Cross The Tracks Festival

London’s leading Soul, Jazz and Funk festival Cross The Tracks reaffirmed its reputation as one of the most uplifting and diverse music events in the city. 

Music promoter and DJ Rob Da Bank launched Cross The Tracks festival in 2009 as a means of showcasing new music and emerging talent. Taking place annually in Brixton’s Brockwell Park, the event has expanded its scope to feature a variety of genres, from Soul and Jazz to Funk, Rap, Electronic and beyond. 

Support for the local community is at the festival’s core. Each year, Cross The Tracks give away free tickets to local residents and NHS workers, whilst hosting a broad array of local traders, artisans, and musicians on the festival grounds. 

This year’s edition of the event sold-out, with a line-up that boasted Masego, Kelis, Alfa Mist and many more. The Blues Project at the Locomotion stage was an early highlight, with vocalist Karl Benjamin using his velvety tones and expansive range to full effect. Singers James Vickery, Lizzie Berchie and Natanya joined Benjamin on stage to freestyle to D’Angelo’s ‘Brown Sugar’, whilst dizzying saxophone solos provoked huge applause.  

Over on the main stage, multi-genre specialist Alfa Mist played a variety of tracks from his latest album Variables. The accomplished artist upheld his status as one of the UK’s most focused and distinct musical voices, bringing together free-flowing jazz improvisation, head-nodding boom-bap rhythms, and emotive piano lines. Trippy visuals backed the stage as the sunshine intensified. 

British jazz quintet Ezra Collective brought a dynamic performance to Brockwell. The band have evolved since the release of their second LP, Where I’m Meant To Be, last November, merging call-and-response conversations between their ensemble parts to create a confident and colourful sound. Drummer and bandleader Femi commanded the crowd and was determined to get people moving their feet from the onset.

As night fell, excitement brewed at the main stage in anticipation of headliners NxWorries (Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge). Two of the most major figures to emerge from Los Angeles’ fertile music scene in the 2010s, Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge dropped their debut single as NxWorries, “Suede”, back in early 2015, before going on to separately contribute to two of the year’s biggest albums; Knxwledge co-produced “Momma”, a track off Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, while Paak featured heavily on Dr.Dre’s Compton.

Paak took centre stage in a huge fur hat, backed by an enormous LED screen with Knxwledge standing above. The duo brought the festival to a cinematic close, playing tracks from their debut album, their recent chart-topper “Where I Go (feat. H.E.R.)”, as well as a dreamy tribute to the late Bobby Cardwell. 

Check out the Cross The Tracks festival website here.

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