It happens regularly that I hear a tune on my shuffle songs and react with total pleasure and enthusiasm. The outcome is an airing on Cosmic Jazz. The latest example is the Cannonball Adderley Quintet playing Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. This classic souljazz composition was by Adderley’s Austrian-born pianist Joe Zawinul who later went on to form Weather Report with saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Is there a more uplifting piece of souljazz (with more than a hint of gospel)? It’s billed as being recorded live at The Club in Chicago, but was actually set up as a live studio recording in Capitol Studiios in Los Angeles by famed produced David Axelrod. Adderley wanted some publicity for his friend who owned The Club and so billed the new album as this. To make sure the audience were on good form, Axelrod created a guest list and provided free drinks. However, he needn’t have worried: the album went on to be one of Adderley’s most celebrated performances and the audience participation just adds to the wonder and joy of the music. Take a listen and join in the fun yourself! Neil notes: for the same kind of interactive audience response there’s just one other competitor – Donny Hathaway’s album simply called Live, recorded at two clubs – the Troubadour in Hollywood and The Bitter End in New York. For a a taste of one of the best live albums in any genre, try The Ghetto, which features a terrific Fender Rhodes solo from Hathaway.
The next selection was from new album Arise by Zara McFarlane whose previous records I have also bought and enjoyed, including the recent 10″ single version of Max Roach’s tune All Africa. Alongside drummer Moses Boyd on production, the album features a stellar line up of some of the key players on the London scene: Binker Golding on tenor sax, Peter Edwards on piano, Shirley Tetteh on guitar, Nathaniel Cross on trombone and an unusually restrained turn on clarinet from Shabaka Hutchings. All these musicians are very much key to the current jazz renaissance in London and all explore links between different musical styles – from US hard bop and free jazz, to reggae and dub. They’re boosted by new platforms like East London showcase Church of Sound and a newly-refreshed Jazz Café and with these impeccable credentials and a clutch of favourable reviews, including a cover feature in the Black Music monthly Echoes, I felt I should like this record. Sadly, I didn’t. Arise aims to connect Caribbean origins to African music, jazz and funk to the narrative of a Black Londoner but somehow I was disappointed. As the tune Fussin’ and Fightin’ started, I was reminded of How Long Jah by my old friends Misty in Roots. The track starts in militant style but then deteriorates into lighter repetition. The album as a whole has a touch of uplifting militancy but it is not maintained and, put simply, I am not enjoying the tunes. I wonder from what I have read if I am alone in my judgement, but – as always – listen and judge for yourself. I shall play more and listen more. Arise could grow on me but at the moment I am unconvinced.
Trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s 2017 release Cross My Palm With Silver is a heavy and serious work, not for casual background listening, but for intense and deep involvement. It is released on ECM Records, with the characteristic cover style cover and immaculate produced by label owner Manfred Eicher. Yonathan Avishai is on piano, Barak Mori on double bass and Nasheet Watts on drums.
There was another of our regular forays into contemporary music from Poland. Marcin Losik is a newly rising Polish piano talent playing improvised music with energetic phrasing filled with contrasting rhythms. The NAK Trio features Jacek Kochan as pianist and composer, Dominik Wania on piano and Michal Kapczuk on bass. One Polish reviewer on the Polish Jazz Blogspot described The Other Side Of If as an album where mathematics takes the upper hand over metaphysics. Whatever, I enjoyed it.
I returned to the Michael J. McEvoy album The Long Way Home which I know my colleague Neil loves – and so do I. The London-based pianist/composer has put together an album of jazz that is both at times soulful and from the evidence from the two tunes played this week beautiful as well. He has garnered some leading British jazz players as guests on the album, including trumpeter Gerard Presencer who appears on Stillness and Being and saxophonist Ben Castle who is featured on When I Get My Wings.
We have supported and enthused about the Spiritual Jazz series of compilations from Jazzman records. The series is now up to Volume 7 and from this compilation came the wonderful Morning from the incomparable Yusef Lateef. It begins in the same vein as his classic tune Before Dawn and progresses into music that is what can I only describe as spiritual. You can find this track on Lateef’s 1957 release Jazz Moods – worth getting for every track. This was followed by John Coltrane’s timeless Equinox, its persistent three beats built around the bass and modal enveloping tune ascending the listener further towards the ethereal. Equinox comes from Coltrane’s Sound – one of his last Atlantic Records, and a must for CJ listeners if they don’t know it.
- The Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy from Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
- Zara McFarlane – Fussin’ and Fightin’ from Arise
- Avishai Cohen – 340 Down from Cross My Palm With Silver
- Marcin Losik – Modal Enterprise from Emotional Planning
- NAK Trio – The Other Side Of If from The Other Side Of If
- Michael J. McEvoy – Stillness and Being from The Long Way Home
- Michael J. McEvoy – When I Get My Wings from The Long Way Home
- Yusef Lateef – Morning from Jazz Mood and Spiritual Jazz 7
- John Coltrane – Equinox from Coltrane’s Sound and The Kings of Jazz
Derek is listening to…
- Frankie Knuckles – It’s Hard Sometimes
- Raging Fyah – Jah Glory
- Dominik Wania – Posttower
- Tony Allen – Secret Agent
- Somi – Last Song
Neil is listening to…
- Thelonious Monk – Don’t Blame Me
- Esperanza Spalding – live session*
- Jon Hassell – Amsterdam Blue
- Vijay Iyer – Far From Over
- George Benson – On Broadway
* The music here comes from the one continuous session for Spalding’s upcoming new album Exposure. The fascinating recording process is outlined here on Spalding’s website where the whole three day process was recorded live and broadcast live for a global audience. Once the cameras started rolling, viewers could see every second of Spalding’s process, including her eating and taking breaks to sleep in the studio, making it the first album ever created entirely on Facebook Live for an unprecedented 77 hour live feed. Once the record is finished, a limited edition 7,777 CDs will be released and the packaging of each CD will include a piece of the original notepaper Spalding will have used to write the lyrics and music. It’s expected that the album will be released in November 2017.