Week ending 02 May 2020: new jazz sounds

This week’s Cosmic Jazz reverts to our current virtual show format – three tunes from Neil and three from Derek. The current lockdown has encouraged more online purchasing, but we’d recommend using the independent sites and those where a higher proportion of the profit goes direct to the musicians themselves. For example, if you purchase any music in whatever format from Bandcamp on Friday 01 May, then 100% of that purchase price will go to the artists themselves. In the 30 days since the first 100% promotion, music fans have paid Bandcamp artists $14.29 million. With musicians in all genres unable to perform live, it’s a nobrainer. Check out all the jazz new releases here and support musicians through this difficult time.

First up this week is a track from the new release by UK tenor saxophonist Tony Kofi, Another Kind of Soul. It’s his tribute to Cannonball Adderley, and was recorded live at Luton’s Bear Club in 2019. The album features Andy Davies on trumpet, pianist Alex Webb, bassist Andrew Cleyndert and Alfonso Vitale on drums. The album is best heard in limited edition vinyl but is available in digital formats – check it out here on the Juno Records site.

Kofi has cited the work of Adderley as an early inspiration.  “The first recording I ever heard of Cannonball’s was of the Quintet with the opening track “Arriving Soon.” It opens with his lone saxophone. I was 17 and from that moment on, I was hypnotised as if the pied piper had called out to me. I swore that before I got a good technique on the saxophone, I would first acquire a voice that people could recognise and relate to. Cannonball’s sound is like a human voice. He had his own personal sound, which is like finding the rarest diamond that only belongs to you. His sense of rhythm was a revelation,” says Tony Kofi of the jazz giant. This record comes highly recommended by Cosmic Jazz – buy on vinyl for the real deal!

The setlist includes Adderley brothers classics like Things Are Getting Better, Work Song, Sack O’Woe, and boasts two originals. A Portrait of Cannonball explores Adderley’s breadth of style and was composed for the project by Alex Webb. Operation Breadbasket is a Kofi composition which pays tribute to Cannonball’s support of young jazz musicians.  Mercy, mercy, mercy!

Up next is something new from Blue Note – it’s the fruits of a collaboration between UK singer songwriter and beatmaker Tom Misch and drummer Yussef Dayes. What Kinda Music is not deep but it is good, relaxed listening. Check out the title track and lead single here.Some of the album feels like part of the South London jazz scene with saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi and bassist Rocco Palladino in two of two tracks, Storm Before the Calm and Lift Off. It’s available in digital and analogue formats.

We’ve long been fans of the ensemble Maisha, led by drummer Jake Long. At last year’s Gilles Peterson-curated We Out Here Festival, UK headliner Gary Bartz performed with Maisha and the fruits of this collaboration were then developed into an album on the new UK-based direct-to-disc Night Dreamer label. The album will be released on the label on 29 May but you can check out the tracks Harlem to Haarlem (where the album was recorded) and Leta’s Dance right here, right now. Again, why not give your turntable a treat with this one and go for the vinyl option!

Polish pianist/composer Krzystof Herdzin has released an album entitled The Book of Secrets. It’s Volume 84 in the Polish Jazz series, started in 1965 by the state recording company. Herdzin is a veteran of the Polish jazz scene. He has released twenty albums and has appeared on other records across different genres of music. This album was recorded with a quartet, although there are other guests. It includes US saxophonist Rick Margitza, bass player Robert Kubiszyn and Cezary Konrad on drums. Time starts with Herdzin prominent on piano, gathering pace to quite some speed with Kubiszyn on bass also to the fore. Later Margitza appears from the shadows and trades with Konrad on drums and then the bass. It’s good, contemporary jazz.

Chandra Rule is a Chicago-born vocalist “rooted in gospel, but with a heart full of soul and a voice blessed with jazz”. She has collaborated with New York sax player Donny McCaslin and has performed as an opening act for quite a varied list of performers – Kamasi Washington, India Arie, Regina Belle and The Whispers. On her new album Hold On she’s backed by the Sweet Emma Band, a quintet of European jazz virtuosos. Chandra acknowledges “a sea of ancestral energy supporting me, guiding my flight” and describes Hold On as “a musical libation to them”.

Seven of the nine tunes on the album she says were “originally written and sung by unnamed and undocumented African-American mothers, fathers, workers, prisoners, preachers, sons and daughters.” Chandra has updated the lyrics to “support us through a new time”. tune Rosalie is raw, earthy, rootsy and pared down to essentials. A fitting, powerful and emotional testament to the origins of the music. Sweet Emma, incidentally was a renowned pianist and singer from New Orleans and, in a link with Neil’s choices, Nat and Cannonball Adderley dedicated their song Sweet Emma to her.

Maybe it is the times but I have been finding myself listening to some music on the soul/jazz borders. Some might find it too smooth, even sugary, but I am not afraid to confess a partiality for the music. My attention was drawn to a piece in the March edition of Echoes music magazine on US vocalist Lindsey Webster. I confess that perhaps the line under the photo indicating that she had just made an album with the man she recently divorced did encourage me to read further, but I was already aware of her. Previous references in Echoes through had already drawn attention to Webster’s music and so I was intrigued by the prospect of her new album, A Woman Like Me. Yes, it has ex-husband Keith Slattery on keys and he contributes to what is a highly polished and professional sound which combines remarkably well with the warmth and intimacy of Webster’s voice. Listen with an open mind to One Step Forward and you could enjoy it as much as I do.

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *