Born and based in Derby, Corey Mwamba's commitment to jazz and improvised music in Britain and Ireland drives all aspects of his work, whether through composition, playing, or promoting new music.
Corey predominantly plays vibraphone; he also plays dulcimer and uses audio processing software. He is recognised as a highly creative improviser and composer working across a wide range of jazz and contemporary music. Mwamba's distinctive approach and tone is instantly recognisable in any context: a potent blend of pure sound, highly melodic phrases and ethereal textures; barely whispered chords and ear-piercing robotic screams.
Mwamba's main group is the critically acclaimed Yana with Dave Kane (bass) and Joshua Blackmore (drums). This group exemplifies a core ideal of creating an "open, living music"; listening and responding spontaneously as a unit to make music that has love, language and a groove. Their first studio release don't overthink it was hailed as "engaging and evocative" (All About Jazz) and described as "the sound of three minds working together in a utopian zone, way beyond the individual ego - and producing something quite beautiful in the process" (Jazzwise). Dave and Corey are also in an improvising sextet called The Spirit Farm, formed out of research by pianist Adam Fairhall. Mwamba and Fairhall also form a trio with drummer Johnny Hunter called Backyard Chassis.
He is a member of the Anglo-French quartet Sonsale with bassist Andy Champion, drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq and cellist Valentin Ceccaldi. Corey also works with Andy in an improvising trio with saxophonist Ntshuks Bonga. He plays in duos with saxophonist Rachel Musson; pianist Robert Mitchell; percussionists Martin Pyne and Walt Shaw; and the multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson.
Corey contributes to saxophonist Nat Birchall's quintet, saxophonist and composer Martin Archer's large ensemble Engine Room Favourites, and trumpeter Nick Malcolm's quartet. He plays with Nick and drummer Simon Roth in Our Own Decay.
An active advocate of the arts, Corey Mwamba strives to argue the case for the arts. He petitioned for fair pay to artists during the London Olympics, and helped engineer a moratorium and review of arts funding cuts in Derby through debate with the city council; he has also worked with many regional arts organisations. He has held board positions for Derby Jazz, World Song Derby, Derby Cultural Diversity Arts Network, and Arts Council England (East Midlands). He is also an adventurous programmer of new music in Derby, setting up One Note Sunday and The Family Album as well as programming Derby Jazz's improvised music stream called 2ndline.
Corey won a PRSF/Jerwood Foundation Take Five artist development award in 2007; was short-listed for the Innovation category in the BBC Jazz Awards in 2008; and was granted an AHRC studentship for a Master of Research degree in Music at Keele University, for which he was awarded a distinction in 2014. Through this research, he developed new dark art, which is a notational and theoretical music system that takes early European medieval music practice as a starting point to create modern music. Corey Mwamba was nominated for "Rising Star on Vibraphone" in the 62nd and 63rd DownBeat Annual Critics' Polls.
Images by Deborah Jordan, Andy Newcombe, and Dee Byrne respectively.