12 July 2017: Jazzmeia Horn and more Coltrane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jazz continues to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane on 17 July 1967. To start this week’s show we featured 18 minutes of ethereal, spiritual beauty in the form of the tune Ole.  Unbelievably, this was recorded as far back as 1961 and with a line-up of jazz heavyweights playing with Coltrane – Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Art Davis, and Reggie Workman. Quite simply, the album is a jazz lovers essential must-have release – but then again this is true of so many Coltrane records. There are two versions of this album currently available, but avoid the Complete Ole Sessions: it’s simply a marketing ploy, as the additional tracks were recorded in an unrelated session the previous year. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have an original vinyl copy of the 1961 release – and it’s still a personal favourite album.

Reggie Workman, one of the two bass players on Ole, is identified by Jazzmeia Horn (what a name!) on the sleeve of her new CD A Social Call as one of her mentors. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Horn (see photo above) relocated to New York where in 2013 she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz competition and then won the Theolonius Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. She describes the album as a call in peace about issues affecting peace and that her inspiration comes from the social issues that exist in the world today. The social issues are all listed at the start of the first of her tunes played on the show People Make the World Go Round. None of the songs on the album are originals but the songwriters selected include Betty Carter, Jimmy Rowles, Norma Winstone, Mongo Santamaria, Oscar Brown Jr and Norman Whitfield – an eclectic selection. Jazzmeia Horn serves them all up with an original treatment. She is also one of those vocalists who employ top-class backing musicians and gives them the scope to show that they can play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The social issues continued with another New York based singer Somi, who was raised in a family with Rwandan Ugandan descent. On the tune Black Enough she asks Am I black enough for you? I don’t talk the way you do as she explores the dilemmas of her identity. Petite Afrique, her sophomore album is a love letter to her parents for their sacrifices when leaving their home country and the extended, strong and generous immigrant community I was fortunate to be raised in. Marcus Strickland appears on the tune playing tenor sax.

One of the latest Polish gems available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds comes from a trio led by pianist Marcin Losik. This is an uplifting piece adding an energy and bounce that is not always found in the acoustic piano/bass/drums format. So often have I read comments on Polish jazz that describe a new release as yet another example of Polish melancholy. This album is anything but. Beside, is this not a huge over generalisation about the music from a country with many outstanding jazz musicians?

To end the show there was further buoyant and uplifting music via a tune from The Janet Lawson Quintet album recorded in 1980 but re-released on the British BBE label. Janet Lawson is a fine example of a jazz vocalist who used her voice as an instrument. So High is the title of the tune and that is where it takes you.

We’re going to feature more Coltrane music in a final feature on the legacy of his music in next week’s show.

  1. John Coltrane – Ole from Ole
  2. Jazzmeia Horn – People Make the World Go Round from A Social Call
  3. Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) from A Social Call
  4. Jazzmeia Horn – Going Down from A Social Call
  5. Somi – Black Enough from Petite Afrique
  6. Marcin Losik Trio – Modal Enterprise from Emotional Phrasing
  7. The Janet Lawson Quintet – So High from The Janet Lawson Quintet

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Neil is listening to:

05 June 2017: ‘trane tracks and more

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 July 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane. His music is really at the heart of what we do here at Cosmic Jazz – always searching, sometimes on the edge, often lyrical and usually deeply emotional. Perhaps that’s why we’ve played so much of Coltrane’s music over the years – and, of course, he remains a huge influence and presence for many young musicians today.

Among these is Nubya Garcia who played the Singapore Jazz Festival this year with Gilles Peterson. Garcia is a young London-based saxophonist and her group includes Binker Moses, the drummer who featured on CJ last week and who – but for a slight technical problem – would have featured again this week.  We played Contemplation from her album Nubya’s 5ive – a highlight for me of her live performance in Singapore. It’s a McCoy Tyner composition and he was, of course, a prominent member of John Coltrane’s classic quartet. It’s an interesting example of how an interpretation should be done – new perspectives and a sound that is very much of now whilst retaining the modal heartbeat of the original.

For a take of the real deal we then featured the Coltrane tune Offering. Recorded in February 1967, a few months before his death, with ‘trane’s band now featuring Alice Coltrane on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Rashied Ali on drums, this album wasn’t released until 1995. It gives no suggestion of where Coltrane might have gone in his musical exploration but his playing is as spirited and sharply defined as ever. Stellar Regions is an album well worth getting hold of.

But we began the show this week with more contemporary British jazz boundary stretching – perhaps a reflection that Cosmic Jazz is playing out this weekend at the Global Village in Christchurch Park Ipswich on Saturday and at 13:30 on Sunday afternoon at the Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre, outside the treasure that is the independent Soundclash record shop. The Comet is Coming has what has been described as combining elements of jazz, funk, electronica & psychedelic rock! Shabaka Hutchings is one of the core players and, with pure jazz credentials not in doubt, he’s one of many new(ish jazz musicians, who need to extend beyond the artificial boundaries that can sometimes contain any genre of music. Drummer Nick Woodmansey (aka Emanative) also provided an edgy, contemporary, electronic sound – and you can find much more of his music here on his Bandcamp site.

A trip around three European countries demonstrated that jazz – perhaps in more conventional form – is alive and well across the continent. Trumpeter Jerzy Malek sounded very melodic after what had been on the show up to that point and Belgian drummer Jelle van Giel led his band on a pleasantly uplifting number from his 2017 album The Journeymanaging to make what is not a large group sound like an orchestra. Talking of orchestras, from Finland came the Koko Jazz Orchestra, set up as a house band for the Helsinki Jazz Club. Its leaders are drummer Jussi Lehtonen and pianist Jussi Fredriksson and the band’s new album presents the music of these two. For another taste of this band, listen here to Chillin’, another composition from Jussi Lehtonen.

I loved The Lagos Music Salon album from New York based singer/composer Somi. The music has a jazz feel while incorporating other sounds too. The same feel is on her new album Petite Afrique – whilst it’s perhaps not as good as the last one there are still many interesting moments.

  1. The Comet is Coming – Final Eclipse from Death to the Planet
  2. Emanative – Black Enchantment from Black Enchantment
  3. Nubya Garcia – Contemplation from Nubya’s 5ive
  4. John Coltrane – Offering from Stellar Regions
  5. Jerzy Malek – Homeroad from Forevelle
  6. Jelle Van Giel Group – Bonito from The Journey
  7. Koko Jazz Orchestra – Chat With a Bass Drum from presenting the music of Jussi Lehtonen & Jussi Fredriksson
  8. Somi – They’re Like Ghosts from Petite Afrique

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

28 June 2017: drumagic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of music around the world is the drum – and its influence in jazz is, of course, profound. We began this week’s show with a focus on drummers in four very different context. The first two tracks came from the new Binker and Moses release. It’s available through the vinyl and download only Gearbox Records, and To the Mountain of Forever is a real step forward from their MOBO and Jazz FM award-winning first release from last year. To start with, on vinyl it’s two albums – the first the familar duo and the second disc with an enhanced line up that includes revered soprano saxman Evan Parker and trumpeter Byron Wallen. Fete by the River is pure Sonny Rollins calypso, but The Valley of the Ultra Blacks shifts everything up a gear. Parker does his circular breathing to great effect and tabla textures come from Sorathy Korwar. This is a standout release and well worthy of your investigation.

Up next was a favourite album of Neil’s dating back to 1974 – Dave Liebman’s Drum Ode on ECM Records. Loft Dance features Liebman on soprano sax, Badal Roy and Collin Walcott on tabla, John Abercrombie on guitar and Ritchie Beirach on Fender Rhodes. Very much of its time, but with a driving force that’s irresistible. Liebman is much influenced by Coltrane of course, but has his own sound – honed by time with Miles Davis in his most extreme bands of the 1970s. Resonance Records have a really good new release out this week featuring Liebman and Joe Lovano celebrating Coltrane’s music – check it out here. Afrobeat legend Tony Allen is – according to Brian Eno – perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived, and he has an intriguing new EP on release. It’s a tribute to another master kitman, Art Blakey, and it gives a new twist to some familiar Blakey tunes. At 77, Allen’s sound remains unique – his distinctive drum patterns appear immediately on The Drum Thunder Suite and then sustain the tune through some some interesting soloing from his Parisian quintet.

A change of tone came with a reflective tune from the Daniel Toledo Trio’s excellent album Atrium. Bassist Toledo is from Ecuador, his drummer Paul Svanberg from Sweden and they are complemented by Polish wunderkind Piotr Orzechowski – or Pianohooligan. It doesn’t seem a wholly appropriate moniker for such thoughtful music but there’s plenty of energy elsewhere on this album.

Next, something of a rarity. Neil has been working in Cambodia in recent weeks and – in the search for some jazz related Cambodian music (not an easy task) he came across this – a version of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints played by the group Khmer Jazz Fusion. They’re certainly a fusion band – recorded in 2004 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the music is a collaboration between four young jazz musicians from San Francisco and five leading Cambodian masters of traditional Khmer music. The album even features a Khmer twist on Take Five alongside more traditional Khmer courtly pinn peat music.

Saxophonist Joe Henderson remains a Cosmic Jazz favourite and this week Neil chose a track from his In Pursuit of Blackness album from 1971. No Me Esqueca (Portuguese meaning don’t forget me) is a twist on Recorda Me (meaning remember me) – a well known Henderson composition. It’s a real favourite of ours and works well in any club setting. With Henderson on tenor is Woody Shaw on trumpet  and George Cables on Fender Rhodes.

Up next was Me’Shell Ndegeocello with a track from her tribute album to Nina Simone – Pour Une Ame Souveraine. Ndegeocello doesn’t try to recreate Simone’s music, but instead give a unique take on a tune like See Line Woman which features Tracy Wonnomae on flute. We ended the show this week with some downright funk. The Blackbyrd’s recently performed at London’s Barbican and Hash and Eggs is a Mizell brothers classic from their 1975 City Life album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neil’s listening choices celebrate the music of pianist Geri Allen and trumpeter Kelan Philip Cohran, both of whom died this week. We’ve featured their music on Cosmic Jazz over the years and – whilst the legacy of both will live on – Allen and Cohran were sadly not always acknowledged as the masters they were. Geri Allen was particularly under-rated as an innovative pianist, at home with both the jazz tradition and the avantgarde. Notably, Allen said in a 1992 interview I like to look at the piano as a drum – as 88 drums with pitch. Rhythm is the core of my music. The choices cover just some of the range of music played by both artists and we’ll feature more in weeks to come.

  1. Binker & Moses – Fete by the River from To the Mountain of Forever
  2. Binker & Moses – The Valley of the Ultra Blacks from To the Mountain of Forever
  3. Dave Liebman – Loft Dance from Drum Ode
  4. Tony Allen – The Drum Thunder Suite from A Tribute to Art Blakey EP
  5. Daniel Toledo Trio – Tawny from Atrium
  6. Khmer Jazz Fusion – Footprints from Khmer Jazz Fusion
  7. Joe Henderson – No Me Esqueca from In Pursuit of Blackness
  8. Me’Shell N’degeocello – Seeline Woman from Pour Une Ame Souveraine
  9. The Blackbyrds – Hash and Eggs from City Life

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

21 June 2017: jazz – the global beat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music – the most international of languages – is good at travelling. There are no borders and certainly no walls. But results can vary. It may depend on the artist’s purpose, cultural understanding or musical assimilation. Reggae, for example, has gone global but one could question the quality of some of the bands comprised of musicians from European heritages. The same could be said of some Latin music too. Jazz, on the other hand, seems to do a good job of transcending its American origins. One of Art Blakey’s early Blue Note albums was called Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World – and that’s where our CJ artists gather too. Around the world, jazz has truly become a global language – perhaps because the spirit of invention and improvisation is a global impulse – and we have some fine examples for you in this week’s show.

The record from the Daniel Toledo Trio, which has just arrived from Steve’s Jazz Sounds, is an interesting example of both the worldwide appeal and the creativity and fine musicianship of jazz players of differing heritages. The trio includes Daniel Toledo, a bass player from Ecuador, Paul Svanberg, a Swedish drummer and Piotr Orzechowski, a classically trained pianist with a well-established reputation as a serious jazz artist in  his homeland of Poland. The record, incidentally, was recorded in Poland. It is recommended.

In the week that I attended the Aldeburgh Festival at Snape Maltings in Suffolk – a festival established by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – it seemed appropriate to play again something from bass player Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance. The record Accident and Insurgency was the outcome of their playing and composing residency at Snape – they were the first jazz musicians to be granted such a residency. The tune Broadside paid homage to a local beer rather than the music environment but that was obviously an important stimulant. The touches and work throughout the album of pianist Tim Lapthorn are a delight and the album features American trumpeter Eddie Henderson as guest.

Looking at the listings in Jazzwise magazine for what seem to be an ever-increasing number of summer festivals that are either jazz festivals or include jazz, it is noticeable how often Mammals Hands are in the line-up. This is deservedly so, and pleasing for those of us at Cosmic Jazz who have seen what is a local trio develop from playing a pub on the seafront in Felixstowe, to a meagre half disinterested audience noisily talking  away to themselves, to international crowds. They are very good and have something different to offer; catch them if you can and/or listen to their records.

The programme this week had very much a British focus. In addition to Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance and Mammal Hands there was a further reminder of how promising Camilla George and her Quartet sound on their first album and there were two tunes from albums  released on the British Edition record label. Some of the musicians were British but in Phronesis, a multi-national band if ever there was one, playing with Julian Arguelles and the Frankfurt Big Band, there is another example of the wide and successful reach of jazz music.

To end the show, it was a return to Poland for the wonderful band led by Lukas Korybalski, a trumpet and flugelhorn player.

  1. Daniel Toledo Trio – Atrium from Atrium
  2. Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance – Broadside from Accident and Insurgency
  3. Mammal Hands – Quiet Fire from Floa
  4. Phronesis, Julian Arguelles and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band – Zeiding from The Behemoth
  5. Tim Garland – Foretold from One
  6. Camilla George Quartet – Mama Wati Returns/Usoro from Isang
  7. Lukas Korybalski – Taniec Greka from CMM

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Neil is listening to…

14 June 2017: in a silent way?

Silence is golden, except on a radio show. There is a silence in this show, albeit a short one towards the end. It’s ironic really as I was about to play a tune called He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing… Suffice to say no more than such problems are usually the result of the user rather than the equipment – sorry.  Do listen, though, to the show via the MixCloud tab (left) as there are some great tunes either side of the silence.

The aforementioned He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing did get played – and it is worth hearing. It’s by Polish trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski from his remarkably mature debut album CMM released this year. It has been described as providing a musical journey into something like a trance. Certainly it has a very warm and inviting feel to it. There are lovely solos, but they are woven almost into the music  – and the backing throughout of drummer Lukasz Zyta is intricate and complex but in an understated way.

As so often on the programme, the show began with a tune that I had recently played and enjoyed. Cosmic Jazz seems to be going through yet another John Coltrane appreciation phase and why should I make apologies for that? 14 minutes and 09 seconds of India recorded live at the Village Vanguard on 03 November 1961, from the Impressions album was just such a perfect spiritual and uplifting way to begin. Coltrane was on soprano, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, McCoy Tyner piano, Jimmy Garrison and Reggie Workman on basses and Elvin Jones on drums. I just listen and wonder in amazement that this was recorded so long ago and at its sophistication – especially if you compare it to some of the popular jazz of the time. We’re not alone here: it’s reported that American group the Byrds had only one cassette to listen to on their late 1965 tour and that one side featured Ravi Shankar while the other had Coltrane’s Impressions and the Africa/Brass albums. They acknowledged Coltrane’s influence in their celebrated Eight Miles High. Listen to this extended instrumental version from the 1970 Filmore concert which is powered by Skip Battin’s jazzy basswork and see what you think.

There was what I considered a sequence of tunes that complemented each other and sounded fresh, contemporary with an element of challenge. This began with Steve Lehman and Selebeyone, went into Dinosaur and ended with Led Bib, who have a new album recently released.

Poland holds an annual Jazz Day in April. Bands perform and there is a competition for band of the year. In 2017 the winner of the Grand Prix  was the pianist Adam Jarzmik and his Quintet of musical friends with their 2017 release Euphoria. Among the judges was the Cosmic Jazz favourite Piotr Wojtasik. The award was a good choice. It is a record of strong  emotional sounds, mixing the contemporary with the traditional and embracing a subtle intensity.

There was a trip to Brazil at the end of the show. The voice of Milton Nascimento  interwoven with the soprano sax of Wayne Shorter and the further presence on the record of Herbie Hancock, Raul de Souza and Airto Moreira among others. Finally came Baden Powell, the Brazilian guitarist who named himself after the British founder of the scout movement with a tune that epitomises the delicacy, intimacy and melodic beauty of much Brazilian bossa jazz of the 1960s/early 1970s. The album from which this track comes is something of a rarity. For a further taste, listen to one of my favourite tracks – Coisa No1 – which achieves miracles in just over three minutes…

  1. John Coltrane – India from Impressions
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Laamb from Selebeyone
  3. Dinosaur – Living Breathing from Together As One
  4. Led Bib – Battery Power from Jazzwise sampler Babel Label 1994 – 2014
  5. Adam Jarzmik Quintet – Euphoria from Euphoria
  6. Lukasz Korybalski – He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing from CMM
  7. Milton Nascimento – Saidas e Bandeiras (Exits & Flags) from Milton
  8. Baden Powell – Rosa Flor from Swings with Jimmy Pratt

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Neil is listening to…

07 June 2017: featuring Steve Lehman and Selebeyone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jazz has always taken a broad definition of what constitutes jazz. Purists may not like some of the tunes we play, but here at CJ we believe that the influence of jazz is wider than any genre and that cross currents diversify and grow the music into new structures and styles.

The featured album this week from Steve Lehman & Selebeyone is an interesting exemplar of this. Selebeyone is a word in the Wolof language spoken in the West African country of Senegal – it means intersection. Kwami Coleman’s album sleeve notes explain how the word converges idiomatically with French and Arabic and conveys the intersection of forces in motion on the record from hip hop to emceeing and djing/electronic musical production to jazz. As  Coleman states “For Selebeyone, when distinct languages, musical idioms and cultural origins intermingle, the product is a confluence of words, sonic textures, and ideas”. In practical terms, this means alto sax player Steve Lehman is joined by Maciek Lasserre on soprano, Carlos Homs on piano and keys, Drew Gress on acoustic bass, Damion Reid on drums – and also two hip hop vocalists: Gaston Bandimic in Wolof and HPrizm in English. Check out this exciting music with an open mind and ears.

We began this week’s show with more Polish music from sax player Tomasz Wendt and his tune For D.  Also featured this week was yet another of the outstanding group of jazz musicians from Poland. Tomasz Chyla is a violinist who leads a quintet including musicians active with other Polish groups – among them Algorhythm whom we’ve featured on the programme. Chyla takes a clear lead on the this debut album Eternal Entropy, but there is much interplay with the other musicians, especially Szymon Burnos on piano and Piotr Checki on sax. The music is both delicate and strong, and on the tune Three Shades of Black builds up to great intensity.

The impending opening of the 2017 Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk UK – a festival founded by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – marked an appropriate time to recognise the work of the Aldeburgh Foundation which has promoted musicians beyond the classical origins of the festival. Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance were the first jazz musicians to gain a music-making residency at the Snape Maltings home of the Foundation. Pianist Tim Lapthorn composed Solace to describe the ambience as he played solo in one of the rooms at Snape.

Finally, there is always room on the programme to play some of our favourite tunes – the first from veteran pianist Ahmad Jamal whose new album Marseille is just out and the second from legendary saxophonist John Coltrane, who is the subject of a new documentary film Chasing Trane out later this year. Interestingly, 86 year old Jamal features rapper Abd Al Malik accompanying his regular extended trio – listen here.

  1. Tomasz Wendt Trio – For D from Behind the Strings
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Hybrid from Selebeyone
  3.  Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Dualism from Selebeyone
  4.  Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Bamba from Selebeyone
  5. John Coltrane – Stellar Regions from Stellar Regions
  6. Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance – Solace from Accident and Insurgency
  7. Tomasz Chyla Quintet – Three Shades of Black from Eternal Entropy
  8. Tomasz Chyla Quintet – Last Hope from Eternal Entropy
  9. Ahmad Jamal – Sunday Afternoon from Live in Marciac

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Derek is listening to:

31 May 2017: contemporary Polish jazz

The show this week, available on the MixCloud tab, showcases some contemporary Polish Jazz, and we are fortunate that in Steve’s Jazz Sounds we have a UK source for the interesting, varied and, at times, quite original music that emanates from this East European country.

Poland has long-established jazz artists and exciting new talent emerging all the time. Dziedzic, the group that appears at the start of the show, is led by a veteran of the scene. Drummer Krzystof Dziedzic has been supporting Polish jazz musicians for twenty years but this year has released his own album Tempo, with other musicians supporting him. These include piano/keyboards, bass, timbales, alto/soprano sax and two turntablists. It is a contemporary, electronic, industrial, quirky sound that is both challenging and unique with every tune having a title that involves a number and BPM.

There are two tunes, at least, from each of the artists this week, including from  trumpeter Jerzy Malek and his sextet. Thay sound more conventional after Dziedzic; but thee is nothing wrong with that. His 2017 album Forevelle provides an enjoyable listen, it brings warmth and joy. I like it.

Jazz quintet Algorythm have released their second album in 2017 entitled Mandala. It is a development from their first album Segments. It is more complex, multi-layered and draws upon global influences. It also, however, has variety. The title tune has the sort of spiritual, meditative vibe that you might expect from such a title, but Ambrosia, the second tune played on the show, is different and more up-tempo. Polish jazz has many strands even within a single album.

Last week’s show included a tune from the first  Aga Derlak album First Thought released in 2014. This week there are tunes, three in fact, from the new album Healing. Pianist Agnieszka Derlak is a real talent. She makes powerful and important statements on the piano, while still providing scope for other members of the trio. She has played out beyond Poland. Look out for her and see and hear her where/if you can.

  1. Dziedzic – 158 BPM from Tempo
  2. Dziedzic – 207 BPM from Tempo
  3. Jerzy Malek – Forevelle from Forevelle
  4. Jerzy Malek – Summer Girl from Forevelle
  5. Algorythm – Mandala from Mandala
  6. Algorythm – Ambrosia from Mandala
  7. Aga Derlak Trio – Recovery from Healing
  8. Aga Derlak Trio – The Ultimate Love from Healing
  9. Aga Derlak Trio – Waiting from Healing

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Derek is listening to:

24 May 2017: Brazil and beyond

So often my playlist is influenced by what I have seen or heard since the previous show. During the last week I saw live performances in Norwich from two artists that have featured on Cosmic Jazz so it was to them that I turned to open the show.

There is, however, a major difference from what I played first and what I saw live. For one thing, The Loud Minority on which Dee Dee Bridgewater passionately bawls out and proclaims the rights of the oppressed, was recorded a long time ago – 1972 to be precise. Secondly, what she is doing now is, in her words, not what many in the audience who knew her as a jazz performer might have expected. She is currently showcasing, in advance of an autumn release, a new album entitled MemphisShe has returned to the place of her birth and is re-interpreting the great soul and blues sounds of Memphis, Tennessee. With the support of a tight band and two young sisters as backing vocalists who really looked as if they were having a great time, she gave a belting, raucous and sprightly vocal performance – and that at the age of 67 and with a leg in plaster. Not surprisingly, the audience loved her. If you’re checking out a date on her short European tour, just don’t expect to hear jazz.

Brad Meldhau, who performed in the spiritual setting of St. Andrew’s Hall Norwich, the site of a former monastery, was a different proposition. Surprisingly, there were spare seats for this festival performance, disappointing but there were enough people to give a warm reception to this great piano improviser, There was music from the recent album Blues and Ballads but good to hear there was more besides, including new work. At times, the trio, with Jeff Ballard on drums (very cool and impressive) and Larry Grenadier on bass, were soulful and bluesy too but in a different, much more understated way. They certainly meld together as a whole. There were solos – including a long and intricate one from Meldhau – but this concert wasn’t just about him as a soloist – the trio (who in this incarnation have been together since 2005) are a strongly cohesive unit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Aga Derlak Trio from Poland has a much more strident approach which you can hear on Troublesome, the tune featured this week’s show. They are a young group who made a huge impact in Poland when they appeared on the scene and are now reaching a wider stage, for example, the Edinburgh International Festival. They are led by pianist Agnieska Derlak and you know clearly when she is taking the lead, with bold and very definite playing. She is there to be heard. The tune this week was from her 2014 album First Thought and there is more music available. Check Steve’s Jazz Sounds to track down her music.

Jelle Van Giel, a drummer based in Antwerp Belgium, is someone we like on Cosmic Jazz. He leads a septet which sounds like a melodic, almost modal big band. They have a new album, The Journeyreleased in 2017 from which this week’s tune was taken.

It just felt time to return to Brazil: perhaps it was the weather, but more likely the need for the sort of feel-good uplift that so much Brazilian music can bring. First from Sergio Mendes, and a track from an album that was much praised as a return to form on its release, then Paula Sentoro with a tune well known to any devotee of classic Brazilian tunes and finally The Tamba Trio explaining the influence of jazz provided three short, but perfectly formed tunes.

To end the show, the late Arthur Blythe from last year’s two CD release of four original vinyls showed us how a traditional tune can be transformed and enhanced by a great performer – much like Dee Dee Bridgewater is now doing with traditional soul and blues.

  1. Frank Foster – The Loud Minority from The Loud Minority
  2. Brad Mehldau Trio – My Valentine from Blues and Ballads
  3. Aga Derlak Trio – Troublesome from First Thoughts
  4. Jelle van Giel – Just A Little Waltz from The Journey
  5. Sergio Mendes – Senoras Do Amazonias from Brasiliero
  6. Paula Sentoro – Corcovado from Bossa Nova Baby
  7. The Tamba Trio – Influencia Do Jazz from Tamba Trio Classics
  8. Arthur Blythe – Just A Closer Walk With Thee from Blythe Spirit

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Neil is listening to…

18 May 2017: Cosmic Jazz plays cosmic jazz

This week’s show, available now via the Mix Cloud tab (left), is made up of four long, Old School tunes. An identifying feature of two of them at least (and maybe elements of a third) is that they are not only on a Cosmic Jazz show they are cosmic in sound, ambience and effect!

Saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders is a name many would associate with cosmic jazz. His tone is one of the most distinctive voices in jazz – full of raw, rasping overtones one moment and warm, rich and deep at others. The fire of his eleven Impulse! label albums recorded from 1967-1974 gave way to an often more lyrical exploration of jazz standards but still with that commanding tone that remains uniquely strong. For more on that golden age at Impulse! Check out this Red Bull Music Academy feature for more information – and then search out some of the albums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now 76, Sanders is still performing, although his most recent record releases tend to be as guest slots on other albums. Some of these are well worth seeking out: we have featured two on CJ over recent years – The Voyage with Japanese band Sleep Walker and his live recording with alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett on the Sketches of MD: Live at the Iridium album. Listen to the deep Intro to Africa track here.

Both sides of Sander’s unique tenor saxophone voice can be heard on the track Love is Everywhere played in full on the show this week. It comes from one of the last of the albums Sanders recorded for Impulse! and features the under-rated piano of Joe Bonner. This is truly music that encompasses freedom and gentleness and speaks deeply of peace and understanding. Sanders, of course, played with John Coltrane in his last years – and in his more recent recordings Sanders channels ‘trane so convincingly that if you close your eyes… You can hear this clearly on this excellent 2011 live concert from London’s Jazz Cafe (here presented in full) – for example, on  the Sanders composition Nozipho that begins the show.

The Pharoah Sanders world of cosmic spirituality could apply equally to the music of  Alice Coltrane. This week’s show featured the tune Blue Nile – which includes Sanders on tenor saxophone and alto flute. Recorded in 1970, this harp/piano/tenor saxophone combination has become a template for many more recent cosmic jazz heroes, including the UK’s Matthew Halsall and Nat Birchall. Just listen to Halsall’s Tribute to Alice Coltrane here to see what we mean. Coltrane’s soaring, modal sounds can be found on Ptah, the El Daoud or the excellent Impulse! compilation Astral Meditation which is an excellent place to start your Alice Coltrane journey. Joining Coltrane and Sanders here are Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Ron Carter (bass) and Ben Riley (drums).

Last week I played the tune Black Renaissance by the band of the same name led by Harry Whitaker. The CD has two tunes only and normally I am so enraptured and mesmerised by the first that I play it over and over again. Last week, however, I left the CD playing and gave the second track some attention. Magic Ritual does not match Black Renaissance – I doubt if there is much that can – but it is good, deserves to be heard and has that same feeling of spontaneity, joy and the search for  African-centric expression.

To end the show I played as much as time would allow of what is currently my favourite Fela Kuti tune, Just Like That. You can find it on a number of Fela releases including the excellent compilation, The Two Sides of Fela,  French Barclay release and distributed here by none other than Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label. It’s not that easy to find now but you can also get Just Like That on the Underground System album.

  1. Black Renaissance – Magic Ritual from Black Renaissance: Mind, Body and Soul
  2. Pharaoh Sanders – Love is Everywhere from Love In Us All
  3. Alice Coltrane – Blue Nile from Astral Meditations
  4. Fela Kuti and Africa 80 – Just Like That from The Two Sides of Fela – Jazz and Dance (from Jazz CD 1)

So – having whetted your appetities – would you like to listen to twelve hours of spiritual jazz? For much more of this music, listen to this magisterial, extended review of the genre from London’s NTS Radio. Thanks to Kalamu ya Salaam and his excellent Neo Griot blog for this one.

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

10 May 2017: featuring Black Renaissance

Every year as summer draws near I have to play Harry Whitaker’s sensational Black Renaissance: Mind, Body and Spirit – and in full. It is simply a wonderful piece of free, spontaneous and Afrocentric jazz, soul and rapping – before rap was known. In effect and reality, the whole piece was a jam session recorded in one take and – rather fittingly – on Martin Luther King day in 1976.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are just two tracks – Black Renaissance (side 1) and Magic Ritual (side 2). Whitaker comments on the record sleeve that “we discussed ideas the night before – just the basics like the bass lines and the drums, but that was it. It was recorded in what I call moment-to-moment.” For many years the tapes were thought to be lost forever, but they they were eventually tracked down in 2002 by the Luv’n’Haight label in California and released on Ubiquity.

Harry Whitaker was a pianist, producer, arranger and composer who played and recorded with Roy Ayers and Roberta Flack and had influential jazz friends and contacts. The record includes Woody Shaw (check out his trumpet solo), Azar Lawrence, Buster Williams, Billy Hart and Mtume. The music is essentially a  map of the African American musical canvas of 1976, with echoes of Sun Ra’s call and response, Coltrane’s tonal meditations and touches of the electronic wizardry of Herbie Hancock’s early 1970s music.  You simply need to hear this essential music – press the Mixcloud tab now! You can still track down the album on both vinyl and CD. Original Japanese pressings from 1976 come up at around £300 so go for the Lu’n’Haight reissue – around £10 for CD and a little more on vinyl. If you don’t have this jazz essential just treat yourself.

It was another tune from the Dinosaur record Together as One that started off the show. Extinct has been an ever-present on my current playlist for some time now. The clarity of the playing from each player comes out really strongly on this tune. It is jazz for our times from a significant, young British group.

I was reminded recently that a year ago this week I saw the Sun Ra Arkestra under the musical direction of Marshall Allen, now aged 92 and still as strong as ever. The orchestra continues to carry the spirit of Sun Ra and Cosmic Hop manages to combine the spiritual with the danceable. The Jelle Van Giel group from Belgium have featured regularly on the show. We like them and they merit repeated listening. There was another tune from The Devotion, US drummer John Lumpkin’s release from last year. This was one of those tunes that ends in a free and improvised blow-out (like Black Renaissance) – quite different from how it starts. The whole album, available on download, is, in fact, quite unpredictable. One tune, in particular, is very different, maybe I should try it next week…

Two other artists I saw almost a year ago were UK musicians pianist Kit Downes and cello player Lucy Railton. At that time, they were playing with Norwegian Thomas Stronin as he toured in Europe. This week we ended the show with a track from the duo’s recent release Tricko .

  1. Dinosaur – Extinct from Together as One
  2. Black Renaissance – Black Renaissance from Black Renaissance: Body, Mind and Spirit
  3. Sun Ra Arkestra – Cosmic Hop from Songs for the Sun
  4. Jelle Van Giel Group – The Truth from Songs for Everyone
  5. John Lumpkin – The Red Sea from The Devotion
  6. Kit Downes – Jinn from Tricko

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Neil is listening to…

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio