RESONANCE Nathan Riki Thomson

ROOTS Nathan Riki Thomson

Nathan Riki Thomson SUBSONIC ENSEMBLE in London

Adriano Adewale Group

Antonio Forcione Quartet


“Ubi’s Tree is world music in the most Positive sense. lf it must be categorised file under ‘Beautiful’.” All Brownlee, Manchester Evening News ****

“Thomson sounds like no one else his music drags you into a serene introspection, the production and sound quality is superb.” Andy Jones

“The release is full of swaying African rhythms, gentle morphings from light to shade and an ever-Present sense of insistent dance…..richly layered and earthy record…’s a colourful and vibrant debut” SONGLINES ****

“movingly mixes European instrumentation (violin, viola, ethereal vocalisations) with an African percussive patina”

“eminently listenable” JAZZWISE Andy Robson

“Quietly melodic “world jazz”. Thomson has created a very personal sound world and the resultant album exudes considerable warmth and charm.” Ian Mann,

“strongly evocative”

“Thomson is clearly a thoughtful and patient enough musician to be able to successfully unite an impressive array of talent into a warm album full of character” Jon Mitchell SONGLINES ****

“forthright bass-playing and engaging themes….rewards repeated listening” John L Walters THE GUARDIAN



“this is basically unclassifiable music that incorporates elements of jazz and various African traditional musics into an often mesmerisingly languorous whole.” CHRIS PARKER – VORTEX WEBSITE



Nathan Riki Thomson ‘Under Ubi’s Tree’ (Naim) 4/5 ****

Australian multi-instrumentalist Nathan Riki Thomson has concocted a fascinating fusion of traditional East African music with jazz- inflected grooves on this debut album. This comes across as a modern day equivalent of the Strata East label and its more experimental side. Aided by a trio comprising two percussionists and Thomson on bass, assorted flutes (the North African ney and exotic sounding masai) and a multitude of other instruments (plus guitarist Antonio Forcione on selected pieces), the album explores the relationship between African folkloric music and jazz.

This is an avenue that has been previously explored among others by percussionists Art Blakey and Elvin Jones, and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Traditional melodies have been adapted, though several pieces are self-penned by Thomson. Thomson has lived and worked in Africa for five years and has amassed a wealth of practical experience in addition to working on soundtrack music for film, theatre and television in the UK.

The atmospheric ‘Song for Otso’ sets the tone for the album with the mix of double bass and kalimba while on the freer ‘Cheza’ the bass predominates along with bass and alto flutes. In contrast ‘Illalla’ is a modal piece with wordless vocals. Thomson does not restrict himself to African percussion alone and on ‘Bus to Bagamoyo’ we hear the Afro-Brazilian instrument the berimbau used to fine effect. Perhaps the most successful fusion of Western and African sounds is to be found on ‘Waiting for Rain’ which is reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders spiritual flavoured Theresa recordings with the use of viola, harmonium, bass flute and vocals. Decidely left-field, yet surprisingly melodic and accessible, this will appeal to music lovers in search of more esoteric sounds. Tim Stenhouse



Being familiar with Hukwe Zawose and his fate, having one of his albums; I had the initial suspicion that Thomson would produce a musical version of ‚”Gorillas on the Bondi”‚and Rolf Harris does appear to make a brief panting appearance in track 2.

However this is what can only be described as a beautiful, soulful album, Hukwe Zawose would have been proud (I think). Track 3 gives me goose bumps and I feel another presence when I listen to it.

There is no real point in listing all the tracks on the album and waffling on about every nuance and homage to Zawose. Thomson is not only ‚”Contravening musical frontiers”‚as per the official blurb:

He is transcending a western predilection for cultural theft that makes the rampages of the ‚Borg Collective‚ look like a neighbour come to borrow a cup of sugar.

Thomson sounds like no one else his music drags you into a serene introspection, the production and sound quality is superb.

This is truly ‚’World Music‚’ in its real sense and apologies to Mr Thomson for my initial cynicism.

Andy Jones

PS I love Australians, some of my best friends are Australian (or they would be if I knew any).