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.
I 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.
Up 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.
Freddie 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. This 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 with 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 Cuban 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 album 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.
Finally, 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.
- Russell Gunn – Del Rio (a.k.a. Anita) from Ethnomusicology Vol 2
- Bugge Wesseltoft – Clauss It from Bugge & Friends
- Freddie Hubbard – First Light from First Light
- Cannonball Adderley – The Jive Samba from Cannonball’s Bossa Nova
- Airto Moreira – Hot Sand from Virgin Land
- Kenny Garrett – Chucho’s Mambo from Pushing the World Away
- Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayoriquino – Anabacoa from Concepts in Unity
- The Pharaohs – Freedom Road from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection
- Watching Wimbledon!
Neil is listening to: