28 September 2016 – Cosmic Jazz favourites revisited

jazz-vinyl-spines

From time to time we like to play again some of our all-time Cosmic Jazz favourites. How do we select them? It’s difficult – there’s so many to choose from but here’s another selection for you to enjoy. We started with Black Renaissance, the masterpiece from keyboardist Harry Whitaker that became well known on its reissue in 2002. Recorded in 1976, this masterpiece fuses the influences Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and the Last Poets in a unique soblack-renaissance-cvrund that simply refuses to date. This legendary session was recorded by Roy Ayers’ keyboardist Whitaker working here as the leader of the Black Renaissance group, a one-shot ensemble that featured Woody Shaw on trumpet, Azar Lawrence on saxes, Buster Williams on bass, and Mtume on percussion. The music appeared on a rare bootleg that came out briefly in Japan but eventually appeared 25 years later on the Ubiquity label – and was immediately cited by DJs and souljazzers as a a key recording. And it is. The album features just two long tracks, both of them strong ensemble numbers that build Strata East-like with spoken and singing voices in a hip, socially conscious mode.  It’s a reminder of a time in music when – across the genres – exploration was the norm and so should still be celebrated as a pioneering work.

jimmy-heath-the-gap-sealerProbably uniquely, the three Heath brothers were each jazz stars – Percy on bass, Albert (Tootie) on drums and Jimmy on tenor saxophone. When performing as the Heath Brothers, they latterly recruited Jimmy’s son Mtume on drums and percussion – and he appears on this album from 1972 along with uncle Albert on drums and the great Kenny Barron on piano. In addition to the title track, the other standout is Alkebu-Lan (Land of the Blacks) which also appeared on Mtume’s first outing as leader in the same year. This extremely rare Strata East outing is a free jazz double album recorded at iconic New York venue The East, perhaps best known for an almost equally
challenging Pharoah Sanders live album that captures Sanders at his 1970s best in three lengthy track, the best of which is the opener, The Healing Song. It’s not easy to get this album now, but the whole thing is here on YouTube in a good transfer. Thematically, Alkeb
u-Lan (Land of the Blacks) – Live at the East links closely with Black Renaissance and features an all star lineup of Carlos Garnett, Leroy Jenkins, Gary Bartz, Stanley Cowell, Buster Williams and Billy Hart.  Criminally, it is still to be reissued but, in the meantime, you can hear the album in full right here.

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Particularly in this 90th anniversary of his birth, CJ thinks that you never have too much John Coltrane. So what could be more appropriate than the epic Song of the Underground Railroad from the Complete Africa Brass Sessions? We have featured this track several times on the show – it’s from Coltrane’s first album for the Impulse! label and features radical brass arrangements. Africa, the core piece of the initial release,  was a huge influence on composer Steve Reich who said Africa, which was the piece that made the biggest impression on me, is a half an hour on E. And you would say, ‘Well, it’s impossible. It’s going to be boring, You can’t sustain that.’ But he did. You can hear the whole piece here and listen to a mesmerising performance of Reich’s celebrated Drumming here.

gary-bartz-ive-known-riversUp next was saxophonist Gary Bartz. Like many great saxophonists, he first appeared with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers before Miles Davis recruited him on Live/Evil (1971). It wasn’t long before he established himself as a leader with the Ntu Troop and recorded some excellent albums, including I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies (1973) – a live set from the Montreux Jazz Festival. Bartz had a long association with pianist McCoy Tyner and appeared on several of his albums. Look out for a more recent album from 2012 called Coltrane Rules: Tao Music Warrior which features classic Coltrane tunes, including an extended modal reading of I Concentrate on You.

dollar-brand-african-marketplacePianist Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) recorded the classic African Marketplace in 1979 and it remains one of his finest records. The opening track Whoza Mtwana sets the scene: a series of South African folkloric anthems which play tribute to Ibrahim’s childhood, all perfectly realised in the beautiful cover art of the original vinyl sleeve. The album features alto player Carlos Ward, longtime saxophonist stalwart with Ibrahim and a 12-piece group including trombonist Craig Harris and bass player Cecil McBee.  Every tune has a memorable melody but especially The Homecoming Song, Anthem for the New Nation and The Wedding. Check out the full length version of the title track here and, for a perfect encapsulation of Carlos Ward’s emotive alto playing, listen to 1:45 of sheer bliss from Don Cherry’s Relativity Suite album.

The final selection this week was a CJ favourite who also got an airing on the show last week. Joe Henderson was extensively joe-henderson-our-thingrecorded throughout his playing career – first with Blue Note, then Milestone and finally with Verve. Derek’s selection was from Henderson’s second album on Blue Note, recorded in 1963. It’s classic Blue Note in every way – engineered by Rudy van Gelder, with cover art and design by Reid Miles and photography by Blue Note founder Francis Wolff. That’s CJ this week – are any your favourites too?

  1. Black Renaissance – Black Renaissance from Body Mind and Spirit
  2. Jimmy Heath – The Gap Sealer from The Gap Sealer
  3. John Coltrane – Song of the Underground Railroad from Complete Africa Brass Sessions
  4. Gary Bartz Ntu Troop – I’ve Known Rivers from I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies
  5. Abdullah Ibrahim – Whoza Mtwana from African Marketplace
  6. Joe Henderson – Our Thing from Our Thing

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Neil is listening to…

21 September 2016: keeping jazz in the family

ravi-coltrane

This week’s CJ features music chosen by Neil before his departure to Singapore. We started the show with a very different version of a tune familiar to Cosmic Jazz listeners. This week saw the 90th anniversary of John Coltrane’s birth (23 September) and so we featured two classic ‘trane compositions – Alabama and Tunji. We have played the impassioned Alabama before on the show – and told the essential backstory. If you don’t know, then check out this radio feature on Alabama which suggests that (just as with the suite A Love Supreme) Coltrane based the cadences and rhythms of the tune on the spoken word – in this case, Martin Luther King’s funeral eulogy on the four girls killed in the Montgomery firebombing. Our other two versions will be much less familiar to CJ fans.

In Movemdejohnette-in-movementent, the new ECM album from Jack DeJohnette is a stunner. It’s a collaboration between DeJohnette and the sons of two musicians who featured in the classic Coltrane quartet – Ravi Coltrane (pictured above) and Matthew Garrison, bass playing son of Jimmy Garrison – so it seems appropriate that they should cover Alabama. In fact, all three of the album cover tunes are inspired – how about EWF’s Serpentine Fire?! The whole thing is suffused with subtle electronics from Garrison and sounds like a reinvigoration for DeJohnette who – at 74 – is arguably
on his best ever form.

The late Bernie Worrell was not just the keyboard player behind George Clinton’s funk groups Parliament and Funkadelic but an bernie worrell elevationadventurous jazz pianist in his own right. He committed only one solo piano album to disc and Elevation: the Upper Air was stunning result. There are no keyboard histrionics here – just quiet reflective versions of some tunes old and new that could now be called standards. One of them is our second look at Alabama. Other surprising inclusions on this gentle album are Carlos Santana’s Samba Pa Ti and Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. It won’t be easy to find this album but it’s worth tracking down – and the excellent sound quality (thanks to producer Bill Laswell) is a bonus.

arthur-blythe-illusionsIn between these two impassioned performances was alto player Arthur Blythe. With a tone all his own, Blythe is one of the most underrated alto players in jazz. When he emerged in New York aged 37, he was already fully formed as a player. For me, Blythe has the same quality of sound as trumpeter Lester Bowie – a free-influenced player who is also capable of playing older styles in an utterly personal and borderline iconoclastic way. This new four album, two CD reissue on enterprising British label BGP is highly recommended. All four albums were the result of Blythe’s contract with Columbia Records – until they dropped him in favour of rising star Wynton Marsalis. The rest – as they say – is history… I bought Blythe’s Lenox Avenue Breakdown album when it when it first appeared in 1979 – but I didn’t get Illusions, this later one.  I should have done. My Son Ra is from is a blast from start to finish. Bob Stewart’s tuba is there still and James Blood Ulmer is on guitar too. This is another tribute title – it’s for his son Raschid.  

I just had to follow this with some authentic John Coltrane and so chose Tunji from Coltrane (the Deluxe Edition). This version is one of the several alternative versions on the extra disc and is taken rather faster than the one which appears on the initial album release. The title is a tribute to percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, of course – and he appears here in an updated performance of his classic Drums of Passion, this time adding modern beats with the help of Airto Moreira and Mickey Hart.

massive-attack-blue-linesEarlier this month, I was inspired by watching a rather good BBC4 television documentary on Massive Attack and their origins in the Bristol music scene of the late 1980s. It was a fascinating portrait, largely told through the eyes of the Wild Bunch collective founder Milo Johnson. Watch the full documentary Unfinished: The Making of Massive Attack along with these photographs of Bristol in the 1980s by Beezer. As Be Thankful for What You’ve Got from Blue Lines played over the end credits, I thought that this would make an excellent CJ opening track. Of course, it’s a great song but I think this version tops the excellent William DeVaughn original. By the way, Vince Montana of the Salsoul Orchestra played vibes on that original version. Here he is with the extended sextet version of the classic Heavy Vibes from a 1982 edition of Soul Train. Love the dancing…

Pianist Ahmad Jamal appears to be having a late career revival at the moment – but the reality is that he’s never gone away. Stolen Moments from The Awakening (1970) on the Impulse! label is a surely a tune that you can’t get wrong – and Jamal doesn’t disappoint, twisting and turning round the tune once he gets going with that really chordal percussive stye of his. About half way through he just runs off on another journey but is soon back with the theme – this version is just a delight. You can catch Jamal on fine live form at Marciac, France here with a radical version of Blue Moon

Wayne Shorter is one of the greatest living jazz artists. Now in hiswayne-shorter-odyssey-of-iska 80s, he is still at the top of his game – for example, delighting audiences at this year’s September Monterey Jazz Festival. Here he is on his very last outing for the label with the tune Joy from Odyssey of Iska. It’s quite difficult to get hold of this one on either vinyl or CD but look out for the album and its equally elusive predecessor Mato Grosso Feio. Both albums feature that Shorter’s unique elipical compositions and his radically different playing style on tenor and soprano saxes – the former gruff and rasping, the latter lean and clear. Odyssey of Iska features two drummers and two percussionists, along with vibes too, and yet the whole feels very light and airy. Interesting. A footnote: Iska was named after Shorter’s young daughter.

joe-henderson

Shorter began on the iconic Blue Note label and so did his contemporary Joe Henderson, one of CJ’s long time heroes. Even if you dip your musical toes into something more obscure from the extensive Henderson back catalogue (like Terra Firma from Black is the Color) you won’t go wrong. Easily dateable from the drums and the little bits of synth, this outing on Milestone is still pure deep Henderson – overdubbed on both tenor and soprano saxes along with flute too. Yes, there’s some wah wah style guitar and some synthesizer decorations,  but there’s some punchy electric bass too (unusually) from Ron Carter. That’s CJ this week – keeping it in the family.

  1. DeJohnette/Coltrane/Garrison – Alabama from In Movement
  2. Arthur Blythe – My Son Ra from Illusions
  3. John Coltrane – Tunji from Coltrane (Deluxe Edition)
  4. Bernie Worrell – Alabama from Elevation: the Upper Air
  5. Massive Attack – Be Thankful for What You’ve Got from Blue Lines
  6. Ahmad Jamal – Stolen Moments from The Awakening
  7. Wayne Shorter – Joy from Odyssey of Iska
  8. Joe Henderson – Terra Firma from Black is the Color

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Neil is listening to…

14 September 2016: give the drummer some…

shela simmenesThis week’s CJ was scheduled for earlier this year – but thanks to Derek you can now hear these great tunes. As always, click on the link to the left to listen. We began with two vocalists – Sheila Simmenes and the excellent Love Exit Orchestra from Norway and legendary Shirley Horn. The track Don’t Get Me Wrong features singer Sheila Simmenes. We love her voice and the subtle interplay with the LEO band. Check out music from their new album Darling on the LEO site. Shirley Horn’s final studio album was May the Musicroy haynes hip ensemble End and we featured the lead off track, Forget Me.  Horn’s slow smoky vocals with her under-rated piano playing make for memorable listening. In the middle was evergreen drummer Roy Haynes, one of the greatest drummers in jazz. He has played with everyone from Charlie Parker to Miles Davis and is still leading his Fountain of Youth band at the age of 91. We chose the track Equipoise from his Hip Ensemble album of 1971, newly reissued on Boplicity.

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is another musical outsider who has plolee scratch perry time boom x de devil deadughed his own furrow on the fringes of reggae and dub since beginning in the 1950s as a record seller. From his hundreds of recordings, we chose a track from one of his most consistent later albums, the excellent Time Boom X De Devil Dead, produced in collaboration with Adrian Sherwood for the On-U Sound label. If you’re new to the crazy world of Perry, watch this Channel 4 interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy for more craziness.

It was time for some latin jazz with Joe Bataan – probably the only Filipino African American to record for the influential Fania label. Bataan is also credited with inventing the term ‘salsoul’ to describe the uniqnu yorica!ue musical marriage of latin and street soul that surfaced in New York in the 1970s. For an introduction to this music, we recommend the excellent Soul Jazz compilation Nu Yorica! Culture Clash in New York City – now available in a new expanded edition. We chose Bataan’s track Latin Strut, originally on his excellent but hard to find Salsoul album. You might be familiar with a more well known version called Super Strut by Brazilian musician and arranger Deodato.

We’ve played Stravinsky arrangements on Cosmic Jazz before but nothing quite like this: Dance of the Adolescents from Alan alan lee an australian jazz anthologyLee. There are few Australian originals in jazz, though this little known vibes player must surely be one of the best. Through a long (and sometimes troubled career) Alan Lee has ploughed a uniquely emotional furrow. In this excellent Jazzman anthology, the range of his work is clear. Lee has said What I want is the fire! Whether it’s John Coltrane’s Blues Minor from Africa Brass or Backwater Blues by Leadbelly, I want the emotion, the gut wrenching pain, the cry from within! and we get that in some many of the tracks on this highly recommended collection. We followed this with another reissue from the excellent Boplicity series which has culled the Mainsharold land chomatream catalogue for some jazz which is – well – not always mainstream. And there’s no better example of this than the track we featured from Harold Land’s album Choma (Burn). It’s easy to think of Land as a straightahead small bandleader (check out the classic album The Fox) but he’s not on the featured Black Caucus where, with the help of extraordinary vibesman Bobby Hutcherson, the music fizzles and sparks with authority.

Snarky Puppy’s British keyboard player Bill Laurance labill laurance aftersuntest solo release is Aftersun, and we played the beautiful track Madeleine. Laurance has stripped his group down to a trio with additional percussion and the result is a more succinct sound than his previous releases Swift and Flint. The wide range of Snarky Puppy-type influences are still there and with the same strong melodies and stylish arrangements. It could be Laurance’s best yet.

j dillaLong time CJ favourites The United Future Organization from Japan were up next with a funky reworking of Jon Hendricks’ great I Bet You Thought I’d Never Find You. Hendricks is the inventor of vocalese (adding lyrics to jazz improvisations) and he was a sprightly 72 when he recorded this with UFO for their 1994 album. J Dilla’s hip hop beats are a huge influence on many younger jazz artists, perhaps none more than Robert Glasper who has featured explicit tributes to the late producer on several of his albums. Here’s his J Dillalude from 2007 and – even better – a punchy live version from the Robert Glasper Experiment at the XOYO club. We ended the show with Herbie Hancock and his take on Prince’s Thieves in Layout 1the Temple from The New Standards. This excellent release from 1996 features a top notch band with Hancock, who sticks to acoustic piano, Michael Brecker on tenor and surprisingly effective soprano, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette and percussionist Don Alias (with an occasional horn or string section dubbed in post-production). The results are not uniformly excellent (the Beatles’ Norwegian Wood is a poor choice) but most cuts work really well and Hancock is on fiery form throughout.

  1. Love Exit Orchestra – Don’t Get Me Wrong (single)
  2. Roy Haynes – Equipoise from Hip Ensemble
  3. Shirley Horn – Forget Me from May the Music Never End
  4. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – S.D.I from Time Boom X De Devil Dead
  5. Joe Bataan – Latin Strut from NuYorica! Culture Clash in New York City
  6. Alan Lee – Dance of the Adolescents from An Australian Jazz Anthology
  7. Harold Land – Black Caucus from Choma (Burn)
  8. Bill Laurance – Madeleine from Aftersun
  9. UFO (feat. Jon Henricks) – I Bet You Thought I’d Never Find You from United Future Organization
  10. J Dilla – So Far to Go from The Shining Instrumentals
  11. Herbie Hancock – Thieves in the Temple from The New Standards

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08 September 2016: CJ playout!

vinyl-hunter

Cosmic Jazz‘s local specialist vinyl store (yes, we have one!) is the excellent Vinyl Hunter in Bury St Edmunds. There’s a great selection of new and used records, all the equipment you need to set up your first vinyl sound system along with excellent coffee and cakes too. It’s a haven of great sounds – and their Rough Trade-style practice of writing informative sleeve notes on all new vinyl is a good example of their attention to detail.

img_7877Following their return from Brazil, owner Rosie Hunter and son Will arrived back with an armful of rare Brazilian grooves and at CJ we thought that this was a good opportunity to spin some of our own treasured discs instore. Thanks to Vinyl Hunter‘s two Technics PL 1210s and sound system (along with a CD deck) customers enjoyed three hours of quality samba, bossa nova, drum and bass and more.

img_7883On 10 September, Vinyl Hunter will celebrate their first anniversary. It’s worth a visit to Bury St Edmunds to support this excellent new music outlet. If you’re not already into vinyl, now’s the time to start – let Ross and Will guide you and you’ll emerge with great sounds and the beginning of a lifelong music habit.

07 September 2016: Rudy van Gelder special

Rudy Van Gelder used his parents' living room in Hackensack, N.J., as his recording studio in the mid-1950s.
Rudy Van Gelder used his parents’ living room in Hackensack, N.J., as his recording studio in the mid-1950s.

This week’s Cosmic Jazz was all about one man – Rudy van Gelder, whose death was announced late last month. Van Gelder was, without doubt, one of the most important figures in the history of jazz music – but he wasn’t a musician. As an engineer, he helped to define the sound of recorded jazz from his two iconic recording studios – first in Hackensack at his parents’s home and then at his own custom built studio (and home) at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

herbie-hancock-maiden-voyageVan Gelder always said that he was not a record producer but a recording engineer. He had the final say in what Englewood Cliffs records sounded like, and he was, in the view of countless producers, musicians and listeners, better at that than anyone. Van Gelder engineered albums for four key labels – Prestige, Blue Note, Impulse and CTI – and was responsible for so many jazz classics, including John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage and Horace Silver’s Song For My Father.

In 1988, van Gelder told the New York Times that he believed he had been associated with more records, technically, than anybody else in mccoy-tyner-horizonthe history of the record business – and any look at the list of records engineered at Englewood Cliffs endorses this. So, here at CJ, we’ve tried to condense some of the Englewood Cliffs experience into an hour of classic jazz recordings. We began with the title track from Horizon, one of the best of McCoy Tyner’s many recordings for Milestone. This record is a stonecold classic – find it and buy it if you can. The inspired choice of John Blake on violin and saxophonist George Adams complement Tyner perfectly as he weaves through a series of superb compositions, of which Horizon is the most exceptional. Up next was a more familiar recording – Oliver Nelson’s Impulse! label classic Stolen Moments from his 1961 album The Blues and the Abstract Truth. This standard has now been recorded by dozens of artists including a celebrated vocal version by Mark Murphy that we have featured previously on CJ.

John Coltrane was much recorded at Englewood Cliffs, from the early days with Prestige to his long tenure at Impulse! Records. We chose a classic from 1962 – the studio recording of Impressions. This track is pure Coltrane – although it uses the same chord sequence as john-coltrane-coltraneMiles Davis’s So What, it couldn’t be more different. Impressions is modal piece featuring what had become known by the time of this recording as Coltrane’s sheets of sound. Listen to the free-flowing drumming of Elvin Jones and how he is tuned to the pulse and energy of Coltrane’s saxophone tones. For us at CJ, this is one of those timeless Coltrane recordings that belong with Blue Train, Ole and A Love Supreme. Seek out the deluxe version of the Impulse! album just called Coltrane and you’ll find the recording we featured.

There are some great records that feature recipes – one of my favourites is Don Cherry’s Rappin’ Recipe on his little known album Home Boy, Sister Out. Check out the track Alphabet City here. We larry-coryell-barefoot-boywedged in the comic double act of trumpeter Clark Terry and Chico O’Farrill with their 1966 recipe Spanish Rice before the arrival of Gabor Szabo’s Gypsy Queen, a track recorded by Santana on their excellent Abraxas album. But it’s a tune that has a jazz pedigree as well – I’ve always enjoyed the version by guitarist Larry Coryell.

Rudy van Gelder was reluctant to reveal too many specifics about sam-rivers-fuchsia-swing-songhis recording techniques. But he was clear about his goal: to get electronics to accurately capture the human spirit, and to make the records he engineered sound as warm and as realistic as possible. The
placing of microphones was crucial in this process and the result was that many of his recordings (particularly those from the late 1950s and early 1960s have a presence that often places the musicians in the room with the listener. That’s true of many of the recordings we featured in this week’s show and even on an MP3 file you can hear this. Listen closely to Sam Rivers’ tenor saxophone on Beatrice for a taste of this. Van Gelder wanted what he called
 a sense of space in the overall sound picture. He used specific microphones located in places that allowed the sonny-rollins-alfiemusicians to sound as though they were playing from different locations in the room, which in reality they were. This created a feeling of dimension and depth that few other recordings have. Whether it’s Sonny Rollins’s sax on Alfie’s Theme or Tommy Flanagan’s claves on Samba Para Bean you can hear it all so clearly.

WVANGR03
WVANGR03

As a former optometrist, van Gelder was particularly fussy about the small details of recording. He said I was the guy doing everything — setting up the chairs, running the floor cables, setting the microphones, working the console. I didn’t want to handle all of my fine, expensive equipment with dirty hands. It shows. Even more, van Gelder was involved in every aspect of making his records, from preparation rudy-van-gelder-run-off-grooveto mastering (the final stage in the process) in which the music on tape was transferred to disc for record-plant pressing. I always wanted to be in control of the entire recording chain, he said. Why not? It had my name on it. This – of course – was true: if you look at the run off groove on any Rudy van Gelder vinyl recording you will see his initials.

  1. McCoy Tyner – Horizon from Horizon
  2. Oliver Nelson – Stolen Moments from Stolen Moments
  3. John Coltrane – Impressions from Coltrane (Deluxe Edition)
  4. Clark Terry and Chico O’Farrill – Spanish Rice from Spanish Rice
  5. Gabor Szabo – Gypsy Queen from Spellbinder
  6. Jackie McLean – Francisco from Capuchin Swing
  7. Horace Silver – Home Cookin’ from The Stylings of Silver
  8. Sonny Rollins – Alfie’s Theme from Alfie
  9. Sam Rivers – Beatrice from Fuchsia Swing Song
  10. Coleman Hawkins – Samba Para Bean from Desafinado

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Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to…

31 August 2016: old masters and young lions

 

arthur blythe
This week’s Cosmic Jazz kicked off with saxophonist Arthur Blythe during perhaps the most fertile period of creativity for this always distinctive alto player. He’s performing here with a terrific band that features Bob Stewart on tuba and CJ favourite Jack de Johnette on drums. Has Blythe ever been better than this? The band sound as if they have been playing together for years but this was their first time together on Columbia and – along with Blythe’s timarthur blythe lenox avenue breakdowne with the Italian Black Saint label – it would produce some of his best music. You can find four of these CBS albums, including this one (Lenox Avenue Breakdown) on one new BGP reissue. The late and great Richard Cook identifies this as an essential recording, noting that it’s a superlative piece of imaginative instrumentation. Perhaps the other stand out track on this excellent album is Odessa – listen to it here. The BGP reissue is available now and is highly recommended by CJ of course. We followed this with more newly reissued music, this time from Spain and saxophonist Pedro Iturralde in a flamenco-meets-jazz project that works. The guitarist here is a young Paco de Lucia in gilles peterson mpsone of his first professional recordings. The prolific Peterson has a new compilation of music from the German MPS label. that – as usual with Gilles – features music that most of us are unlikely to have encountered before. Like ECM’s Manfred Eicher, MPS was founded by jazz enthusiast Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer – usually just known as HBGS. In his Black Forest home studio, the label recorded hundreds of jazz artists from around the world including Oscar Peterson, Jean-Luc Ponty, Lee Konitz, George Duke and Charlie Mariano.

jacob collier in my roomYoung multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier is one of the brightest new stars in the jazz firmament and he’s just released his first album, In My Room. Pretty much everything was recorded in his home music room, but we chose to play the final live track Don’t You Know that features group of the moment Snarky Puppy. This track can also be found on the latest Snarky Family Dinner album in which they have a featured vocalist on each number – check out the excellent official video here and listen to Jacob Collier talking about his very impressive debut here. He comments on his adolescent Stevie Wonder crush, citing Talking Book as a favourite album and noting that this was recorded by a 21 year old – the age Collier is right now. It’s no wonder that he’s quincy jones back on the blockcurrently being mentored by Quincy Jones whose music we featured next in his stunning recreation of Weather Report’s celebrated Birdland from the album Back on the Block. This is a slice of pure 1980s jazz –  there’s even syndrums in there! This record was the last studio recording for both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Elder jazz statesman Jones has been in the news recently – you can listen to the complete UK Prom celebration of his music with the Metropole Orkest which features Jacob Collier and others.

Up next was Bobby Hutcherson with a terrific track that we played in its entirety (all 18 minutes) – juswayne shortert because we didn’t want to break the spell of this superb music. Here was Hutcherson with a top 1970s band featuring Harold Land on tenor and William Henderson on Fender Rhodes – all backed by the fatback drums of Woody Sonship Theus. We also celebrated Wayne Shorter’s 83rd birthday with a track from his rare final Blue Note album, Odyssey of Iska. If you find this record anywhere on vinyl, grab it. You won’t be disappointed. Scots vocalist Laura Mvula featured on the excellent Silence is the Way from the Robert Glasper/Miles Davis azymuth brazilian soulEverything’s Beautiful album and the show ended with a return to Brazil and Azymuth’s O Lance from their Far Out album Brazilian Soul. Catch them here performing a Brownswood Basement session in 2013. We’ve enjoyed the music in our two Brazil specials and we’ll continue to feature the uniquely diverse musical styles from this extraordinary country. Look out for news too of an upcoming CJ Live! outing focusing on Brazilian music.

  1. Arthur Blythe – Down San Diego Way from Lenox Avenue Breakdown
  2. Pedro Iturralde Quintet – Cancion Del Fuego Fatuo from Music Sunshine Peterson
  3. Jacob Collier – Don’t You Know from In My Room
  4. Quincy Jones – Birdland from Back on the Block
  5. Bobby Hutcherson – Hey Harold from Head On
  6. Wayne Shorter – Calm from Odyssey of Iska
  7. Robert Glasper (feat. Laura Mvula) – Silence is the Way from Everything’s Beautiful
  8. Azymuth – O Lance from Brazilian Soul

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Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to:

 

24 August 2016: new jazz vocalists and three tributes

bobby hutcherson

This week’s Cosmic Jazz has tributes to two jazz superstars, some new releases and more music from Brazil. We began with a cut from rapper Oddisee, available as part of his Odd Summer release on Bandcamp and then took at short look at the career of Blue Note vibesman Bobby Hutcherson with Yuyo and Love Song, both from his superb Montara album of 1975. Hutcherson is the subject of a recommended more extended tribute from Gilles Peterson. It’s available in two parts and you can access Part 1 here and Part 2bobby hutcherson montara here. As we noted on the show, Hutcherson had a uniquely long tenure with Blue Note – one only matched by pianist Horace Silver – recording over 45 albums as leader in his long career from 1963 right through to 2014. Fittingly, his last studio album Enjoy the View was a return to the Blue Note label.

Next up were two tracks from the new Robert Glasper/Miles Davis collaboration. Davis is now in that small but select pantheon of artists who will continue to release new best selling albums after his miles davis everything's beautifuldeath and Everything’s Beautiful is no exception. It debuted at No.1 on the Billboard jazz chart and even entered into their top 200 releases. Whatever purists think of the music, there’s no doubt that this can kind of activity can promote contemporary jazz and, of course, it helps if you can call on top drawer names like Stevie Wonder, Laura Mvula and Erykah Badu to help you out. We featured the excellent Maiysha (So Long) which adds lyrics to what was probably the weakest track on the Miles Davis Get Up With It album from 1974. Compare Glasper’s imaginative reworking with the original Maiysha track here. A taste of the Haitus Koyote collaboration from Everything’s Beautiful followed and then two examples of contemporary jazz badbadnotgood ivvocals. The first came from Toronto’s Badbadnotgood trio and their new release – simply titled IV. Time Moves Slow features vocalist Sam Herring from American synth-pop band Future Islands. Here though, his vocal is a beautifully restrained take that would have suited legendary southern soul performers like James Carr or Dan Penn. What better to follow this that the consummate restraint of Abbey Lincoln singing Should’ve Been from her excellent 2007 release Abbey Sings Abbey?

sonzeira tam tam tamCJ returned to Brazil for the second half of this week’s show with music from the new Sonzeira release from Gilles Peterson.  Like the Everything’s Beautiful project, this album features radical reworkings of the music from a long lost Brazilian classic album – Jose Prates Tam Tam Tam! from 1958. Peterson’s search for the £1000 album even featured on the UK’s Channel 4 news and in Record Collector magazine. It was eventually re-released on Trunk Records last year with Peterson’s release available on his own Brownswood Records earlier this month.

Up next was another exclusive – a rare track from a still unreleased album. Brazilian vocalist Joyce is a longtime friend of Cosmic Jazz joyceand we have featured her music since we began the show nearly ten years ago. Her 1980 album Feminina was re-released to critical acclaim by Mr Bongo many years ago and this version of the title track is from an unreleased American album. The plan was to launch Joyce’s career in the US with this an album featuring the cream of American jazz musicians – all arranged by Claus Ogerman who oversaw George Benson’s Breezin’ and In Flight albums. This sensational extended version of Feminina has superb solos from Joe Farrell on flute and Mike Manieri on vibes.

celia vaz ebb and flowStaying in Brazil but with a more contemporary twist, next was Celia Vaz and APE from their excellent album Ebb and Flow. This really successful mix of Brazilian grooves and electronica should be better known: APE are English producers Paul Conboy and Adrian Corker and this release works on every level. We ended the show with two tributes to jazz greats we have recently lost. The first was Belgian harmonica player Toots Thielemans who featured in bass player Jaco Pastorius’s Word of Mouth big band project on the beautiful tune bernie worrell elevationThree Views of a Secret, also recorded by Weather Report for their album Night Passage. The late Bernie Worrell was known for his work with Parliament and Funkadelic but jazz was his musical backbone. Many of his solo albums are worth exploring – but especially his solo piano outing Elevation which begins with this moving version of another Miles Davis tune, In a Silent Way.

  1. Oddisee – Viva Brasil from Odd Summer
  2. Bobby Hutcherson – Yuyo from Montara
  3. Bobby Hutcherson – Love Song from Montara
  4. Robert Glasper (feat. Erykah Badu) – Maiysha (So Long) from Everything’s Beautiful
  5. Haitus Koyote – Little Church from Everything’s Beautiful
  6. Badbadnotgood (feat. Sam Herring) – Time Moves Slow from IV
  7. Abbey Lincoln – Should’ve Been from Abbey Sings Abbey
  8. Sonzeira – O Que Voce Sabe from Tam Tam Tam!
  9. Sonzeira – Aves de Lema from Tam Tam Tam!
  10. Joyce – Feminina from unreleased album Natureza
  11. Celia Vaz and APE – Nas Aguas do Rio from Ebb and Flow
  12. Celia Vaz and APE – Obrigado Donato from Ebb and Flow
  13. Jaco Pastorius – Three Views of a Secret from Word of Mouth
  14. Bernie Worrell – In a Silent Way from Elevation (The Upper Air)

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Neil is listening to…

Derek is listening to…

 

17 August 2016: Cosmic Jazz in Brazil – part two

CJ hosts more more music from Brazil this week, showing the diversity of musical styles in this, the world’s fifth biggest country. There’s some classic Brazilian tunes but also a taste of new Brazil from some of the great contemporary artists and producers that create this rich diversity. We begin with one of the great Brazilian songwriters Marcos Valle, who was there at the start of the bossa nova movement and is still producing great new music on the British Far Out label. Joe Davis – boss at Far Out – recorded Nova Bossa Nova with Valle in 1997. The superb Bar Ingles is a real highlight, too.marcos valle 02
Having initially made a name for himself alongside the second wave of bossa nova’s pioneers in the mid 60s, Valle toured and lived in the US before returning to Brazil where the rise of the military dictatorship encouraged Valle to integrate more rock, soul and pop elements into his writing.

To find out about Valle and the sheer diversity of his musical career, check out this feature on the excellent Vinyl Factory site and then go back some of Valle’s adventurous 1970s recordings. Our choice 1985 marcos valle:theo parrishfrom Nova Bossa Nova originally appeared on the first of these – the eponymous Marcos Valle album from 1970 which features expansive, cinematic arrangements and further pop, jazz and soul influences. These returned in the Estaticia album of 2010 on FarOut which successfully combines all of these with the contemporary production techniques which have endeared him to remixers such as Theo Parrish, Budgie and Daz-I-Kue. Listen to all three on Bandcamp here.

Which brings us to production. What marked out classic bossa nova and samba music was the melodic strength of the songwriting, but the key feature of much great Brazilian music of more recent years is suba sao paulo confessionsthe quality of production – whether it’s the spacious orchestral arrangements of Eumir Deodato and Arthur Verocai or the electronic twists and turns of Chico Dub and Suba, the influential producer of our next track. Serbian-born Suba had already established a name for himself in Sao Paulo as producer to a number of new Brazilian artists, including Bebel Gilberto, when he died there in a studio fire. His own posthumous album Sao Paulo Confessions is worth investigating. Read more about this hotbed of musical creativity here.

Last week’s programme  featured music from some of the excellent compilations of Brazilian music that have appeared in recent years and this week there’s more from the same eclectic sources. Of course, it’s easy for a record company to put out a downtempo tie-in with the current Rio Olympics – but how to select from this musical minefield? Our recommendation would be to start with the great Mr Bongo box set Brazilian Beats. Now available at a bargain price for brazilian beats box setall seven original discs along with a special mix CD, this is as good a starting place as any. Pretty much every style of music from the last fifty years is represented here, including music from the frentic cybercity that is Sao Paulo. The Jair Oliveira track, which comes from his Outro release of 2002, is a good example of that typical musical mix of jazz, samba, soul and MPB (Musica Popula Brasileira) that is part of much contemporary Brazilian music. Seu Jorge’s infectious Chega No Suingue (check out a live version here) is on Brazilian Beats 3.

gilles peterson in brazilJapan’s Jazzadelic are one of the many remix teams who have applied their skills to Brazilian music. Here they’re at work with more conventional jazz beats – including a very familiar Coltrane loop… We featured their Estranguira from the first Sister Bossa album and followed it with a tune from the quality that is Gilles Peterson’s first GP In Brazil compilation. We think either of these excellent compilations (see photos) are your other place to start on your Brazilian journey. We ended the show with some musical sources – iconic artists that have defined their country’s music. First, the inspired singingilles peterson back in brazilg of Milton Nascimento from one of his essential albums, simply called Milton, followed by Azymuth’s crossover hit Jazz Carnival from the recent vinyl reissue Light as  Feather. The Tamba Trio were one of the backbones of Brazilian bossa and all of their original releases are worth looking out for, but particularly their Avanco album from 1963 which features this irresistible version of Jorge Ben’s Mas Que Nada – yes, the Nike advertisement one!

sergio mendes brasileiroWe ended with two artists at their peak – the aforementionend Jorge Ben and a musician frequently found slumming it in an easy listening compilation. But don’t let that put you off investigating more of the great Sergio Mendes, and – specifically – the return to form that is Brasileiro. On this album, Mendes sought to reclaim his Brazilian roots and so dived back into the rhythmical heritage of forro, samba reggae and Bahian grooves to create a must-have classic. Highly recommended.

  1. Marcos Valle – Freio Aerodynamico from Nova Bossa Nova
  2. Bebel Gilberto – Close Your Eyes from Tanto Tempo
  3. Rosa Passos – Retrato Em Brance E Preto from Amorosa
  4. Jair Oliveira – Sao Paulo, Fim Do Dia from Outro
  5. Seu Jorge – Chega No Suingue from Brazilian Beats 3
  6. Jazzadelic – Estrangeira from Sister Bossa
  7. Cesar Mariano and Cia – Futebol De Bar from Gilles Peterson in Brazil
  8. Milton Nascimento – Cravo E Canela from Milton
  9. Azymuth – Jazz Carnival from Light As a Feather
  10. Tamba Trio – Mas Que Nada from Avanco
  11. Jorge Ben – No Reino Encantado De Amor from
  12. Sergio Mendes – Pipoca from Brasileiro

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

 

 

 

10 August 2016: Cosmic Jazz in Brazil – part one

ipanema beachAt CJ, we need no excuses to play good Brazilian music, but the events in Rio have encouraged us to give you two hours of back to back Brazilian goodness with jazz at its heart. This show is the first – so click that MixCloud tab to sample some of the vast range of music that a country bigger than Europe has produced – much of it on British labels – FarOut, Mr. Bongo, BGP and Soul Jazz amongst others. In the playlist, some tracks are attributed to these labels rather than the original source: without their sterling efforts, most of us would not be able to hear this wonderful music.

Of course, the stereotype is that Brazilian music is all about samba and bossa nova. Yes, these are popular styles – but there is so much more. Most musical genres are represented across this huge country, and so you can hear locally produced reggae, heavy metal, afrobeat, pop, hip-hop, jazz and more. Take our first two tracks – both CJ favourites. There’s no obvious clues that these two jazz tunes are from Brazil – but they are.

otis trio 74 clubFirst up was the Otis Trio from their album 74 Cluba record justifiably described on the sleeve as a  Free Jazz Extravaganza. It draws upon contemporary music, bebop, European jazz and jazz bands of the 60s and 70s and was recorded live with all-analogue equipment.

Next came keyboard player Bruno E from his impressive album Lovely Arthur, recorded in South London during a year he spent there with his wife, the singer Patricia Marx, and their newly born son – obviously called called Arthur.

airto moreiraWhen Brazilian master percussionist Airto Moreira moved to the US in 1967 with his wife, singer Flora Purim, he was in great demand from the start. He played with Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Cannonball Adderley, Miroslav Vitous, Joe Zawinul, and many more. For this show, however, the selection was batucada por favordistinctly Brazilian in sound and sentiment. Its Time For Carnival is a definite floor-filler – as I can testify from the many times I have pulled it out of the box to get the crowd moving. The original album from which this track comes (Struck by Lightning from 1989) features Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke – true jazz royalty.

The tune from Joyce is one we have played before on the programme and will certainly play again. The Feminina album from which this comes is a justifiable Brazilian classic and a must have for any follower of Cosmic Jazz. The original has been reissued by Mr Bongo Records and is now widely available. You can hear a cult extended version of the titljoyce femininae track featuring a brilliant flute solo from Joe Farrell right here. Joyce continues to record albums on FarOut with her husband, drummer Tutty Moreno. It’s something of a family affair as her daughters Clara and Ana are singers too. In fact, this is not uncommon in a country where music is part of most people’s lifeblood, and there are now second and even third generation artists with those familiar names – Jobim, Gilberto, Caymmi, Veloso.

Brazilian music has attracted club DJs and mixers from New York to Europe, sometimes giving traditional or well known tunes their unique twist so up next were two examples of this via Mr. Hermano and Original Soul Boy, featuring vocalist Monica Vasconcelos. Monica lives and performs in the UK and was featured extensively in a recent and highly recommended BBC4 programme on the rise of bossa nova. Catch it here on BBC iPlayer. Rather than Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo is the heart of Brazil’s current club culture and it was here that celebrated DJs Marky and XRS were responsible for an infectious drum and bass version of Jorge Ben’s already anthemic Carolina Bela.

The programme included more tunes than any previous hour-blue brazillong Cosmic Jazz. Many of the older tunes are short, sweet and perfectly formed. So I played a non-stop mix of great music, starting with two personal favourites Tenorio Jr – another Cosmic Jazz all-time top tune – and the beautifully melodic Lo Borges from Blue Brazila series of re-releases by Blue Note from the EMI Brazil catalogue. There were three records in the series and examples from all three featured in the programme.

The mix featured old-school Brazilian singers/groups – but with one  exception. We featured the more contemporary, although brazilian love affair 5traditional sounding, Sabrina Malheiros from one of the excellent UK compilation series on FarOut Records – Brazilian Love Affair. This Malheiros track comes from Volume 5. All are recommended mixes of old and new Brazilian material and most are still available in online. Malheiros, by the way, is daughter of Azymuth bass player Alex Malheiros – and so the tradition continues…. For a taste of long running jazz-influenced trio listen to their version of Milton Nascimento’s famous track Outubro. The album is re-released on vinyl this month by – yes – FarOut Records.

Brazil’s musical traditions include a number of unique percussion instruments – most notably, the cuica and the berimbau. We blue brazil 3featured the virtuoso Dom um Romao invoking the sounds of the Amazon and followed this with Milton Banana and then legendary vocalist Elza Soares with Roberto Ribeiro. If you are familiar with these artists, then you will know just how good they are. If not, then there’s so much to explore in these excellent compilations. At the age of 79,  Soares has just released her latest album, Woman at the End of the World. This is no walk on Copacabana Beach – Soares has lived the most extraordinary life and she documents it all in this new recording.

This rich and varied CJ mix continued with a tune from a recent Gilles Peterson Sonzeira project. Peterson has had a long association with the music of Brazil and you can watch his excellent 2014 film tracing both the creative journey of the follow up Bam Bam Bam project and his own Brazilian experiences. Our final tune came from Paulinho Da Costa – another Brazilian musician who went to the US and has been the featured percussionist on hundreds of albums. Our CJ selection is a version of another Jorge Ben classic and available on a jazz funk compilation from British label BGP Records.

  1. Otis Trio – Montag’s Dream from 74 Club
  2. Bruno E – Dado from Lovely Arthur
  3. Airto Moreira – It’s Time For Carnival from Batucada por Favor
  4. Joyce – Aldeia De Ogum from Feminina
  5. Mr. Hermano – Com Um Sol from Brazil 5000-3
  6. Soul Boy feat. Monica Vasconcelos – Touch The Sun from Brazil 5000-3
  7. Tenorio Jr – Nebulosa from Brazilian Beats 1
  8. Lo Borges – Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser from Blue Brazil 1
  9. Sabrina Malheiros – Estacao Verao from Brazilian Love Affair 5
  10. Dom Um Romao – Berimbau from Bossa Jazz
  11. Milton Banana – Procissao from Blue Brazil Vol 2
  12. Elza Soares and Roberto Ribeiro – O Que Vem De Baixo Nao Me Atinge from Blue Brazil Vol 3
  13. Sonzeira – Um Toque from Brasil Bam Bam
  14. Paulinho Da Costa – Taj Mahal from BGP Presents Jazz Funk

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

03 August 2016: breaking the boundaries with new jazz

Cover_KoutéJazz-350x350The show this week is all music from albums released either this year or last and includes tunes from two recently released compilations – one being yet another spiritual jazz collection which owes something to the lyrical vibe of Leon Thomas’s The Creator Has a Master Plan while the other is clearly a tropical first cousin of Lonnie Liston Smith’s Expansions.

a1323814670_16It’s great to see this music being reissued, but – remember – that not all of it belongs in the ‘long lost classic’ category… However, here at CJ our quality thresholds are set very high and we always sift out the best for our listeners. In the middle are two excellent tracks from Polish jazz musicians – as always, via the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

Next week – look forward to an all-Brazil celebration – and more extensive playlist notes…

  1. Kenny Garrett – Persian Steps from Do Your Dance
  2. Marcus Strickland feat Jean Baylor – Inevitable from Nihil Novi
  3. Ameen Saleem – Best Kept Secret from The Groove Lab
  4. Wojiech Majewski Quintet – Tjonk Blues from Remembrance
  5. Pavel Kaczmarczyk Audio Feeling Trio – Follow Me from Deconstruction
  6. Ed Motta – A Town in Flames from Perpetual Gateways
  7. Francisco – Wache from Koute Jazz
  8. Das Goldene Zeitalter – Don’t Give Up Your Smile from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz

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Neil is listening to:

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio