Cosmic Jazz usually mixes the old and the new but from time to time we like to have a programme where all the tunes are from the past. This week was one of those programmes and while there were two or three favourites we have played before, most were new to the show.
There is a tendency in such a format to resort to our US favourites – but not this time. We began in the UK with a band that really did epitomise the best of British jazz. Long before Gilles Peterson championed the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet for a new hip audience, here at CJ we were fans of the band and their ability to go beyond the post-bop conventions of the time and really stretch out on some extraordinary tunes. Shades of Blue is just such an example – it’s an oasis of stillness and calm throughout but driven by the gorgeous tones of Rendell on soprano and tenor saxes and Ian Carr on trumpet. Recorded in 1964, this album title tune was written by composer Neil Ardley and played by a band that truly showed how innovative, inventive and deeply engaging the UK jazz scene could be. After the quintet folded, all its members continued to play and make their mark both in the UK and wider with trumpeter Ian Carr writing the go-to biographies of both Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett.
Mark Murphy’s version of Stolen Moments was one of the tunes that has made several appearances on the show before. I make no apologies for playing it again. Yusef Lateef also appears on many of our playlists and Chang, Chang, Chang, originally from the album Before Dawn and reissued on the excellent Soul Jazz compilation Black Fire! New Spirits, is one we have played before.
The terrible destruction wreaked on several Caribbean islands by Hurricane Irma made me want to recognise the musical creativity of the people there as a mark of respect. In 2015 the label Heavenly Sweetness released a highly recommended compilation called Koute Jazz, which covers music from the French Antilles in the 1970s and 1980s, where the jazz of the time embodied a return to roots music as well as to free jazz. This was exemplified by the selection of Gwadloup by trumpeter Edmony Krater and his band Zepiss. He was born in Guadeloupe but the tune was recorded in Paris. It used traditional percussion evocative of the Antilles and in the words of Edmony Krater. This song describes how we don’t manage to value our history, our specificity.
Underground System is a Knitting Factory CD release with three tunes from Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80. This 1992 album was the final one of new material to be released during Fela’s lifetime. The tune Pansa Pansa was first performed by Fela in 1977 and was a response to the Nigerian army’s destruction of his base, the Kalakuta Republic. But the more the authorities persecuted (pansa, pansa means more, more) the more Fela and his extended family would protest…
Brazilian gems from the past seem to be hard for me to avoid at the moment. Once again, we featured tunes that have been re-released on British labels. The amazing Tenorio Jr’s Consolacao is – like most of his music – just over two minutes of perfection. Sadly, Tenorio Jr seems to have travelled from Brazil to Argentina to then become one of the disappeared under the military junta there. The track is available on Bossa Jazz Vol 2 from Soul Jazz Records. Milton Banana’s equally compact (and perfect) Cidade Vazia from 1966 was re-released via the Mr. Bongo label in their excellent Brazilian Beats series.
Finally, there was a taste of another Cosmic Jazz favourite, Patrice Rushen, who any listener to the programme or reader of the blog should know by now has had a life outside Forget Me Nots.
- Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Shades of Blue from Shades of Blue
- Mark Murphy – Stolen Moments from Mark Murphy – the Jazz Singer
- Yusef Lateef – Chang, Chang, Chang from Black Fire! New Spirits!
- Edmony Krater and Zepioss Gwadloup from Koute Jazz
- Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Pansa Pansa from Underground System
- Tenorio Jr – Consolacao from Embalo/Bossa Jazz Vol 2
- Milton Banana – Cidade Vazia from Balancado/Brazilian Beats Vol 1
- Patrice Rushen – Before the Dawn from Before the Dawn
Derek is listening to:
- John Coltrane – Alabama
- EABS – Knowledge
- Nicola Conte – Bossa Per Due
- Carmen Lundy – When Will They Learn
- Glen Washington – Consider Me
Neil is listening to…