Preview: Somerset House Summer Series @ Somerset House (London; Thursday 5th to Sunday 15th July 2018)  

Summer Series 2017 v2 Image Owen Harvey

One of the most refined and tasteful music festivals is back in town. From tonight until Sunday 15th July, the scenic Neoclassical setting of Somerset House’s courtyard will host Somerset House Summer Series, a two-week-long summer festival organised by Somerset House with American Express.

For the 2018 edition, the attention is monopolized by urban sounds. It’ll indeed be a triumph of elegant, dancy and smooth vibes interpreted by some of the protagonists of alt-jazz, R&B, soul, hip-hop, electro and alternative rock.

Over the 11 shows in the program, we have chosen five highlights that will bring you back and forth in time, letting you explore the history of bass and reggae culture in the UK, celebrate US hip-hop and enjoy the new expressions of London’s R&B and jazz scenes.

We begin on Saturday 7th July, when Don Letts will present Bass Forward, an eight-hour tribute to the UK bass culture, from its origins and link with reggae to its more contemporary representation like grime. From 4PM till 11PM, it will be a journey through the past, present and future of UK bass, featuring names like Norman JayJazzie B, Congo Natty and Wiley.

On the following evening, David Rodigan and the Outlook Orchestra, starring Hollie Cook as special guest, will retrace the history of UK reggae. Throughout the show, Rodigan will share his unconditional love for Jamaican sounds, so needless to say, you’ll be won over by the upbeat mood instilled by one of the most renowned uptempo gurus.

The subsequent Thursday (12th July) is going to be all about Philly vibes. Somerset House will indeed host a one-off show of The Roots. Originating from Philadelphia, the hip-hop and funk ensemble took no time to spread its beats and piercing lyrics all over the world. Get ready for plenty of East Coast grooves and a full load of impressive musicianship.

On the 13th of July, Somerset House Music will sound quintessentially Brit once again, thanks to two up-and-coming R&B and jazz acts. Jorja Smith and Ezra Collective are arguably two of the most talented names when it comes to the UK contemporary music panorama. If Jorja Smith has transposed her passion for reggae and soulful voices into her song-writing and has enriched it with her suggestive interpretation, Ezra Collective are helping the development of the London alt-jazz scene thanks to their eclectic sound, bringing together afrobeat, Latin and Cuban influences.

To close our picks with a bang, there will be another world-class US East Coast band. We are talking about Long Island trio De La Soul, who will visit London together with DJ Premier on the 14th July and offer a double-bill brimming with quality hip-hop. De La Soul’s offbeat and imaginative style and their universal hits (like “Me Myself and I” or “The Magic Number”) have lured music fans all over the world since the 1980s. There’s no doubt they will keep on doing the same, letting you enjoy another night of first-class music.

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