15 February 2015: the producers – Axelrod and Shad

This week’s show is a mixture of styles, moving from soul jazz, to jazzy soul, to Brazil to the European avant-garde. All in an hour-long show!

Neil drew my attention to the death of record producer, composer, performer and hip-hop sampled supremo David Axelrod. Of particular interest to Cosmic Jazz is his work and friendship with Cannonball Adderley from 1964 until Adderley’s death in 1975. Featured in the programme are two tunes Space Spiritual and Walk Tall. The titles say it all; the former uplifts you towards the heavens, the second is a proud, dignified and important statement. They left me greatly moved and spiritually enriched as I sat listening to them. Axelrod has had more influence on the current mixing of hip hop beats with jazz than probably any other producer. In many ways, this is surprising as his work is full of grand symphonic gestures that allow the music to range from huge orchestral chords to intimate motifs. It’s not what you expect hip hop artists to use as source material. But they did – and perhaps the most obvious example was Dr Dre’s The Next Episode which sampled the Axelrod track The Edge. Of course, then came DJ Shadow and the masterpiece album that is Endtroducing. The use of Axelrod’s The Human Abstract in the epic Midnight in a Perfect World was pure genius. As an excellent feature by Nate Patrin on the Pitchfork site notes, Aside from Isaac Hayes, virtually nobody’s compositions could hit that sweet spot between “beautiful music” opulence, uncannily strange pop-psychedelia, and deeper-than-deep soul quite like Axelrod. True.

There were two more tunes from the Feeling Good compilation of our other producer focus, Bob Shad. Shad did not have the unique sound world of David Axelrod but the range of record labels and artists he worked with was huge. We chose the scatting Barry Miles and the soulful Maxine Weldon – an interesting contrast.

The slice of Brazil included in last week’s show made me search for more and gave me the chance to play something from the back catalogue of two British labels that have done so much to promote Brazilian music in Europe and around the world – Far Out and Mr. Bongo respectivelyThe Friends From Rio interpretation of the Milton Nascimento classic Vera Cruz was particularly strong on the jazz playing and singer Ive Mendes has a naturally sultry, jazzy sounding voice.

The return to the ever-wonderful Kamasi Washington Epic album was another reference to a tune that appeared on my shuffle songs during the week. It’s an original interpretation of a jazz standard, Ray Noble’s Cherokee with Patrice Quinn providing great vocals. Noble was born in England but moved to New York in 1934 where he had a very successful dance band. It was bebop maestro Charlie Parker who first took the chords of Cherokee and turned them into Ko-Ko – probably the first ever recorded bebop composition (1945).

There was a lively interpretation of another classic tune Summertime from a Polish quintet led by pianist Michal Wierba, recorded in the studios of Polish radio in 2015. Then it was time for some intense, challenging music. Firstly, Didrik Invaldsen, a Norwegian trumpet player leading an ensemble of Norwegian and Czech musicians. There is a powerful, brass sound to the music, it is complex and engaging and at times, the sax player and drummer seem almost to compete yet remain part of the whole. Check the bass lines at the end of the tune. There is more strong bass playing in in the choice of another tune from Delusions, the album of the Wojcinski/Szmanda Quartet, comprising three Wojcinski brothers and drummer Szmanda. As mentioned last week, this album is highly recommended.

  1. Cannonball Adderley – Space Spiritual from Walk Tall
  2. Cannonball Adderley – Walk Tall from Walk Tall
  3. Barry Miles – Scatbird from Feeling Good: Funk, Soul & Deep Jazz Gems from Bob Shad
  4. Maxine Weldon – Right On from Feeling Good: Funk, Soul & Deep Jazz Gems from Bob Shad
  5. Friends From Rio feat Celia Vaz – Vera Cruz from Friends From Rio 2
  6. Ive Mendes – A Beira Mar (Sao Benitez Lush Mix) from Brazilian Beats 3
  7. Kamasi Washington Cherokee from The Epic
  8. Michal Wierba – Summertime from Body Language
  9. Didrik Ingvaldsen – Circle Music Part I from The Expanding Circle
  10. Wojcinski/Szmanda Quartet – No Context from Delusions


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…



08 February 2017: respect to Bob Shad

Record producer Bob Shad was an American record producer and record label owner responsible for the creation of Mainstream Records and EmArcy among others. The sounds he recorded covered a huge spectrum including funk, soul, blues and jazz. The December 2016 edition of the Black Music monthly magazine Echoes included an excellent article by Kevin Le Gendre on Bob Shad and a review of a new compilation album featuring selected recordings on the Mainstream label. The impressive list of artists on this record includes Sarah Vaughan, Art Farmer, Clark Terry, Hadley Calman, Carmen McRae and the two artists featured on the show this week – Shelley Manne and Blue Mitchell – the latter with a classic soul jazz gem!

But this week’s show began, as promised last week, with the wonderful  Polish trumpeter Jerzy Malek and the title tune of his album Stalgia but played in full this time. There’s a strong resemblance in the trumpet theme of the title track to the music of CJ favourite Tomasz Stanko but the arrangement is all his own. There was reference, once again, to two artists that appeared among my iPod shuffle songs during the week – Jazz Semai from Turkey and a Brazilian jazzy beats special from Maf Drum, a tune that had previously passed me by but woke me up and rejuvenated me when I heard it. The latter comes from an extended series of Brazilian compilations, now on its tenth release, called Sister Bossa: cool jazzy cuts with a Brazilian flavour. These aren’t easy to get hold of now – Amazon will charge you £163.60 for the first in the series – so just enjoy the music here on Cosmic Jazz!

There was more of the Polish jazz available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. This included a quarter of three brothers named Wojcinski playing trumpet, bass and piano and a drummer called Krzystof Szmanda. This is tough, uncompromising free and improvised jazz with space for soloists and strong bass lines and impressively complex work on the drums running throughout. The album Delusions is highly recommended.

There was another play for Polish jazz minimalists LAM (more upbeat this time) and a first play for the Pit Dahm Trio with Harmen Fraanje. Pit Dahm on drums is from Luxembourg,  pianist Harmen Fraanje from the Netherlands,  sax player Charley Rose from France and Lennart Heyndels on bass is from Belgium.

  1. Jerzy Malek – Stalgia from Stalgia
  2. Blue Mitchell – Soul Village from Feeling Good: Funk, Soul & Deep Jazz Gems, The Supreme Sound of Producer Bob Shad
  3. Shelley Manne – Mask from Feeling Good: Funk, Soul & and Deep Jazz Gems, The Supreme Sound of Producer Bob Shad
  4. Jazz Semai – Kay Yolu from Spiritual Jazz 5: The World
  5. Wojcinski/Szmanda Quartet – Flood from Delusions
  6. Pit Dahm Trio with Harmen Fraanje – Vilnius from Omicron
  7. Maf Drum – Cuiquina from Sister Bossa: cool jazzy cuts with a Brazilian flavour
  8. LAM – LAM 3 (part two) from LAM


Note on the first of Derek’s choices this week. The Dhafer Youssef is a sample of all the tracks on the new album. For a more detailed portrait of the making of the record check out this promo documentary.

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

01 February 2017: Polish jazz minimalism and more

At a time when there are worldwide celebrations of the 80th birthday of US minimalist composer Philip Glass it was appropriate that the music on Cosmic Jazz this week should include two pieces of music from Polish groups inspired by this movement.

The first of these came from LAM, a trio led by Waclaw Zimpel – a clarinet player – with Krzysztof Dys on piano and Hubert Zemler on drums. The influences on the music they play stretches way beyond jazz.  US minimalism is definitely up there in music that is modern, tranquil and absorbing.  The other example came from a Polish quintet Minim Experiment – a reference to this movement even in their name and the title of the somewhat melancholic tune on the show Minm (Epilogue). As so often with these sounds that may not be too familiar outside Eastern Europe,  Steve’s Jazz Sounds has been our valued source.


The rest of the show was the usual worldwide mix of the old and the new. Two Cosmic Jazz favourites opened the show with first up the long and jazzy extended version of Feminina, an essential tune from Brazilian artist Joyce. This version is the only (very) limited release from an aborted album project under the direction of arranger Claus Ogerman. Joe Farrell provides the spirited flute solo, Mike Manieri is on vibes/marimba and the ubiquitous Nana Vasconcelos can be heard on percussion. Wayne Shorter followed with a tune strong on complexity and meaning in really quite an understated way. This comes from Shorter’s last 1960s Blue Note album, Odyssey of Iska. It’s another all star lineup, including the late and much missed Alphonse Mouzon on drums.

Martin Sjostedt is a Swedish bass player who has played with many musicians from Scandinavia and beyond, including Joe Lovano and Maria Schneider. Or rather that is how he is usually known, except that on the album Whereabouts he appears as a piano player alongside a German trumpet player and a Swedish tenor. Good it is too.

Several of this week’s selections came from music Neil left behind for me to play and this included the tune from young British multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger etc. etc. Jacob Collier. What innovative, exciting and unpredictable music.

The show ended with a truly wonderful piece of music from Polish trumpeter Jerzy Malek leading a quintet of Polish and US musicians. They are Stephen Riley on tenor, Peter Wylezol on piano, Michal Baranski bass and Eric Allen drums. Check the wonderful piano lead from Wylezol followed by the rapturous trumpet from Malek. The tune has to be played again – maybe even next week.

Back this week is our listening to… feature with music from both Derek and Neil. Check out the hyperlinks below and see and hear what we’re listening to.

  1. Joyce – Feminina from unreleased album Natureza
  2. Wayne Shorter – De Pois Do Amor O Vazio (After Love Emptiness) from Odyssey of Iska
  3. LAM – Lam 1 (Part 1 ) from LAM
  4. Minim Experiment – Minim (Epilogue) from Dark Matter
  5. Martin Sjostedt – Bueno from Whereabouts
  6. Jacob Collier – Hajanga from In My Room
  7. Jerzy Malek – Stalgia from Stalgia


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:


25 January 2016: Neil’s pre-Singapore selection

This week’s CJ was a last chance for Neil to cram in some of his current listening before he heads off to Singapore. We started with more tracks from recent albums – the 2015 sophomore release from bass player Ben Williams and that excellent collection of Sun Ra singles on the Strut label which emerged at the end of last year.

We followed this with a real delight. Creating a convincing remix of the iconic A Love Supreme has to be one of the tougher remix assignments, but skinnerbox has achieved the near impossible with his take on Coltrane’s finest work. Of course, this isn’t the real thing, but it undoubtedly captures the spirit and grace of the original. Well worth hearing in its 14 minute entirety too – listen on Soundcloud here. Take in that cool twist on McCoy Tyner’s piano at 8:25 onwards.

It made sense to follow skinnerbox with another remix project – this time from Kiwi musician and producer Mark de Clive-Lowe who has put together a very convincing melange of Blue Note tracks into an impressive two part remix. You can download Part 1 of the project here for free, or buy a limited edition vinyl version from Bandcamp, Juno and other outlets. Want more new de Clive-Lowe? Then check out a track from his latest release in Neil’s listening choices below.

You might have through the next track on the show was part of de Clive-Lowe’s project (especially as we didn’t credit it on air!), but this was in fact vibesman Dave Pike, giving a refreshingly contemporary twist to the classic Besame Mucho. What really lifts the track is the drum break – shades of Joe Morello’s break on Take Five I think, but – whatever – Walter Perkins achieves something great here.

It was time to check out two singers I never tire of hearing, Mark Murphy and Gregory Porter. I’ve written elsewhere on this website about Murphy: his lyrical invention, rich tone and perennially cool demeanour will ensure he will remain one of the key jazz vocalists. I chose the excellent take on Milton Nascimento’s Nada Sera Como Antes that is one of the many killer tracks from the Muse years, although it doesn’t feature on the recently released compilation from Soul Brother Records. Instead, you can find it on the excellent Songbook collection or the indispensable 1984 album Brazil Song.

And – in many ways – Gregory Porter has inherited something of the Murphy mantle. There’s the tone, the space he gives his band and – something special – his own songs. Murphy was a genius at vocalese – the art of adding lyrics to existing jazz tunes or solos – but Porter is a great songwriter too. Don’t Be a Fool is an excellent example from his 2016 release Take Me to the Alley. Porter is an enigma: whilst much of his music might function as pop music it resolutely isn’t in the arrangements,  extended solos and (sometimes) challenging lyrics that don’t seem to put off his huge popular demographic. That’s right – no sell out!

We ended the show with some fun from Marcos Valle. He composed the soundtrack to a film portrait of 1970s Brazilian F1 driver Emerson Fittipaldi and if you’re unfamiliar with the huge sideburns of Brazil’s finest pre-Senna driver you can see the opening credits of Roberto Farias’s film here. We played the title music from the film but the complete soundtrack is also available on YouTube.

Before this came two jazz originals – neglected alto player Arthur Blythe and iconic pianist McCoy Tyner. The huge rolling wave that is Tyner’s Horizon and the rollicking Blythe original Down San Diego Way are both tunes that stay in the memory long after they’ve ended. Both are ones you will want to hear again – so check out the Listen Again feature on this week’s show and enjoy the music.

  1. Ben Williams – Black Villain from Coming Of Age
  2. Sun Ra – Mayan Temple from Sun Ra Singles
  3. Skinnerbox – A Love Supreme from Bandcamp download
  4. Mark de Clive-Lowe – extract from Blue Note Remixed from Bandcamp download
  5. The Dave Pike Quartet – Besame Mucho from Pike’s Peak
  6. Mark Murphy – Nothing Will Be As It Was Tomorrow from Songbook
  7. Gregory Porter – Don’t Be A Fool from Take Me to the Alley
  8. McCoy Tyner – Horizon from Horizon
  9. Arthur Blythe – Down San Diego Way from Lenox Avenue Brengakdown
  10. Marcos Valle with Azymuth – Fittipaldi Show  from O Fabuloso Fittipaldi original film score


Neil is listening to:

18 January 2016: extra – more best of 2016!

This week’s music selection included more of Neil’s best of the year round up – both new albums and some great reissues. First up was one of the self-penned tracks from teenage pianist Joey Alexander. Derivative and with definite echoes of Michel Petrucciani, but a fine display of Alexander’s fluency on the keys. This 2016 sophomore album is a fine development from his first release and includes an excellent take on Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage that features the soprano sax of Chris Potter.

Next was a rare reflective, percussion-driven excursion from Wayne Shorter that’s not easy to come by. One of his last releases for the Blue Note label, 1970’s Moto Grosso Feio found Shorter experimenting with Brazilian textures and sound motifs from his future collaborator Milton Nascimento. We played the title track which is is a slow burner that then hits a groove that’s really rather irresistible. Lost tracks from pianist Bill Evans were next in a fine 2016 release from the Resonance label that is the only recorded example of a studio recording in which Evans plays with CJ favourite drummer Jack DeJohnette. Completing the trio is bassist Eddie Gomez. During the show, Derek refers to a novel which is based on the time in Bill Evans’ career when his young and immensely gifted bass player Scott Le Faro was killed in a car crash. The novel was Intermission by Welsh writer Owen Martell – and is well worth tracking down.

We love alto player Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley here on CJ and it was good to have a chance to play one of those 1970s live tracks produced by David Axelrod and featuring George Duke on Fender Rhodes. We played Capricorn from the album Music, You All. In complete contrast came a great new 2016 release from composer Darcy James Argue titled Real Enemies. The music is indeed a reflection of these times when false news appears to have taken over some of our media channels. Trust No One features a soundclip of onetime Senator Frank Church discussing the ill effects of CIA narratives planted in foreign media and is worth quoting in full: I thought that it was a matter of real concern that planted stories intended to serve a national purpose abroad came home and were circulated here because this would mean that the CIA could manipulate the news in the United Staes by channelling it through some foreign country. Hmm…. Argue has also incorporated a series of quotes from the prescient 1964 essay The paranoid style in American politics by Richard Hofstadter. Check out the excellent Pitchfork Real Enemies review here. This is certainly music for these troubled political times.

The young British duo Yussef Kamaal featured next on the show with a track from their debut release Black Thought. This isn’t revolutionary jazz by any means but there’s some tight drum and keyboard work from Henry Wu and the overall effect is 70s Herbie with an update. Last on the show were two vocal outings. The first was a Joni Mitchell-style composition from US bass player Esperanza Spalding’s 2016 release and the second an example of more young homegrown talent – but this time from Neil’s current home of Singapore. The Steve McQueens are a jazz funk band with quirky vocals from Eugenia Yip. Their most recent release was produced by Bluey from Incognito and recorded in London.

  1. Joey Alexander – City Lights from Countdown
  2. Wayne Shorter – Moto Grosso Feio from Moto Grosso Feio
  3. Bill Evans – You Go to My Head from Some Other Time
  4. Cannonball Adderley – Capricorn from Music, You All
  5. Darcy James Argue – Trust No One from Real Enemies
  6. Fred Hersch Trio – Blackwing Palomino from Sunday Night at the Vanguard
  7. Yussef Kamaal – Lowrider from Black Focus
  8. Esperanza Spalding – Noble Nobles from Emily’s D + Evolution
  9. The Steve McQueens – Summer Star from Seamonster


Neil is listening to:

11 January 2017: jazz from Eastern Europe

This week the music came from Eastern Europe with some Danish connections. It is all music that I came across last year and most was released in 2016. As always, the best source is the ever-inspirational Steve’s Jazz Sounds.


The show started with a tune from the album Monte Alban by the
veteran Polish sax player Adam Pieronczyk. It was recorded during a tour of Mexico with his trio – including a Polish bass player and a Mexican drummer. The sound is a highly unusual one and uses electronic devices to process the sound of the bass and add multiple layers. It is an interesting album.

The Cracow Jazz Collective have an album which has the reflective title of No More Drama – but it’s anything but. There are dramatic shifts of sound throughout one long tune, Jazz Drama. Check the particularly dramatic explosion five minutes in. With only three extended tracks on the album there’s plenty of opportunity for unexpected dramas. Artur Tuznik is an example of the Poland-Denmark connection. Pianist Tuznik is  Polish-born but is now resident in Copenhagen and the tune I played from the trio he leads is called Hymn For Copenhagen. His piano playing is well to the fore with some gentle backing on the drums.

The Pawel Wszolek Quintet have appeared before on the show. Wszolek is a bass player from Krakow and his strong playing is prominent. The band play tough, loud, heavy jazz. I like it. Drummer Radel Wosko is another Polish jazz musician now living in Denmark. He also spent a year travelling in the USA and West Africa before making the album Atlantic. The quartet has musicians from three different countries.

Valer Muker is from Slovakia. The music is calm and peaceful, like the title of the tune I played and has the feel of native folk roots influences. The band is a trio, augmented on occasions by guitar. Finally, I returned to The Beat Freaks and a tune from their album Leon. The band have an interesting and individualistic sound and are led by sax player Tomasz Licak. He was born in Poland but is now based in – yes, you guessed it – Copenhagen, Denmark!

  1. Adam Pieronczyk – Monte Alban Blues from Monte Alban
  2. Cracow Jazz Collective – Jazz Drama from No More Drama
  3. Artur Tuznik Trio – Hymn for Copenhagen from Artur Tuznik Trio
  4. Pawel Wszolek Quintet – Dar Wiary from Faith
  5. Radek Wasko Atlantic Quintet – Summer Sessions from Atlantic
  6. Valer Muker Trio – Calm and Peaceful from Vibrations, States, Emotions
  7. The Beat Freaks – Pod Noske from Leon

04 January 2017: best of 2016 part 2

My co-presenter Neil was not in the studio this week but he did send an excellent selection of new and re-released music from 2016 that he has enjoyed.

What a powerful way it  was to start the show. Jack deJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison with the haunting, disturbing and highly evocative tune Alabama, particularly poignant with Ravi Coltrane involved in playing a version of what was possibly his father’s most political song. The show featured two tunes from this trio’s album album In Movement.

Sarathy Korwar is someone new to me. He has been the beneficiary of support from the Steve Reid Foundation set up in honour of the late drummer to support young musicians. Sarathy is himself a percussionist/drummer. The music is distinctive and innovative combining traditional music from the Sidi community of India with electronics and jazz.

The music of EST seemed to merge perfectly with the sounds of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Miles Davis tune was from a bootleg series but was perfect in audio quality and playing and the Arthur Blythe tune was another unpredictable but exciting example of his work.

Not so the Robert Glasper featuring Erykah Badu, to me the one disappointment from the selection. I may not be alone here, I love his playing with other bands e.g. Otis Brown III, but sometimes with his own band I am not so sure. On the occasion I saw him live the event started very late and the constant use of the vocoder did little to inspire.

The saxophonist Donny McCaslin, however, leads a tough, left-field New York band with bassist Tim Lefebvre, drummer Mark Guilliana and keyboardist Jason Lindner.

  1. Jack deJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison – Alabama from In Movement
  2. Sarathy Korwar – Bhajan from Day By Day
  3. Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra + EST – From Gagarin’s Point Of View from EST Symphony
  4. Miles Davis – Footprints (Master Take) from The Bootleg Series Vol 5
  5. Arthur Blythe – Contemplation from Blythe Spirit
  6. Robert Glasper feat. Erykah Badu – Mayisha (So Long) – from Everything’s Beautiful
  7. Donny McCaslin – Warszawa from Beyond Now
  8. Jack deJohnette, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison – Serpentine Fire from In Movement


21 December 2016: best of 2016 part 1

It’s that time of year again when we check out the best of what we’ve heard here at Cosmic Jazz over the last twelve months. This has been another great year for jazz – clearly following up the impact of Kamasi Washington’s 2015 The Epic. I’ve lost count of the number of recent Twitter features that promote the strength of this new relationship between contemporary jazz and a hip hop sensibility. Much of this began with saxophonist Terrace Martin’s appearance on 2015’s jazz-inflected Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Donny McCaslin’s contribution to David Bowie’s BlackStar. Of course, this has happened before but that shouldn’t stop us using this resurgence to promote new jazz.

So here we are with the first round of our Best of 2016 – but we actually began with a reissue from our label of the year, Strut. After two excellent Sun Ra anthologies in previous years (one curated by Gilles Peterson), Strut excelled themselves with The Singles, a 3CD chronological collection of – yes – all of the singles released by Sun Ra and related groups. Sun Ra released numerous 45 RPM singles over his long career, and this is a definitive collection of the singles released by Sun Ra across his illustrious career from 1952 to 1991. As with his LPs, most 45s were only pressed in small runs and have since become extremely rare and sought after. Some have only been discovered in physical form in recent years; some were planned and penciled but allegedly never made it to vinyl and some appeared as one-off magazine singles and posthumous releases. We selected the earliest track of all, Ra’s first recording of his spoken word track I Am an Instrument, followed by the seasonal It’s Christmas Time before diving into more Strut goodness from the resurrected Pyramids and their excellent album We All Be Africans.

New British jazz came from new duo Yussef Kamal followed by Bill Laurance, keyboard player with Snarky Puppy who came featured later in the show. More British jazz followed – first, from trumpeter Laura Jurd and her new group Dinosaur and then piano trio GoGo Penguin, now signed to Blue Note. We had more trio action from Brad Mehldau with his superb take on Lennon/McCartney’s And I Love Her followed by a track from German guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel’s excellent ECM release Rising Grace.

We ended the show with Jazzwise’s magazine’s choice of best new release of 2016 – a track from the excellent Tim Garland album One. We missed this album on its arrival in May, but Garland’s band should have alerted us to what was in store. Garland is Wayne Shorter-like in a number of ways: he’s an elegant composer as well as having a unique and different voice on both tenor and soprano saxophones. One sees him in the company of Jason Rebello on keys, Ant Law on guitar and  Asaf Sirkis on drums with percussion from Egyptian Hossam Ramzy on three tracks.

  1. Sun Ra – I Am an Instrument from The Singles 1952-91
  2. The Qualities – It’s Christmas Time from The Singles 1952-91
  3. Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids – Rhapsody in Berlin from We All Be Africans
  4. Yussef Kamal – Black Focus from Black Focus
  5. Bill Laurance – SOTI from Aftersun
  6. Dinosaur – Living, Breathing from Dinosaur
  7. Snarky Puppy – Tarova from Culcha Vulcha
  8. Go Go Penguin – Weird Cat from Man Made Object
  9. Brad Mehldau – And I Love Her from Blues and Ballads
  10. Wolfgang Muthspiel – Wolfgang’s Waltz from Rising Grace
  11. Tim Garland – Colours of Night from One

14 December 2016: eastern European spiritual jazz

The music this week has a religious quality and a calm intensity that allows for reflection, contemplation and even melancholy. Over half of the music came from Eastern Europe and is readily available through Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

monte-alban-adam-pieronczykThe first tune came from the distinguished veteran Polish sax player Adam Pieronczyk. It comes from his 2016 album Monte Alban recorded in Mexico and including a Mexican drummer. There’s a highly distinctive and unusual sound – electronic devices processing the sound of the bass add layers and give an electro-jazz feel. It is gripping, original and a must for free jazz thinkers.

the-beat-freaks-leonWe like to re-visit music on Cosmic Jazz – giving you an opportunity to make an informed evaluation of a new album. For the second week in a row there was a tune from Leon the new Beat Freaks album. They are led by Polish sax player Tomasz Licak who moved from Poland to Copenhagen to study music and remains based there. Again it is distinctive, contemporary, more electro-jazz even.

Valer Miker is a pianist from Slovakia with a trio of drums and bass sometimes augmented by guitar and an album with the interesting title Vibrations, States, Emotions.

Another Polish musician, bass player Pawel Wszolek from Krakow leads a quintet with an album that has a strong religious feel. Indeed, look no further than the title of the album Faith for evidence of this, but the music definitely has religious intensity. Last week we had Psalm 27, this week Powrot Syna. 

There was no let-up from this intensity with a beautiful tune from Gustavsen, Tander and Vespestad from their 2016 album What Was Said. I saw them perform this year in the excellent acoustics of The Apex at Bury St. Edmunds. Very beautiful the music is too, although possibly too precious for some. The minimalist live set could have been longer but you left the show feeling enriched.

The Wajciech Majewski Quintet encapsulates the lyricism and melancholy to be found in so much of Polish jazz and the title of the album Remembrance fits perfectly with the themes of the music in the rest of the show.

Finally, as a tribute to the late Don Rendell who through the Rendell/Carr Quintet first got me into live jazz we featured the classic Dusk Fire, an eternal Cosmic Jazz favourite that epitomises in feel, sound and impact everything this week’s programme of moving music for the heart, mind and soul is all about.

  1. Adam Pieronczyk – The Arrival from Monte Alban
  2. The Beat Freaks –  Bright Eyes from Leon
  3. Valer Miker Trio – From Sunrise to Sunset from Vibrations, States, Emotions
  4. Pawel Wsolek Quintet – Powrot Syna from Faith
  5. Gustavsen, Tander & Vespestad – What Was Said to the Rose/O Sacred Head from What Was Said
  6. Wajciech Majewski Quintet – Zamyslenie from Remembrance
  7. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Dusk Fire from Dusk Fire

07 December 2016: modal and more

This week’s show was another mainly calm one, although eagle eared listeners may detect some unplanned sound clashes due to technical glitches. Click the MixCloud tab for some surprises! At the heart of the show this week were two modal pieces – one French, one British.

Cecile McLorin Salvant opened the show and provided continuity from last week’s theme. Not only does she have a superb vocal delivery but on this record is backed by one of the toughest and together rhythm sections going. They must be amazing as a unit when playing live.









It’s the time of year when we at CJ look back and reflect on what we’ve have seen and heard. Live performance of the year for me came from Norwegian percussionist Thomas Stronin, performing with an Anglo-Norwegian line-up at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival in May. Intense, gripping and innovative in its approach and execution, we left feeling uplifted and inspired. In recognition, I played the title tune of the related album.

The spiritual vibe continued with some new music available from Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Pawel Wszolek is a Polish bass player leading his quintet. The title of both his album (Faith) and the tune we featured (Psalm 27) give a clear hint of spiritual leanings and the music does not disappoint. Also from Poland is Tomasz Licak – a saxophonist who moved to Denmark at the age of 19 and – like other Polish musicians before him – gained inspiration from Scandinavian jazz. His band The Beat Freaks have a hypnotic, captivating sound.



Matthew Halsall has not appeared on Cosmic Jazz for some time and with the mood and direction of the programme it seemed cap-de-bon-esperanceappropriate to revisit his becalming, modal music. Florian Pelissier is another modalist  and his reflections on a contemporary lifestyle, or maybe the eternal jazz fan (?) via his tune The Hipster reminded me I need to play from Cap de Bon Esperance, his excellent release from earlier this year.

British label BGO have released four long out of print Arthur Blythe records released on one highly recommended 2CD set and we featured one of the standout tracks from the first of these excellent albums. The programme ended with a raucous blast courtesy of the late Gato Barbieri on his (mostly) live album release from Impulse! – Chapter Two: Hasta Siempre.

  1. Cecile McLorin Salvant – Something’s Coming from For One to Love
  2. Thomas Stronen – Time is a Blind Guide from Time is a Blind Guide
  3. Pawel Wsolek Quintet – Psalm 27 from Faith
  4. Arthur Blythe – Down San Diego Way from Lenox Avenue Breakdown
  5. Florian Pelissier Quintet – The Hipster from Cap de Bon Esperance
  6. Matthew Halsall – When the World Was One from When the World Was One
  7. The Beat Freaks – Oriented from Leon
  8. Gato Barbieri – Para Nosotros from Chapter Two: Hasta Siempre

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio