Title: The People Could Fly
Artist: Camilla George
Label: Ubuntu Music
Formats: CD, LP, Digital
Release date: December 7, 2018
Nigerian born jazz saxophonist and composer Camilla George, who is based in the UK, released her debut jazz album, Isang, in 2017. Just one year later she follows up with her sophomore project, The People Could Fly. Drawing its inspiration and title from a book of African folktales, the album weaves these narratives with blues, jazz, 6/8 rhythms, and funk in a way that is both brilliant and imaginative. According to George, “my mother used to read these stories as a child and I have always been fascinated by them and really wanted to explore them further.”
George explores these stories musically across the album’s eight tracks. Song titles like “The Most Useful Slave,” “He Lion, Bruh Bear, Bruh Rabbit,” “How Nehemiah Got Free,” and “The People Could Fly,” all convey cultural significance that resonates within the African Diaspora. While George constructs a clear musical interpretation, the high point of the album is her soulful rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s “Here But I’m Gone,” sung by Omar Lye-Fook, which closes the album.
George states, “These tales were created out of sorrow but have been passed on to us with hearts that are full of love and hope. I see these stories as a celebration of the human spirit.” With The People Could Fly, Camilla George does an excellent job highlighting the resilient nature of black people while contributing to the dissemination and legacy of these folktales.
Reviewed by Jamaal Baptiste