The notes this week may be a little shorter than usual but the music is still great – check it out on the Mixcloud tab as usual. There is our now regular celebratory Blue Note feature – this time from Wayne Shorter – more from the excellent Polish drummer Eryk Kuhm and his Quintessence band which includes US trumpeter Rasul Siddik, another new Polish group led by guitarist Andrzej Kowalski, jazz with some rock touches and classic jazz from Booker Ervin.
Wayne Shorter recently celebrated his 86th birthday. He is not only one of the foremost saxophonists in jazz but also one of the greatest (and most idiosyncratic) composers in the genre too. Maybe indebted to the more muscular side to Coltrane’s sound, Shorter quickly went his own way. His tone on tenor sax is pretty much unmistakeable but it is his piercing, lyrical spare sound on soprano saxophone that is really unique. In the 1970s, and playing with Joe Zawinul in Weather Report, this is what drew me to his music. You can hear it most clearly in the lovely album he recorded in partnership with Brazilian Milton Nascimento. The fragile beauty of Nascimento’s voice on Ponta de Areia is complemented by Shorter’s singular sound – a piping clarity of tone that is nonetheless warm rather than cold. Check it out here.
As a composer, Shorter is best known for carefully conceived, complex, long-limbed, endlessly winding tunes, many of which have become jazz standards. These include this week’s tune – the title track from Speak No Evil – and many more including Footprints and Adam’s Apple.
Our featured artist this week is the wonderful US vocalist Jazzmeia Horn who, in my opinion, passes that difficult second album test. Her wide-ranging voice and the excellent instrumentalists are all there, this time performing a mix of original and other compositions. The new album Love & Liberation does not disappoint and, to make the case as to why this is another excellent record, there are three tunes from it on this week’s show.
Derek and I have both enjoyed the recent work of keyboard player and prolific producer Jamie Saft and the title track of his recent album Blue Dream is a good example. Saft is nothing if not eclectic – he’s played with everyone from Iggy Pop to Donovan, Bill Laswell to the Beastie Boys but he’s recently focused on his current jazz quartet. Their spiritual jazz outing from earlier this year, Hidden Corners, is a good place to start.
Finally, and after a couple of months training in South Korea, China and Oman, Neil is back tweaking the Cosmic Jazz website. Expect to see more extended blog notes, some featured tracks on the show and a wide range of listening choices, starting with this week’s bumper crop of ten!
- Eryk Kuhm Quintessence – Flip-Flop from Private Things
- Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil from Speak No Evil
- Jazzmeia Horn – Free Your Mind from Love & Liberation
- Jazzmeia Horn – I Thought About You from Love & Liberation
- Jazzmeia Horn – No More from Love & Liberation
- Jamie Saft – Blue Dream from Blue Dream
- Andrzej Kowalski Quartet – Ogrod from Abstrakt
- Henry Threadgill – Black Blues from Just the Facts & Pass the Bucket
- Booker Ervin – A Lunar Tune from The Freedom Book
Neil is listening to…
- John Coltrane Quartet – Blue World
- Phillip Bailey – Billy Jack
- George Duke – The Black Messiah (Part Two)
- Robert Glasper Experiment – Afro Blue (feat. Erykah Badu)
- Staple Singers – I’ll Take You There
- Bobby Womack – How Could You Break My Heart
- Arvo Part – Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten
- Stan Getz (feat. Joao Gilberto) – E Preciso Perdoar
- Ry Cooder – Straight Street
- Sarathy Korwar – City of Words