We opened with Gaucho – Steely Dan’s cheeky reworking of Keith Jarrett’s ‘Long As You Know You’re Living Yours. Of course, the Dan had form on this kind of thing: they pinched the opening piano motif from Horace Silver’s Song for My Father to create Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – and got away with it. But you don’t mess with Keith Jarrett – he won the law suit that resulted.
Joe Henderson is, of course, a CJ hero. We’ve featured his albums since Cosmic Jazz began in 2008 and he’s been an unexpected success when CJ goes live. This week’s tune came from his 1975 album Canyon Lady. Recorded a couple of years earlier, the music is a surprisingly adventurous mix with a strong Latin feel on most tracks. Las Palmas – yes, there’s no doubt it’s another CJ Essential. And – as we said on the show this week – it doesn’t matter where you start with Joe Henderson, whether it’s his first and appropriately titled Page One album on Blue Note (1963) or Lush Life, his tribute to the compositions of Billy Strayhorn (1992), you will strike gold. Did he record a bad album? There’s a simple answer – no. It seemed appropriate to follow with some Michael Brecker, an equally impassioned tenor player whose album Tales from the Hudson has a very strong line up including Pat Metheny on guitars and Jack de Johnette on drums. African Skies has the added bonus of McCoy Tyner on piano.
Shigeto is the stage name of Zachary Shigeto Saginaw, an American electronic musician originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. His music is clearly influenced by jazz as is much of the Heavenly Sweetness compilation from which this track comes. You can see him live in concert here. This year he collaborated with trumpeter Dave Douglas and drummer Mark Guiliana to create High Risk – a jazz/electronica album that works.
DJ Patrick Forge introduced Don Sebesky’s Giant Box album to me through his excellent online radio show for MiSoul. You can subscribe on Podomatic. This typically expansive kitchen sink production for CTI throws in a mix of Stravinsky and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (Firebird/Birds of Fire) and covers of Joni Mitchell (Song to a Seagull) and Jimmy Webb/the Bible (Psalm 150). You heard Paul Desmond on alto on our featured track, Song to a Seagull from Joni’s debut release – not Joe Farrell on tenor as I claimed in the programme!
Stevie Wonder is rightly popular with jazz artists. His credentials are impressive: he often works jazz classics into his live shows (All Blues, Giant Steps, Spain) and many of his own songs have become jazz standards. His debut album was called The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie, and as a child star he released an instrumental album of harmonica solos. “His jazz chops have been pretty damn good ever since I first saw him play,” says the pianist Chick Corea, “and they seem to get better. He could comfortably sit in with any number of jazz outfits.” Herbie Hancock apparently agrees. “He’s one pop star that pretty much every jazz musician has to take seriously,” he has said. “Both as an intelligent songwriter, but also as a gifted soloist, on piano and harmonica. Having jammed with him many times, I know he has the most incredible set of ears of any musician I’ve ever worked with. He listens to what you play and he responds with amazing agility.” We featured Vijay Iyer’s take on the prescient Big Brother from Talking Book. Listen to the original here (with some powerful images too) for a reminder that sometimes things don’t change…
We ended with a real contrast – some classic Ornette Coleman (with bassist Charlie Haden very much to the fore in this recording) and then Los Angeles DJ Rick Holmes’ litany of jazz artists (and more) set to music by Roy Ayers. As I played this, I hadn’t realised that Holmes died in August this year. Pass the information; extend the knowledge…
- Steely Dan – Gaucho from Gaucho
- Keith Jarrett – ‘Long As You Know You’re Living Yours from Belonging
- Joe Henderson – Las Palmas from Canyon Lady
- Michael Brecker – African Skies from Tales from the Hudson
- Shigeto – Self Compassion from Digging the Blogosphere
- Don Sebesky – Song to a Seagull from Giant Box
- Vijay Iyer – Big Brother from Historicity
- Ornette Coleman – Law Years from the Complete Science Fiction
- Rick Holmes – Remember to Remember from Life:Styles (4 Hero compilation)
Pianist Vijay Iyer continues to entend his range. I hear more emotion in his music than of late – and it sounds all the better for it. His latest release for ECM – Break Stuff – is a trio recording without the immediate touchstones of awesome cover readings like Human Nature and The Star of a Story (on his ACT album Accelerando) but it certainly repays repeated listening. You can see Iyer’s full set with his innovative trio live at Jazz Baltica 2011 below:
I’m back in Beijing as you read this but I’ll be contributing to the CJ blog as usual and listening each week to (probably) the widest range of improvised music you’ll find on any radio show. Join me.