24 August 2016: new jazz vocalists and three tributes

bobby hutcherson

This week’s Cosmic Jazz has tributes to two jazz superstars, some new releases and more music from Brazil. We began with a cut from rapper Oddisee, available as part of his Odd Summer release on Bandcamp and then took at short look at the career of Blue Note vibesman Bobby Hutcherson with Yuyo and Love Song, both from his superb Montara album of 1975. Hutcherson is the subject of a recommended more extended tribute from Gilles Peterson. It’s available in two parts and you can access Part 1 here and Part 2bobby hutcherson montara here. As we noted on the show, Hutcherson had a uniquely long tenure with Blue Note – one only matched by pianist Horace Silver – recording over 45 albums as leader in his long career from 1963 right through to 2014. Fittingly, his last studio album Enjoy the View was a return to the Blue Note label.

Next up were two tracks from the new Robert Glasper/Miles Davis collaboration. Davis is now in that small but select pantheon of artists who will continue to release new best selling albums after his miles davis everything's beautifuldeath and Everything’s Beautiful is no exception. It debuted at No.1 on the Billboard jazz chart and even entered into their top 200 releases. Whatever purists think of the music, there’s no doubt that this can kind of activity can promote contemporary jazz and, of course, it helps if you can call on top drawer names like Stevie Wonder, Laura Mvula and Erykah Badu to help you out. We featured the excellent Maiysha (So Long) which adds lyrics to what was probably the weakest track on the Miles Davis Get Up With It album from 1974. Compare Glasper’s imaginative reworking with the original Maiysha track here. A taste of the Haitus Koyote collaboration from Everything’s Beautiful followed and then two examples of contemporary jazz badbadnotgood ivvocals. The first came from Toronto’s Badbadnotgood trio and their new release – simply titled IV. Time Moves Slow features vocalist Sam Herring from American synth-pop band Future Islands. Here though, his vocal is a beautifully restrained take that would have suited legendary southern soul performers like James Carr or Dan Penn. What better to follow this that the consummate restraint of Abbey Lincoln singing Should’ve Been from her excellent 2007 release Abbey Sings Abbey?

sonzeira tam tam tamCJ returned to Brazil for the second half of this week’s show with music from the new Sonzeira release from Gilles Peterson.  Like the Everything’s Beautiful project, this album features radical reworkings of the music from a long lost Brazilian classic album – Jose Prates Tam Tam Tam! from 1958. Peterson’s search for the £1000 album even featured on the UK’s Channel 4 news and in Record Collector magazine. It was eventually re-released on Trunk Records last year with Peterson’s release available on his own Brownswood Records earlier this month.

Up next was another exclusive – a rare track from a still unreleased album. Brazilian vocalist Joyce is a longtime friend of Cosmic Jazz joyceand we have featured her music since we began the show nearly ten years ago. Her 1980 album Feminina was re-released to critical acclaim by Mr Bongo many years ago and this version of the title track is from an unreleased American album. The plan was to launch Joyce’s career in the US with this an album featuring the cream of American jazz musicians – all arranged by Claus Ogerman who oversaw George Benson’s Breezin’ and In Flight albums. This sensational extended version of Feminina has superb solos from Joe Farrell on flute and Mike Manieri on vibes.

celia vaz ebb and flowStaying in Brazil but with a more contemporary twist, next was Celia Vaz and APE from their excellent album Ebb and Flow. This really successful mix of Brazilian grooves and electronica should be better known: APE are English producers Paul Conboy and Adrian Corker and this release works on every level. We ended the show with two tributes to jazz greats we have recently lost. The first was Belgian harmonica player Toots Thielemans who featured in bass player Jaco Pastorius’s Word of Mouth big band project on the beautiful tune bernie worrell elevationThree Views of a Secret, also recorded by Weather Report for their album Night Passage. The late Bernie Worrell was known for his work with Parliament and Funkadelic but jazz was his musical backbone. Many of his solo albums are worth exploring – but especially his solo piano outing Elevation which begins with this moving version of another Miles Davis tune, In a Silent Way.

  1. Oddisee – Viva Brasil from Odd Summer
  2. Bobby Hutcherson – Yuyo from Montara
  3. Bobby Hutcherson – Love Song from Montara
  4. Robert Glasper (feat. Erykah Badu) – Maiysha (So Long) from Everything’s Beautiful
  5. Haitus Koyote – Little Church from Everything’s Beautiful
  6. Badbadnotgood (feat. Sam Herring) – Time Moves Slow from IV
  7. Abbey Lincoln – Should’ve Been from Abbey Sings Abbey
  8. Sonzeira – O Que Voce Sabe from Tam Tam Tam!
  9. Sonzeira – Aves de Lema from Tam Tam Tam!
  10. Joyce – Feminina from unreleased album Natureza
  11. Celia Vaz and APE – Nas Aguas do Rio from Ebb and Flow
  12. Celia Vaz and APE – Obrigado Donato from Ebb and Flow
  13. Jaco Pastorius – Three Views of a Secret from Word of Mouth
  14. Bernie Worrell – In a Silent Way from Elevation (The Upper Air)

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Neil is listening to…

Derek is listening to…

 

17 August 2016: Cosmic Jazz in Brazil – part two

CJ hosts more more music from Brazil this week, showing the diversity of musical styles in this, the world’s fifth biggest country. There’s some classic Brazilian tunes but also a taste of new Brazil from some of the great contemporary artists and producers that create this rich diversity. We begin with one of the great Brazilian songwriters Marcos Valle, who was there at the start of the bossa nova movement and is still producing great new music on the British Far Out label. Joe Davis – boss at Far Out – recorded Nova Bossa Nova with Valle in 1997. The superb Bar Ingles is a real highlight, too.marcos valle 02
Having initially made a name for himself alongside the second wave of bossa nova’s pioneers in the mid 60s, Valle toured and lived in the US before returning to Brazil where the rise of the military dictatorship encouraged Valle to integrate more rock, soul and pop elements into his writing.

To find out about Valle and the sheer diversity of his musical career, check out this feature on the excellent Vinyl Factory site and then go back some of Valle’s adventurous 1970s recordings. Our choice 1985 marcos valle:theo parrishfrom Nova Bossa Nova originally appeared on the first of these – the eponymous Marcos Valle album from 1970 which features expansive, cinematic arrangements and further pop, jazz and soul influences. These returned in the Estaticia album of 2010 on FarOut which successfully combines all of these with the contemporary production techniques which have endeared him to remixers such as Theo Parrish, Budgie and Daz-I-Kue. Listen to all three on Bandcamp here.

Which brings us to production. What marked out classic bossa nova and samba music was the melodic strength of the songwriting, but the key feature of much great Brazilian music of more recent years is suba sao paulo confessionsthe quality of production – whether it’s the spacious orchestral arrangements of Eumir Deodato and Arthur Verocai or the electronic twists and turns of Chico Dub and Suba, the influential producer of our next track. Serbian-born Suba had already established a name for himself in Sao Paulo as producer to a number of new Brazilian artists, including Bebel Gilberto, when he died there in a studio fire. His own posthumous album Sao Paulo Confessions is worth investigating. Read more about this hotbed of musical creativity here.

Last week’s programme  featured music from some of the excellent compilations of Brazilian music that have appeared in recent years and this week there’s more from the same eclectic sources. Of course, it’s easy for a record company to put out a downtempo tie-in with the current Rio Olympics – but how to select from this musical minefield? Our recommendation would be to start with the great Mr Bongo box set Brazilian Beats. Now available at a bargain price for brazilian beats box setall seven original discs along with a special mix CD, this is as good a starting place as any. Pretty much every style of music from the last fifty years is represented here, including music from the frentic cybercity that is Sao Paulo. The Jair Oliveira track, which comes from his Outro release of 2002, is a good example of that typical musical mix of jazz, samba, soul and MPB (Musica Popula Brasileira) that is part of much contemporary Brazilian music. Seu Jorge’s infectious Chega No Suingue (check out a live version here) is on Brazilian Beats 3.

gilles peterson in brazilJapan’s Jazzadelic are one of the many remix teams who have applied their skills to Brazilian music. Here they’re at work with more conventional jazz beats – including a very familiar Coltrane loop… We featured their Estranguira from the first Sister Bossa album and followed it with a tune from the quality that is Gilles Peterson’s first GP In Brazil compilation. We think either of these excellent compilations (see photos) are your other place to start on your Brazilian journey. We ended the show with some musical sources – iconic artists that have defined their country’s music. First, the inspired singingilles peterson back in brazilg of Milton Nascimento from one of his essential albums, simply called Milton, followed by Azymuth’s crossover hit Jazz Carnival from the recent vinyl reissue Light as  Feather. The Tamba Trio were one of the backbones of Brazilian bossa and all of their original releases are worth looking out for, but particularly their Avanco album from 1963 which features this irresistible version of Jorge Ben’s Mas Que Nada – yes, the Nike advertisement one!

sergio mendes brasileiroWe ended with two artists at their peak – the aforementionend Jorge Ben and a musician frequently found slumming it in an easy listening compilation. But don’t let that put you off investigating more of the great Sergio Mendes, and – specifically – the return to form that is Brasileiro. On this album, Mendes sought to reclaim his Brazilian roots and so dived back into the rhythmical heritage of forro, samba reggae and Bahian grooves to create a must-have classic. Highly recommended.

  1. Marcos Valle – Freio Aerodynamico from Nova Bossa Nova
  2. Bebel Gilberto – Close Your Eyes from Tanto Tempo
  3. Rosa Passos – Retrato Em Brance E Preto from Amorosa
  4. Jair Oliveira – Sao Paulo, Fim Do Dia from Outro
  5. Seu Jorge – Chega No Suingue from Brazilian Beats 3
  6. Jazzadelic – Estrangeira from Sister Bossa
  7. Cesar Mariano and Cia – Futebol De Bar from Gilles Peterson in Brazil
  8. Milton Nascimento – Cravo E Canela from Milton
  9. Azymuth – Jazz Carnival from Light As a Feather
  10. Tamba Trio – Mas Que Nada from Avanco
  11. Jorge Ben – No Reino Encantado De Amor from
  12. Sergio Mendes – Pipoca from Brasileiro

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

 

 

 

10 August 2016: Cosmic Jazz in Brazil – part one

ipanema beachAt CJ, we need no excuses to play good Brazilian music, but the events in Rio have encouraged us to give you two hours of back to back Brazilian goodness with jazz at its heart. This show is the first – so click that MixCloud tab to sample some of the vast range of music that a country bigger than Europe has produced – much of it on British labels – FarOut, Mr. Bongo, BGP and Soul Jazz amongst others. In the playlist, some tracks are attributed to these labels rather than the original source: without their sterling efforts, most of us would not be able to hear this wonderful music.

Of course, the stereotype is that Brazilian music is all about samba and bossa nova. Yes, these are popular styles – but there is so much more. Most musical genres are represented across this huge country, and so you can hear locally produced reggae, heavy metal, afrobeat, pop, hip-hop, jazz and more. Take our first two tracks – both CJ favourites. There’s no obvious clues that these two jazz tunes are from Brazil – but they are.

otis trio 74 clubFirst up was the Otis Trio from their album 74 Cluba record justifiably described on the sleeve as a  Free Jazz Extravaganza. It draws upon contemporary music, bebop, European jazz and jazz bands of the 60s and 70s and was recorded live with all-analogue equipment.

Next came keyboard player Bruno E from his impressive album Lovely Arthur, recorded in South London during a year he spent there with his wife, the singer Patricia Marx, and their newly born son – obviously called called Arthur.

airto moreiraWhen Brazilian master percussionist Airto Moreira moved to the US in 1967 with his wife, singer Flora Purim, he was in great demand from the start. He played with Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Cannonball Adderley, Miroslav Vitous, Joe Zawinul, and many more. For this show, however, the selection was batucada por favordistinctly Brazilian in sound and sentiment. Its Time For Carnival is a definite floor-filler – as I can testify from the many times I have pulled it out of the box to get the crowd moving. The original album from which this track comes (Struck by Lightning from 1989) features Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke – true jazz royalty.

The tune from Joyce is one we have played before on the programme and will certainly play again. The Feminina album from which this comes is a justifiable Brazilian classic and a must have for any follower of Cosmic Jazz. The original has been reissued by Mr Bongo Records and is now widely available. You can hear a cult extended version of the titljoyce femininae track featuring a brilliant flute solo from Joe Farrell right here. Joyce continues to record albums on FarOut with her husband, drummer Tutty Moreno. It’s something of a family affair as her daughters Clara and Ana are singers too. In fact, this is not uncommon in a country where music is part of most people’s lifeblood, and there are now second and even third generation artists with those familiar names – Jobim, Gilberto, Caymmi, Veloso.

Brazilian music has attracted club DJs and mixers from New York to Europe, sometimes giving traditional or well known tunes their unique twist so up next were two examples of this via Mr. Hermano and Original Soul Boy, featuring vocalist Monica Vasconcelos. Monica lives and performs in the UK and was featured extensively in a recent and highly recommended BBC4 programme on the rise of bossa nova. Catch it here on BBC iPlayer. Rather than Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo is the heart of Brazil’s current club culture and it was here that celebrated DJs Marky and XRS were responsible for an infectious drum and bass version of Jorge Ben’s already anthemic Carolina Bela.

The programme included more tunes than any previous hour-blue brazillong Cosmic Jazz. Many of the older tunes are short, sweet and perfectly formed. So I played a non-stop mix of great music, starting with two personal favourites Tenorio Jr – another Cosmic Jazz all-time top tune – and the beautifully melodic Lo Borges from Blue Brazila series of re-releases by Blue Note from the EMI Brazil catalogue. There were three records in the series and examples from all three featured in the programme.

The mix featured old-school Brazilian singers/groups – but with one  exception. We featured the more contemporary, although brazilian love affair 5traditional sounding, Sabrina Malheiros from one of the excellent UK compilation series on FarOut Records – Brazilian Love Affair. This Malheiros track comes from Volume 5. All are recommended mixes of old and new Brazilian material and most are still available in online. Malheiros, by the way, is daughter of Azymuth bass player Alex Malheiros – and so the tradition continues…. For a taste of long running jazz-influenced trio listen to their version of Milton Nascimento’s famous track Outubro. The album is re-released on vinyl this month by – yes – FarOut Records.

Brazil’s musical traditions include a number of unique percussion instruments – most notably, the cuica and the berimbau. We blue brazil 3featured the virtuoso Dom um Romao invoking the sounds of the Amazon and followed this with Milton Banana and then legendary vocalist Elza Soares with Roberto Ribeiro. If you are familiar with these artists, then you will know just how good they are. If not, then there’s so much to explore in these excellent compilations. At the age of 79,  Soares has just released her latest album, Woman at the End of the World. This is no walk on Copacabana Beach – Soares has lived the most extraordinary life and she documents it all in this new recording.

This rich and varied CJ mix continued with a tune from a recent Gilles Peterson Sonzeira project. Peterson has had a long association with the music of Brazil and you can watch his excellent 2014 film tracing both the creative journey of the follow up Bam Bam Bam project and his own Brazilian experiences. Our final tune came from Paulinho Da Costa – another Brazilian musician who went to the US and has been the featured percussionist on hundreds of albums. Our CJ selection is a version of another Jorge Ben classic and available on a jazz funk compilation from British label BGP Records.

  1. Otis Trio – Montag’s Dream from 74 Club
  2. Bruno E – Dado from Lovely Arthur
  3. Airto Moreira – It’s Time For Carnival from Batucada por Favor
  4. Joyce – Aldeia De Ogum from Feminina
  5. Mr. Hermano – Com Um Sol from Brazil 5000-3
  6. Soul Boy feat. Monica Vasconcelos – Touch The Sun from Brazil 5000-3
  7. Tenorio Jr – Nebulosa from Brazilian Beats 1
  8. Lo Borges – Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser from Blue Brazil 1
  9. Sabrina Malheiros – Estacao Verao from Brazilian Love Affair 5
  10. Dom Um Romao – Berimbau from Bossa Jazz
  11. Milton Banana – Procissao from Blue Brazil Vol 2
  12. Elza Soares and Roberto Ribeiro – O Que Vem De Baixo Nao Me Atinge from Blue Brazil Vol 3
  13. Sonzeira – Um Toque from Brasil Bam Bam
  14. Paulinho Da Costa – Taj Mahal from BGP Presents Jazz Funk

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

03 August 2016: breaking the boundaries with new jazz

Cover_KoutéJazz-350x350The show this week is all music from albums released either this year or last and includes tunes from two recently released compilations – one being yet another spiritual jazz collection which owes something to the lyrical vibe of Leon Thomas’s The Creator Has a Master Plan while the other is clearly a tropical first cousin of Lonnie Liston Smith’s Expansions.

a1323814670_16It’s great to see this music being reissued, but – remember – that not all of it belongs in the ‘long lost classic’ category… However, here at CJ our quality thresholds are set very high and we always sift out the best for our listeners. In the middle are two excellent tracks from Polish jazz musicians – as always, via the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

Next week – look forward to an all-Brazil celebration – and more extensive playlist notes…

  1. Kenny Garrett – Persian Steps from Do Your Dance
  2. Marcus Strickland feat Jean Baylor – Inevitable from Nihil Novi
  3. Ameen Saleem – Best Kept Secret from The Groove Lab
  4. Wojiech Majewski Quintet – Tjonk Blues from Remembrance
  5. Pavel Kaczmarczyk Audio Feeling Trio – Follow Me from Deconstruction
  6. Ed Motta – A Town in Flames from Perpetual Gateways
  7. Francisco – Wache from Koute Jazz
  8. Das Goldene Zeitalter – Don’t Give Up Your Smile from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz

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Neil is listening to:

27 July 2016: Marcus Strickland and more

manny oquendo and libreAt last you can hear the superb and uplifting Latin descarga from master percussionist Manny Oquendo and his band Libre in full on this week’s show – after a few failed attempts! Oquendo was one of the many top Latin musicians with a Puerto Rican heritage who were born in New York. The full range of his skills  are on full display on Major Que Nunca (Better Than Ever) and in the spirit of a descarga (Latin jam) the music is free, unpredictable and exhilarating.

Marcus Strickland is one of the current generation of US jazz artists who are crossing musical boundaries: think, for example, of Ameen Saleem and Theo Croker. His new record Nihil Novi may be marcus stricklandchallenging to many jazz fans but I rate it as an example of where contemporary jazz can and needs to go to reflect the interests of the players. Mirrors starts off sounding like a Tony Allen afrobeat piece and ends as pure jazz. Alive features R’n’B/soul artist Jean Baylor on vocals, the tune has an R ‘n’ B feel but also a jazz one too. This album deserves to be listened to. Musicians on it include Meshell N’degeocello on bass, drummer Charles Haynes and the ubiquitous (at least on Cosmic Jazz) trumpeter Keyon Harrold. N’deNihil Novigeocello has also produced the album – hear Strickland talking about the making of the album here. This is the world of contemporary jazz, with reference points that include R ‘n’ B, hip hop and electronica. There are top drawer guests too, most notably Robert Glasper and Chris Dave.

There was more of the Polish jazz available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds: with a new album from pianist Wojciech Majewski and his Quintet first up. It’s full of the atmospheric intensity we have come to expect from much contemporary Polish jazz. Then more from Piotr Wojtasik, the trumpeter who has been almost a permanent fixture on Cosmic Jazz in recent weeks – simply because he is that good. The tune begins with echoes of Coltrane’s version of The Inch Worm but soon moves into a free and exciting jazz mode.

We used to play music from the pianist Andrew Hill regularly on Cosmic Jazz. Somehow, he has slipped out of our playlists recently so it was time to change things. Hill was a Blue Note artist who recorded from 1963-70 with the label. His labyrinthine melodies and elastic sense of timing Point_of_Departuremark out a very distinctive style that was never like that instantly recognisable conventional Blue Note sound. Outside the free jazz camp, Hill pursued an individual furrow that’s well worth exploring. Point of Departure, Hill’s fourth album for the label, is a good place to start but we’d also recommend Black Fire and Smoke Stack. Here’s the title track from Black Fire. The line up on the Point of Departure track we chose (Spectrum) is phenomenal too – Hill on piano accompanied by  Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Eric Dolphy on alto, flute and clarinet, Joe Henderson on tenor, Richard Davis bass and Tony Williams on drums. In his later years, Hill recorded for the Italian Soul Note label – check out the Cam Jazz box set that features four of these excellent recordings.

kenny garrettWe followed with Philly from Kenny Garrett’s new album Do Your Dance – a tune that’s clearly a tribute to the eponymous Philadelphia dance music sound. The new album is very much in what we can call the Garrett tradition now: long snaking alto sax lines with that acidic tone that’s somewhere between the later Jackie McLean and David Sanborn and yet still utterly distinctive – and all wrapped in a dance-oriented framework that references swing, funk and latin.

florian pellisier biches bleuFinally, we ended with a lovely modal piece from the French pianist Florian Pellisier with his Quintet. This tune was from the 2014 album Biches Bleu on one of our favourite labels, the delightful Heavenly Sweetness. Pellisier has a well-received new album just released – Cap de Bon Esperance. Expect to hear something from it shortly here on Cosmic Jazz.

  1. Manny Oquendo & Libre – Major Que Nunca from Manny Oquendo & Libre
  2. Marcus Strickland – Mirrors from Nihil Novi
  3. Marcus Strickland feat Jean Baylor – Alive from Nihil Novi
  4. Wojciech Majewski Quintet – Zemyslemie from Remembrance
  5. Piotr Wojtasik Quartet – Celebration from Amazing Twelve
  6. Andrew Hill – Spectrum from Point of Departure
  7. Kenny Garrett – Philly from Do Your Dance
  8. Florian Pellisier Quintet – J’ai du Rever from Biches Bleu

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Derek is listening to:

  • Michael Tippett – Deep River (from A Child of Our Time)
  • Wailing Souls – Very Well
  • Sleep Walker – Wind (feat. Yukimi Nagano)
  • Victor Davies – Don’t Believe a Word (Sleep Walker remix)
  • Andrew Hill – Refuge

Neil is listening to:

20 July 2016: new releases and more from Piotr Wojtasik

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 July 2016: Piotr Wojtasik and Polish jazz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

06 July 2016: feature on the MPS label

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

29 June 2016: uplifting jazz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derek is….

  • Watching Wimbledon!

Neil is listening to:

22 June 2016: jazz with a message

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio