The Cape Town International Jazz Festival makes a point of inviting artists who use jazz as a springboard to other things.
The Festival deliberately cultivates a fairly broad definition of the jazz genre to make its line-up as diverse and interesting as possible.
So, British producer/composer/ rapper/pianist Alfa Mist fits the bill very nicely indeed. His name is regularly mentioned when writers talk about London being the pulsing heart of a new wave of talented musicians energising the British nu-jazz scene (alongside artists like Kamaal Williams, Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings of Sons of Kemet).
The east London multi-instrumentalist from Newham dabbled in hip hop and grime as a teenager and started teaching himself piano at college.
He discovered jazz because so much of hip hop is sampling and de-constructing and what interested him led him down a rabbit hole to artists such as Dilla and the Roots to Miles Davis and the atmospheric film scores of German composer Hans Zimmer.
His debut album release, Nocturne, was an EP released in July 2015, drawing on the talents of Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei. Nocturne is a mixture of neo-funk, future soul and dreamy hip hop - reminiscent of work by The Weeknd and Jai Paul.
The first track on Nocturne (Sunrise - Pillows) features frequent collaborator Emmavie (an obvious choice since Mist produced their collaboration Epoch in 2014).
Mist followed that up with Antiphon, released in March 2017. Created around a conversation with his brothers about mental health and relationships, Mist blended melancholic jazz harmonies with alternative hip hop and soul. Here he not only raps and plays the keys, but also produces some of the drumming.
In October 2018, he released a bookend to Antiphon by creating the two-track 7th October (Epilogue).
The track Resolve expanded on the outro section of the track 7th October from Antiphon, while Exit focused on the hip hop elements in the first section featuring Mist’s other project, 2nd Exit (a hip hop duo with sharp-witted rapper Lester Duval.
They created an eponymous EP in 2016 after working together on fellow rapper Barney Artist’s Bespoke).
Together Mist, Rakei, Misch and Artist make up the creative quartet Are We Live, who not only perform together on occasion, but also use the outlet of a podcast by the same name to generally immerse their audience in all things music.
Mist is planning to release Structuralism in April 2019 and you can take a listen to the first track, Retainer, from that next album online.
With Structuralism, he wants to interrogate who he is because of the structure of society he grew up in. It, too, will feature contributions by bassist Kaya Thomas-Dyke, who has created the striking artwork and contributed on all of his releases so far.
Alfa Mist plays at the CTIJF on Saturday March 30 before he moves on to the Mladi Ladi Jazz 2019 festival in Prague, Czech Republic.