Playlist – 1 July 2015: featuring Kamasi Washington

the epic4This week’s show featured the young saxophonist Kamasi Washington who Neil has already played on the show. His 3-CD record The Epic is one of our favourite records of 2015 and for around £13 is a bargain, especially with no postage at your local independent record shop, (mine is Soundclash in Norwich; see our link).

Kamasi Washington leads a big band with, at times, singers and  a choir as well as several musicians all from Los Angeles, many of whom have known each other for a long time. They state that they:  Want to make jazz new, unexpected and mysterious again. The rapper Common said: These guys remind me why I listen to music and Flying Lotus, although related to the Coltrane family, said I don’t want to hear ‘My Favourite Things… What I hear is a leader among artists referring to Kamasi Washington. The two tunes played on this week’s show Askim and Re-Run Home are long, intense, spiritual and uplifting.

I am sure the quote above from Flying Lotus was not intended as a slight to John Coltrane  and Cosmic Jazz this week showed where we stand by opening with Seraphic Light from Stellar Regions. This is music from Coltrane’s late period, discovered only afterhis death,  with Alice Coltrane on piano, Paul Chambers on Bass and Rashied Ali on drums. Free, heavy, intensely spiritual and moving jazz.

There was more jazz available at stevesjazzsounds.co.uk this time from Sweden. Veteran saxophonist Nisse Sandstrom, with a quintet featuring young Swedish musicians, played a calypso-inspired tune to make the hips sway, or perhaps wine as they would say in the Caribbean. Shades of Sonny Rollins to be heard here. Also from Sweden came REQ, another young group, this time a quartet,  led by bass player Robert Erlandsson.

Finally, to show that Kamasi Washington is not the only  young Black American leader of a jazz big band that we have featured recently on Cosmic Jazz, there was another play for Samuel Prather and his Groove Orchestra. They, however, are from Washington, a long, long way from LA.

  1. John Coltrane – Seraphic Light  from Stellar Regions
  2. Kamasi Washington – Askim from The Epic
  3. Kamasi Washington – Re-Run Home from The Epic
  4. Nisse Sandstrom Quintet – Calypso Bulbosa from Live at Crescendo
  5. REQ – News from News
  6. Samuel Prather – Fela Snarky from Groove Orchestra

 

 

 

Playlist – 24 June 2015: music for mind, body and spirit

There had to be music from Ornette Coleman this week. The two tunes played were both recorded in 1959, a year in which he helped to create a jazz revolution. Ramblin’ (featuring ‘that’ bass coda from Charlie Haden) was not released until 1960. There is no need to add more about Ornette – just read the excellent post from Neil below this playlist here on the Cosmic Jazz site. There is, however, an amazing YouTube clip below of Ornette playing Dancing In Your Head on saxophone, violin and trumpet with his band Prime Time.

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There was more fine East European jazz available from Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Slovakian pianist Pavel Morochovic has produced a strong, at times quirky and highly recommended album The Awakening. The spoken word at the end of Vicious Circle, the tune I played, comes as quite a surprise but a fascinating one. Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, accompanied on his current album Polin by Ravi Coltrane, should require no introduction to Cosmic Jazz listeners. RGG are a little different. A chamber jazz trio with each member having equal status, according to their record label they play music “dedicated to the recipient of the active intellect” and listening to their music requires you to “dedicate your full attention”. I can see what they mean – but judge for yourself.

We are still playing tunes from the Charles Lloyd Blue Note album Wild Man Dance. Charles Lloyd is one of the artists who is always appearing on our playlists. I find with all his music that even if the first notes don’t grab your attention you will soon find yourself being drawn in through mind, body and soul.

Towards the end of the show things got more up-tempo, beginning with one of the better tunes on the Spiritual Jazz 6 compilation from Byron Morris. There was a nod to the jazz dance floor from the Japanese band United Future Organisation and the show ended with some strong words and emotions from Carmen Lundy – another ever-present on Cosmic Jazz. If you do not know her work, you need to check it out.

  1. Pavel Morochovic Trio – Vicious Circle from Awakening
  2. Ornette Coleman – Congeniality from The Shape of Jazz to Come
  3. Ornette Coleman – Ramblin’ from Change of the Century
  4. Charles Lloyd – Lark from Wild Man Dance
  5. RGG – Crucem Tuam from Aura
  6. Tomasz Stanko (feat. Ravi Coltrane) Gela from Polin
  7. Byron Morris and Unity – Sunshower from Spiritual Jazz 6
  8. UFO – Loud Minority from Jazzin’ 91-92
  9. Carmen Lundy – Kindred Spirits from Soul to Soul

Ornette Coleman 1930-2015: an appreciation

Ornette ColemanFrom onetime elevator operator to 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner is – by any stretch of the imagination – a big leap. But alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, who died last week aged 85, was making big leaps right from the start. His radical approach to jazz sounded innovative in 1959 and that pitch-blurred squalling still sounds unique now. Many great horn players in jazz have a signature sound, but it’s pretty safe to say that no one sounded like Ornette – and over the last 55 years no one ever has.

Coleman was an iconoclast right to the end of his life. In 2009, he
curated the South Bank Meltdown Festival and was received rapturously by the audience who enjoyed his unique alto sax sound in harmolodic invention with post-punk singer Patti Smith, Senegalese griot Baaba Maal, jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and a Moroccan drum choir. It was a typical Coleman kind of mix and the sort of musical genre mashup that had characterised his remarkable musical journey. I was lucky enough that summer to meet him in a chance encounter with his son Denardo in their London hotel. I could only shake his hand and mumble how much I admired his music and vision – but it was a memory I’ll cherish.

For many jazz fans (and musicians) Coleman’s signature sound is still too spiky, too untutored and just too ‘out there’ to be acceptable. It seems to have been pretty much like this from the start. Coleman was born in Fort Worth, Texas – something of a musical centre for several key jazz artists including Julius Hemphill, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Dewey Redman and Charles Moffett. Most would share a stage with the alto (and sometime tenor, trumpet and violin) player in later years.
Ornette Coleman - Change of the CenturyHis early years were characterised by rejection – he was thrown out of his high school band for improvising, beaten up (and his tenor saxophone destroyed) on his first tour with a rhythm and blues band and isolated in his New York apartment in the early 1960s. The early adoption of an unconventional white plastic sax only irritated further the many critics of his sound but, surprisingly, Atlantic Records had enough faith in his singular talent to sign him for a multi-record deal, resulting in the appropriately named The Shape of Jazz to Come album in 1959.

Coleman went on to plough his singular musical furrow – whether in conventional jazz trio and quartet form, with a full symphony orchestra, incorporating traditional musicians from China or with ornette coleman - live at the golden circlehis electric (and eclectic) free funk group Prime Time – until his death this month. However, as critic John Fordham noted, he remained one of the greatest geniuses of a simple song, the song of the blues. Coleman stripped down and simplified the conventional harmonic framework of jazz, remoulding the raw materials of improvisation and casting off the formal and technical bonds of the bebop style dominating jazz during his childhood. But his saxophone sound was steeped in the slurred notes and rough-hewn intonation of 19th-century singers and saloon-front guitarists at work before jazz was even born. His affecting tone swelled with the eloquence of the human voice.

Ornette Coleman Complete Science Fiction-Sessions-L074646356920There isn’t a better way of understanding the core of Coleman’s sound than this, but really the only way to appreciate Coleman is – of course – to listen to his music. There are some obvious places to start for the untutored listener. I’d recommend Ramblin’, from the 1960 album Change of the Century if only because of Charlie Haden’s sublime bass coda which would later be pinched by Ian Dury to form the backbone of Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll. Add to this the clarity of vision of his Live at the Golden Circle trio (try the opener from Volume 1, Spaces and Places) and then go to the amazing Complete Science Fiction album and choose the opening track What Reason Could I Give? with Indian vocalist Asha Puthli. To end this avant garde feast, dive into the free funk world of Coleman’s Prime Time band and swim around Ornette Coleman - Virgin Beautyin the harmolodic freedom of Singing in the Shower from the album Virgin Beauty where he’s joined by Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. The last track also has an electric bass line that in places owes something to where your journey began with Charlie Haden’s playing on Ramblin’… And that word ‘harmolodic’? Coleman invented it because he needed something that would symbolise the equal importance of harmony, melody and rhythm. Of course. It seems a good place to end.

[With grateful thanks to John Fordham’s excellent obituary – the Guardian 12 June 2015]

Playlist – 10 June 2015: featuring Joyce Moreno

I think I said What a voice! on the show as the last of three tunes from Joyce Moreno’s new album Raiz came to an end. To many lovers of Brazilian music, Joyce is someone special. She started out in the 1960s and has been going strong ever since. I remember going into central London to pay good money for the 1980 vinyl import Feminina and the record has remained a firm favourite ever since. British-based label Far Out has just released her latest album Raiz which is dedicated  to her musical roots and features her interpretations of classic Brazilian tunes. Her husband Tutty Moreno is on drums, there is some fine piano work from Helio Alves, but, above all, you cannot miss that voice….

Here she is with a simply (literally) stunning version of Aguas da Marco (Waters of March). Tutty Moreno is on drums here too.

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Also on the show this week was more Eastern European jazz, available at: stevesjazzsounds.co.uk This comprised  a touch of paradise from Slovakian pianist Pavel Morochovic and his trio on an original  album entitled Awakening ; a tune by Polish quartet  HoTS from Harmony of the Spheres (a title that reminded me of Sun Ra) and Polish quartet Next Generation – check out the trumpet work from Gabriel Sunday.

The Next Generation CD called Live at Jazz Odra also which prompted  a tune from Charles Lloyd’s new live album on Blue Note. Wild Man Dance is a suite recorded live at the Jazz Odra festival – we featured the lengthy opening tune Flying Over the Odra Valley that we have already played on Cosmic Jazz.

Check this all music out via our MixCloud tab and listen out for more varied jazz next week.

  1. HoTS – Marie El from Harmony of the Spheres
  2. Sun Ra – Sunology from A Space Odyssey CD 2 Lift Off
  3. Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance from Wild Man Dance
  4. Next Generation – Diversity of Opinions from Live at Jazz Odra
  5. Joyce Moreno – Desafinado/Aquarelado Brasil from Raiz
  6. Joyce Moreno – Tamba from Raiz
  7. Joyce Moreno – Ceu E Mar from Raiz
  8. Pavel Morochovik Trio – Renaissance III – Paradise from Awakening

 

Playlist – 03 June 2015: a jazz party

Jazz is usually performed to a seated audience, not as music to dance to. Yet, such practice ignores much of the earlier history of jazzkuroda and what jazz can still offer today.

The programme this week offers danceable jazz , so click the MixCloud tab and party.

Some of the selections such as that from Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, the Shez Raja Collective or Kenny Garrett were recorded recently. The Middlewood Session from Sheffield and Gregory Porter were recorded just a few years back, while Milton Banana & Tenorio Jr. started the show with classic Brazilian jazz tunes. There are other classic jazz tunes too.

Listen and groove to the bass lines of Shez Raja and in the opening of Shout It Out from Patrice Rushen. Taste Caribbean Carnival sounds with Kenny Garrett; get the feeling of a jazzy big band with Middlewood sessions and the Hi-Fly Orchestra; sway to the lilting Brazilian rhythms of Milton Banana; soak in the conscious soul-jazz of Gregory Porter and hear the pounding beat of Kamal Abdul Alim.

Jazz dance is worldwide. The ten tunes in this show included musicians from Brazil, the UK, Japan, the USA, Israel, South Africa and Germany. So, follow the movement; play, move and enjoy!

  1. Milton Banana – Ladeira da Preguice from Blue Brazil 2
  2. Tenorio Jr – Consolacao from Bossa Jazz CD2
  3. Grupo Batuque – Ida E Volta from Brazilian Love Affair 5
  4. Middlewood Sessions – Fall Back from The Middlewood Sessions
  5. Takuya Kuroda – Afro Blues from Rising Son
  6. Kenny Garrett – J’Ouvert (Homage to Sonny Rollins) from Pushing the World Away
  7. Patrice Rushen - Shout It Out  from BGP Presents Jazz Funk
  8. Shez Raja Collective feat. Gilad Atzman – Quiverwish from Soho Live
  9. African Jazz Pioneers – Yeka Yeka from African Jazz Pioneers
  10. The Hi-Fly Orchestra – Fi-Fly Stomp from Music for Jazz Dancers
  11. Kamal Abdul Alim – Brotherhood from Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection
  12. Gregory Porter – 1960 What? from Water

 

Playlist – 27 May 2015: Neil’s selection

This week’s CJ featured a remarkable new release – the appropriately titled The Epic from saxophonist Kamasi Washington. This is a triple CD set with almost three hours of music featuring a 20 strong choir, a 32 piece orchestra and Washington’s own 10 piece group. We started the show the opening track on CD1 (Change of the Guard) and ended the show with the closing track on CD3 (The Message).

the epic4Washington has most recently played with Kendrick Lamar on his excellent hip hop release To Pimp a Butterfly and Flying Lotus on his You’re Dead! album from last year – but you wouldn’t know it from The Epic.  There’s no hip-hop or out-there electronics here. This triple album set references soul jazz, John Coltrane (various periods), and 1970s fusion leaders like Miles Davis and Weather Report. The Epic’s  Disc 1 opener Change of the Guard begins with piano chords that sound almost entirely lifted from the playbook of McCoy Tyner and the opening theme is pure post-Impressions Coltrane. The string section element reminds us of Alice Coltrane and Washington’s tenor sax solo at the end of the track has more than a little Pharoah Sanders in its screeches and wails. As you might guess, this new release comes highly recommended.

After his widely-praised Trio Libero project with Michel Benita and Seb Rochford, Andy Sheppard has now  added Eivind Aarset to his group. He made significant contributions to Sheppard’s 2008 Movements in Colour release – an album I come back to frequently. With Aarset’s ambient drones and electronic textures as a backdrop, Sheppard seems to have even more space to explore. We played the opening track Tipping Point.

the chefI enjoyed the Jon Favreau feel good film The Chef recently and loved the soundtrack. It features a hand picked selection of latin, rare groove, tex-mex and New Orleans brass bands – all chosen expertly by music consultant Mathieu Schreyer. We featured one of my favourites from Brit Will Holland (aka Quantic) before a long excursion into one of the many classic jazz releases from that iconic jazz year of 1959. This is an essential release in any comprehensive jazz collection – drummer Shelly Manne’s group live at the Blackhawk Club in San Francisco . This 5CD set features trumpeter Joe Gordon, tenor saxophonist Richie Kamuca, pianist Victor Feldman and bassist Monty Budwig and we focused on a lengthy version of Poinciana.

We followed this with two contemporary vocalists – Lalah Hathaway (guesting on Robert Glasper’s album) and Gregory Porter (also guesting here with the soul-jazz group Ebonics). Finally – and before returning to Kamasi Washington – we featured the new releases from two giants of the contemporary jazz piano scene. The first was
Break_StuffKeith Jarrett, here playing  a solo track from his new release Creation. I’m disappointed by this release, despite all the praise it has gathered in the popular press. The tracks have nowhere near the lyrical improvisation of the classic Bremen/Lausanne or the dark depths of the Carnegie Hall concert. Thankfully, we moved quickly on to another outstanding new piano trio collection from New York pianist Vijay Iyer. CJ featured Iyer’s tribute to Detroit house pioneer Robert Hood.

We ended with another blast from Kamasi Washington – the closing track from his mammoth debut The Epic. You can see more of Washington’s longtime group in performance in this extract from an NPR Jazz Night in America concert.

  1. Kamasi Washington – Change of the Guard from The Epic
  2. Andy Sheppard – Tipping Point from Surrounded by Sea
  3. Quantic and Nicodemus – Mi Swing es Tropical from The Best of Quantic
  4. Shelly Manne and his Men – Poinciana from The Complete Live at the Blackhawk
  5. Robert Glasper – Jesus Children from Black Radio 2
  6. Gregory Porter – Issues of Life from Issues of LIfe
  7. Keith Jarrett – Part 1, Toronto from Creation
  8. Vijay Iyer Trio – Hood from Break Stuff
  9. Kamasi Washington – The Message from The Epic

 

Playlist – 20 May 2015: the world of jazz

Click the MixCloud button this week to catch some great tunes from the past, some contemporary Polish jazz, a trip to Brazil via Japan and the latest from Charles Lloyd.

The Pharaohs is one of the tunes that came up on my iPod this week which prompted selection for the show. It is one of those great up-tempo vocal tunes that cross over from soul to jazz and back again with a touch of gospel along the way.  Another classic piece came from Jimmy Heath who got a full airing this week after being cut short because of time in the last show.

Contemporary Polish jazz came from drummer Piotr Budniak and his Essential Group whose album provides ‘simple stories about hope and worries’, Serious philosophical stuff and great music too! There was also a tune from pianist Prezmek Raminiak and the jazz fusion ensemble Moon Hoax.

Brazil was represented by Milton Nascimento and a tune he wrote Cravo e Canelo (cloves and cinnamon). There are some other excellent interpretations of this tune including one on the first Friends From Rio  album. A highlight of the show, however, was a Brazilian tune recorded at Sony Japan in 1974 with a Brazilian singer Sonia Rosa and a Japanese bandleader Yuja Ohno. It was available only to those who bought a Sony stereo at the sales fair in Tokyo in 1974. It is a perfect Brazilian dancefloor jazz extended piece that left me wondering why it has taken me so long to  pick up on it.

Finally, another highlight from the latest album by Charles Lloyd who is now signed to Blue Note. It is a live recording from the Jazztopad Festival Wroclaw Poland. This week’s YouTube clip is of Wild Man Dance, the title tune of this album.

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  1. The Pharaohs – FreedomTime  from Freedom Rhythm and Sound
  2. Jimmy Heath – Hands Up! Feet Down! from The Gap Sealer
  3. Przemek Raminiak – The Locomotive from The Locomotive
  4. Piotr Budniak Essential Group – Wyplata Po Terminie from Simple Stories about Hope and Worries
  5. Moon Hoax – Moon Hoax from Moon Hoax
  6. Milton Nascimento – Cravo e Canela from Milton
  7. Sonia Rosa and Yuja Ohno – Casa Forte from Brazilian Beats 4
  8. Charles Lloyd – Flying Over the Odra Valley from Wild Man Dance

Playlist – 13 May 2015

Click the MixCloud button this week to hear more Polish jazz, more recently released treasures from the past and a touch of uptempo soul jazz.

The first piece of Polish jazz has a strong Yorkshire connection. Krsysztof Yrbanski now lives in Yorkshire and plays with British musicians. The music is great and listen to the interplay on this tune between Krsysztof on sax and Sam Gardner on drums.

As far as I know Agnieska Derlak does live in Poland. She is a gifted pianist and gives her name, towards the Aga Derlak Trio of which she is a member. Check her here on YouTube.

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There was more from Azar Lawrence and his strongly recommended album The Seeker, more from Black Fire, New Spirit – this time from the LA based Creative Arts Ensemble, whose intensity and creativity is representative of so much of the music from the 1970s and early 1980s that is now being unearthed and re-released. I am still unsure about Spiritual Jazz 6 Vocals but the Byron Morris and Unity tune that I played is a good one.

I could not resist going back to Otis Brown III but by the end of the show felt the need for some upbeat soul jazz sounds. Who better to provide this than Lee Morgan and Jimmy Heath with a touch of Brazil in the middle?

  1. Krysztof Urbanski & Urban Jazz Society – History of Tomorrow from History of Tomorrow
  2. Aga Derlak – Troublesome from First Thought
  3. Azar Lawrence – Venus Rising from The Seeker
  4. Byron Morris & Unity – Reunion from Spiritual Jazz 6 Vocals
  5. Otis Brown III feat Bilal – The Thought of You Part III from The Thought of You
  6. Creative Arts Ensemble – Flashback of Time from Black Fire! New Spirit!
  7. Lee Morgan – Afreaka from African Rhythms
  8. Marcos Valle – Aqua de Coco from Brazilian Love Affair Vol 5
  9. Jimmy Heath – Hands Up! Feet Down! from The Gap Sealer

 

Playlist – 06 May 2015

There is much great jazz that I am still catching up with so click the MixCloud tab and listen to sounds old and new which, in the main, are receiving their first outing on Cosmic Jazz.

We have played tracks on compilations from saxophonist Azar Lawrence before, but a live performance in 2011 at the Jazz Standard in New York was released last year on CD. The show opened with the title track from this CD – The Seeker. Very good it is too. Spiritual jazz paying respect to the Colrane legacy but but with its own individual style. Nicholas Payton and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts are among the musicians involved.

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sonzeira_070714Also last year we reported on the Flipside Festival, a celebration of Brazilan music, literature and art held just up the road at the Snape  Maltings, Aldeburgh, Suffolk where Cosmic Jazz is recorded. The great news is that the festival will return over the first weekend of October 2015, this year covering the arts of Latin America and not just Brazil. For more information check here. The line-up for this year has not been announced but the news gave me an excuse to play something from the Sonzeira Brasil Bam Bam Bam album that Gilles Peterson featured in his DJ set at last year’s festival. I played the classic tune Aqualero do Brasil (Watercolour of Brazil) featuring the vocals of Brazilian legend Elsa Soares, but I also followed it with a club version of the same tune – this time entitled Brazil Brazil from the German duo mo’horizons. Here Leila Pantel provided vocals that seemed to provide the perfect advertisement for the country.

There is a new Spiritual Jazz compilation out. The series is now up to Volume 6 and this time features vocals. To be honest, I am a little disappointed. I am used to finding gems from artists I have never heard of but many Cosmic Jazz listeners/devotees will be familiar with John Coltrane, the tune from the Clifford Jordan Quartet we played this week. I should say the tune is wonderful as was much of the output from the label Strata East on which it was originally recorded. The same accusation of familiarity would apply to Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite and how many more times do I need to find Prince of Peace by Pharaoh Sanders on a compilation? I may not be fulfilling my Cosmic Jazz credentials but I have to say I find the tune to be an over long dreary dirge. Oh dear! I have probably upset regular readers of this blog – please respond with comments below.

I am still making my way through the inspiring and uplifting Black Fire! New Spirits! Radical and Revolutionary Jazz In The USA 1957 – 82 compilation. This week I featured Black Narcissus from Joe Henderson, an old favourite of the programme.

At the weekend I saw Seb Roachford showcase his subtle and enticing drum patterns playing with Andy Sheppard’s new band. He is playing with one of his other bands Polar Bear at Norwich Arts Centre on Sunday 10 March which prompted the next selection on the show.

We ended up by returning to more sounds available from stevesjazzsounds.co.uk. Firstly there was Krstsztof Urbanski and Urban Jazz Society led by a Polish saxophonist now resident in Yorkshire and playing with British musicians, hence what may seem the surprising title of the tune. There was also more from the drum, double bass and vibraphone trio of the Oles Brothers and Christopher Dell and – finally – a touch of Jussi Eriksson, the ubiquitous player on last week’s show.

  1. Azar Lawrence – The Seeker from The Seeker
  2. Sonzeira feat Elsa Soares – Aquarela do Brasil from Brasil Bam Bam Bam
  3. mo’horizons – Brazil from Come Touch The Sun
  4. Clifford Jordan Quartet – John Coltrane from Spiritual Jazz 6 Vocals
  5. Joe Henderson – Black Narcissus from Power To The People/Black Fire! New Spirits!
  6. Polar Bear – King Of Aberdeen from Held On The Tips Of Fingers
  7. Krztsztof Urbanski and Urban Jazz Society – Yorkshire Tales Chapter III from History Of Tomorrow
  8. Oles Brothers and Christopher Dell – Moja Ballada from Komeda Ahead
  9. Jussi Eriksson – Hesitation from Jazz Wars 2 Part II

 

Playlist – 29 April 2015: Jazz from Poland and Finland

Click the MixCloud tab this week and listen to great music by artists that may not be household names even to many jazz fans reading this blog. The show features jazz from Poland and Finland – all available at stevesjazzsounds.co.uk.  The quality of the music you’ll hear proves what we have long said on Cosmic Jazz – we need to look beyond music from the USA and the UK because there is so much exciting music out there.

But this week’s CJ  began with an acknowledgement to two bands that represent the new wave of young or youngish British jazz musicians that I have seen recently. Firstly, at Sheffield Jazz I saw Kairos 4 Tet, a band led by quirky and interesting saxophonist Adam Waldeman, supported by the  hard, driving drums of Jon Scott. Their album Everything We Hold from which the tune The 99 Pt 2 was taken on the show also features Phronesis members Ivo Neame on piano and Jasper Hoiby on bass. They were not there in Sheffield but there were excellent replacements.

This week I saw live for the first time the band Mammal Hands. We’ve featured the band before on CJ and if you get a chance to see them take this opportunity. How wonderful it is to go to a local jazz club, in this case The Fludyers Arms in Felixstowe, to watch young musicians play with energy and inventiveness original music that still acknowledges many influences, including the sounds of North Africa and India. Mammal Hands have an unusual line-up of drums, sax and keyboards and they play hard and tough. You can see them at The Lescar in Sheffield on 13 May, at Norwich Arts Centre on 15 May or Mugdock Country Park in Glasgow on 7 and 8 August.

The rest of the show comprised jazz either from Poland or Finland – music I loved and which was wide-ranging in sound and texture.

I began with another trio with an unusual combination of instruments. The Oles Brothers and Christopher Dell use double bass, drums and vibraphone to produce a sound that is reflective, peaceful and satisfying and at times reminded me of the sound produced by the oud, a Middle Eastern lute. Litania, the tune I selected is a good representation of the album Komeda Aheadclearly a tribute to the great Polish jazz composer Krzysztof Komeda, the great Polish film music composer and jazz pianist who was the creator of a specific European aesthetic in jazz.

By contrast, trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik and Old Land, the title tune from his album, was a  big, bold and full sound – totally uplifting as you will see from the video below. The album is highly recommended. It has a soul jazz feel to it, reminiscent of 1970s spiritual jazz – rather like the recently reissued Carlos Garnett.  Piotr Wotasik is a musician and teacher in Poland, who in 2008 won the Fredryk Award, which is the county’s most important musical award. He has played with a number of musicians from outside Poland including Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman and Reggie Workman.

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The rest of the show could almost be described as the Jussi Fredriksson spectacle. Perhaps this is unfair to the other musicians, but the Finnish mainly piano/Rhodes/keyboard player but sometime drummer featured in all the remaining tunes. Born In Turku, resident in Helsinki and active in the musical life of both cities, he plays a leading part in the Finnish jazz scene, playing with and encouraging  many musicians in a range of jazz styles. He is both a leader, as on the Jazz Wars album and in the  Koko Jazz Orchestra, in this case with drummer Jussi Lehtonen or a member of the band as with Aura Flow, where he plays drums and with the excellent jazz-funk band Nassaun Fassani, who provided an up-tempo and rousing end to the show. The video below features his band on Jazz Wars.

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  1.  Mammal Hands – Mansions of Millions of Years from Animalia
  2. Kairos 4 Tet – The 99 Pt2 from Everything We Hold
  3. Oles Brothers and Christopher Dell – Litania from Komeda Ahead
  4. Piotr Wojtasik – Old Land from Old Land
  5. Jussi Fredriksson – Jazz Wars II Part 4 – Freedom from Jazz Wars
  6. Aura Flow – House the Beach from You’ll Hear From Me
  7. Koko Jazz Orchestra – The Opening from Presenting the Music of Jussi Lehtonen and Jussi Fredriksson
  8. Nasssaun Fassani – The Return of Fassani Nassau from The Return

 

 

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