20 July 2016: new releases and more from Piotr Wojtasik

mac1098_kenny_garrett_900__art_imgIt is always good news when Cosmic Jazz favourites have new releases – but particularly so with alto player Kenny Garrett. Click the MixCloud tab this week and you can hear two tunes from Do Your Dance, his latest album. Bossa includes distinctive phrases and that strong, reedy alto tone easily recognisable as Garrett from his previous work. This new album shows a continuing commitment to incorporate global influences and tunes that ensure jazz is still a medium for dancers. There is the expected tough rhythm section and some deep and extended playing from Garrett himself – check out his solo on Backyard Groove. 

The Polish trumpeter and flugelhorn player Piotr Wojtasik has
emerged recently as being up there among Cosmic Jazz favourites. He has an extensive back catalogue, much of whichpiotr wojtasik quest is available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. This week there were tracks from two Wojtasik albums. Firstly, from the 1996 release Quest came the title tune and then Escape Part 3 from We Want To Give Thanks released in 2006. Wojtasik has an impressive list of connections and contacts – this last piece included Gary Bartz on sax (listen out for his seriously good playing here), Reggie Workman on bass, Billy Hart on drums and George Cables on piano.

a1323814670_16There appears to be a market for compilations of little known music coming under the classification of spiritual jazz. The latest on Tramp Records is Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz. There is an international cast of musicians included on the album, which suits the ethos of this programme which aims to illustrate that top jazz extends far beyond the USA and the UK. This week I included Sheila Landis, who hails from Detroit, but also Deep Jazz led by Jerker Kluge from Munich. You shall hear more from this interesting album.

There were a couple of indulgences to end the programme. The first was Black Nile – a reminder of just how good that first album from Gregory Porter was and how  the backing musicians  were allowed an expansive freedom and the second came from Manny Oquendo. The latter, however, has received rough treatment. We included the track on last week’s no-show show and this week we ran out of time to play it in full. So Oquendo will open CJ next week.

  1. Kenny Garrett – Bossa from Do Your Dance
  2. Kenny Garrett – Backyard Groove from Do Your Dance
  3. Piotr Wojtasik – Quest from Quest
  4. Piotr Wojtasik – Escape Part 3 from We Want To Give Thanks
  5. Sheila Landis – Leigh Ann’s Dance from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz
  6. Deep Jazz – Mystic Sky from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz
  7. Gregory Porter – Black Nile from Water
  8. Manny Oquendo – Major Que Nunca from Manny Oquendo & Libre

Derek has been entertaining and Neil has been out in the sticks in Shanxi province, China so no Listening to… this week. Back to normal next week with more lots more music on video!

13 July 2016: Piotr Wojtasik and Polish jazz

Last week I delved into more of the Polish jazz available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. In particular, it was Old Land – the title tune from a 2013 album by Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. This excellent release left Neil and I wondering why we had not picked up on such superb music much earlier. We needed to hear more and felt strongly that Cosmic Jazz listeners piotr wojtasikneeded to as well. As a result there are two more tunes from the album available this week via the MixCloud tab (left).

Wojtasik recorded his first album as leader in 1993 and since then has recorded with leading Polish jazzers along with significant jazz artists including CJ heroes Dave Liebman, Buster Williams and Gary Bartz. His longest association has been with US saxophonist Billy Harper. They met in the late 1990s when Wojtasik was working on his album Quest and they continue to tour and play together. Harper features prominently on Old Land.

Now 20 years into his career,  Wojtasik has became one of the most celebrated trumpeters of his generation in Poland. For this latest album, he has assembled a large and international group of musicians accompanied by choral voices and some celebrat0004367745_350ed American artists – drummers John Betsch and Billy Hart for example. Kirk Lightsey (who also plays with Billy Harper in the celebrated Cookers band) is on piano and NY-based Essiet Essiet anchors the whole project on bass. Old Land has the feeling of Kamasi Washington opus The Epic – although it was recorded earlier. Sadly, Old Land has not received anywhere near the same level of recognition. It receives, though, the highest accolade from us here on Cosmic Jazz – an essential album.

Also from Poland was pianist Pavel Kazmarczk and his Audiofeeling Trio. He has been described as one of the young guns of Polish jazz and as EST with a Polish melancholy. He’s also in the UK this week, performing on 15 and 16 July at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. Invitation, one of the tunes I played, is from his 2016 album Deconstruction while the second choice came from the earlier Something Personal.

Ameen SaleemI returned to The Groove Lab from bass player Ameen Saleem, this time to one of the strictly jazz tunes on the album that features Roy Hargrove on flugelhorn. Hargrove describes Saleem as “one of my favourite musicians” and identifies his talent for “knowing how to pick the right tempo, which is something we learn from the great masters like Theolonius Monk”. High praise indeed!

The Janet Lawson Quintet raised the tempo with some Brazilian inflected rhythms and we followed this with two more examples of non-German artists on the MPS label – Mark Murphy from the US and Francy Boland from Belgium. Here’s Murphy with one of the stand out tracks from his MPS album Midnight Mood – Sconsolato – and check out this version of the same by the aforementioned Francy Boland, this time with Kenny Clarke and their big band.

manny oquendo and libreFinally, came a descarga, a  Latin jam of wild playing and irresistible dance rhythms from the New York born percussionist Manny Oquendo and his band Libre. It is quite simply as good a dance tune as you are likely to hear. Oquendo may have lived in New York but the Puerto Rican roots are infused throughout his playing – there’s salsa, jazz and so much more.

  1.  Piotr Wojtasik – Blackout from Old Land
  2. Piotr Wojtasik – Hola from Old Land
  3. Pavel Kaczmarczk Audiofeeling Trio – Invitation from Deconstruction (Vars & Kaper)
  4. Pavel Kaczmarczk Audiofeeling Trio – Something Personal from Something Personal
  5. Ameen Saleem – For Tamisha from The Groove Lab
  6. Janet Lawson Quintet – Dreams Can Be from Kev Beadle’s Private Collection Vol 2
  7. Mark Murphy – Why and How from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  8. Francy Boland – Lillemor from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  9. Manny Oquendo & Libre – Major Que Nunca: Salsa Jam from Manny Oquendo & Libre

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

06 July 2016: feature on the MPS label

gilles peterson 03There’s a special CJ feature on the German jazz label MPS this week. As always, click the MixCloud tab (left) to listen to the show. MPS – Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (Black Forest Music Production) – was Germany’s first jazz only label and included world recognised artists like Oscar Peterson, George Duke, Lee Konitz and Charlie Mariano.

The occasion for this MPS celebration was the release of a compilation entitled Magic Peterson Sunshinecurated by the DJ Gilles Peterson, a long time fan of the label and Cosmic Jazz DJ hero. Of course, MPS recorded music by German musicians and two of these artists were includedgilles peterson mps this week. First up was Gunter Hampel and his Quintet: Hampel was a versatile musician who played vibraphone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and flute. His aim was to create a European jazz sound that moved away from the dominance of the USA. Pianist George Gruntz was an internationalist – notable musicians on our choice Nemeit include Sahib Shihab from the US, Jean-Luc Ponty from France and Eberhard Weber from Germany as well as an ensemble of North African percussionists. Gruntz produced a series of albums for MPS under the heading of Jazz Meets the World. 

One of those US artists recorded by MPS was Mary Lou Williamsmary lou williams black christ of the andes who first released her version of the Gershwin standard It Ain’t Necessarily So on her own label in 1964 on the highly recommended album Black Christ of the Andes. We have featured a track from this release before on Cosmic Jazz (Miss D. D.), but Magic Peterson Sunshine gave us the chance to play music from this superb album again. Black Christ of the Andes can now be found on the Smithsonian Folkways label. For an example of Williams’ unique style at the piano have a look at a live performance of two original numbers – Dirge Blues and Waltz Boogie.

It’s great when you discover a wonderful piece of music that you 0004367745_350have had in your collection but has been unjustly neglected. That happened to me this week when, finally, I played Old Land – the title track of an album by Polish trumpeter Piotr Woktasik, a musician who has played with Cosmic Jazz favourites such as Gary Bartz and Kenny Garrett.  Old Land has an international cast, including the late Billy Hart on drums. This is inspiring and uplifting music featuring both instruments and voices and the album is one of the many treasures that can be found at East European and Scandinavian jazz specialist stevesjazzsounds.co.uk. Billy Hart is a contemporary of Jack deJohnette, one of our favourite drummers on CJ. He’s played with played many of the greatest names in jazz – here he is with Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 1987.

running refugee songBut we started the show with a tune supplied by Neil. Running (Refugee Song) – written by trumpeter Keyon Harrold – features Gregory Porter and the rapper Common in music with a clear and direct message. It was released last month in honour of World Refugee Day, and is the first composition from a new venture called Compositions for a Cause – a collaboration of musicians Kenyon Harrold and Andrea Pizziconi. The song can be downloaded from refugeesong.com for a donation and is now available on iTunes for $1.99. Proceeds go to some of the world’s biggest refugee-oriented groups, including Refugees International, Human Rights First and the International Rescue Committee. Watch the moving video, listen again and (as we did) donate to this new project.
otis brown iii the thought of youThere was a link to the next tune – Harrold also plays on one of our playlist regulars from Otis Brown III. The Way (Truth & Life) is one of those tough, heavy contemporary-sounding New York jazz tunes that we love so much here on Cosmic Jazz. Two weeks ago I inadvertently mixed the title track of Thomas Stronen’s album Time is a Blind Guide with something else. Music as good as this deserves a proper hearing so we featured it again in full on this week’s show.

Dele SosimiThe show ended with a taste of Afrobeat artist Dele Sosimi, who played with Fela Kuti and again this year appears at a free festival in Christchurch Park, Ipswich (the town where this show is recorded) on Saturday 09 July 2016. Sosimi was a real highlight of last year’s festival – so it’s a gig highly recommended if you’re in the area. This year, though, I am off to the People’s Festival in Lewisham for some reggae… For an introduction to the relationship between afrobeat and the UK dance scene phenomenon of afrobeats (together with some great footage of Fela Kuti) check out this video.

  1. Gregory Porter/Common – Running (Refugee Song)  from download
  2. Otis Brown III – The Way (Truth & Life) from The Thought of You
  3. Piotr Wojtasik – Old Land from Old Land
  4. Gunter Hampel Quintet – Our Chant from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  5. George Gruntz – Nemeit from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  6. Mary Lou Williams – It Ain’t Necessarily So from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  7. Thomas Stronen – Time is a Blind Guide from Time is a Blind Guide
  8. Dele Sosimi – You No Fit Touch Am from You No Fit Touch Am

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

29 June 2016: uplifting jazz

Amid the encircling gloom of the UK’s current political nightmare it seemed time for more joyful and uplifting music on Cosmic Jazz. So this week’s CJ  tries to do just that – click on the Mixcloud tab (left) for the music and check out all the embedded links below.

russell gun ethnomusicologyI cannot remember playing on Cosmic Jazz – at least for some time – one tune that never fails to provide power, presence and the urge to dance around the room. That tune is Del Rio (aka Anita) from trumpeter Russell Gunn. It’s his adaptation of Lalo Schifrin’s Anita from the Che! soundtrack of 1969. Gunn’s album Ethnomusicology Vol 2. features some fine music (try Dance of the Concubine) and uses DJ Apollo to add some turntablist accents. It may be a patchy release overall – but this CJ selection is something else.

bugge wesseltoft and friendsUp next was CJ regular Bugge Wesseltoft and a track from his album Bugge and Friends. Mates here are trumpeter Erik Truffaz and DJ and producer Joe Claussell and all of the tracks have titles ending in ‘it’. This time it was Clauss It. New Yorker Claussell’s music is always worth exploring – whether his compilations, his reworkings of Latin jazz or his own DJ productions. See what you make of one of his most famous collaborations with Haitian Jephte Guillaume, The Prayer.

Ffreddie hubbardreddie Hubbard’s First Light album is one of the trumpeter’s many classics but with over 60 albums released over a 40 year career how do you choose what to listen to? Actually, it’s easy – just check out the record label. Hubbard’s career is defined by his work on three labels – Blue Note, CTI and Columbia. Whilst there is some great playing on his later albums for the Columbia label, choose almost any Blue Note or most of the CTI albums to hear Hubbard’s burnished tone at its best. The title track First Light manages to be both mellow and joyful. freddie hubbard frst lightThis studio version does it for me every time and the George Benson guitar feature is simply heavenly. Its delicacy, precision and beautiful melody make for pure rapture. The album features a stellar rhythm section too: Herbie Hancock on Fender Rhodes piano, Ron Carter on bass and Jack deJohnette on drums.

Latin jazz was a feature of this week’s music in both its Brazilian and Nuyorican/Puerto Rican/Cuban forms. The Brazilian came first. Alto player Cannonball Adderley in 1962 recorded a Bossa Nova album cannonball adderley's bossa novawith a Brazilian sextet that included Sergio Mendes and Dom Um Romao. The album was released as Cannonball’s Bossa Nova in 1963 and then augmented in a reissue with more Brazilian tunes (including The Jive Samba) recorded live in San Francisco in 1962. This time Adderley was with his regular quintet and special guest Yusef Lateef, on flute. Percussionist Airto Moreira kept the Brazilian feel going with Hot Sand from his excellent Virgin Land release again originally on the CTI label. For a taste of Airto, we’d recommend any of the great CTI albums from this period – here’s the track Flora’s Song from the 1972 album Free.

CJ favourite Kenny Garrett was up next with Chucho’s Mambo, a wonderful example of jazz musicians inspired and influenced by  220px-KennyGarrettPushingtheWorldAwayAlbumCoverCuban music. Chucho is a reference to the great pianist Chucho Valdez – seen here performing Lorena’s Tango live at the Marciac Festival last year. Kenny Garrett has long embraced global influences, and in several albums (including Beyond the Wall) the power of his tough rhythm section merges these flavours with a contemporary jazz sound. Garrett has a new album just released titled Do Your Dance – expect to hear it soon on Cosmic Jazz.

Black Cuban and Puerto Rican roots converge to create a rhythm-heavy sound with a New York street  feel. This is how the sleeve notes on the compilation NuYorican Hits from UK-based Charly Records describe the Grupo Folklorico tune from their albulibre con salsa con ritmom Concepts in Unity.  Ace percussionist Manny Oquendo is to the fore as he thrashes forcefully to devastating effect. Check him out – he has a unique sound that has both a roots feel but an urban sound. To find out more about Oquendo and the Gonzales brothers who formed the core of this band, have a look at the excellent Orgy in Rhythm blog and try to track down the Libre album Con Salsa… Con Ritmo (pictured). You won’t be disappointed.

the pharaohs awakeningFinally, to link joyfulness with last week’s messages there was a taste of Freedom Road from The Pharaohs, a band from Chicago whose first drummer was the late leader of Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice White. Their album Awakening is worth getting hold of – especially for the standout closer Great House which features guitarist Yehudah Ben Israel sounding like Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel.

  1. Russell Gunn – Del Rio (a.k.a. Anita) from Ethnomusicology Vol 2
  2. Bugge Wesseltoft – Clauss It  from Bugge & Friends
  3. Freddie Hubbard – First Light from First Light
  4. Cannonball Adderley – The Jive Samba from Cannonball’s Bossa Nova
  5. Airto Moreira – Hot Sand from Virgin Land
  6. Kenny Garrett – Chucho’s Mambo from Pushing the World Away
  7. Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayoriquino – Anabacoa from Concepts in Unity
  8. The Pharaohs – Freedom Road from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection

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Derek is….

  • Watching Wimbledon!

Neil is listening to:

22 June 2016: jazz with a message

Jazz and protest go hand in hand, and this week’s theme of jazz with a message seems particularly timely. As always, click the MixCloud button (left) to hear this week’s CJ and check out the embedded links below. 19th century writer and social john_coltrane_order_is_everythingreformer Harriet Martineau said, If a test of civilization be sought, none can be so sure as the condition of that half of society over which the other half has power. Well, after a decision that has literally split the UK, we too will soon find out how one half treats the other. Of course, we are not comparing the post-Brexit environment with the social circumstances that generated the radical, fierce equal rights messages so powerfully conveyed in our music this week. But we can always reflect on the power of music to help define where we are and what we feel.

Radical music will not – by definition – be easy listening. Good. Stay with it and appreciate the part that great black music played in achieving social change in the USA. To begin with there were marion brown vistaVisions: Have I lived to see the milk and honey land,
Where hate’s a dream and love forever stands?
This is Stevie Wonder filtered through alto player Marion Brown from his album Vista, released on the Impulse! label in 1975. The track features two ‘engine room’ greats – Reggie Workman on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums in addition to Allen Murphy on vocals. The vocals on this track might give you a misleading impression of Marion Brown’s music: here he is in a very different context – music from his album Sweet Earth Flying with Muhal Richards Abrams and Paul Bley on piano.

We followed this with two well known and haunting tunes. Firstly, John Coltrane’s Alabama: his response to the 1963 Baptist church john coltrane live at birdlandbombings in Birmingham, Alabama in which four girls (the oldest only 14 years old) were mercilessly murdered at the hands of white supremacists. Then the chilling, explicit Strange Fruit written in 1939 by schoolteacher Abel Meeropol and delivered with unrivalled intensity and emotion by Billie Holiday. Meeropol was apparently haunted by a photograph of the lynching of two black men and wrote a poem about it, which was then printed in a teachers union publication. An amateur composer, Meeropol also set his words to music. He played it for a New York club owner — who ultimately gave it to Billie Holiday.

frank foster loud minorityUp next was a Cosmic Jazz favourite – this time in its original form – from Frank Foster. The Loud Minority (1974) is a long and, at times, free piece with impassioned vocals from Dee Dee Bridgewater supported by an approving crowd. The message is clear: We are the loud minority and, as such, we are a part of those concerned with change. On this track, Foster’s big band is a powerhouse with terrific performances from Marvin Peterson on trumpet, Jan Hammer on piano, Earl Dunbar on guitar and Elvin Jones on drums. This track is, of course, the inspiration for a favourite tune from Japanese jazzers United Future Organization – here’s their take on Loud Minority (with its original video too).

gil scott heron and brian jackson bridgesMore mellow in delivery, but still delivering a powerful message were Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson. From their 1977 album Bridges came the almost inevitable choices for such a theme. Scott-Heron reminds us that We say that since change is inevitable, we should direct the change/Rather than simply continue to go through the change. Seems appropriate. Bt the way, Bridges also contains the anthemic We Almost Lost Detroit, a track sampled by Common on his The People track from Finding Forever.

Wild, free and unpredictable could describe another musical appeal to the rights of minorities. This was Triumph of the Outcasts, R-2377721-1280502406.jpegComing from pianist Adegoke Steve Colson, whose music carries social, political and spiritual messages. Again, it is a tune with a distinctive, unique vocal that accentuates and drives home the message, from vocalist wife Iqua. Colson was a member of the influential Black Artists Group (BAG) in Chicago but following his move to New Jersey, the Newark City Council named 13 November as Steve Colson Day! The proclamation honoured the premiere of his multimedia work, Greens, Rice, And A Rope and Colson has gone on to work with many avant garde jazz artists, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake and Henry Threadgill. The penultimate track on this week’s show was from another revolutionary jazz figure, Philip Cohran. Along with his Artistic Heritage Ensemble, Cohran has ploughed a singular furrow meshing elements of John philip cohran on the beachColtrane, James Brown and Fela Kuti into what Thom Jurek in his Allmusic review of the album On the Beach calls a seamless solidarity of black consciousness. The track Unity tells us how things should be and complemented the name chosen for Steve Colson’s band (The Unity Troupe). To end this week’s we dived back into the spiritual realm with the Charles Gayle Trio, recorded live in Poland, and invoking the way to Eternal Life. 

  1. Marion Brown – Visions from Vista
  2. John Coltrane – Alabama from Live at Birdland
  3. Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit from Jazz Greats Bille Holiday
  4. Frank Foster – The Loud Minority from The Loud Minority
  5. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson – Delta Man (Where I’m Coming From) from Bridges
  6. Steve Colson and the Unity Troupe – Triumph of the Outcasts, Coming from Triumph!
  7. Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble – Unity from On the Beach
  8. Charles Gayle Trio – Eternal Life from Christ Everlasting

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

15 June 2016: crossing genres

fania all starsAvailable on the MixCloud tab from CJ this week are some favourite records from the last year or so, plus a couple of older tunes. Make sure you check out all the links embedded below for max effect!

First up was a track from an old recording released in 2011 by the always-reliable Strut Records as a 40th anniversary CD and DVD of The Fania All Stars playing live at The Cheetah, New York. I played this in memory of a friend who back in the 1970s lent me two remarkable download (2)vinyl records – now rare collectors items – of the All Stars, live on Virgin Records. This was my introduction  to Latin music, and it’s been a passion that has remained strong ever since. Of course, the link between Latin music and jazz has always been there – and they come together in the umbrella term Latin jazz. Coined during the 1950s by the American media, it’s a simplistic description of a very complex cultural melting pot. There are, after all, 22 countries in Latin American with each one having an extraordinary diversity of rhythms, styles and genres that represent the individual cultural mixes of that country and its region. We selected Ray Barretto’s Cochinando, the lead off track from this excellent record of one of the most influential Latin concerts ever.

Cover_KoutéJazz-350x350Just one of those many Latin permutations was shown in the next selection from the excellent Koute Jazz compilation on French label Heavenly Sweetness. This time it was a group from Guadeloupe using Brazilian rhythms to invoke memories of the island’s original inhabitants. Catch the lovely Fender Rhodes on this one! Ed Motta is Brazilian – but don’t go to his new album Perpetual Gateways if you are looking for stereotypical Brazilian sounds. While Motta’s previous album AOR (a self conscious tribute to ‘adult oriented rock’) was a slick Steely Dan-esque affair, the new one works at delivering both soul and jazz – in fact, it’s presented as two suites of five songs each – one called Soul Gate and the other Jazz Gate. Produced by Kamau Kenyatta (Gregory ed motta perpetual gatewaysPorter) and featuring an impressive supporting cast that includes such west coast session luminaries as Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes, and Hubert Laws, Perpetual Gateways is a delight. We played I Remember Julie which features Rushen and an extended acoustic piano solo – a long way away from the smooth jazzfunk of Forget Me Nots!

Ameen Saleem appeared again this week but in jazz rather than soul/R’n’B mode – both of which sit happily on his genre-hopping new release The Groove Lab. It’s great to see the current crop of US jazz artists adopting this more freewheeling approach – and making it work. We’ll be checking out saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s latest album along with the Miles Davis/Robert Glasper R’n’B collaboration, Everything’s Beautiful in future shows.

st germainOne of my very favourite records of  the last twelve months has been another record that crossed genres. St Germain is the third album from the eponymous French artist (Parisian producer Ludovic Navarre) and is a superb example of how jazz, Malian blues and contemporary beats can be merged into a seamless whole. If you do not have this record, then we regard it as an essential must-have: it may not have the spell-binding blend of jazz and house that so characterised Tourist, but it is an excellent addition to the genre crossing canon. It’s worth comparing the lead off track on St Germain (Real Blues which features Lightning Hopkins) with its spiritual predecessor from Tourist (Sure Thing with John Lee Hooker). Navarre is a late headline addition to next month’s Love Supreme jazz festival – check him out if you can.

marshall allen and the arkestraEuropean jazz, so integral to CJ, was represented this week via the Czech Republic from Ondre Sveracek and the Petr Benes Quartet – check the subtle horn playing on this one. Of course, Thomas Stronen from Norway had to appear again and to end the show we travelled the spaceways once more with the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of 92 year old Marshall Allen.

  1. Fania All Stars – Cocinando from Our Latin Thing
  2. Guadeloupe Reflexions – Samba Arawak from Koute Jazz
  3. Ed Motta – I Remember Julie from Perpetual Gateways
  4. Ameen Saleem – Korinthis from The Groove Lab
  5. St. Germain – Family Tree from St. Germain
  6. Ondre Sveracek – Meditation from Calm
  7. Petr Benes Quartet – My Little Ruth from Pbq+1
  8. Thomas Stronen – As We Wait For Time from Time Is A Blind Guide
  9. Sun Ra Arkestra – Galactic Voyage from Song For The Sun

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

08 June 2016: reaching new places/re-visiting old ones

Join us via MixCloud this week and you’ll hear music from an Indonesian artist – unusual on Cosmic Jazz, yes – but not quite a first for the show. Keen eared listeners may remember teenage prodigy Joey Alexander (from Jakarta) dwiki dharmawanwhose debut release My Favorite Things was featured in a show at the end of last year. But Dwiki Dharamawan is something else – an Indonesian pianist and peace activist whose World Peace Orchestra deploys some top US fusion musicians (Jimmy Haslip and Steve Thornton, for example). Check him out live here from a Hollywood concert recorded in 2007. Cosmic Jazz played the title track from his new release, So Far So Close.

Next up was US drummer Chad Wackerman – who also appears on Dwiki Dharmawan’s album (it’s all carefully planned this way…). Wackerman was here working with his own group on an album from 2012 called Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations and the track A New Day featured some powerful jazz fusion drumming – not usually the way we start a Cosmic Jazz show.

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Percussion of a different, more spiritual nature is what Thomas Stronen plays. With the pure rapture and delight of his recent concert in Norwich still fresh in my memory, another tune was essential. This time  we chose the title track of his 2016 album Time Is A Blind Guide – the basis for that outstanding concert in Norwich. It’s another magnificent ECM release – and, of course, is highly recommended by us here on CJ. Stronen is also part of Iain Ballamy’s group Food – catch him here at a live festival in Oslo in more electronic vein.

046 SPIRITUAL JAZZ 2My programme timing can leave me having to cut tunes short at the end of the show. There have been two examples that have suffered this fate recently and, although they are both long, I wanted to play them in full. The first was Archangelo by Raphael, an interesting and original piece  that can be found on the excellent anthology Spiritual Jazz 2Raphael was a US pianist but this tune is from an album he recorded in Belgium with local musicians. The second extended track is on the fourth Spiritual Jazz compilation, and is from a quintet led by radical vibes player Bobby Hutcherson and tenor sax veteran Harold Land. Throughout the 18 minutes of The Creators the strong, spiritual jazz 4repetitive bass of Reggie Johnson maintains the groove. “Reform of the soul, reform of the spirit, reform of society” is what historian Francis Gooding (who write the liner notes for this excellent release on Jazzman Records) describes as the objective of spiritual jazz. Difficult to disagree with this lofty ambition.

Another bass player – Ameen Saleem – appeared next with one of the more nu soul-oriented tracks from his album The Groove Lab. The album cuts across different genres with ease – much like those of his erik truffaz doni donisometime boss, trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Finally, there was a chance to hear one of the two tracks from a recent album by Erik Truffaz on which Malian singer Rokia Traore appears. Truffaz is always a welcome guest on CJ – another trumpeter who is not afraid to extend the boundaries. Here he is in tandem with Murcof – real name Fernanado Corona – an electronica  artist from Mexico. Wash your soul with this one…

  1. Dwiki Dharmawan – So Far So Close from So Far So Close
  2. Chad Wackerman – A New Day from Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations
  3. Thomas Stronen – Time is a Blind Guide from Time is a Blind Guide
  4. Raphael – Archangelo  from Spiritual Jazz 2
  5. Bobby Hutcherson & Harold Land – The Creators from Spiritual Jazz 4
  6. Ameen Saleem – Don’t Walk Away from The Groove Lab
  7. Erik Truffaz Quartet feat. Rokia Traore – Doni Doni Part 1 from Doni Doni

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

 

01 June 2016: featuring Thomas Stronen and Norwegian jazz

thomas stronenRecently I went to a performance by Thomas Stronen at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2016. It was simply an amazing, highly memorable experience and if you click the MixCloud tab (left) you can hear some of the tunes from the album Time Is A Blind Guide on which Stronen’s set was based.

The music wa2467_X_1 (1)s intense, spiritual, emotional jazz drawing upon classical, Far Eastern and traditional Norwegian influences. The combination of Lucy Railton on cello (not a common jazz instrument), Hakan Aase on violin and  Ole Morton Vagan on double bass created a beautiful, warm, melodic sound – check the tune Pipa for an example of this. The subtle, precise drumming of Thomas Stronen, interacting with the flowing and adventurous piano of Kit Downes was mesmerising – listen to The Stone Carriers which was also featured on this week’s CJ. The album is on ECM and is very highly recommended.

tord gustavsen what was saidAlso on ECM is the album What was said by Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen with Afghan/German voice Simin Tander singing in Pashto and English accompanied by Jarle Vespestad on drums. This is another ECM group I have heard live this year – excellent too, but edged out by Thomas Stronen.

Also from Norway this week came LEO,  (Love Exit Orchestra) featuring vocalist Sheila Simmenes whose many interests include jazz and Brazilian music and Lucky Novak, a quirky, original and experimental Norwegian band with a British saxophonist.

shela simmenesAll the music this week was recorded in Europe and featured – with the odd exception – European musicians. This included more music available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. For example, Spanish, a modal tune from Czech Republic saxophonist Ondrej Sveracek on his album CalmThis also includes US drummer Gene Jackson with a controlled, complex  feature towards the end of the tune. Also, for the first time on Cosmic Jazz came the Cracow Jazz Collective, an eight-piece band featuring young Polish jazz musicians with compositions by pianist Mateusz Gaweda. Take a look at the No More Drama video for more from this exciting collective.

erik truffaz doni doniDoni Doni, the new record from Erik Truffaz, is still on the CJ ‘tables. This time, it was a contrast from his more ambient, relaxed and minimalist sounds. Finally, there was a chance to catch part of Archangelo from Raphael available on Spiritual Jazz 2. Raphael was a US pianist but the album was recorded in Belgium with Belgian musicians.

  1. Ondrej Sveracek – Spanish from Calm
  2. Cracow Jazz Collective – Polish Drama from No More Drama
  3. Thomas Stronen – The Stone Carriers from Time Is A Blind Guide
  4. Thomas Stronen – Tide from Time from Time is a Blind Guide
  5. Thomas Stronen – Everything Disappears 1 from Time is a Blind Guide
  6. Thomas Stronen – Pipa from Time is a Blind Guide
  7. Tord Gustavsen – Sweet Melting from What was said
  8. LEO (Love Extra Orchestra) – Don’t Get Me Wrong from preview copy
  9. Lucky Novak – Ornette from Up! Go!
  10. Erik Truffaz Quartet – Fat City from Doni Doni
  11. Raphael – Archangelo from Spiritual Jazz 2

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

25 May 2016: jazz from the Czech Republic and France

Click the MixCloud tab (left) to hear a selection of mainly contemporary jazz from continental Europe with a couple of oldies from elsewhere thrown in.

sun ra arkestra a song for the sunRecently I heard the Sun Ra Arkestra live led by the 92 year old Marshall Allen. It was quite a spectacle with Allen’s sax well to the fore and reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders’ loud rasping tone.  It seemed appropriate to start with a piece from the Arkestra under Allen’s direction – but not a free jazz blow-out as might be expected but rather The Way You Look Tonight, written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern in 1936 but given an Arkestra rethink.

It was long overdue that CJ featured more music from Steve’s Jazz Sounds, so there were a couple of gems from the Czech Republic. As is so often the case, there were musicians linking across the tracks. First off was tenor player Ondrej Sveracek and the title tune from his album Calm. The Dutch drummer Erik Ineke on hearing  Sveracek’s music commented that Coltrane’s in the house – sounds interesting. The album also features the US drummer Gene Jackson whose CV includes work with Kevin Eubanks, Hugh Masekela, Andrew Hill, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

petr benes quartetThe Petr Benes Quartet (+1) are also based in the Czech Republic. The tune Unusual Neighborhood is as interesting as the title and tenor player Ondrej Sveracek features here alongside his bass player Tomas Baros. From Poland came the excellent Algorythm: having heard them on my iPod selection during the week, they had to be circulated more widely. Check out their excellent album Segments – we’ve featured tracks from it before on Cosmic Jazz.

I once saw the trumpeter Erik Truffaz perform at Norwich Arts Centre to an audience of about 25 people – something of an embarrassing insult to a fine jazz adventurer who changes personnel, draws on many outside influences and yet maintains a pitch-perfect ambient calm in his playing. His new release Doni Doni includes contributions from Malian singer Rokia Traore, but the tune tonight featured the hip hop artibending new cornersst Oxino Puccino. I added another Erik Truffaz tune which included another rapper – this time Nya –  from the 1999 Blue Note album Bending New Corners which first introduced me to his work. Check out Truffaz performing Doni Doni Part 2 at the World Stock Festival in Paris.

ameen saleemOne of my favourite musicians was the enthusiastic comment made by trumpeter Roy Hargrove about bass player Ameen Saleem. You can see why from the tune Possibilities on Saleem’s new album The Groove LabHis bass provides a firm and prominent beat throughout the tune which has Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Greg Hutchinson on drums and Stacy Dillard on tenor sax. Hargrove is featured on the album but not on this track. The music throughout is varied – expect to hear soul and funk as well as jazz.

spiritual jazz 4Finally on tonight’s show, an excerpt from a long tune I heard during the week. A co-operation between radical vibes player Bobby Hutcherson and sax player Harold Land recorded in what was then Yugoslavia, now Serbia. It is a deep, deep cosmic tune and is available on the superb compilation Spiritual Jazz 4.

  1. The Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen – The Way You Look Tonight from A Song for the Sun
  2. Ondrej Sveracek – Calm from Calm
  3. Petr Benes Quartet – Unusual Neighborhood from Pbq + 1
  4. Algorhythm – Sorry for the Delay from Segments
  5. Erik Truffaz feat Nya – Sweet Mercy from Bending New Corners
  6. Erik Truffaz Quartet feat Oxinno Puccino – Le Complement du Verbe from Doni Doni
  7. Ameen Saleem – Possibilities  from The Groove Lab
  8. Bobby Hutcherson/Harold Land Quintet – The Creators from Spiritual Jazz Vol 4

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Derek is listening to:

  • Thomas Stronen – Pipa
  • Thomas Stronen – Lost Souls
  • Erik Truffaz – Siegfried
  • Papa Wemba feat. Barbara Kanam – Triple Option
  • Misty in Roots – Oh! Wicked Man

Neil is listening to:

18 May 2016: some Cosmic Jazz favourites

Cosmic Jazz is back and, to mark our return, the programme features a few favourites.

otis brown iii the thought of youOne such is drummer Otis Brown III  – heard here in two opening tracks.  First, supporting Somi on her Nigeria inspired album The Lagos Music Salon and then on his own record The Thought Of You, where on You’re Still the One the jazz cool but warm and enticing voice of Gretchen Parlato draws you in.  You can see Gretchen Parlato appearing in her own right here.

kenny garrettAny Cosmic Jazz programme of favourites could not exclude Kamasi Washington, an ever-present artist on the show nor alto player Kenny Garrett. This week we chose the title track from his award-winning album Pushing The World Away. The memory of seeing his quartet perform in such a close and intimate setting at the Pizza Express Jazz  Club in Dean Street, London a few years ago still lingers firmly in the memory…

bugge wesseltoft and friendsKeyboard player Bugge Wesseltoft recorded an excellent album in 2015 with his friends – including trumpeter Erik Truffaz who has his own excellent new album out this year.  I shall play tunes from it in coming weeks but, for this edition of Cosmic Jazz, check out the collaboration on the track Play It.

Songs by Johnny Nash have not often appeared on Cosmic Jazz but I simply love the version of I Can see Clearly Now by Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce with Roy’s son Gabriel featured on lead vocal and trumpet. In case you do not reach this stage of the programme via MixCloud you can hear it here and at the same time view the bleak and alluring cover of the album.

nuyorican soulLatin and soul – probably more accurately a combination of both – but all with New York connections, completed the show. The wonderful Charlie Palmieri of New York latino heritage started the segment with a tune that was re-released on a compilation of his work on the Atlantic Masters series. Elements of Life from Eclipse and Jocelyn Brown from the album Nuyorican Soul continued the latin New York sounds. The link between the two is arranger and DJ Louis Vega. elements of life eclipseBest known as a record producer now, Vega comes from latin royalty. His uncle was Hector Lavoe of the celebrated Fania All Stars, and Vega has lent his name to hundreds of records since the 1990s when he began DJing and remixing with fellow house star Kenny Gonzales in the Masters at Work partnership. Here at CJ we always emphasize the close links between much Latin music and jazz – just one small part of that global jazz thing.

  1. Somi – Four African Women from The Lagos Music Salon
  2. Otis Brown III (feat. Gretchen Parlato) – You’re Still The One from The Thought Of You
  3. Kamasi Washington – Leroy and Lanisha from The Epic
  4. Kenny Garrett – Pushing The World Away  from Pushing The World Away
  5. Bugge Wesseltoft – Play It from Bugge and Friends
  6. Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce – I Can See Clearly Now from Complicated Day
  7. Charlie Palmieri – Mambo Show from Latin Bugalu
  8. Elements of Life – Berimbau from Eclipse
  9. Jocelyn Brown – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun from Nuyorican Soul

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio