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:

  1. Black Renaissance – Black Renaissance
  2. Bobby  Hutcherson /Harold Land Quintet – The Creators
  3. Sweet Talks – Nawa To Be Husband
  4. Sun Ra – Space Is The Place
  5. Miles Davis – Mademoiselle Mabry (Miss Mabry)

Neil is listening to:

Miles Ahead – a film by Don Cheadle

Miles Davis is the jazz superstar. It’s remarkable that there’s never been a biopic before. But wait – this very definitelyMiles is always cool isn’t a biopic. Director and lead Don Cheadle has been very clear about that from the start. Anyone coming to this film and expecting a cool-fest of decorative advertising images with A Kind of Blue soundtrack will be very disappointed.

Miles Ahead ploughs a very different furrow. It’s said that ten years ago Miles’ nephew Vince Wilburn told Don Cheadle that only he could play Davis in any film of his life, and now – thanks to crowdfunding through Indiegogo – it’s happened. Cheadle has said I want to tell a story that Miles himself would have wanted to see, something hip, cool, alive and AHEAD. 

don cheadle as miles 02So – does the film deliver? In some ways, yes it does. This is Cheadle’s directorial debut and it’s a visually arresting one. He’s taken what Ian Carr in his excellent biography calls ‘the Silent Years’, when Davis was holed up in his Queens apartment unable to play. When Cheadle flashes back to earlier periods (for example, the recording of Sketches of Spain with Gil Evans or Miles’ fascination with boxing and black world champion Jack Johnson) we’re gripped by the authenticity.  Cheadle creates a completely believable Miles – angry, frustrated, washed up and ready to quit music.

miles davis jack johnsonAnd the music! There’s no reliance on hackneyed ersatz coolness: instead Cheadle confidently lets the film buzz with the best of Davis’ music from the 1970s and 1980s. We get to hear Back Seat Betty, Go Ahead, John (which turns out to be perfect car chase music) and Prelude from Agharta. This is adventurous stuff, and as a result the film throbs with a visceral tension that’s delivered by the pacey direction and this powerful score.

So what’s wrong? Cheadle has admitted that the only reason the film was fully financed was because he agreed to have a white co-star. Enter the MacGuffin that is Ewan McGregor as Dave Braden, Rolling Stone reporter – and the stolen tapes of a Davis studio session. Enter Starsky and Hutch car chases, Miles firing shots at his Coludon cheadle as miles 03mbia record boss and night club police beatings. No – hang on, that last one really did happen. And here’s another problem: there’s so much in this eventful life that could have been the basis of a much more credible plot. With this, and Cheadle’s startingly original direction and central performance, the result would have been a five star film. As it is, go and see this Miles Ahead. You may be disappointed, but you’ll come away with a wholly believable snapshot of the most important musician of the 20th century.

26 April 2016: from Poland to the DRC; from Martinique to Sheffield…

Click the tab or follow the guide on this page so you can listen to a global traveller edition of Cosmic Jazz.

jonas kullhammarThe show began by dipping into some of the treasures available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds, a specialist source of music from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, with more besides. One of Sweden’s top jazz musicians, saxophonist Jonas Kulhammer, opened the show followed by an overdue return visit to Poland via a first Cosmic Jazz play for pianist Slavek Jaskalke. His flowing keyboard sounds have been heard at venues from New York to Berlin to Moscow and, of course, Poland. He has also played with Cosmic Jazz favourites David Murray and Urszula Dudziak. Staying in Poland, this segment of the show ended with another tune from the wonderfully named Confusion Project.

The Confusion Project selection reminded me of a tune from Kenny Garrett’s Seeds from the Underground albumI did not play that particular track, but it helped to inspire a choice from Garrett. So too did the impending arrival of his new album, together with the link via a shared drummer to the much-loved Kamasi Washington. In addition, we’ve been talking about the praise heaped on Kenny Garrett by his late boss Miles Davis (of whom we have heard much lately) and finally – and above all – because I love the music of Kenny Garrett. I chose the title track of his last album Pushing the World Away.

papa wembaI could not let the show pass by without a tribute to the late Congolese maestro Papa Wemba. His high, soaring and sweetly inflected vocals just touch and move me whenever I hear them. I chose one of his more Latin-inspired tunes, which  seemed best-fit for the format of the show, but if like me you love Congolese soukous, or even more so if you want to find out what it is all about, try listening to the tunes I have listed below as my listening choices for the week.

From Martinique came Max Cilla an artist who popularised the traditional bamboo flute which is well to the fore on this tune. It’s from the album Koute Jazza wonderful and highly recommended compilation of jazz music from the Antilles, the French-speaking Caribbean islands. Staying with the French connection came Paris-based trumpeter Erik Truffaz, a musician who is always – in the spirit of Miles – moving on and trying something different. Last week we played a tune featuring the Malian singer Rokia Traore – this week it was an instrumental. Next week…

SONY DSC

Finally, I am off to Sheffield shortly and hopeful of catching two jazz shows, one at The Lescar and the other put on by Sheffield Jazz. It seemed fitting to end with musicians that were/are (?) based in Sheffield. Fall Back from Middlewood Sessions is just one of those tunes that never fails to uplift, excite and surprise. It is not strictly a jazz tune, but jazz is in there – check the subtle changes of the vocalist, check the propulsive drumming, check the whole tune and get dancing.

  1. Jonas Kulhammer – The Bear Quartet from Gentlemen Original Motion Picture Jazz Tracks
  2. Slavek Juskulke – On from On
  3. Confusion Project – The Fruit of Change from Confusion Project
  4. Kenny Garrett – Pushing the World Away from Pushing the World Away
  5. Papa Wemba – Epelo from Emotion
  6. Max Cilla – Crepuscule Tropical from Koute Jazz
  7. Erik Truffaz Quartet – Doni Pt. 2 from Doni Doni
  8. Middlewood Sessions – Fall Back (single)

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

 

 

 

20 April 2016: jazz on vinyl

Record Store Day 2016 celebrated the black wax – music on vinyl – and five of the tracks featured on this week’s show are newly available in that format. To listen to it all, just press that arrow to your left. The music is another sign of the vinyl renaissance and, here at CJ Towers, we welcome that. Edition Records phronesis parallaxnow have a fine vinyl catalogue including their new releases like the excellent Phronesis album Parallax and the track Just 4 You with which we began the show. Ed Motta’s new album Perpetual Gateways has been issued on vinyl (as his last excellent recording AOR) and so has the brand new release from Erik Truffaz, from which we featured Djiki’n.

we want miles Shirley Horn was noted for her very slow tempos – and George Gershwin’s wonderful My Man’s Gone Now suits her approach perfectly – especially in this radical reworking of the song. In his excellent book The Last Miles, George Cole describes Horn’s reaction when she first heard the version Davis features on his album We Want Miles (1981): “I went into a little bit of a shock. It was the first time I had heard that drummer Al Foster. He was playing those rhythm patterns. I listened, listened and listened. I got stuck on it. When I shirley horn i remember milesused to do My Man’s Gone Now, I did it really straight with a little ad libbing and maybe a small tempo change. I hadn’t imagined I could do it like on the yellow album and I thought at the time ‘I want to do some of that and I want to do it with Al Foster'”. And she did – Foster plays drums on Shirley Horn’s great tribute album from 1998, I Remember Miles.

Two unusual vocalists followed next. First up was Anna Maria Jopek, a Polish singer whose vocal reworkings of Pat Metheny’s melodic tunes came to his attention. The result – a new recording on which Metheny featured. The band include some excellent Polish musicians like pianist Leszek Modzer and bass player Darek FrontCover.qxp_KoutÈJazzOleszkiewicz. The compilation Koute Jazz (available in all formats) focuses on jazz from the French Antilles and is another imaginative release from the Paris-based label Heavenly Sweetness. It’s not the first time we’ve played music from this island group: the saxophonist David Murray has an excellent album that uses the Gwo Ka rhythms from Antillean island Guadeloupe and Soul Jazz Records has issued a thoroughly researched compilation of Gwo Ka rhythms.

The last album Miles recorded for CBS was You’re Under Arrest miles davis you're under arrestand we played the title track. Originally, Miles wanted Gil Evans to create arrangements for some popular songs, including D-Train’s Something On Your Mind and Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, along with Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time (which was to become a live staple in the last concerts). But during the winter of 1984-85, Davis made an about-face and decided to redo everything in several days. The result was an album of great contrasts: popular songs, a memorable solo by John Scofield on the title track and even the return of guitarist John McLaughlin. It’s worth checking out. Mtume’s album mtume rebirth cycleRebirth Cycle, which features the final track played this week – Yebo – has never appeared on CD, or been reissued on vinyl. An original copy will cost you anything between £25 and £85… It’s worth getting hold of too – if only to hear musicians of the calibre of Buster Williams, Stanley Cowell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Michael Henderson and Al Foster in some fine spiritual jazz.

  1. Phronesis – Just 4 Now from Parallax
  2. Ed Motta – Awunism from Aystelum
  3. Ed Motta – Overblown Overweight from Perpetual Gateways
  4. Erik Truffaz (feat. Rokia Traore) – Djiki’n from Doni Doni
  5. Shirley Horn – My Man’s Gone Now from I Remember Miles
  6. Miles Davis – You’re Under Arrest from You’re Under Arrest
  7. Anna Maria Jopek with Pat Metheny – Mania Mienia from Upojenie
  8. Camille Soprann Hildevert – Sopran aux Antilles from Koute Jazz
  9. Mtume – Yebo from Rebirth Cycle

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

 

16 April 2016: RSD2016

16 April was Record Store Day all round the world and – of course –  Cosmic Jazz joined in the festivities.  We visited two of our local record stores – Soundclash logoSoundclash Records in Norwich and Vinyl Hunter in Bury St Edmunds. Soundclash is one of the city’s oldest record shops: established in 1991, it’s got a great selection of both vinyl and CDs in a wide range of musical genres. Vinyl Hunter maybe new in town but it’s already building a loyal customer base.  Not only is it a specialist vinyl store (with some CDs) but there’s cafe space downstairs too and – thanks to the bakery upstairs there are excellent cakes and coffee. Vinyl vinyl hunter logoHunter also carries a range of quality turntables including Lenco and Rega models – and co-founder Rosie Hunter made clear that selling good quality decks on which to play both new and secondhand vinyl is just part of their comprehensive service for customers.

soundclash record store day 01Those early morning Soundclash queues are testimony to the appeal of Record Store Day and – like the Norwich store – Vinyl Hunter had a busy inaugural RSD2016 with over 60 customers buying in the first hour. Their crate digging approach is going global too – in August the Hunters will be visiting Brazil for the Olympic Games, but Rosie confirmed that there will be time for some vinyl hunting in some of the country’s best record stores!

UK vinyl sales continue to grow year on year with a 64% increase in 2015 sales over the previous year. What looked like a passing fad is clearly now a substantial resurgence. Independent vinyl shops are a viable business proposition – the longevity of Soundclavinyl hunter 01sh and the customer service ethos of Vinyl Hunter are both testimony to this. What HMV (the sole surviving major music retailer) never succeeded in doing was to rebrand themselves as a specialist, niche service – and that’s where two of our local record shops have the edge. Cosmic Jazz salutes both. For more vinyl news, start with The Vinyl Factory or sign up to any of the other great independent record store around the country.  The music choices below celebrate RSD exclusive cuts and more – enjoy!

On Record Store Day Neil listened to: 

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Meanwhile, our Miles Ahead fest continues: Neil has chosen five Miles Davis tracks, each of which featured in Jez Nelson’s Sunday night Somethin’ Else prograjez nelson and don cheadlemme on Jazz FM. Much of this is Miles music that is rarely heard on the radio – and as actor/director Don Cheadle notes in his interview with Nelson, some of these tracks often centre on “meta-Miles” – Davis playing what’s not there. The music built up to the period in Miles’ life that’s at the heart of the movie – his enforced retirement from 1975 that then led to the final comeback years. The interview ended with Cheadle’s choice of Circle, from the album Miles Smiles.

On Somethin’ Else Neil listened to:

13 April 2016: it’s not jazz; it’s social music

kevin le gendre

This week’s CJ was very much influenced by an excellent talk given here in Suffolk by the music writer and critic Kevin Le Gendre. The focus for his presentation was the importance of the musicians behind the vocalist in different genres of black music – whether soul, funk, RnB or rap – and how the democratisation of the black music experience is integral to its sound. It got me thinking – and the result is this week’s music – and a major CJ feature to come.

We began with more from Cannonball Adderley’s magnificent Soul cannonball adderley soul of the bibleof the Bible release from 1972 and the track Space Spiritual. The narrator Rick Holmes says, “Serenity, love, usefulness and obedience is the theme of my soul” and Adderley’s souljazz take on the gospel idiom is full of interesting musical themes and solos – especially from the versatile George Duke.

The Sun Ra Arkestra (under the direction of Marshall Allen) was up next with a stirring version of Saturn from the live album Babylon (that’s a club in Istanbul, by the way). We then followed with one of the tracks cited – james brown helland played – in Le Gendre’s talk – the iconic Papa Don’t Take No Mess. The key point here is that James Brown gives his musicians space – and more. He allows them to develop the music that he is curating/creating by vocally encouraging extended solos – whether from Maceo Parker on alto or John ‘Jabbo’ Starks on drums.

King Curtis – who went to school and studied music with Ornette Coleman in Fort Worth, Texas – was a big-toned tenor player who masterminded Aretha Franklin’s backing band the Kingpins. Memphis Soul Stew comes from his Live at Fillmore West album – which formed part of the same concert that produced the excellent Aretha Franklin album of the same name. Curtis enccharlie haden liberation music orchestraourages his
musicians in just the same way as James Brown – and as Donny Hathaway does in his magnificent Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)  – see CJ 30 March 2016 for more. Finally, in this part of the show regular CJ listener Pete recommended Gato Barbieri’s contributions to the first of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra releases and so we featured Barbieri’s spirited, free blowing on the track Viva la Quince Brigada.

New Yorker Sabu Martinez was up next with one of the stand out tracks from sabu martinez afro templean album that’s very hard to find these days. The track we featured has been re-released by Mr Bongo as a vinyl single – and deservedly so. We’ve featured it before in our (rare) Cosmic Jazz Live outings. Back then to our featured artist from last week – Miles Davis – and one of the most revolutionary albums he ever released. Today On the Corner sounds so contemporary – no wonder, then, that on its release in 1972 it was dismissed as “an insult to the intellect” and complete on the corner sessionsworse. As a useful article from the Guardian newspaper in 2007 on the release of the Complete On the Corner Sessions notes,  it’s now regarded as “a visionary musical statement that was way ahead of its time.” We played the most accessible track Black Satin, one of those little hook melodies (like Jean Pierre) that Miles loved to inject into his playing.

Nat Birchall’s excellent new album features his take on a late John Coltrane track – one which unusually features the leader on flute.  Birchall retains all of the intensity of To Be from Coltrane’s album Expression. We ended this week’s show with two tracks that arebert jansch avocet deliberately very different, although both have a strong jazz sensibility. Guitarist Bert Jansch was one of the finest folk musicians the UK has produced and his work often features imaginative improvisation. From the recently re-released Avocet album, we featured the track Bittern with the rich, resonant bass-work of Danny Thompson. We ended the show with vocalist Ian Shaw and a track from one of his two albums with an American quartet led by pianist Cedar Walton. It’s Shaw’s excellent version of Bill Withers’ Grandma’s Hands.

Photo of Miles DAVIS

So where does the title of this week’s show come from? It’s back to Miles Davis. When asked in a 1982 television interview about jazz, Davis said “I don’t like the word ‘jazz’ … it’s social music… it’s not jazz anymore” and this now features as a quote in the Miles Ahead trailer we linked last week.

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  1. Cannonball Adderley – Space Spiritual from Soul of the Bible
  2. Sun Ra Arkestra – Saturn from Babylon
  3. James Brown – Papa Don’t Take No Mess from Hell
  4. King Curtis – Memphis Soul Stew from Live at Fillmore West
  5. Charlie Haden – Viva la Quince Brigada from Liberation Music Orchestra
  6. Sabu Martinez – Hotel Alyssa-Sousse, Tunisia from Afro Temple
  7. Miles Davis – Black Satin from On the Corner
  8. Nat Birchall – To Be from Invocation
  9. Bert Jansch – Bittern from Avocet
  10. Ian Shaw – Grandma’s Hands from In a New York Minute

Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to:

06 April 2016: Gato and Miles

This week’s CJ is now available for you to listen to – just click on the tab left – or above on your mobile or tablet. gato barbieri 01The show featured music from Leandro (Gato) Barbieri and Miles Davis, who features in a new film out in the UK later this month. Barbieri, who died last week, was an Argentinian tenor saxophonist with a raw, fiery tone that was unmistakeable. We began with Oliver Nelson whose live Montreux date from 1971 featured Barbieri on the expansive Swiss Suite before diving into one of Barbieri’s Impulse! releases. The album Chaptoliver nelson swiss suiteer Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata is a personal favourite and features superb arrangements by Cuban Chico O’Farrill. We chose El Sublime which does everything you could ask for in six minutes. If there’s one album to start your Barbieri journey, this could be the one. As we said on the show, it’s probably best to avoid some of the later ‘easier listening’ music – you’ll just wonder what all the fuss is about. We ended our tribute to Barbieri with another great track – this time his version of the Jorge Ben tune Maria Domingas from the album Under Fire (1971). And what a band – Lonnie Liston Smith is on piano and keyboards, John Abercrombie on guitar, Stanley Clarke ongato barbieri chapter three bass and Roy Haynes on drums.  For a taste of the original, try this lovely (but extremely crackly) version from Brazilian TV in 1971. Jorge Ben’s backing band here is Trio Mocoto, who had a recent renaissance with their album Samba Rock – named after the style they pioneered in the 1970s and highly recommended by CJ. Listen to Mocoto Beat here.

We explored other music with jazz influences in the final part of this week’s showtribe called quest low end theory – starting with a brief tribute to Phife Dawg, late rapper with the influential A Tribe Called Quest. Butter samples Weather Report’s River People and is testimony to the dizzying quality of his rapping. Almost uniquely, ATCQ told lyrical stories – and never better than on this downtempo classic album The Low End Theory.

Our second feature this week celebrated the upcoming UK release (on 22 April) of actor/director Don Cheadle’s film Miles Ahead. miles ahead official posterThis crowdfunded production has already received a lot of airtime – some of it controversial. Don Cheadle acknowledged, for example, that the film wouldn’t have been made unless there had been a white co-star involved – and so in came Ewan McGregor, playing a fictitious journalist investigating the disappearance of some studio tapes. You can watch the official trailer here. We began with a clip from the film soundtrack and followed it with one of the original tracks from the soundtrack album – Junior’s Jam which features pianist Robert Glasper, the musical director of this project. Don’t turn to this new miles ahead soundtrackrelease for an introduction to the music of Miles: only two of the original tracks are unedited (Frelon Brun and So What) but consider it a momento of the film. However, it’s worth noting that the film (and this soundtrack) don’t shy away from Davis’ More ‘difficult’ music – it’s endlessly frustrating to hear TV or radio features on the film that concentrate on A Kind of Blue only. Miles was so much more than this – and we’ll continue to feature the range of his music in upcoming CJ shows. Miles Davis remains not merely an icon of 20th century music but one of the greatest musical innovators of all time.

The new Blue Note release from GoGo Penguin has some excellent tracks – we featured one of the standout tracks, Smarra. Count Ossie is a Jamaican musical maven whose range of influences cover reggae, afrobeat, jazz and more. His excellent album Tales of Mozambique23 skidoo 23 skidoo has just been re-released on the excellent Soul Jazz label – check it out if you can. 23 Skidoo seem to have been forgotten, but they were an influential British band active between 1979-2002 who still sound relevant today. Their most jazz-influenced release is the self-titled 23 Skidoo album from 2000 which features Pharoah Sanders on two tracks including Kendang.

We ended this week’s show with more conventional jazz from British saxophonist Tony Kofi – whose 2005 Thelonious Monk tribute All is Know is outstanding – and a last brief look at Miles Davis. There will be more next week…

  1. Oliver Nelson – Swiss Suite from Swiss Suite
  2. Gato Barbieri – El Sublime from Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata
  3. Gato Barbieri – Maria Domingas from Under Fire
  4. A Tribe Called Quest – Butter from Low End Theory
  5. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis – Dialogue 1 from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  6. Robert Glasper et al – Junior’s Jam from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  7. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis – Dialogue 2 from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  8. Miles Davis – Back Seat Betty from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  9. GoGo Penguin – Smarra from Man Made Object
  10. Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari – Nigerian Reggae from Tales of Mozambique
  11. 23 Skidoo – Kendang (feat. Pharoah Sanders) from 23 Skidoo
  12. Tony Kofi – Light Blue from All is Know
  13. Miles Davis – So What from A Kind of Blue

New York state of Miles...Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to:

30 March 2016: the power of the groove

This week’s CJ features jazz old and new together with music from New Zealand, France and Brazil.  To listen again, just click that left hand tab. The dramatic opening from Santana’s most openly jazz-influenced album Caravanserai started the show before we dipped into two tracdonny hathaway 02ks with the same bass riff – the first from Nat and Cannonball Adderley and the second from soul singer Donny Hathaway. The latter came from Hathaway’s epic live album – a real treasure of a record. There’s almost no video footage of Hathaway’s magnetic live performances but here he is with a fragment of The Ghetto. The quality is dire but to hear more of either his live performances at The Bitter End club in Manhattan or at the Troubadour in donny hathaway these songs for you live!Hollywood look out for These Songs for You, Live! – a compilation of both performances together with Valdez in the Country from Hathaway’s appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1973. Fender Rhodes magic throughout. Both these opening tracks present a deep jazz groove – but then, so did most of the tracks on this week’s show.

Hammond hero Dr Lonnie Smith has a new (and well reviewed) album out on Blue Note – and so we celebrated this with Mama Wailer, the title track from his 1971 CTI/Kudu album before diving into a bonafide Blue Note classic from one of my favourite alto players, Jackie McLean. On the Nile comes from one of those sometimes overlooked Blue Note releases from the mid 1960s – jackie mclean jacknifeJacknife. This Charles Tolliver composition is a modal gem, featuring a young Jack deJohnette on drums. We cut into this track with something new from Auckland’s finest band, Fat Freddy’s Drop. It’s not jazz as we know it, of course, but there’s no doubting the levels of musicianship in this excellent new release.

Back to Africa and Egypt with another jazz classic from (appropriately) Pharoah Sanders – an edited version of the pharoah sanders tauhid16 minute Upper Egypt Lower Egypt from Sander’s Tauhid album before diving into the opening cut from GoGo Penguin’s Blue Note debut. The buzz about this band is global and we’ve been playing their contemporary take on the jazz piano trio since they began. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check out this live version of the track we featured, All Res. Next up were two great vocalists – the yacht rock elegance of Ned Doheny in an acoustic demo version of his jazz club classic Get It Up For Love and then Gretchen Parlato live in New York with her beautiful twist on Simply Red’s Holding Back the Years. Amazingly, Doheny’s demo is delightfully fully formed. You can find this track on the Numero label’s excellent Separate Oceans compilation of Doheny tracks. One of ned doheny separate oceansthe pleasure’s of Parlato’s recording is the always imaginative drumming of American Mark Guiliana, one of the most in-demand drummers of the moment: he’s worked with Brad Mehldau, Dave Douglas, Donny McCaslin and – of course, David Bowie. Another cover version came next – the Philippe Saisse Trio’s take on Steely Dan’s Do It Again. Saisse can always elevate his cocktail piano style into something rather more interesting: here he is doing the same kind of thing with Earth Wind and Fire’s September.  We ended this week’s session with more latin-inflected jazz: the first from Tania Mariatania maria come with me‘s Come With Me album from 1982 and the last a British remix of Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca that appears on one of the Verve labels’s remix projects – sometimes patchy but always interesting. For more of the same, try this updating of Billie Holiday’s Speak Low.

  1. Santana – Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation from Caravanserai
  2. Nat Adderley Quintet – Make Your Own Temple from Soul of the Bible
  3. Donny Hathaway – Voices Inside (Everything is Everything) from Live
  4. Lonnie Smith – Mama Wailer from Mama Wailer
  5. Jackie McLean – On the Nile from Jacknife
  6. Fat Freddy’s Drop – Wheels from Bays
  7. Pharoah Sanders – Upper Egypt Lower Egypt from Tauhid
  8. GoGo Penguin – Al Res from Man Made Object
  9. Ned Doheny – Get It Up For Love (demo) from Separate Oceans
  10. Gretchen Parlato – Holding Back the Years from Live in NYC
  11. Philippe Saisse Trio – Do It Again from The Body and Soul Sessions
  12. Tania Maria – Sementes, Graines and Seeds from Come With Me
  13. Dizzy Gillespie – Manteca (Funky Lowlives Mix) from Verve Remixed 2

Neil is listening to:

 

 

23 March 2016: featuring Tord Gustavsen

On CJ this week listen via the MixCloud tab for a varied menu of jazz from the wild to the heavenly sublime.

The main feature this week was the new ECM album What Was Said  from Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen with Simin Tander tord gustavsen what was saidproviding the ‘voice’ and Jarle Vespestad drums. I saw the trio perform recently and, although the set was on the short side, it was definitely an experience. The music has a calm, reverential, carefully orchestrated and spiritual quality to it. Simin Tander’s voice is in both English and Farsi and although the titles on the album are in English it is moving to hear another language – and a language of great importance to the singer although probably unfamiliar to most listeners – being communicated with such feeling on the album and in live performance.

If you want wild, free jazz Tord Gustavsen and his colleagues are probably not for you, but Charles Gayle and his trio could be up your street. Appropriately for  Easter Week, came Blessed Jesus from the record Christ Everlasting – recorded live in Posznan with Charles Gayle on piano in this instance, Polish bassist Kscewery Wojconski and German drummer Klaus Kugel.

Trios were to feature heavily this week. AMC Trio from Poland followed the Charles Gayle Trio to provide a more melodic but no less interesting contrast and then came the excellent Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila with his trio recorded on the excellent British jazz label Edition Records.

mammal handsMammal Hands, who start a tour of the country in May, are an exciting trio that have a contemporary, intense, eclectic and innovative sound. They start on 01 May and begin by playing dates in Norfolk and Suffolk where they are based. Look out for them at a location near you.

There was another tune from Esperanza Spalding – perhaps the last we shall play for a while. By now you’ll either love or hate this record – it has that sort of impact.

To end the programme it was back to Brazil and a trio of jazz, bossabossa jazz compilation nova and samba that came from a group of Brazilian musicians when several of them moved to the USA after 1962 and played with US jazz musicians. By the end of the decade this exodus of musicians led to the subsequent emergence of Brazilian jazz fusion in the USA in the early 1970s. Brazilians such as Sergio Mendes, Deodato, João Donato -all of whom were integral to the earlier bossa nova scene – began to collaborate with their counterpart American jazz players – Airto Moreira joined the Miles Davis group and Dom um Romao recorded with Weather Report. All three of our Brazilian tunes this week  are available on the Bossa Jazz compilation from the excellent Soul Jazz Records. Check out their website or, better still, head to Sounds of the Universe on Broadwick Street, London on the upcoming Record Store Day (16 April) and explore the world of jazz and related music on vinyl.

  1. Charles Gayle – Blessed Jesus from Christ Everlasting
  2. AMC Trio – Walking Tall from Very Keen Attack
  3. Alexi Tuomarila Trio – Seven Hills from Seven Hills
  4. Tord Gustavsen Trio – Journey Of Life/I Refuse/A Castle in Heaven from What Was Said
  5. Esperanza Spalding – I Want It Now from Emily’s D + Evolution
  6. Joao Donato – Patumbalacunde  from Bossa Jazz
  7. Edu Lobo – Vento Bravo from Bossa Jazz
  8. Quarteto Novo – Vim de Santana from Bossa Jazz

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16 March 2016: tribute to Nana Vasconcelos

nana vasconcelosClick our CJ MixCloud tab left to hear a show that begins with a tribute to the late Brazilian percussionist and berimbau player Nana Vasconcelos (02 August 1944 – 09 March 2016).

The first tune was recorded by Vasconcelos in 2014 for the Sonzeira album produced by Gilles Peterson. Sean Kuti is one of the voices. Nana then provides conga and berimbau to the rasping tenor of Gato Barbieri on Carnavalito recorded in 1973. In a different mood, he played talking drum and percussion for Jan Garbarek in a 1980 trio recording on ECM that also included John Abercrombijan garbarek eventyre. Nana made several recordings for artists on the ECM label, including the fellow Brazilian Egberto Gismonti. The three tunes I played this week offered a superb illustration of the range of his work and the inventiveness and sensitivity of his playing which you can also see in this live concert footage from 1983.

As promised, there was a return to the new recording by Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D + Evolution. It so happens that there is one of those fun (?) or trivial (?) quick 20 question interviews with her in the March 2016 edition of Echoes, a UK-based black music magazine. In this interview esperanza spalding D + evolutionshe identifies Judas (the tune I played this week) as her favourite own song. Among other questions you may be interested to know the answers to, Spalding names Wayne Shorter as the best musician she has worked with, The Fire Next Time as a book worth reading, Laura Mvula’s as the next album she will buy, Janelle Monae as the best live gig she ever saw and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now as the song she wished she had written.

Also in the show this week were two excursions to Poland: firstly, for the wonderfully named Obama International who include British trumpeter Tom Arthurs on their Live in Minsk recording. The second was for another of those great Polish trios, the AMC Trio with Three Knight’s Chant.

Also I returned to music from the last year or two. We don’t just stick to new music on Cosmic Jazz and are happy to return to recent releases we like as well as older music. Otis Brown III was a great favourite among the records I discovered in 2015, although it was recorded in 2014. The sublime vocals of Gretchen Parlato on You’rotis brown iii the thought of youe Still The One get me every time. David Murray had the ubiquitous Gregory Porter on Army of the Faithful (Joyful Noise) and the combination of his now easily recognisable vocals and the free tenor playing of David Murray makes for a great mix. CJ continues to feature freedom songs and Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson did just that for us once again with The Liberation (Red, Black and Green) from the album we showcased earlier this month – The First Minute of  New Day.

  1. Nana Vasconcelos/Sonzeira – Where Na Na Hides from Brasil Bam Bam Bam
  2. Gato Barbieri – Carnavalito from Fenix
  3. Jan Garbarek – Lillekort from Eventyr
  4. Esperanza Spalding – Judas from Emily’s D + Evolution
  5. Obama International – Idzie Bakiem from Live in Minsk Mazowiecki
  6. Otis Brown III feat Gretchen Parlato – You’re Still The One from The Thought Of You
  7. David Murray Infinity Quartet feat Gregory Porter – Army Of The Faithful (Joyful Noise) from Be My Monster Love
  8. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson – The Liberation (Red Black and  Green) from The First Minute of a New Day

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Neil is listening to:

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio