A programme inspired by the Mercury Music Prize, small independent labels and jazz from Poland, New Zealand, the USA, the UK – including not far from where Cosmic Jazz is recorded. Check some great tunes out via the Mixcloud tab.
The Mercury Music Prize in the UK always includes a token jazz group who are never going to win. All you can hope for is that the exposure will enhance their career in some way. This year that token mantle was held by Dinosaur, a Cosmic Jazz favourite. On the first programme I recorded since the prize I wanted to play the tune Dinosaur performed at the live event. The introduction they received from the programme presenter seemed to be less enthusiastic than the others I saw, but the reception from the audience to their truncated version of Living, Breathing sounded loud and enthusiastic – quite right too. That was not the only reference to this year’s Mercury on the show as the eventual winner Sampha appeared on a tune that Neil contributed. It’s not strictly jazz – but it does include Kamasi Washington and that gave us reason to play this excellent track from a forthcoming EP by Richard Russell’s group Everything is Recorded. Incidentally, the sample that provides the inspiration for the track is from Nightclubbing by Grace Jones from her magisterial 1981 album of the same name. For more Kamasi Washington, his new EP Harmony of Difference is just out on the new Young Turks label. You can listen to the superb 14 minute final track Truth right here.
Birnam CD, an independent Scotland-based record company, were represented by the tuneful London Jazz players and the Italian-born but London-based guitarist Giulio Romano Malaisi.
As well as independent labels we like to support independent stockists and Steve’s Jazz Sounds is one we turn to regularly, particularly for some wonderful Polish jazz. Algorythm play music that is fresh, contemporary and uplifting. EABS have a record that pays homage to a Polish jazz legend, the pianist and composer Krzystof Komeda. However, the tunes often bear little apparent relationship to the compositions of Komeda. His music featured on some of the classic soundtracks to Roman Polanski’s earlier films including Knife in the Water, Cul de Sac and the celebrated Rosemary’s Baby – the recording of which has recently been reissued on vinyl. EABS are more grounded in hip hop and so their twist on Komeda is singular – none more so than on the unpredictable vocal tune God is Love which we included this week’s show. Listen and you’ll hear what we mean.
Mammal Hands – a group you could almost call local to Cosmic Jazz and one we have promoted since their inception – have a new album out at the end of October. We featured Black Sails, the first release from the album which is titled Shadow Work. Look out for it in your local record stores soon. Mammal Hands will promote the album in major European cities beginning with Istanbul – a major move forward from their early gigs in small Norwich pubs and clubs! We also played Transalpine Express, one of two tracks from The Elder Statesman, a trio from New Zealand with producer Lord Echo on percussion. It’s a tune that’s catchy, enticing and certainly one to play again. I loved it and we’ll feature its partner Montreux Sunrise in a future programme.
An encouraging aspect of jazz vocalists these days is the way they not only employ top musicians but give them the scope to play – we’ve often commented on how Gregory Porter and Cecile McClorin Salvant are adept at this. Perhaps it’s because the core of their touring bands are usually musicians they have held onto since their rise to fame. In a recent performance here in Singapore [writes Neil], Porter showed how much space he can give to his musicians in a live context too. And that’s not just in obligatory solos around his vocals: the band are presented as very much integral to the show and (largely) in a full-on jazz ensemble performance. Young vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is another example of this encouraging trend in the new generation of jazz singers. CJ this week paired her alongside an earlier example of someone to whom she has been likened and compared – Rachelle Ferrell. I never tire of Ferrell’s outstanding album First Instrument. For me, it is up there among our Cosmic Jazz essentials. Like Jazzmeia Horn, Ferrell draws on some standard tunes, with this week’s selection one both written and made famous by peerless soul singer Sam Cooke in 1957.
- Dinosaur – Living, Breathing from Together As One
- The London Jazz Players – The News Where You Are from CD single/download
- Guilio Romano Malaisi – Randagio from Unexpected Ride
- Algorythm – Deep Dive Narcissus from Segments
- EABS – God is Love from Repetitions: Letters to Krzystof Komeda
- Mammal Hands – Black Sails from Shadow Work
- Everything is Recorded – Mountains of Gold feat. Sampha, Ibeyi, Wiki and Kamasi Washington
- The Elder Statesman – Trans-Alpine Express from Montreux Sunrise/Trans-Alpine Express
- Jazzmeia Horn – Music Makes the World Go Round from A Social Call
- Rachelle Ferrell – You Send Me from First Instrument
- Somi – Midnight Angels from Petite Afrique
Neil is listening to…