Tomorrow’s Warriors three-decade legacy celebrated at A Great Day in London Southbank gala

Jane Cornwell
Thursday, December 9, 2021

Inspired by the unifying spirit of Art Kane’s iconic 1958 jazz photograph, the jazz stars helped and uplifted by Tomorrow’s Warriors were out in force and on song

It was billed as ‘the greatest London jazz happening in a generation’, a gathering on a par with Art Kane’s iconic 1958 photo A Great Day in Harlem. Even greater, maybe, given that each musician in the sprawling QEH line-up had a common denominator, and was fundraising for the same cause: Tomorrow’s Warriors, the pioneering jazz music development charity celebrating its 30th anniversary year.

Against a backdrop declaring A Great Day In London, portraits of alumni glimpsed inside the letters, came a crew variously internationally known, fast rising and fledgling. It is here at the Southbank, in the basement Violet Room, that chops are fine-tuned with the aid of such former Warriors as Denys Baptiste, Binker Golding and Jason Yarde (all present), a journey whose younger-to-elder trajectory (and “each one, teach one” philosophy) was in plain glorious sight.

The Junior Band was lent ballast by TW co-founder Gary Crosby on double bass and Shabaka Hutchings and Theon Cross on tenor and tuba, steering Sons of Kemet’s ‘Inner Babylon’ with easy flair. Soon Come Ensemble, a 10-piece, featured Camilla George on alto sax and Zara McFarlane in rich voice on her own ‘I Am Warrior’. The five members of Female Frontline gave us ‘Autumn Leaves’ – props to pianist Emily Tan and her silky fluency, and to Romana Campbell for her fizzing kit drum face-off with guest Moses Boyd - before Boyd and tenorist Golding, long creative partners, took off on the fly, out into their special zone.

The joy of ensemble playing was palpable, pulsing from the Violet Room All Stars via besuited, alto-fabulous Nathaniel Facey and, going off on Rollin’s ‘Tenor Madness, the three tenors of Shabaka Hutchings, Nubya Garcia (above) and a shades-wearing Ruben Fox; the redoubtable Nu Troop saw Crosby in deep flow on ‘There Is No Greater Love’. Throughout, players stepped back after their turns to watch, respect and marvel. And while singer Cherise, our compere, joined pianist Jonah Grimbley to go the full Ella on ‘Round Midnight’, it was the closing 20-strong Soon Come Orchestra that packed the biggest wallop.

Led by conductor Binker Golding, with vocalists including Cara Crosby-Irons joined by Cherise, McFarlane, the Baptiste-penned ‘Rise Warriors Rise’ swelled with beauty and righteousness – a fitting testament to three decades’ worth of belief and investment and for those who didn’t make the late night jam in the foyer, the finale of a very great day indeed.

To find out ways you can support Tomorrow’s Warriors visit

Subscribe from only £5.83

Never miss an issue of the UK's biggest selling jazz magazine.


View the Current

Take a peek inside the latest issue of Jazzwise magazine.

Find out more