It is going to be another couple of weeks before new shows will appear but Cosmic Jazz will be back. You can hear a show at 20:00 hrs on Wednesday on IO Radio but for the moment on this site you can still catch up with a couple of previous shows. Neil and Derek will be returning for a new joint show before the end of the month. There will be lots of new music – including some exclusive contemporary jazz from China. You’ll be surprised!
Cosmic Jazz recommends: Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra (and Reggae Ensemble) playing at The Barbican on 187 June 2014. See below for details from The Barbican. Anyone who has seen the Orchestra, and I did in Norwich a few years back, will know this will be an unforgettable experience of musical treasures. There is a YouTube clip below of the Orchestra playing Ghost Town.
Jerry Dammers’ Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra (and Reggae Ensemble) with special guest Cornell Campbell
Fri 18 Jul, Hall
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
The Specials and 2 Tone’s founder Jerry Dammers takes his cosmic jazz orchestra into reggae, ska and rock steady territories, in ’the gig that keeps on giving’ (The Independent).
At its last concert in Berlin the Spatial AKA Orchestra, containing some of the cream of Britain’s jazz players, expanded the scope of its repertoire. The original space sounds, funk jazz and cosmic blues have met strange library music and a strand of what Jerry calls the ‘lost summer’ of reggae, rock steady, ska, and the big band rhythm and blues which gave birth to it. Jerry offers his interpretations of all this music, with arrangements which sometimes salute newer styles such as hip hop, dubstep or drum and bass.
Further info and booking details: http://bit.ly/TJBQL6
IO Radio has moved premises and this has involved a short disruption to the station. A new show should appear during the week beginning 29 June 2014 and for the moment you can still click the Mixcloud button to hear the shows of 4 and 11 June.
If you have followed any part of Cosmic Jazz over recent months you will know that the Swedish saxophonist Fredrik Kronkvist is a great favourite of mine. It was timely, therefore, to receive his new album Reflecting Time from www.stevesjazzsounds.co.uk . This was recorded in Copenhagen after a tour of Sweden with US musicians Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums) who have all played with some of the greatest names in jazz. The tunes on the album are inspired by some other jazz musicians e.g. Mulgrew Miller, Stanley Turrentine (who Fredrik really admires) and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. There is also a version of Duke Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood. As the title suggests, the album is reflective, less full-on than some of his other albums but difinitely recommended. I shall play more.
I saw Phronesis recently at the Corn Hall in Diss, a small market town in South Norfolk. To my surprise, especially as I know the town, there was a good crowd, much larger than I expected and definitely appreciative of the music. They played tunes from their latest CD Life To Everything and I played two tunes from it on this show. These two tunes illustrate how Phronesis can play contemporary, tough, loud, urban jazz while at the same time managing to be subtle and controlled. One complaint; £15 for a CD bought at a live event is a bit steep.
I kept in touch with Brazil via the Otis Trio, returned to the wonderful Patrice Rushen, N’Dambi and the album Freedom Jazz France and could not avoid playing something else from the Black Jazz Label.
- Fredrik Kronkvist with Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson – Meltdown Blues from Reflecting Time
- Fredrik Kronkvist with Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson – Embraced from Reflecting Time
- Phronesis – Urban Control from Life To Everything
- Phronesis – Song For Lost Nomads from Life To Everything
- V.S. Quartet – A Pou Zot from Freedom Jazz France
- Otis Trio – DNN from Club 74
- Gene Russell – Black Orchid from Gilles Peterson’s Black Jazz Radio
- Azar Lawrence – Novo Ono from BGP Presents Jazz Funk
- Patrice Rushen – Jubilation from Prelude
- N’Dambi – Call Me from Tunin’ In and Consignin’
This week I started the show with more from bands seen recently. Phronesis were the latest – seen at an encouragingly well attended gig in Diss as part of this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival. There were further tracks from Snarky Puppy and Mike Westbrook, both of whom appeared at the Festival.
There was also a short tribute to percussionist Armando Peraza who died last month. He may not be that well known, but Peraza had an amazing musical career over six decades. Born in Havana, Cuba, he lived on the streets as a boy selling vegetables to earn a living. A chance meeting led to a first professional gif with a local bandleader and he began to make his reputation as a local drummer and dancer. A longtime friend was conga drummer Mongo Santamaria and the two percussionists travelled to New York to find work as musicians. After sitting in with Machito’s big band, Peraza appeared on a record date with Charlie Parker. By the late 1940s, he was appearing on albums by several jazz greats and in the 50s found himself in San Francisco with hipster vocalist Slim Gaillard. Now California-based, Peraza worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon as well as touring extensively in Mexico. He met vibesman Cal Tjader through Dave Brubeck and appeared on the influential album Ritmo Caliente – a hugely successful fusion of jazz and Latin sounds.
Peraza joined pianist George Shearing’s band and became a frontline performer during the mambo craze of the time as well as recording the original version of Afro Blue with friend Mongo Santamaria. He played on the opening night of the Hollywood Bowl and performed as part of Judy Garland’s TV show orchestra in the 1960s.
Back with Cal Tjader he recorded the influential Soul Sauce album and in the late 60s he was the first to add Latin percussion to a rock track, Johnny Mandel’s Cristo Redentor. In 1972 he joined Santana at the height of their most creative period and stayed with the band for nearly 20 years. Peraza was widely regarded as probably the greatest bongocero ever. In 2006 – and at the age of 82 – he returned to performance with Santana, appearing over three nights at the Montreux Jazz Festival. What a life in music!
- Phronesis – Herne Hill from Life To Everything
- Phronesis – Dr. Black from Life To Everything
- Snarky Puppy with Magda Gianikou – Amour T’es La? From Family Dinner Volume One
- Mike Westbrook – Metropolis Part IX from Metropolis
- Zara McFarlane feat. Leron Thomas – Angie La La from If You Knew Her
- E.S.T. – Elevation Of Love from Seven Days Of Falling
- Cal Tjader – Shoshana from Gozame! Pero Ya
- Elements Of Life – This Is Us (Roots Mix) from Eclipse
- Airto Moreira – Flora’s Song from The Best of Airto
Video this week comes from CJ favourites Go Go Penguin (the promo video for the track Hopopono) and – of course – Armando Peraza, here playing a version of Coltrane’s Spiritual with Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter and Patrice Rushen live at Montreux in 1988:
The show this week returned to some artists I have been playing over the last few weeks – but there were also one or two surprises. Click the Mixcloud tab here on the site to listen to the show. Look right alongside the playllst on your computer. If you’re accessing the site from your phone, scroll right down.
I make no apologies for playing more from the excellent Shez Rajah Collective recorded live at The Pizza Express Jazz Club. Shez Rajah plays a tough electric bass and the tune FNUK also features one of the UK’s foremost jazz crowd-pleasers, Gilad Atzmon, on tenor saxophone.
I continued to show another side of Brazilian music from that we normally hear. Bruno E mixed beats, drum ‘n’ bass and jazz sounds on his album Lovely Arthur and there was more from the interesting Otis Trio whose Club 74 album has been released recently on the British specialist Brazilian music label Far Out Recordings.
Eddie Harris is an old favourite of mine. At times, he was maligned by some jazz purists who considered his pioneering of the electric saxophone to be just a gimmick but there is plenty of evidence of his jazz credentials on Set Us Free, recorded with collaborator Les McCann. Check out the YouTube video below of him playing the wonderful Listen Here live at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Some jazz people may be surprised to find the Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin on the playlist but a few weeks ago I heard this tune being played on the streets of Norwich as part of a dance/drama performance. Certainly there is reggae in the song, but there is also jazz there too. For one thing, the excellent Below The Bassline album was released on Island’s Jamaica Jazz offshoot and features Monty Alexander on piano, arguably Jamaica’s greatest jazz artist and Roland Alphonso from The Skatalites on saxophone, who was well schooled in jazz.
I finished with two re-releases: the first one of the Black Jazz label releases that are now available and the second the outstanding Frank Foster album The Loud Minority. Check the Ace Records catalogue for the superb selection of jazz re-releases on their BGP label. The image left shows the original album cover – if you can find it!
As iconic jazz critic Whitney Balliett said in the title of his collection of reviews from the New Yorker magazine, Jazz is the sound of surprise.
- Shez Rajah Collective feat Gilad Atzmon – FNUK from Soho Live
- Bruno E – Arthur Part 2 from Lovely Arthur
- Otis Trio – Tempestade from 74 Club
- Eddie Harris & Les McCann – Set Us Free from Second Movement
- Ernest Ranglin – Surfin from Below The Bassline
- Walter Bishop Jr. – Those Who Chant from Theo Parrish’s Black Jazz Signature
- Frank Foster – The Loud Minority from The Loud Minority
Listen to this week’s show of contemporary jazz via the Mixcloud button which is either at the side of this blog or further down on your phone.
A show of exciting, contemporary jazz returned to a solo presentation by Derek, with Neil back in Beijing. Neil was not, however, forgotten as tunes he left behind were given an airing.
The Takuya Kuroda version of the Roy Ayers tune Everybody Loves The Sunshine was given a full play this time, unlike a previous slot at the end of the programme when it had to be cut. We also played again the limpid beauty of Ambrose Akinmusire’s trumpet playing on the In a Silent Way-like The Beauty Of Dissolving Portraits.
Two weeks back, I saw Snarky Puppy at The Norfolk & Norwich Festival. They are brilliant live and on that occasion managed to keep a packed hall of dancers – ranging in age from mid-teens to pensioners – on their feet all night. If you get the chance to see them live you must go. On a record I am not sure that their mix of funk, soul, jazz and rock is quite so convincing, but the tune I played with Lalah Hathaway on vocals from their Family Dinner Vol. 1 is amazing. Check out this tune on YouTube here.
The Otis Trio confound any stereotypes of what constitutes Brazilian music that might be emerging so far in these pre-World Cup days. Their new CD 74 Club is released on the UK Far Out label.
Yet again, I returned to examples of the wide range of Scandinavian music available from www.stevesjazzsounds.co.uk Any Cosmic Jazz regular will know that I love anything by Fredrik Kronkvist, and you can see why from the YouTube clips under the playlist below. This week there were further gems from the drummer Matt Jorgensen, and the pianists Stefan Wingfors and Anders Persson, the latter with his band Personkrets Ii-V-I.
- Fredrik Kronkvist – Volcano from The Constant Continuum
- Otis Trio – Otis Naru from 74 Club
- Tukuya Kuroda – Everybody Loves The Sunshine from Rising Son
- Ambrose Akinmusire – The Beauty Of Dissolving Portraits from The Imagined Savior Is far Easier To Paint
- Snarky Puppy feat Lalah Hathaway – Someone from Family Dinner Vol. 1
- Zara McFarlane - Woman In The Olive Groves from If You Knew Her
- Matt Jorgensen + 451 – Power To The People from Another Morning
- Stefan Wingfors – Ganglion from Impermanence
- Personkrets Ii-V-I – Masterpiece from Ten Small Masterpieces
Click the Mixcloud button on the right to hear this show.
N.B.!!! you will have to scroll down to find the button on a phone.
This was Neil’s last show for a while and he was unable to stay until the end of this one. He is getting prepared for a DJ set at Beijing Jazz Club and has been digging out his Blue Note CDs in preparation. To get in the mood he started with Horace Silver and Jackie McLean. Sounds like it will be a good set. Get ready Beijing!
For the last two weeks Neil has played tunes from a new CD by the Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda which was produced by Jose James. The week there was a tune from the Black Magic CD on whichTakuya Kuroda was this time one of the musicians.
We love jazz with a Latin feel on Cosmic Jazz. Neil had doubts about playing the Flora Purim track but it is a wonderful piece of intense, percussion-led rhythmic music. Conrad Herwig and Bryan Lynch provided a Latin tribute to Coltrane Sadly, the Cuban band Los Van Van had to be played because the lead singer Juan Formell has died recently; respect was due and Neil even managed to find a tune with ‘Birdland’ in the title.
There was more from two excellent new albums, one by the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire whose tone and timing seems to be just perfect and one by the excellent UK trio Phronesis who I shall see next week as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
I have already been to a couple of wonderful events at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. The first was to see Snarky Puppy, of which more next week. The other was to see Mike Westbrook play The Westbrook Blake, as darkness fell, in the wonderful setting and acoustics of St. Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich. The band was an interesting one, comprising vocals, piano, accordion, violin and double bass. It brought back many memories for me as a band led by Mike Westbrook was one of the first jazz groups I saw many years ago. If I remember correctly John Surman was a member of the band. This helped to get me into jazz so it seemed appropriate to play something from the man’s considerable back catalogue. I chose Love Song No 1 from Mike Westbrook’s Love Songs. A vinyl record I was given as a present, also some time ago, by a dear friend and fellow jazz lover from Norwich, who was also at last week’s concert.
- Horace Silver – That Healin’ Feelin’ from The United States of Mind
- Jackie McLean – Melody for Melonae from Let Freedom Ring
- Jose James – Praise In Love from Black Magic
- Don Cherry – The Creator Has A Master Plan from Organic Music Society
- Los Van Van – Trimpop Con Birdland from Havana Si the very best of Los Van Van
- Conrad Herwig/Bryan Lynch – Lonnie’ Lament from Que Viva Coltrane
- Phronesis – Doctor Black from Life to Every Thing
- Ambrose Akinmusire – The Beauty Of Dissolving Portraits from The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint
- Flora Purim – Rhythm Runner from Speed of Light
- The Mike Westbrook Concert Band – Love Song No. 1 from Mike Westvrook’s Love Song
- . Fredrik Kronkvist – Volcano from The Constant Continuum
Welcome to this week’s CJ with music from the USA, Brazil, Nigeria, the UK, Poland and Japan. Listen via the Mixcloud link on the right.
If there’s a theme for the show it could be In the spirit… Drummer to Pat Metheny, Antonio Sanchez, released his second solo album last year and the lead off track is definitely Coltrane-inflenced. It’s an excellent opening to a highly recommended album and a great way to begin the show this week. Luis Gasca is an underrated trumpet player who was a founder member of Jorge Santana’s band Malo (yes, that’s Carlos’s brother) but his own solo records are all worth checking out. Best is For Those Who Chant (1972) on Blue Thumb Records. The Herbie Hancock album is only available in the UK as part of the big box set of Columbia material from last year. When first issued it was a Japanese only direct to disc recording – check out that phat bass from the legendary Ron Carter! Seun Kuti clearly has his father’s musical genes and his new album harnesses a traditional afrobeat sound with some newer influences, some coming from producer Robert Glasper and we followed this with some contemporary Sao Paulo afrobeat from 10-piece outfit Bixiga 70. Find this on part of the excellent Sounds and Colours website – check out the link.
While in Beijing I’ve been catching up on the HBC Homeland series (I know – everyone else has seen it already) where the engaging opening credits feature Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. The track is Terminal 7 – and we feature it in full. We continued with another excellent track from the new highly recommended Phronesis album (on the consistently excellent Edition Records label) and then went latin with the original version of Shoshana from vibesman Cal Tjader. We ended this week’s show with more summery sounds from Takuya Kuroda’s new Blue Note release, the perennial Roy Ayers-penned Everybody Loves the Sunshine.
- Antonio Sanchez – Uprising And Revolutions from New Life
- Luis Gasca – The Way I Feel Sometimes from Collage
- Herbie Hancock VSOP Quintet – Skagly from Five Stars
- Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – Higher Consciousness from A Long Way To The Beginning
- Bixiga 70 – Grito de Paz from Sounds and Colours
- Tomasz Stanko Quintet – Terminal 7 from Dark Eyes
- Phronesis – Behind Bars from Life To Everything
- Cal Tjader – Shoshana from Gozame! Pero Ya
- Takuya Kuroda – Everybody Loves The Sunshine from Rising Sun
Video this week comes from Brooklyn-based trumpeter Kuroda. This promotional video looks at the making of his Rising Son album, produced by Jose James:
This week’s show went out on the third International Jazz Day, an event created by pianist Herbie Hancock, whom we honoured on the show with what has to be his signature composition, Maiden Voyage.This annual event is organised through UNESCO to celebrate the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced co-operation among people. We have to agree with that! So celebrate that day, albeit belatedly, by clicking the Mixcloud icon on this page and listening to the programme.
The show began with two tracks from recent Scandinavian releases, courtesy of good friend of the show Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Steve supplied more from one of our favourites, Swedish alto sax player Fredrik Kronkvist – this time the title track from his 2011 release Improvised Action. Next month sees a new release from Kronkvist’s New York quartet and we hope to feature a track on the show as soon as it’s available. Continuing the Swedish mode was a more reflective track which featured one of the world’s most prolifically recorded contemporary bass players, Palle Danielsson. He noticeably featured as part of Keith Jarrett’s longstanding European Quartet but has also played with Charles Lloyd, Michel Petrucciani, Peter Erskine, Jan Garbarek, Enrico Rava, John Taylor and many more. Brand new music came from the Soul Jazz Orchestra from Canada (who began life as an afrobeat band) and then we intended to play a slice of the real thing from Seun Kuti, the son of the master – but instead featured another track from the Soul Jazz Orchestra. Fortunately, it was a fine piece of afrobeat nonetheless!
Another new release was from rising star trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, who has just released his sophomore album on Blue Note with the (as usual) enigmatic title The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint. This is an ambitious work which we’ll return to in future weeks. Akinmusire debuted with Steve Coleman who spotted him in a music workshop in Berkeley, California. Talent will out…
Another great track this week was a re-release from BGP Records by Bob Thiele, perhaps better know to many as a producer rather than musician. Thiele was the man behind Flying Dutchman Records and a clarinettist – but his real claim to fame was as the producer at the influential Impulse! label from 1961-69. Here he oversaw the production of John Coltrane’s most avantgarde work along with such luminaries as Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler.
To highlight the global range of the programme this week, there was new music from Brazil via the Otis Trio – something of a misnomer with nine musicians on the tune we played… It’s released by the British label Far Out which specialises in Brazilian music old and new but which has now extended its range to include West African re-releases.
The show ended with another new CD from Japanese trumpeter Takuda Kuroda whose Blue Note album has been produced by another Cosmic Jazz favourite, Jose James. We played the hip hop influenced Afro Blues but there’s also a new version of Roy Ayers’ perennial favourite Everybody Loves the Sunshine with vocals by Jose James himself.
- Frederik Kronkvist Sextet – Improvised Action from Improvised Action
- Anders Persson, Palle Danielsson, Terje Sundby – Highland Park from The Second Time Around
- Soul Jazz Orchestra – Celestial Blues and One Life to Live from Inner Fire
- Ambrose Akinmusire – As We Fight from The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier To Paint
- Bob Thiele – In The Vineyard/Avant Garde from Head Start
- Hancock – Maiden Voyage from Maiden Voyage
- Otis Trio – Montag’s Dream from 74 Club
- Takuda Kuroda – Afro Blues from Rising Sun
Video this week comes from our opener Fredrik Kronkvist, seen here with his New York Quartet featuring Aaron Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums. They’re live at Jazzclub Fasching in Stockholm playing Straight to the Point: