Maxi Jazz, the British musician, rapper, singer-songwriter, and DJ best known for his role as the lead vocalist of the UK dance group Faithless, has died. The news was revealed on Faithless’ social media accounts earlier today (December 24). “We are heartbroken to say Maxi Jazz died last night,” the band wrote in a statement. “He was a man who changed our lives in so many ways. He gave proper meaning and message to our music.” Jazz was 65 years old.
Born Maxwell Fraser in Brixton, London in 1957, Jazz got his start in the British club scene in the 1980s as a DJ on pirate radio. He aired a hip-hop show called “In the Soul Kitchen with DJ Maxi Jazz” on the pirate radio station Reach FM, and, in 1984, founded the Soul Food Cafe System, which was later picked up by Tam Tam Records. He went on to found Namu Records in 1992 to release the band’s work via three EPs and toured the world in support of acts like Jamiroquai, Soul II Soul, and Jason Rebello.
In 1995, Jazz formed Faithless with Rollo Armstrong, Sister Bliss, and Jamie Catto. The following year, the band released their debut album, Reverence, which featured hits like ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Salva Mea’ and reached No. 26 on the UK Albums Chart. Its 1998 follow-up, Sunday 8PM, included the classic dance anthem ‘God Is a DJ’. Faithless released four more albums with Jazz – Outrospective in 2001, No Roots in 2004, To All New Arrivals in 2006, and The Dance in 2010 – before he left the group prior to the release of their 2020 record All Blessed.
In 2015, Fraser formed a group called Maxi Jazz & The E-Type Boys. They issued one album, Simple..Not Easy, and made several festival appearances.
“He was also a lovely human being with time for everyone and a wisdom that was both profound and accessible,” the group’s statement continued. “It was an honor and, of course, a true pleasure to work with him,” the statement continued. “He was a brilliant lyricist, DJ, Buddhist, a magnificent stage presence, car lover, endless talker, beautiful person, moral compass, and genius.”
Producer and DJ Mistajam paid trubute to the late musician on Twitter, writing: “I only met him IRL once and he was the kindest man with such an aura about him. His words and performances touched so many of us and he’ll be sorely missed. Love to Sister Bliss and the whole Faithless family. Rest in Power Maxi Jazz.”