All posts by Derek

13 September 2017: tunes from the past

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jazz usually mixes the old and the new but from time to time we like to have a programme where all the tunes are from the past. This week was one of those programmes and while there were two or three favourites we have played before, most were new to the show.

There is a tendency in such a format to resort to our US favourites – but not this time.  We began in the UK with a band that really did epitomise the best of British jazz. Long before Gilles Peterson championed the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet for a new hip audience, here at CJ we were fans of the band and their ability to go beyond the post-bop conventions of the time and really stretch out on some extraordinary tunes. Shades of Blue is just such an example – it’s an oasis of stillness and calm throughout but driven by the gorgeous tones of Rendell on soprano and tenor saxes and Ian Carr on trumpet. Recorded in 1964, this album title tune was written by composer Neil Ardley and played by a band that truly showed how innovative, inventive and deeply engaging the UK jazz scene could be.  After the quintet folded, all its members continued to play and make their mark both in the UK and wider with trumpeter Ian Carr writing the go-to biographies of both Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett.

Mark Murphy’s version of Stolen Moments was one of the tunes that has made several appearances on the show before. I make no apologies for playing it again. Yusef Lateef also appears on many of our playlists and Chang, Chang, Chang, originally from the album Before Dawn and reissued on the excellent Soul Jazz compilation Black Fire! New Spirits, is one we have played before.

The terrible destruction wreaked on several Caribbean islands by Hurricane Irma made me want  to recognise the musical creativity of the people there as a mark of respect. In 2015 the label Heavenly Sweetness released a highly recommended compilation called Koute Jazz, which covers music from the French Antilles in the 1970s and 1980s, where the jazz of the time embodied a return to roots music as well as to free jazz. This was exemplified by the selection of Gwadloup by trumpeter Edmony Krater and his band Zepiss. He was born in Guadeloupe but the tune was recorded in Paris. It used traditional percussion evocative of the Antilles and in the words of Edmony Krater. This song describes how we don’t manage to value our history, our specificity.

Underground System is a Knitting Factory CD release with three tunes from Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80. This 1992 album was the final one of new material to be released during Fela’s lifetime. The tune Pansa Pansa was first performed by Fela in 1977 and was a response to the Nigerian army’s destruction of his base, the Kalakuta Republic. But the more the authorities persecuted (pansa, pansa means more, more) the more Fela and his extended family would protest…

Brazilian gems from the past seem to be hard for me to avoid at the moment. Once again, we featured tunes that have been re-released on British labels. The amazing Tenorio Jr’s Consolacao is – like most of his music – just over two minutes of perfection. Sadly, Tenorio Jr seems to have travelled from Brazil to Argentina to then become one of the disappeared under the military junta there. The track is available on Bossa Jazz Vol 2 from Soul Jazz Records. Milton Banana’s equally compact (and perfect) Cidade Vazia from 1966 was re-released via the Mr. Bongo label in their excellent Brazilian Beats series.

Finally, there was a taste of another Cosmic Jazz favourite, Patrice Rushen, who any listener to the programme or reader of the blog should know by now has had a life outside Forget Me Nots.

  1. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Shades of Blue from Shades of Blue
  2. Mark Murphy – Stolen Moments from Mark Murphy – the Jazz Singer
  3. Yusef Lateef – Chang, Chang, Chang from Black Fire! New Spirits!
  4. Edmony Krater and Zepioss Gwadloup from Koute Jazz
  5. Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Pansa Pansa from Underground System
  6. Tenorio Jr – Consolacao from Embalo/Bossa Jazz Vol 2
  7. Milton Banana – Cidade Vazia from Balancado/Brazilian Beats Vol 1
  8. Patrice Rushen – Before the Dawn from Before the Dawn

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

06 September 2017: trumpet tones and more

The Guggenheim Museum in New York – designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click the MixCloud tab (left) to hear this week’s programme which travelled to Brazil, Japan, the USA, Poland and the UK. The music ranged from bossa to classic jazz and jazz merged with hip hop – sounds old and new.

At Cosmic Jazz we like to support and highlight independent record labels that promote jazz.  Birnam CD are an example of this. Birnam are based in Dunkeld Scotland and promote some interesting players, some of whom are not well known. But on their latest release, a CD/download single, the pianist is very familiar in  British jazz circles. He is Steve Lodder – a member of The London Jazz Players – whose release The News Where You Are was featured this week. Very interesting it is too with Steve Lodder’s piano playing well to the fore. It followed another example of his playing. Steve has long accompanied Brazilian singer Monica Vasconcelos and is in her current band. We included one of the older tunes they co-wrote, which also provided a fine example of Lodder’s keyboards.

CJ this week began in Brazil with music from the nu-bossa queen Sabrina Malheiros. This is her fourth and most danceable album to date. Her heritage is steeped in the best of Brazilian music: her father Alex Malheiros is the bass player with the samba jazz-funk legends Azymuth and if you have never heard their superlative Jazz Carnival, check out the YouTube link on Derek’s personal music choices for this week. Even if you have, listen again. Alex Malheiros features on his daughter’s new album Clareia, released by the UK Far Out label and produced by the London-based Daniel Maunick – himself son of Incognito’s Bluey Maunick.

There was a great TV programme on UK’s BBC4 last week about pioneer US architect Frank Lloyd Wright. While some background music can really enrich a TV programme, it can also be irritating. But this programme incorporated one of the finer examples and illustrated how powerful jazz can be when used in this way. At the end of the programme came the immediately recognisable and uplifting strains of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, from his 1966 Blue Note album Adam’s Apple. I couldn’t resist playing the tune this week.

There were further examples of music on the show available from the always reliable Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Polish drummer/composer Tomek Grochot has enlisted the support of US trumpeter Eddie Henderson on his latest release In America. Old and New, our tune this week, is a good example of his sound – and there’s some exquisite playing from Polish pianist Dominik Wania with  the characteristic trumpet sounds of Eddie Henderson – incidentally, a trained doctor and psychiatrist! Henderson was once one of the true inheritors of Miles Davis’ 70s sound – all wahwah pedals, synth washes and jazzrock riffs – but he now ploughs a more restrained post-bop furrow.

Also from Poland, EABS dedicate their new album to Polish jazz master Krzystof Komeda and combine the older sounds of jazz with the new hip-hop rhythms the band grew up with. The hip-hop on this week’s tune is hardly perfect poetry but the music is heavy and there is some fine trumpet playing. It’s a good example of how the worldwide intersection between different music genres informs contemporary jazz.

There was more (heavier) hip-hop jazz from Steve Lehman’s Selebeyone and another restrained piece of trumpet playing from British artist Yazz Ahmed and the programme went out with Japanese jazz-dance favourites Sleep Walker and their classic Resurrection.

  1. Sabrina Malheiros – Clareia from Clareia
  2. Monica Vasconcelos – Sabonate Do Mato from Nois
  3. The London Jazz Players – The News Where You Are CD/download single
  4. Wayne Shorter – Footprints from Adam’s Apple
  5. Tomek Grochot feat Eddie Henderson – Old and New from In America
  6. Yazz Ahmed – The Space Between the Fish and the Moon from La Saboteuse
  7. EABS – Step Into the Light from Repetitions (Letters to Krzystof Komeda)
  8. Steve Lehman’s Selebeyone – Are You In Peace? from Selebeyone
  9. Sleep Walker – Resurrection from Sleep Walker

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

30 August 2017: a (mainly) spiritual thing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For much of this week’s programme there were tune titles and sounds with a distinctly spiritual feel. Dream Weaver, Om Rama and Zen are the titles of the first three tunes on the show – and there indeed the next tune Totem continued this trend.

Some of the selections this week came from Neil and if there is one artist that I always associate with him it is Charles Lloyd. Now 79,  he is still touring and playing and from the evidence of this re-visiting of the tune Dream Weaver recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2016, the tone of his playing is as rich and full as ever. It marked a 10th anniversary reunion of the special quartet he formed with Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. The sound is resonant, deep and spiritual and when the main Dream Weaver melody kicks in around the six minutes mark into this extended version, you know you are witnessing a musician very much at the top of his game.

Alice Coltrane may not have been a favourite of every jazz lover, either in the work she produced with husband John or in her solo projects. Her music was, however, definitely spiritual and the recent release by Luaka Bop of music produced in her later years and unearthed recently by her family comes from a time when she was leading an ashram in California. This is evident in the titles of the tune and the album and the ecstatic sounds produced. The music isn’t strictly jazz (we shouldn’t expect much improvisation on the Wurlitzer keyboard favoured by Coltrane) but the intense spirituality is evident in the first track – and it doesn’t let up. The music invokes both Hindu Vedanta devotional songs and – more surprisingly – the Detroit church choirs of Alice Coltrane’s youth. It’s a heady brew and one that’s impossible not to be (literally) swayed by.

From New York, The James Brandon Trio have an excellent first album released entitled No Filter. It is tough and contemporary in sound, it makes excellent use of hip-hop artists on some of the tunes and has a cool CD sleeve which is minimalist in terms of the information provided about the musicians and music. It does, though, have a tune Zen which continued the spiritual path of the programme.

Kajetan Borowski is a teacher of jazz piano at the Katowice Academy of Music. He leads a trio that produces music that could be described as classic jazz but with a contemporary feel. This was followed by another tune from the impressive album The Journey from the Belgian Jelle Van Giel Group.

The show ended with a trip to Brazil. Both Neil and I have recently seen Brazilian artists perform. In Neil’s case it was the great Marcos Valle in London and for me it was the British-based Monica Vasconcelos performing at a free festival in a park in Ipswich. Vasconcelos is a Sao Paulo native but has headlined here at Ronnie Scott’s, the Jazz Cafe and many other UK venues since moving to the UK. She returns to Suffolk on 07 October for the Flipside Festival at Snape Maltings.

  1. Charles Lloyd – Dream Weaver from Passin’ Thru
  2. Alice Coltrane – Om Rama from The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
  3. James Brandon Trio – Zen from No Filter
  4. Kajetan Borowski Trio – Totem from Totem
  5. Jelle Van Giel Group – Lullaby for Nelle from The Journey
  6. Marcos Valle – Apaixonada por Voce (In Love With You) from Escape
  7. Monica Vasconcelos – Quadras de Roda from Nois

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

23 August 2017: Braziliance +

This week’s show featured an end of summer selection to chill out to – classic Brazilian cool from Elaine Elias and couple of rap-influenced jazz tracks along with the full 12 minute medley of Afro Blue/Eye See You/Wade in the Water from the improbably names Jazzmeia Horn. Check it all out via the Mixcloud tab (left).

We began with Dinosaur, now the token jazz group nomination for the Mercury Music Prize. But trumpeter Laura Jurd’s quartet is more than this – Elliot Galvin is a fine keyboard player and here on our featured tune Extinct, his Wurlitzer swirls create a brooding atmosphere that perfectly compliments Jurd’s  fluttering trumpet figures. Up next were two bands that draw on hip-hop influences – the James Brandon Trio and – from Poland – EABS. Lewis is a tough sounding tenor player and here his trio is punctuated on some tracks by additional instrumentation and vocals. On Bittersweet, it’s vocalist Nicholas Ryan Gant who adds some jazz scatting to the mix.

We couldn’t resist a full three cuts from the new album from Brazilian vocalist Elaine Elias. At 57,  Elias is something of a vocal veteran who very much wears her jazz influence on almost all her many recordings. Currently with Concord Records, her new album is called Dance of Time and – like others – it features her husband bass player Marc Johnson. This time, though, he’s on production duties with Steve Rodby. The band is excellent, the cover tunes are sublime and Elias’s own original compositions – including By Hand (Em Maos)  – among the best on this fine album.

New vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is – like Cecile McLorin Salvant – a winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. Her first album is A Social Call and it includes bassist Ben Williams whose own excellent recent album Coming of Age we have played on this show. Horn has gospel roots and – thankfully – they show. Her sound and style owes a lot to Betty Carter – but that’s no bad thing. In short – an album to check out and buy.

This week’s show ended with another album sourced from the highly recommended Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Jelle van Giel is a Belgian drummer whose album The Journey is a fine recording and one well worth tracking down from Steve.

  1. Dinosaur – Extinct from Together As One
  2. The James Brandon Trio – Bittersweet from No Filter
  3. EABS – Step Into The Light from Repetitions: Letters to Krzystof Komeda
  4. Eliane Elias – Sambou Sambou from Dance Of Time
  5. Eliane Elias – Na Batucada da Vida from Dance Of Time
  6. Eliane Elias – By Hand (Em Maos) from Dance Of Time
  7. Jazzmeia Horn – Medley: Afro Blue/Wade in the Water/Eye See You from A Social Call
  8. Jelle Van Giel Group – The Journey from The Journey

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Neil is listening to…

09 August 2017: jazz, hip-hop and bossa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is there still a debate about whether jazz and hip-hop can combine? I hope not. Some of us will remember, however, the furore over Miles Davis turning to hip-hop, but if there are still any doubters they should have been assuaged by some of the tunes on this week’s programme.

Kevin le Gendre writing in Echoes the Black music magazine and Jazzwise selects some interesting records to review and musicians to write about. His observations are scholarly and his tastes usually impeccable. I came across the first two groups this week  through his writing. The James Brandon Trio and Steve Lehman’s Selebeyone play music that is tough and heavy, contemporary in feel and  adventurous in approach that employs hip-hop artists alongside jazz musicians. Give them a listen but with an open mind; the music is at times challenging.

EABS on their album Repetitions pay homage to the Polish jazz great Krzysztof Komeda, playing some of his tunes, including little-known ones. They were an appropriate act to follow James Brandon Lewis and Selebeyone. They describe their music as a new approach to jazz through the prism of the hip-hop sounds that the band grew up on. Their project has involved UK and US musicians, including Dave Liebman, whom Neil featured on the show last week.

Thanks to some of the music available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds we recognise that so many Polish jazz musicians have the chops and  to play with leading US musicians – and drummer/composer Tomek Grochot is a good example of this. His second album includes veteran US trumpeter Eddie Henderson, who not only plays on the tune selected tonight but has the tune dedicated to him. There is also an appearance from Polish pianist Dominik Wania, who has featured already on Cosmic Jazz. 

Pianist Kaketan Borowski is another young Polish musician who teaches at the Jazz institute of the Academy of Music in Katowice. By now the mood of the programme was more relaxed, more mainstream but still interesting.  The tune selected was Blue Bossa. It’s not presetned here as a true bossa tune, but someone who does know a thing or two about bossa is Brazilian pianist and composer Eliane Elias who has a new album out. The  tune selected Copacabana, has a title, if ever there was one, to conjure up the images  and sounds of bossa nova.

Finally, Jazzmeia Horn’s medley of Afro-Blue/Eye See You from her recent release A Social Call showed the full extent of her creative,  impassioned and deeply moving approach to the tunes she sings and the raps she delivers.

  1. James Brandon Trio – Y’All Slept from No Filter
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Origine from Selebeyone
  3. EABS – Perly/DukatyXIV/Repetition from Repetitions
  4. Tomek Grochot feat Eddie Henderson – Song for Eddie Henderson from In America
  5. Kayetan Borowski Trio – Blue Bossa from Totem
  6. Eliane Elias – Copacabana from Dance of Time
  7. Jazzmeia Horn – Medley: Afro-Blue/Eye See You from A Social Call

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Derek is listening to:

After an electrifying show at the Jazz Cafe, London, Neil is now going back to his (extensive) Marcos Valle collection….

Neil is listening to…

12 July 2017: Jazzmeia Horn and more Coltrane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jazz continues to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane on 17 July 1967. To start this week’s show we featured 18 minutes of ethereal, spiritual beauty in the form of the tune Ole.  Unbelievably, this was recorded as far back as 1961 and with a line-up of jazz heavyweights playing with Coltrane – Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Art Davis, and Reggie Workman. Quite simply, the album is a jazz lovers essential must-have release – but then again this is true of so many Coltrane records. There are two versions of this album currently available, but avoid the Complete Ole Sessions: it’s simply a marketing ploy, as the additional tracks were recorded in an unrelated session the previous year. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have an original vinyl copy of the 1961 release – and it’s still a personal favourite album.

Reggie Workman, one of the two bass players on Ole, is identified by Jazzmeia Horn (what a name!) on the sleeve of her new CD A Social Call as one of her mentors. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Horn (see photo above) relocated to New York where in 2013 she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz competition and then won the Theolonius Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. She describes the album as a call in peace about issues affecting peace and that her inspiration comes from the social issues that exist in the world today. The social issues are all listed at the start of the first of her tunes played on the show People Make the World Go Round. None of the songs on the album are originals but the songwriters selected include Betty Carter, Jimmy Rowles, Norma Winstone, Mongo Santamaria, Oscar Brown Jr and Norman Whitfield – an eclectic selection. Jazzmeia Horn serves them all up with an original treatment. She is also one of those vocalists who employ top-class backing musicians and gives them the scope to show that they can play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The social issues continued with another New York based singer Somi, who was raised in a family with Rwandan Ugandan descent. On the tune Black Enough she asks Am I black enough for you? I don’t talk the way you do as she explores the dilemmas of her identity. Petite Afrique, her sophomore album is a love letter to her parents for their sacrifices when leaving their home country and the extended, strong and generous immigrant community I was fortunate to be raised in. Marcus Strickland appears on the tune playing tenor sax.

One of the latest Polish gems available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds comes from a trio led by pianist Marcin Losik. This is an uplifting piece adding an energy and bounce that is not always found in the acoustic piano/bass/drums format. So often have I read comments on Polish jazz that describe a new release as yet another example of Polish melancholy. This album is anything but. Beside, is this not a huge over generalisation about the music from a country with many outstanding jazz musicians?

To end the show there was further buoyant and uplifting music via a tune from The Janet Lawson Quintet album recorded in 1980 but re-released on the British BBE label. Janet Lawson is a fine example of a jazz vocalist who used her voice as an instrument. So High is the title of the tune and that is where it takes you.

We’re going to feature more Coltrane music in a final feature on the legacy of his music in next week’s show.

  1. John Coltrane – Ole from Ole
  2. Jazzmeia Horn – People Make the World Go Round from A Social Call
  3. Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) from A Social Call
  4. Jazzmeia Horn – Going Down from A Social Call
  5. Somi – Black Enough from Petite Afrique
  6. Marcin Losik Trio – Modal Enterprise from Emotional Phrasing
  7. The Janet Lawson Quintet – So High from The Janet Lawson Quintet

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Neil is listening to:

05 June 2017: ‘trane tracks and more

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 July 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane. His music is really at the heart of what we do here at Cosmic Jazz – always searching, sometimes on the edge, often lyrical and usually deeply emotional. Perhaps that’s why we’ve played so much of Coltrane’s music over the years – and, of course, he remains a huge influence and presence for many young musicians today.

Among these is Nubya Garcia who played the Singapore Jazz Festival this year with Gilles Peterson. Garcia is a young London-based saxophonist and her group includes Binker Moses, the drummer who featured on CJ last week and who – but for a slight technical problem – would have featured again this week.  We played Contemplation from her album Nubya’s 5ive – a highlight for me of her live performance in Singapore. It’s a McCoy Tyner composition and he was, of course, a prominent member of John Coltrane’s classic quartet. It’s an interesting example of how an interpretation should be done – new perspectives and a sound that is very much of now whilst retaining the modal heartbeat of the original.

For a take of the real deal we then featured the Coltrane tune Offering. Recorded in February 1967, a few months before his death, with ‘trane’s band now featuring Alice Coltrane on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Rashied Ali on drums, this album wasn’t released until 1995. It gives no suggestion of where Coltrane might have gone in his musical exploration but his playing is as spirited and sharply defined as ever. Stellar Regions is an album well worth getting hold of.

But we began the show this week with more contemporary British jazz boundary stretching – perhaps a reflection that Cosmic Jazz is playing out this weekend at the Global Village in Christchurch Park Ipswich on Saturday and at 13:30 on Sunday afternoon at the Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre, outside the treasure that is the independent Soundclash record shop. The Comet is Coming has what has been described as combining elements of jazz, funk, electronica & psychedelic rock! Shabaka Hutchings is one of the core players and, with pure jazz credentials not in doubt, he’s one of many new(ish jazz musicians, who need to extend beyond the artificial boundaries that can sometimes contain any genre of music. Drummer Nick Woodmansey (aka Emanative) also provided an edgy, contemporary, electronic sound – and you can find much more of his music here on his Bandcamp site.

A trip around three European countries demonstrated that jazz – perhaps in more conventional form – is alive and well across the continent. Trumpeter Jerzy Malek sounded very melodic after what had been on the show up to that point and Belgian drummer Jelle van Giel led his band on a pleasantly uplifting number from his 2017 album The Journeymanaging to make what is not a large group sound like an orchestra. Talking of orchestras, from Finland came the Koko Jazz Orchestra, set up as a house band for the Helsinki Jazz Club. Its leaders are drummer Jussi Lehtonen and pianist Jussi Fredriksson and the band’s new album presents the music of these two. For another taste of this band, listen here to Chillin’, another composition from Jussi Lehtonen.

I loved The Lagos Music Salon album from New York based singer/composer Somi. The music has a jazz feel while incorporating other sounds too. The same feel is on her new album Petite Afrique – whilst it’s perhaps not as good as the last one there are still many interesting moments.

  1. The Comet is Coming – Final Eclipse from Death to the Planet
  2. Emanative – Black Enchantment from Black Enchantment
  3. Nubya Garcia – Contemplation from Nubya’s 5ive
  4. John Coltrane – Offering from Stellar Regions
  5. Jerzy Malek – Homeroad from Forevelle
  6. Jelle Van Giel Group – Bonito from The Journey
  7. Koko Jazz Orchestra – Chat With a Bass Drum from presenting the music of Jussi Lehtonen & Jussi Fredriksson
  8. Somi – They’re Like Ghosts from Petite Afrique

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

28 June 2017: drumagic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of music around the world is the drum – and its influence in jazz is, of course, profound. We began this week’s show with a focus on drummers in four very different context. The first two tracks came from the new Binker and Moses release. It’s available through the vinyl and download only Gearbox Records, and To the Mountain of Forever is a real step forward from their MOBO and Jazz FM award-winning first release from last year. To start with, on vinyl it’s two albums – the first the familar duo and the second disc with an enhanced line up that includes revered soprano saxman Evan Parker and trumpeter Byron Wallen. Fete by the River is pure Sonny Rollins calypso, but The Valley of the Ultra Blacks shifts everything up a gear. Parker does his circular breathing to great effect and tabla textures come from Sorathy Korwar. This is a standout release and well worthy of your investigation.

Up next was a favourite album of Neil’s dating back to 1974 – Dave Liebman’s Drum Ode on ECM Records. Loft Dance features Liebman on soprano sax, Badal Roy and Collin Walcott on tabla, John Abercrombie on guitar and Ritchie Beirach on Fender Rhodes. Very much of its time, but with a driving force that’s irresistible. Liebman is much influenced by Coltrane of course, but has his own sound – honed by time with Miles Davis in his most extreme bands of the 1970s. Resonance Records have a really good new release out this week featuring Liebman and Joe Lovano celebrating Coltrane’s music – check it out here. Afrobeat legend Tony Allen is – according to Brian Eno – perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived, and he has an intriguing new EP on release. It’s a tribute to another master kitman, Art Blakey, and it gives a new twist to some familiar Blakey tunes. At 77, Allen’s sound remains unique – his distinctive drum patterns appear immediately on The Drum Thunder Suite and then sustain the tune through some some interesting soloing from his Parisian quintet.

A change of tone came with a reflective tune from the Daniel Toledo Trio’s excellent album Atrium. Bassist Toledo is from Ecuador, his drummer Paul Svanberg from Sweden and they are complemented by Polish wunderkind Piotr Orzechowski – or Pianohooligan. It doesn’t seem a wholly appropriate moniker for such thoughtful music but there’s plenty of energy elsewhere on this album.

Next, something of a rarity. Neil has been working in Cambodia in recent weeks and – in the search for some jazz related Cambodian music (not an easy task) he came across this – a version of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints played by the group Khmer Jazz Fusion. They’re certainly a fusion band – recorded in 2004 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the music is a collaboration between four young jazz musicians from San Francisco and five leading Cambodian masters of traditional Khmer music. The album even features a Khmer twist on Take Five alongside more traditional Khmer courtly pinn peat music.

Saxophonist Joe Henderson remains a Cosmic Jazz favourite and this week Neil chose a track from his In Pursuit of Blackness album from 1971. No Me Esqueca (Portuguese meaning don’t forget me) is a twist on Recorda Me (meaning remember me) – a well known Henderson composition. It’s a real favourite of ours and works well in any club setting. With Henderson on tenor is Woody Shaw on trumpet  and George Cables on Fender Rhodes.

Up next was Me’Shell Ndegeocello with a track from her tribute album to Nina Simone – Pour Une Ame Souveraine. Ndegeocello doesn’t try to recreate Simone’s music, but instead give a unique take on a tune like See Line Woman which features Tracy Wonnomae on flute. We ended the show this week with some downright funk. The Blackbyrd’s recently performed at London’s Barbican and Hash and Eggs is a Mizell brothers classic from their 1975 City Life album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neil’s listening choices celebrate the music of pianist Geri Allen and trumpeter Kelan Philip Cohran, both of whom died this week. We’ve featured their music on Cosmic Jazz over the years and – whilst the legacy of both will live on – Allen and Cohran were sadly not always acknowledged as the masters they were. Geri Allen was particularly under-rated as an innovative pianist, at home with both the jazz tradition and the avantgarde. Notably, Allen said in a 1992 interview I like to look at the piano as a drum – as 88 drums with pitch. Rhythm is the core of my music. The choices cover just some of the range of music played by both artists and we’ll feature more in weeks to come.

  1. Binker & Moses – Fete by the River from To the Mountain of Forever
  2. Binker & Moses – The Valley of the Ultra Blacks from To the Mountain of Forever
  3. Dave Liebman – Loft Dance from Drum Ode
  4. Tony Allen – The Drum Thunder Suite from A Tribute to Art Blakey EP
  5. Daniel Toledo Trio – Tawny from Atrium
  6. Khmer Jazz Fusion – Footprints from Khmer Jazz Fusion
  7. Joe Henderson – No Me Esqueca from In Pursuit of Blackness
  8. Me’Shell N’degeocello – Seeline Woman from Pour Une Ame Souveraine
  9. The Blackbyrds – Hash and Eggs from City Life

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

21 June 2017: jazz – the global beat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music – the most international of languages – is good at travelling. There are no borders and certainly no walls. But results can vary. It may depend on the artist’s purpose, cultural understanding or musical assimilation. Reggae, for example, has gone global but one could question the quality of some of the bands comprised of musicians from European heritages. The same could be said of some Latin music too. Jazz, on the other hand, seems to do a good job of transcending its American origins. One of Art Blakey’s early Blue Note albums was called Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World – and that’s where our CJ artists gather too. Around the world, jazz has truly become a global language – perhaps because the spirit of invention and improvisation is a global impulse – and we have some fine examples for you in this week’s show.

The record from the Daniel Toledo Trio, which has just arrived from Steve’s Jazz Sounds, is an interesting example of both the worldwide appeal and the creativity and fine musicianship of jazz players of differing heritages. The trio includes Daniel Toledo, a bass player from Ecuador, Paul Svanberg, a Swedish drummer and Piotr Orzechowski, a classically trained pianist with a well-established reputation as a serious jazz artist in  his homeland of Poland. The record, incidentally, was recorded in Poland. It is recommended.

In the week that I attended the Aldeburgh Festival at Snape Maltings in Suffolk – a festival established by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – it seemed appropriate to play again something from bass player Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance. The record Accident and Insurgency was the outcome of their playing and composing residency at Snape – they were the first jazz musicians to be granted such a residency. The tune Broadside paid homage to a local beer rather than the music environment but that was obviously an important stimulant. The touches and work throughout the album of pianist Tim Lapthorn are a delight and the album features American trumpeter Eddie Henderson as guest.

Looking at the listings in Jazzwise magazine for what seem to be an ever-increasing number of summer festivals that are either jazz festivals or include jazz, it is noticeable how often Mammals Hands are in the line-up. This is deservedly so, and pleasing for those of us at Cosmic Jazz who have seen what is a local trio develop from playing a pub on the seafront in Felixstowe, to a meagre half disinterested audience noisily talking  away to themselves, to international crowds. They are very good and have something different to offer; catch them if you can and/or listen to their records.

The programme this week had very much a British focus. In addition to Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance and Mammal Hands there was a further reminder of how promising Camilla George and her Quartet sound on their first album and there were two tunes from albums  released on the British Edition record label. Some of the musicians were British but in Phronesis, a multi-national band if ever there was one, playing with Julian Arguelles and the Frankfurt Big Band, there is another example of the wide and successful reach of jazz music.

To end the show, it was a return to Poland for the wonderful band led by Lukas Korybalski, a trumpet and flugelhorn player.

  1. Daniel Toledo Trio – Atrium from Atrium
  2. Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance – Broadside from Accident and Insurgency
  3. Mammal Hands – Quiet Fire from Floa
  4. Phronesis, Julian Arguelles and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band – Zeiding from The Behemoth
  5. Tim Garland – Foretold from One
  6. Camilla George Quartet – Mama Wati Returns/Usoro from Isang
  7. Lukas Korybalski – Taniec Greka from CMM

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Neil is listening to…

14 June 2017: in a silent way?

Silence is golden, except on a radio show. There is a silence in this show, albeit a short one towards the end. It’s ironic really as I was about to play a tune called He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing… Suffice to say no more than such problems are usually the result of the user rather than the equipment – sorry.  Do listen, though, to the show via the MixCloud tab (left) as there are some great tunes either side of the silence.

The aforementioned He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing did get played – and it is worth hearing. It’s by Polish trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski from his remarkably mature debut album CMM released this year. It has been described as providing a musical journey into something like a trance. Certainly it has a very warm and inviting feel to it. There are lovely solos, but they are woven almost into the music  – and the backing throughout of drummer Lukasz Zyta is intricate and complex but in an understated way.

As so often on the programme, the show began with a tune that I had recently played and enjoyed. Cosmic Jazz seems to be going through yet another John Coltrane appreciation phase and why should I make apologies for that? 14 minutes and 09 seconds of India recorded live at the Village Vanguard on 03 November 1961, from the Impressions album was just such a perfect spiritual and uplifting way to begin. Coltrane was on soprano, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, McCoy Tyner piano, Jimmy Garrison and Reggie Workman on basses and Elvin Jones on drums. I just listen and wonder in amazement that this was recorded so long ago and at its sophistication – especially if you compare it to some of the popular jazz of the time. We’re not alone here: it’s reported that American group the Byrds had only one cassette to listen to on their late 1965 tour and that one side featured Ravi Shankar while the other had Coltrane’s Impressions and the Africa/Brass albums. They acknowledged Coltrane’s influence in their celebrated Eight Miles High. Listen to this extended instrumental version from the 1970 Filmore concert which is powered by Skip Battin’s jazzy basswork and see what you think.

There was what I considered a sequence of tunes that complemented each other and sounded fresh, contemporary with an element of challenge. This began with Steve Lehman and Selebeyone, went into Dinosaur and ended with Led Bib, who have a new album recently released.

Poland holds an annual Jazz Day in April. Bands perform and there is a competition for band of the year. In 2017 the winner of the Grand Prix  was the pianist Adam Jarzmik and his Quintet of musical friends with their 2017 release Euphoria. Among the judges was the Cosmic Jazz favourite Piotr Wojtasik. The award was a good choice. It is a record of strong  emotional sounds, mixing the contemporary with the traditional and embracing a subtle intensity.

There was a trip to Brazil at the end of the show. The voice of Milton Nascimento  interwoven with the soprano sax of Wayne Shorter and the further presence on the record of Herbie Hancock, Raul de Souza and Airto Moreira among others. Finally came Baden Powell, the Brazilian guitarist who named himself after the British founder of the scout movement with a tune that epitomises the delicacy, intimacy and melodic beauty of much Brazilian bossa jazz of the 1960s/early 1970s. The album from which this track comes is something of a rarity. For a further taste, listen to one of my favourite tracks – Coisa No1 – which achieves miracles in just over three minutes…

  1. John Coltrane – India from Impressions
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Laamb from Selebeyone
  3. Dinosaur – Living Breathing from Together As One
  4. Led Bib – Battery Power from Jazzwise sampler Babel Label 1994 – 2014
  5. Adam Jarzmik Quintet – Euphoria from Euphoria
  6. Lukasz Korybalski – He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing from CMM
  7. Milton Nascimento – Saidas e Bandeiras (Exits & Flags) from Milton
  8. Baden Powell – Rosa Flor from Swings with Jimmy Pratt

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Neil is listening to…