Alfa Mist

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An East London-raised pianist, producer, and rapper of Ugandan descent, Alfa Mist incorporates hip-hop and soul into his cerebral take on contemporary jazz. He first garnered attention with his 2015 debut, Nocturne, released on his own Sekito label. Mist further expanded his approach, exploring fusion and orchestral textures with rap and recorded conversations on 2017′s Antiphon and 2019′s Structuralism. He then signed with Anti- for 2021′s equally genre-bending Bring Backs, as well as 2023′s Variables.
Like many teenagers from Newham, Alfa Mist was initially turned on to music by grime and hip-hop. However, once he learned that many of the samples used by his favorite artists originated from jazz, he investigated that genre further. Despite being from a family of non-musicians, he began to teach himself piano at the age of 17, developing a jazz-based dexterity on the instrument and gravitating toward a textured, Rhodes-inspired sound. On his own Sekito imprint, he issued his first album in 2015. The soulful Nocturne contained the kind of laid-back beats that would continue to permeate his music while shaping it around collaborators Tom Misch, Racheal Ofori, and Emmavie, to name a few.
By the time of 2017′s Antiphon, Alfa Mist’s vision was codified. The album’s expansive, largely instrumental pieces featured audio vérité conversations with his brothers on topics such as values and respect, and was much more indicative of his chosen path. 2018 brought two co-billed singles with South London jazz drummer Yussef Dayes, and Alfa Mist rounded out the year with two alternate versions of an Antiphon track billed as 7th October: Epilogue.
In 2019, he returned with Structuralism, an ambitious effort that found him incorporating a string quartet into his sound, introducing a film-like quality. His sister could also be heard on the featured conversational snippets. In early 2020, he released the solo piano EP On My Ones, as well as the collaborative Epoch EP with Emmavie. That September, Alfa Mist’s profile went up a notch when his interpretation of Eddie Henderson’s 1975 track “Galaxy” was released as part of the Blue Note Re:imagined project.
Also in 2020, Mist was featured in a short film directed by Harry Barber called Confliction, an evocative behind-the-scenes documentary showing him working on a piece with the London Contemporary Orchestra. By 2021, he’d signed with Anti-, which released two singles, “Run Outs” and “Organic Rust,” ahead of his Bring Backs LP, which appeared in April. The EP Two for Mistake followed in November. The full-length Variables arrived in 2023, with South African folk singer Bongeziwe Mabandla guesting on the song “Apho.” ~ James Wilkinson