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Maneka's debut LP is a release that attempts to encapsulate the experience ...of one of the more distinct and multifaceted performers currently making guitar music. That experience is a deep and varied one, and one that is influenced by McKnight’s unique cultural background in a number of ways. Raised in the DC area to a black father and a mother of Chinese and Pakistani descent, McKnight first fell in love with rap and hip hop in his early teens, but was influenced by his older brother, a fan of early ‘90s rock bands like Sonic Youth and Nirvana, and his father’s passion for jazz guitar playing, which McKnight went on to study at Berklee School of Music in Boston. His interests have remained omnivorous leading him to explore as many styles of music.
“Jumping around between genres and styles and claiming a different kind of voice, taking these liberties, I was uncomfortable about that,” says McKnight. “A friend of mine convinced me that being able to show those different sides and take on those different voices is a good thing, he convinced me that I should celebrate that. He said ‘that’s the beauty of being you. The beauty of being you is that you don’t fit the package."
Listen:Maneka - Never Nowhere
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Theon Cross is an award-winning tuba player and composer based in London. H...e is a key component of London’s thriving jazz scene and his unique style of playing has been described as ‘innovative’ and ‘reinventing the tuba’. His debut EP ‘Aspirations’ brought him international attention and garnered him a Jazz FM nomination for best Jazz Newcomer 2016. In 2019 he released his debut album ‘Fyah’ which was met with critical acclaim worldwide charting at no. 1 on the UK official Jazz & Blues charts, no.23 on the US Jazz Billboard and gained high praise from major global publications including Rolling Stone Magazine, Pitchfork, The New York Times, The Guardian and NPR to name a few leading him to tour extensively throughout Europe, North America and South America.
In addition to his solo work he has also worked with a wide range of established artists including Jon Batiste, Emile Sande, Kano, Makaya McCraven Angelique Kidjo and significantly is a core member of the mercury nominated super group Sons of Kemet.
“Theon Cross is bringing tuba to Jazz’s Center”- Rolling Stone Magazine
“Theon Cross crucially embraces the bass and rhythm role with exuberant inventiveness”- The Guardian