This week’s show featured more music chosen by Neil – including a new Cameroon compilation on Analog Africa, music from Cuba, Mali and New Zealand – and, of course, jazz too…
We began with bass player Bill Laswell (above) and one of his reconstruction/transmission projects in which he takes existing recordings and then gives them his unique treatment. Here it was with some Cuban studio, home and street recordings. The album is called Imaginary Cuba and is well worth a listen if you can find it.
Up next was a track from Pop Makossa, a collection on the German label Analog Africa. It’s always exciting when you settle down to listen to new music along with the usually comprehensive booklet we expect from the label. We featured Nen Lambo by Bill Loko, a song that caused something of a dance sensation in Paris when it was released in 1980. It’s easy to hear why – this irrepressible synth disco masterpiece would work on any dancefloor around the world. The CD booklet recounts how the authors tracked down Loko in a Paris cafe after searching for him for over a year. Loko didn’t anticipate the resulting sudden rush of fame and he escaped to Australia for several years before returning to the Cameroon capital Doula. We’ll feature other tracks from this excellent compilation in future weeks on Cosmic Jazz.
We played a teasingly short taster of Jack de Johnette’s new project, Hudson. This is something of a power quartet with deJohnette on drums and piano, Mike Medeski on keys and organ, Larry Grenadier on bass and John Scofield on guitar. Hudson is named after the upstate New York location of the recording and the CD has something of a jazz Americana feel as the group interpret rock classic like Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay and the Band’s Up on Cripple Creek. These are interspersed with original compositions, including the album closer – the native Indian chant of Great Spirit Peace Chant. Check out the brief promo video on deJohnette’s site here.
The next track may be titled Makossa No.3 but it bears little relation really to the authentic sound of Cameroon. But as makossa simply means dance in the Doula language we can forgive Mike Fabulous, the musical mind behind New Zealand’s Lord Echo project. This excellent album is full of the kind of catchy riffs that you think you’ve heard before but are all created by the DJ, producer and engineer who once fronted The Black Seeds – the reggae band from Wellington, NZ that isn’t Fat Freddy’s Drop.
It’s no exaggeration to say that – along with his longtime bandleader Fela Kuti – drummer Tony Allen was responsible for creating the worldwide phenomenon of afrobeat. His characteristic rhythms are in evidence on Yere Faga, one of the tracks on Oumou Sangare’s excellent new album Mogoya. Sangare is special: not only one of Mali’s most successful singers, she is also a hotelier, (the Wassoulou Hotel in Bamoko), a car manufacturer and taxi company owner and longtime advocate of women’s rights. And her songs aren’t afraid to tackle big issues either – Yere Faga deals with suicide and Sangare sings a message of hope – Don’t kill yourself because of suffering/Life on this earth isn’t easy…
Here on Cosmic Jazz we really like Bandcamp, the online site where musicians rub electronic shoulders with their audience. It’s a great way to listen to and then buy your music – and it enables you to directly support the artists involved. It’s where I discovered the music of Alfa Mist and his release Antiphon. The standout track on this mashup of hiphop beats, jazz drumming and conscious lyrics is the opener, Right On. To track down this release, simply head for this Bandcamp page. Another recommendation to explore.
Yaz Ahmed is a young British trumpeter whose very assured new album La Saboteuse has been attracting much attention in recent months. Ahmed has a musical pedigree: her grandfather Terry Brown played with the original John Dankworth Seven in the 1950s. After studying at the Guildhall in London, Ahmed released her debut in 2011. The new release incorporates some electronica alongside some Arabic modes – check out the track we featured, The Space Between the Fish and the Moon. To play the whole album check out her Bandcamp page – and then buy!
Mark de Clive-Lowe was our second Kiwi of the evening – he’s a DJ and live performer whose recent Blue Note Remixed project is one of the finer examples of the turntablist’s art. Armed with a crateful of classics from Blue Note Records’ genre-defining years, de Clive-Lowe has created a live-remix mixtape weaving from jazz to hip hop classics, to underground house and broken beat. Recorded and improvised live in one take, MdCL deploys his drum machine, sample pads, Rhodes and keyboards on-the-fly bringing unique perspective to moments created decades earlier by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington, and Donald Byrd and more. We featured a section from the second half of the disc – how many Blue Note classic samples did you spot? You can download or order the vinyl here at Bandcamp.
We ended the show with something of a contemporary jazz classic – Sonny Sharrock’s Many Mansions. This comes from Ask the Ages – an album I’ve wanted for many years. Recently reissued, it features a stellar quartet of Sharrock on guitar, Pharoah Sanders on tenor, Charnett Moffett on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Recorded in 1994, this was Sharrock’s last album and – in my opinion – a jazz masterpiece. Traditionalists may baulk at this when they hear Sharrock’s guitar-shredding style, but Many Mansions is really a modal classic with saxophone and guitar trading sonic blows to build up to a truly awesome climax. Highly recommended.
- Bill Laswell – Habana Transmission 1 #/Avisale a la Vencina Dub from Imaginary Cuba
- Bill Loko – Nen Lambo from Pop Makossa
- Hudson – Great Spirit Peace Chant from Hudson
- Lord Echo – Makossa No. 3 from Harmonies
- Oumou Sangare – Yere Faga from Mogoya
- Alfa Mist – Keep On from Antiphon
- Yaz Ahmed – The Space Between the Fish and the Moon from La Saboteuse
- Mark de Clive-Lowe – extract from Blue Note Remixed Vol. 1
- Sonny Sharrock – Many Mansions from Ask the Ages
Neil is listening to…