the cover and a treasure trove of shapeshifting grooves on the inside. The liner notes liken the album concept to the nature of a bear, the band's chosen spirit animal: "behind the sweetness and apparent placidity, plenty of power. The resulting urban groove is reminiscent of 70’s soul jazz with a contemporary sound: where instrumental talent meets pop simplicity."

Listening to "Honey & Groat" is a deeply satisfying affair, offering moments of sublime melodic clarity and wandering improvisation, rising and falling, leisurely and heavyset yet equally agile and fluid in its movement, strutting an almost regal disposition. Led by Matthieu Llodra on keys and Arthur Donnot on sax, alongside Fabien Iannone on bass and Maxence Sibille on drums, KUMA invite us on a stroll that is irresistibly fresh and wonderfully haunting. While at one point, they even diverge from their purely instrumental approach and successfully add the touching vocals of Léo Chambet to the mix on "Der Kuss" (transl. 'the kiss').

Click below for a taste of both. 

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom