26 October 2016 featuring Dayme Arocena

The Cuban interest continued this week with a Cuban vocalist who records for  a British label (Brownswood Recordings). Listen on Mixcloud to hear two unes from her 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 percusiion 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.

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 Krzystof Komeda and the quintet included Tomasz Stanko, currently one of the Polish muscians 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, that is probaly 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  forThomas Grimmonprez and his trio, more from Polish sax player Maciej Kadziela. 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 proghrammes to come. Finally, there was another recording from Jane Bunnett’s excursion to Cuba 25 years ago. It was a jazz tune wriitten 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.


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


Neil is listening to…

28 September 2016 – Cosmic Jazz favourites revisited


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.








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


Neil is listening to…

21 September 2016: keeping jazz in the family


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.


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


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


08 September 2016: CJ playout!


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.


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


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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Derek is listening to:


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