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.
- Binker & Moses – Fete by the River from To the Mountain of Forever
- Binker & Moses – The Valley of the Ultra Blacks from To the Mountain of Forever
- Dave Liebman – Loft Dance from Drum Ode
- Tony Allen – The Drum Thunder Suite from A Tribute to Art Blakey EP
- Daniel Toledo Trio – Tawny from Atrium
- Khmer Jazz Fusion – Footprints from Khmer Jazz Fusion
- Joe Henderson – No Me Esqueca from In Pursuit of Blackness
- Me’Shell N’degeocello – Seeline Woman from Pour Une Ame Souveraine
- The Blackbyrds – Hash and Eggs from City Life
Derek is listening to:
- Rosie Gaines – I Want You
- Gerardo Frisina – Cubana
- Lord Kitchener – Sugar Bum Bum
- Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun
- John Handy – Hard Work
Neil is listening to: