30 November 2016: women in jazz

esperanza spalding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a sad reflection of the state of jazz that the title for this week’s show refers to women in jazz. It cannot be denied, however, that in this art form men largely outnumber women. There has not been the space or the opportunities there should be for women musicians. Neil’s listening choice this week features three very different women in jazz – vocalist Diana Krall (who appears to be channelling Mark Murphy on this live take), trumpeter Laura Jurd and jazz aficionado Joni Mitchell.

maria-schneider-thompson-fieldsBut there’s been progress – and if you listen to this week’s show via the MixCloud tab you will hear an exciting jazz orchestra led by American composer Maria Schneider, a young British vocalist and composer in Zara McFarlane, eternal Cosmic Jazz favourites Carmen Lundy and Rachelle Ferrell and Grammy Award-winning bass player, composer and vocalist extraordinaire Esperanza Spalding.

  1. Rachelle Ferrell – Prayer Dance from First Instrument
  2. Carmen Lundy – Kindred Spirits from Soul to Soul
  3. Zara McFarlane feat. Leron Thomas – Angie La La from If You Knew Her
  4. Somi – Ankara Sunday from The Lagos Music Salon
  5. Esperanza Spalding – Radio Song from Radio Music Society
  6. Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra – Rich’s Piece from Sky Blue
  7. Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra – The Monarch and the Milk Weed from The Thompson Fields
  8. SleepWalker feat Bembe Segue – Into The Sun from The Voyage

Neil is listening to…

23 November: outside and inside

Bobby Wellins

This week Cosmic Jazz acknowledges the death of tenor player Bobby Wellins and his immeasurable contribution to the British jazz scene. There have been many jazz solos over the years that have achieved legendary status – whether Coleman Hawkins on Body and Soul, Art Tatum on Tea for Two or, of course, Charlie Parker on Koko – but Bobby Wellins is definitely up there too with the perfection that stan-tracey-under-milk-woodis his solo on Starless and Bible Black. No matter how many times you hear this, it’s impossible not to be moved by what Wellins creates in just over three minutes. We featured the title track from Stan Tracey’s suite based on the Dylan Thomas classic text. Why not explore the Andrew Sinclair/Richard Burton film version or add to this something really different: an extended loop take on the original that captures the monochrome Wellins’ atmosphere using a moody video image.

Also dhafer-youssefon this week’s show was another track from one of 2016’s top releases – the new album from vocalist and oud player Dhafer Youssef, an old favourite from Scottish trumpeter Colin Steele and more from the exciting electric piano trio led by drummer Thomas Grimmonprez,

Derek also featured sax players Carlos Garnett and Fredrik Kronkvist and drummer Otis Brown. The show ended with another brazilian-beats-4nod to Brazil – this time, a rarity out of Japan that appears on the excellent compilation Brazilian Beats 4. This consistently excellent compilation series can now be bought in a budget priced box set from the always reliable Mr Bongo record label.

So why our title this week? Well, jazz musicians usually choose to play either inside (within) a tune’s harmonic structure or outside (beyond the chord changes). There’s examples of both in our music this week – but let’s check out a master of the ‘outside’ – Thelonius Monk in this rare live performance of Rhythm a Ning, featuring Charlie Rouse on tenor, Larry Gales on bass and Ben Riley on drums.

Dhafer Youssef – Al-Akhtal Rhapsody Part 1 from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
Carlos Garnett – Let Us Go (to Higher Heights) from Journey to Enlightenment
Colin Steele – The Journey Home from The Journey Home
Thomas Grimmonprez – Spicy Chocolate from Kaleidoscope
Otis Brown III feat. Bilal – The Thought Of You Pt III from The Thought Of You
Stan Tracey – Under Milk Wood from Under Milk Wood
Fredrik Kronkvist – Straight To The Point from Ignition
Sonia Rosa and Yuji Ohno – Casa Forte (album version) from Brazilian Beats 4

16 November 2016: Pair-shaped jazz?

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On Cosmic Jazz we like to give you the chance to hear more than a one-off track to judge an album. This week, click the MixCloud tab and you will hear several of our featured artists with a couple of their tunes. Erik Truffaz opened the show with a repeat of Siegfried  (love that piano!) which I was unable to play it in full on the previous show and we followed this with Fat City from his recent album Doni Doni.

Jane Bunnjane-bunnett-spirits-of-havana-25th-anniversaryett returned with a track from her Cuban excursion of 25 years ago. This is my top re-release of 2016 and is a superb merging of Cuban Latin rhythms with jazz with Merceditas Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba among the Cuban contributors.

Much of the programme addressed the question of Is this jazz? and none more so than the tunes from Marcus Strickland and his album Nihil Novi. Among the impressive players on the album are Meshell N’degeocello, Keyon Harrold and Charles Haynes, certainly artists with impressive jazz credentials but people who are responsive to other current sounds around them. There are some impressive vocals from Jean Baylor on Nihil Novi too.  British soul/jazz/funk/r’n’b outfit Incognito also have a range of interesting and powerful guest vocalist with Imaani being the one on our selection, Love Born in Flames. Maybe not jazz but…

marcus strickland

 

 

 

 

 

We have not forgotten Ahmad Jamal’s release Live in Marciac, his CD/DVD recorded live at this excellent annual jazz festival in southwest France. The Shout captures something of the precious and awe-inspiring atmosphere performance his trio (along with percussionist Manola Badrena) gave two years ago. Immerse yourself in the experience and check out the rewarding DVD too.

guilio-romano-malaisiWe like to promote artists that are new to us, and the Scottish-based label Birnam do an excellent job to provide a CD outlet for artists looking for their work to be exposed. This week we featured Italian-born London resident guitarist Guilio Romano Malaisi, with two tunes including the title tune of his CD Unexpected Ride. His guitar playing is well to the fore but check the running bass of Dario di Lecce on the title track. It is a pleasing album with a quartet of players including Sophie Alloway on drums/percussion and Michael Rosen on sax who sound as if they enjoy playing together.

To complete the show there was time to fit in another two tunes from the excellent retrospective of Mark Murphy’s Muse label recordings which we featured last week – timeless music.

  1. Erik Truffaz – Siegfried from Bending Corners
  2. Erik Truffaz – Fat City from Doni Doni
  3. Jane Bunnett – Yo Siempre Oddora from Spirits of Havana/Chamalongo (25th Anniversary edition)
  4. Incognito – Love Born in Flames from In Search of Better Days
  5. Marcus Strickland – Mantra from Nihil Novi
  6. Marcus Strickland – Sissoko’s Voyage from Nihil Novi
  7. Ahmad Jamal – The Shout from Live in Marciac
  8. Guilio Romano Malaisi – Grooving Along from Unexpected Ride
  9. Guilio Romano Malasi – Unexpected Ride from Unexpected Ride
  10. Mark Murphy – Two Kites from Mark Murphy: Jazz Singer
  11. Mark Murphy – Stolen Moments from Mark Murphy: the Jazz Singer

Neil is listening to…

 

09 November 2016: Mark Murphy remembered

Cosmic Jazz this week featured some tunes we have played before from the late Mark Murphy bumark-murphy-04t which are now more easily available. Soul Brother Records have released a compilation entitled  Mark Murphy – The Jazz Singer which focuses on the music he recorded for the Muse record label following his return to the USA from London in 1972. Murphy, who died just over a year ago, was with Muse until 1991. This excellent compilation includes one of his signature tunes – a vocal version of Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments – and then, to illustrate his clever way with words, the joyous Ding Walls. It’s an account of his time on the jazz dance scene in London. Any CJ listener knows we love the music of Mark Murphy and for those wanting to get into his work, this new CD is an excellent place to start.

cap-de-bon-esperanceThe show began with Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson’s Winter in  America. I wonder why? Archie Shepp was also in the show for similar reasons. The show also included the title tune from the new album by Florian Pellisier and his Quintet – modal jazz delights with an uplifting tone.  As we promised last week, we featured a tune from Patrice Rushen with Joe Henderson on tenor. It was inspired by her appearance with Ed Motta and was further proof of her strong jazz credentials.

Next up was a track from the Thomas Grimmonprez Trio from thomas-grimmonprez-trioBelgium. The drummer leader has provided a press release which includes the information that he wanted to paint eleven drawings with different sound identities from which an emotional and musical “kaleidoscope” emerges, which is the mirror of my soul. Here a place resonates, there a breath whispers, farther a taste sensation hatches, elsewhere a vibration between two people comes up….

Attracted by the sound of the Fender Rhodes, Grimmonprez uses the talents of Jeremie Ternoy on piano and Fender Rhodes along with Christophe Hache on double-bass to help him shape his sound world. To us, the opening has more than a hint of Siegfried, a longtime CJ favourite from Erik Truffaz, and so it seemed appropriate to end the show with this little gem.

  1. Gil-Scott Heron and Brian Jackson – Winter in America from The First Minute of a New Day
  2. Florian Pellisier Quintet – Cap de Bob Esperance from Cap de Bob Esperance
  3. Patrice Rushen – Shortie’s Portion from Preclusion
  4. Archie Shepp – Blasé from Black Fire, New Spirits
  5. Mark Murphy – Stolen Moments from Mark Murphy – the Jazz Singer
  6. Mark Murphy – Ding Walls from Mark Murphy – the Jazz Singer
  7. Mark Murphy – Be-Bop Lives from Mark Murphy – the Jazz Singer
  8. Thomas Grimmnprez Trio – The Nap from Kaleidoscope
  9. Erik Truffaz – Siegfried from Bending Corners

02 November 2016: featuring Dhafer Youssef

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In recent weeks, Cosmic Jazz has featured several examples of music which includes jazz among their elements and is performed by jazz musicians – yet is not entirely jazz and draws upon other musical traditions. Bugge Wesseltoft (right) is one example – more of him later. Listen to the show on MixCloud this week for music from Dhafer Youssef that also surely fits this description.

dhafer-youssefYoussef is a Tunisian oud player with a new release entitled Diwan of Beauty and Odd. Dhafer Youssef has appeared on Cosmic Jazz before through his work on the Jazzland label of Norwegian keyboard player and record label owner Bugge Wesseltoft. This time he is on one of the Sony labels and is recorded here with some top-notch New York jazz musicians – Aaron Banks on piano, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Ben Williams on double bass and Mark Guillana on drums. The album has a spiritual, becalming and meditative feel as jazz and North African sounds merge into a trance-like whole. On the tune Al-Akhlal Rhapsody Part 1, check how the gentle flow of Ambrose Akinmusire’s trumpet supports the clear, acoustic feel of Dhafer Youssef’s oud playing. It is a lovely album and one for more contemplative moments.

ed motta perpetual gatewaysThe show opened with a track from French pianist Florian Pellisier, but not from his most recent album – that’s next week. This one was from his previous release Biches Bleues. Next came a re-visit to a favourite album from 2016, Perpetual Gateways by Brazilian keyboard player Ed Motta. It is an album of two halves, firstly soul and then jazz. There are some impressive guesta among the musicians including Hubert Laws, Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith and the wonderful Patrice Rushen who plays Rhodes piano on Overblown, Overweight, the tune featured this week.

This was followed neatly by a trio that includes a Rhodes piano led by drummer Thomas Grimmonprez from the album Kaleidoscope. Neil singled out the trio from last week’s show: they have a sound that is fresh, upbeat and different from most of the many trios of young jazz musicians around at the moment. Thanks to  Steve’s Jazz Sounds for putting us in touch with this uplifting album. The trio have dates in France but there do not appear to be any forthcoming UK shows.

jane-bunnett-spirits-of-havana-25th-anniversaryI still cannot resist playing more of the recent releases which merge Cuban music and jazz. I have commented already on the wonderful 25th anniversary re-release of Jane Bunnett’s Spirits of Havana, a record that was released long before and is far more spontaneous, improvised and jazzy than the better known Buena Vista Social Club release from Ry Cooder. The tune from Dayme Arocena this week was a Cuban descarga jam of a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition. It is long, percussive and sounds like it was great fun to record.

Finally, we closed the show with the above-mentioned Bugge Wesseltoft, playing another track from his new 2CD 20 track compilation album, Somwhere in Between. For an introduction to Wesseltoft’s music, this is a great place to start.

  1. Florian Pellisier – J’ai du rever from Biches Bleues
  2. Ed Motta – Overblown, Overweight from Perpetual Gateway
  3. Thomas Grimmonprez – Spicy Chocolate from Kaleidoscope
  4. Dhafer Youssef – 17th Flyways from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
  5. Dhafer Youssef – Al-Aklal Rhapsody Part 1 – from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
  6. Dayme Arocena – Muy Cerquita De Ti (Closer To You) from One Takes
  7. Jane Bunnett – Coco from Spirits of Havana (Disc 2 Chamalongo)
  8. Bugge Wesseltoft – Existence from Somewhere in Between

26 October 2016: featuring Dayme Arocena

The Latin interest continued this week with a Cuban vocalist who records for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings label. Listen on Mixcloud to hear two tunes from her excellent new album One Takes and one from her 2015 release Nueva Era

dayme-arocena-one-takesI have tended to regard Dayme Arocena as a singer who produces Latin music in the Cuban tradition with jazz influences. The more I hear her music the more I believe the jazz is right up there and that is particularly so on the new record. In case proof were needed, the two tunes in this week’s show were written by Eddie Gale and Horace Silver. There is only one original composition on the album and a Burt Bacharach/Hal David song is also included. The vocals are strong, the percussion is infectious and the horn section makes a notable contribution. This record is recommended by Cosmic Jazz and we are not alone in taking this line – it has attracted very favourable views in the press and online.

Neil suggested that the Komeda Quintet  should be included this week as something he has been listening to and strongly komeda-quintetrecommends. The record in question was Astigmatic – a 1966 recording. The band was put together by Polish jazz pianist and composer and film music composer Krzysztof Komeda and the quintet included Tomasz Stanko, currently one of the Polish musicians with the widest reputation  on the international circuit today. It is a significant album, I saw one comment that put it up there with Coltrane’s A Love Supreme – probably not the case as far as I am concerned but the music deserves attention. For some time it was not available, but it has been re-released and is available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

There was a first Cosmic Jazz play for Thomas Grimmonprez and his trio and more from Polish sax player Maciej Kadziela. Check out another excellent track – Morning Running – from Grimmonprez’s Kaleidoscope album right here. A tune from the new album by Tunisian oud player Dhafer Youssef supported by some hot New York jazz musicians and we will play more from this in programmes to come. Finally, there was another recording from Jane Bunnett’s excursion to Cuba 25 years ago. It was a jazz tune written by her husband trumpet/flugelhorn player Larry Cramer, but the Cuban musicians and feel was there. Somehow, Cuba is never far away from a Cosmic Jazz playlist at the moment.

  1. Komeda Quintet – Kattorna from Astigmatic
  2. Maciej Kadziela – My Beautiful Song from The Taste of the World
  3. Thomas Grimmonprez Trio – Rain Dance from Kaleidoscope
  4. Dayme Arocena – African Sunshine from One Takes
  5. Dayme Arocena – El Ruso from Nueva Era
  6. Dayme Arocena – Gods of Yoruba from One Takes
  7. Dhafer Youssef – Of Beauty Odd from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
  8. Jane Bunnett – La Luna Ariba from Spirits of Havana

 

20 October 2016: spirits of Havana/spirits of Jazz?

Some music stands the test of time better than others. It is an obvious statement, but is one that came to mind when listening to Jane Bunnett’s Spirits of Havana which has been re-released as a 25th anniversary two-disc edition. You can judge for yourself by listening to two tunes on this week’s show – one from each disc – via the Mixcloud tab.

jane-bunnett-spirits-of-havana-25th-anniversaryDoes Jane Bunnett’s music stand the test of time. I would say with certainty that it does. In 1991, Canadian soprano sax/flute player Jane Bunnett and her husband trumpeter Larry Cramer travelled to Havana and played and recorded with Cuban musicians, including vocalist Merceditas Valdes and pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. The show opens this week in uplifting style with their version of the traditional tune Mondongo.  Later the title tune Spirits of Havana is featured with fine examples of Bunnett’s soprano playing in tandem with strong, rhythmic Cuban percussion. It left me feeling what must it have been like to have been there in the studio to hear this music which sounds so free and joyful yet is enclosed within a clear Latin parameter?  It is another example of how much Latin music and jazz are interwoven: the spirits of Havana are the spirits of jazz and vice-versa?

cap-de-bon-esperanceFrench pianist Florian Pellisier and his Quintet has featured on Cosmic Jazz before. The release of their new record Cap De Bon Esperance provided the perfect occasion to play a tune from this album, a long piece which builds slowly from isolated piano notes over 13 minutes 23 seconds of intense enjoyment. If you like modal music, Florian Pellisier is a man for you and as further evidence you can hear on this week’s show the title tune from his previous album.

Incognito are a band that I can enjoy but find irritating in equal measure. The leader and arranger Bluey is a veteran of the scene. The sound is full, the musicians are great and the guest vocalists are top-notch. The music is jazzy rather than jazz but the jazz lover in me leaves me frustrated that those horn solos or those percussive breaks are not longer and less controlled. Maybe live they are or maybe that is the way it is meant to be. That said, the band’s 2016 album In Search of Better Days (which was free in August 2016 to subscribers of the Black Music magazine Echoes) is a good listen. The tune Echoes of Utopia proves what they really can do.

This week’s CJ also featured two short tunes used to introduce new albums – firstly, Urban Elements featuring Swedish alto sax player Fredrik Kronkvist and secondly, an exciting young Polish sax player Maciej Kadziela. To complete this week’s varied line-up was part of a tune from the new compilation of 20 years of his New Conception of Jazz project – Norwegian and CJ favourite Bugge Wesseltoft.

  1. Jane Bunnett – Mondongo from Chamolonga (Disc 2 of  Spirits of Havana 25th anniversary edition)
  2. Florian Pelissier Quintet – La Foret Des Biches Bleues from Cap De Bon Esperance
  3. Florian Pelissier Quintet – Biches Bleues from Biches Bleues
  4. Incognito – Echoes of Utopia from In Search of Better Days
  5. Urban Elements feat. Fredrik Kronkvist – Opening Move from New Dimensions
  6. Maciej Kadziela – Introduction from The Taste of the World
  7. Jane Bunnett – Spirits of Havana from Spirits of Havana
  8. Bugge Wesseltoft and  the NCOJ – Extreme from Somewhere in Between

12 October 2016: a reflective Cosmic Jazz

Cosmic Jazz this week had a reflective, contemplative and even spiritual feel to the music. It included some fine music for heart and mind – much of which is available from Steve’s Jazz Sounds. One group that I always notice when they appear on my shuffle selection is the Jelle Van Giel Group from Belgium. Their album Songs For Everyone is excellent. Get a taste of it right here.

fredrik-kronkvistFredrik Kronkvist is an exciting alto sax player from Sweden who now seems to spend much of his time in the States playing with US musicians. On the album Reflecting Time he plays with Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson, while he is the featured artist with the larger group Urban Elements.

jazzland-1996-2016The UK-based jazz magazine Jazzwise is an essential read for jazz lovers. Frequently the magazine includes a covermount CD. The October 2016 edition included Jazzlanda sample of music from the eponymous label run by Norwegian musician and Cosmic Jazz favourite Bugge Wesseltoft and celebrating 20 years of music from this influential label.

eivind-aarset

The first Jazzland artist we featured is Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset who features on a new quartet record called Atmospherics, playing alongside Jan Bang, Arve Henriksen and happening Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan. Check out Bang and Aarset performing in a live performance of his Dream Logic group in duo format from Aarset’s Dream Logic quartet live in Budapest in 2014. The second artist is oud player Dhafer dhafer-youssef-abu-navas-rhapsodyYoussef who has a new release on the Okeh label called Diwan of Beauty and Odd. You can hear a taster of each track here and listen out for more from this innovative album in upcoming CJ shows. This week we featured a piece of great calm and beauty from his 2011 release Abu Navas Rhapsody.

It was then a return to Polish jazz. I came across a review recently which referred to the ‘lyricism, melancholy and exquisite melodies of Polish jazz’. You can see all of this in the three Polish music choices this week: firstly from a sax player based in Copenhagen – Maciej Kadziela (who features in this video), pianist Wojciech Majewski and his Quintet and the young pianist Szymon Mika and his Trio.

  1. Jelle Van Giel Group – A New Beginning from Songs For Everyone
  2. Fredrik Kronkvist – Meltdown Blues (Grew’s Brew) from Reflecting Time
  3. Urban Elements feat. Fredrik Kronkvist – On the Move from New Dimensions
  4. Eivind Aarset – Wanderlust from I.E.
  5. Dhafer Youssef – Ya Hobb “In the Name of Love” from Abu Navas Rhapsody
  6. Maciej Kadziela – Quarter Man from The Taste of the World
  7. Wojciech Majewski Quintet – Zamyslenie from Remembrance
  8. Szyman Mika Trio – Rosemary’s Lullaby from Vibrations, States, Emotions

Derek is listening to:

05 October 2016: Polish jazz – a musical journey

So what is it with jazz in Poland? Since the end of the Second World War, jazz has been a leading cultural identity in Poland in a way that can’t be said of most other European countries. What’s the origin of this adoption of American’s greatest art form in old world Europe? For a concise history of jazz in Poland, check out this All About Jazz primer, Polish Jazz for Dummies.

Krzysztof Komeda Trzcinski, ur 1931 Poznan, zm 1969 Warszawa, kompozytor, pianista jazzowy, studia medyczne Poznan, tworca znanych na calym swiecie standardow jazzowych i muzyki filmowej

It’s impossible not to mention the single most important influence on the direction of Polish jazz – Krzysztof Komeda. One of the founders of the legendary band Melomani, Komeda began his jazz career in 1956 and continued to dominate the burgeoning Polish jazz scene until his early death at the age of 38 in 1968. Komeda’s role in Polish jazz cannot be explained in just a few sentences. He was a composer, visionary, collaborator and leader – but this doesn’t fully explain how he came to wield such influence. There’s more than a touch of Miles Davis in what fellow musicians who played with him have said about the overwhelming impact his music and personality made on them. Komeda’s long time collaborator, tomasz-stanko-wislawatrumpeter Tomasz Stanko, is typical: Komeda was a very quiet man. At rehearsals he told us nothing, nothing. He would give us a score and we would play and the silence was very strong and intense. He wouldn’t say if we were right or wrong in our approach. He’d just smile…. He showed me how simplicity is vital, how to play the essential. Look at Komeda in action with his group here in 1967. Stanko is on trumpet and this performance is a tribute to John Coltrane.

If you’re looking to start listening to Polish jazz, any Tomasz Stanko release on ECM would be a good place to begin, whether an early album like Balladyna or one of his later releases – perhaps Wislawa with his superb New York Quartet. Our show this week began with possibly our favourite Polish jazzer at the moment, Piotr Wojtasik, 0004367745_350who for us here at CJ, is is right up there with the best European saxophonists. Indeed, we think he’s the equal of better known artists like Louis Sclavis (France), Jan Garbarek (Norway), Shabaka Hutchings (UK) and Jonas Kullhammar (Sweden). Derek played three stunning tracks from his recent album Old Land and then linked Poland and the new world with a track from a new release by saxophonist Boris Janczarski with veteran American drummer Stephen McCraven, father of hot new Chicago-based drummer Makaya McCraven.

Coltrane ended the show. We’ve been on something of a ‘trane tip over the last couple of weeks but Derek was moved to play this particular track after enjoying it on a late night car drive. Not all ‘lost’ live jazz recordings are worth investigating – but this one undoubtedly is. The broadcast recording is incomplete – the opening title track One Up, One Down had already been playing for 35 minutes and goes on to feature Coltrane’s longest ever recorded solo of 27 minutes. This sounds indulgent even by comparison with – for example – the extended performances on Coltrane’s Live in Japan release, but it’s not. The performances here are sensational with all four members of the classic quartet delivering dramatic solos. One Up, One Down is an essential record in the Coltrane canon with an unusually good live recording sound. On a good system, you are there in this tiny New York club listening to the finest quartet jazz has so far produced. We cannot recommend it highly enough.

Derek chojohn-coltrane-live-at-the-half-notese My Favorite Things with Coltrane uniquely uses the tenor sax to introduce the tune before switching to the soprano. Again, after around 23 minutes the broadcast fades but not before radio presenter Alan Grant has captured Coltrane on peak form. That’s Cosmic Jazz this week: a saxophone journey from eastern Europe to the western new world. Clock on the block arrow left to enjoy the music.

  1. Piotr Wojtasik – Old Land from Old Land
  2. Piotr Wojtasik – Blackout from Old Land
  3. Piotr Wojtasik – Dr. Gachet from Old Land
  4. Janczarski and McCraven Quintet – Travelling West from Travelling East West
  5. John Coltrane – My Favorite Things from One Down, One Up – Live at the Half Note

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Neil is listening to…

28 September 2016: Cosmic Jazz favourites revisited

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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…

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio