London-based drummer Jas Kayser is one of a growing number of musicians who are showing that females in jazz and in the drumming world is a norm rather than an exception to the rule.
The 26-year-old drummer and composer – who released her debut album for Jazz re:freshed’s iconic 5ive series earlier this year – loves to explore the commonality between jazz and afro-beat.
The album has been described as: “With meditative jazz arrangements, finessed afrobeat fusions and energising studio production, Jas 5ive offers a sincere and candid reflection on themes of identity, self-discovery and family as well as navigating deep questions, from Jas’s upbringing to her travels abroad.”
Over the last three years, Jas Kayser has performed in bands with some of the UK’s inspiring talent including Alfa Mist, Poppy Ajudha, Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings, to Brit Award and Grammy-nominated singer, Jorja Smith.
She has also featured in bands including American drummer Ralph Peterson’s Big Band and had a starring role on drums alongside Lenny Kravitz in the official video for his song Low.
Jas Kayser originally started out with classical piano from around the age of five, but recalls “not enjoying it very much so stopped”. She was given the opportunity to learn drums at school, and her love for the instrument also steered her to reconnect with the piano again, this time with a focus on jazz piano.
As a female drummer with a resonance for jazz, Jas Kayser is aware of the underrepresentation and prejudices that exist within the industry itself.
This is something that Women in Jazz – an organisation founded in 2018 by cousins Louise Paley and Nina Fine as a positive counteraction to reported discrimination and sexual harassment experienced by women performing in the genre – is aiming to address by championing female musicians including the likes Jas Kayser.
In an interview with JazzFM, Jas Kayser said: “I’ve met women my age who used to do drums in school or had the option to play drums at school but never fulfilled that. I think a lot of people have genuinely felt afraid to move forward because it wasn’t seen as a ‘female instrument’. We’re getting there but there’s a lot of work to be done. One day it won’t be strange to see a woman on the drums but until then we have to do our best to bring people up and to inspire the next generation.”
Image Source: Jas Kayser Facebook page
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about entertainments and storytelling of all kinds.