Week ending 14 April 2018: jazz or jazz-related – you decide…

On the Mixcloud tab this week is a show of what is mainly jazz-related rather than ‘strictly’ jazz music. But this begs the question of what jazz is – a debate that has been current since ‘jass music’ (as pianist Eubie Blake once described it) began at the beginning of the last century. Whatever, the music featured this week is a rich tapestry of sounds that show the range of emotions, sounds and possibilities that this extraordinary music makes possible.

[Neil writes] We began with another track from saxophonist Piotr Wojtasik’s great new album – a celebration of the legendary jazz venue in Warsaw that after almost ten years of closure reopened last year. There’s a fascinating collection of instruments deployed on this record including ocarina, shakuhachi and guest Leszek Mozdzer on a range of keyboard sounds.

Bassist Esperanza Spalding is nothing if not eclectic and her latest project generated two separate CDs. That’s not unusual, but the way in which the recordings were made certainly is. Spalding set herself the challenge of recording a new album from scratch in 77 consecutive hours, with the whole process being streamed live on Facebook. The resulting music emerged on the CD Exposure, itself limited to just 7,777 copies. If you were one of the lucky few who secured the disc (which will never be repressed) you also received a bonus disc from which our chosen track Tangerine was taken.

Back to something that Eubie Blake would have very much recognised – the sound of a New Orleans style marching band with their characteristic ‘second line’ rhythms crossed with Jewish klesmer music. Actually, the Kinetic Brass Collective come out of Norway but are led by UK sax maverick Tim Lowerson. If you want to hear more or download the new album just check out their site here on Bandcamp.

The oud has become increasingly recognised as an improvisational instrument in jazz. Of course, it has been this for centuries in the middle eastern culture where it originates, but modern masters like Anouar Brahem and Dhafer Youssef are bringing it to the fore in jazz and jazz-related music. Tunisian Brahem’s new ECM recording features long time collaborator bassist Dave Holland and two new recruits – veteran drummer Jack de Johnette and British pianist Django Bates. It’s Bates who is the surprise here: a recent recruit to Manfred Eicher’s iconic jazz label, he quickly establishes a real rapport with Brahem and his peerless rhythm section. And de Johnette shows how he can move from straight ahead jazz drumming to the subtlest of cymbal splashes. Derek was absolutely right to choose two tracks from this excellent new release – it’s a great set and one well worth getting hold of.

Cosmic Jazz is always about contrasts and the music this week certainly reflected that. Up next was Chicago crate digger, record store owner and DJ Mark Grusane who here chops his way through Shabadoo’s classic Do It from 1976. You can compare with the string-driven original right here. And if you check out what Neil is listening to below, you can see his celebration of the music of Herbie Hancock – possibly the only jazz artist to successfully innovate across funk, disco, hip hop without disgracing himself! – reflects that 1976 sound with his perfect Doin’ It. The ever youthful Hancock turned 78 on 12 April and my choices this week show the range and diversity of his music. There’s no sign of him slowing down either – his new album will feature collaborations with those hippest of LA musicians, the West Coast Get Down crew – including Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington and Thundercat.

The show concluded with two more edge-of-jazz artists – the first a really underrated Californian Jarrod Lawson, whose excellent self-titled 2014 album contains the excellent Music is a Magical Way. Undoubtedly influenced by Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder, he created an individual sound that still sounds good. Maisha are part of the same London jazz explosion that has seen the rise of Nubya Garcia, Joe Armon-Jones and other artists we have featured on the show in recent months. Africa comes from their free live download available here on here on jazzre:freshed/Bandcamp. Download it now and support this new wave of talented young jazz artists!

  1. Piotr Wojtasik – Tribute 4 from Tribute to Akwarium
  2. Esperanza Spalding – Tangerine from Undeveloped
  3. Kinetic Brass Collective – Cesar de Carnaval from Kinetic Brass Collective
  4. Anouar Brahem – Blue Maqams from Blue Maqams
  5. Anouar Brahem – La Nuit from Blue Maquams
  6. Shabadoo (Mark Grusane edit) – Do it from The Real Sound of Mark Grusane
  7. Jarrod Lawson – Music and its Magical Way from Jarrod Lawson
  8. Maisha – Africa from Welcome to a new Welcome

Neil is listening to…

Derek is listening to…

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