Week ending 05 May 2018: music for jazz dancers

CJ programmes of late have featured some deep, introspective and serious music. The music available on the Mixcloud tab this week is still serious stuff but the tempo is raised and there is definitely some music that jazz dancers will enjoy.

To begin with, though, it was the last in our sequence of tracks from Andrew Hill. This was planned for every week in April but as one week was missed out it was extended into the first week of May. Of course, we’ll play more Andrew Hill in the future – he’s too important to leave for long. Smokestack was recorded in 1963 – his second album for Blue Note Records, although the fourth to be released. Hill was a frequent visitor to the studios and the records were not always released in sequence. His individualistic approach is evident in the selection of musicians for this one: there are two bass players – Richard Davis and Eddie Khan (with Davies the more forceful of the two) and the great Roy Haynes on drums. As ever, the music is challenging and original.

Finnish tenor sax player Timo Lassy has a new album released entitled Moves. It features his regular five piece band as well as the Ricky Tick Big Band Brass, another prominent Finnish sax player Eero Koivistoinen, New York based singer Joyce Elaine Yuille and Finnish rapper Paleface. Lassy was a founder member of the Five Corners Quintet – much loved by jazz dancers – but for a decade has led his own band. This is his sixth solo album. Gilles Peterson has described his music as quality swinging jazz with a difference; a helpful and apt description. There is a maturity and depth to this album, it is music that swings but it is much more than that image can sometimes imply. This is good jazz produced by some serious players. Check this for yourself from the two tunes in this week’s show.

BBC TV in the UK has paid more attention than of late to Latin history and culture. There has been a couple of long programmes on Cuba and a series of three programmes on BBC4 which present the story of Latin Music USA. Perhaps next week’s show can acknowledge the latter, but for this week I was inspired to include a Cuban tune. Son, the basis of so much Cuban dance music, has a strong jazz element, with fine musicianship. The song Dundunbanza by Sierra Maestra includes trumpet breaks by Jesus Alemany that soar and soar straight to the heights – irresistible. You can find the album on the always recommended World Circuit label.

Colin Curtis is a DJ based in the north of the UK. Starting in Manchester 40 years ago, he became increasingly attracted to jazz sounds which he began to play alongside his soul and funk selections. At venues in Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Manchester, the jazz room became  an important feature leading to club nights devoted to jazz dance. To celebrate forty years on the scene, Curtis has released an album of tunes from Muse Records. These are from albums that appeared in the crates of jazz dance DJs as they went in search of those killer tracks that would get the jazz dance floor moving. This week’s show includes two tracks from the album. Morning Song by alto saxophonist Eric Kloss is a driving, melodic, samba infused tune. New York Afternoon by Richie Cole, another alto sax player with Eddie Jefferson on vocals, is described by Colin Curtis as a jazz dance anthem that received rapturous reception in the clubs. Cole wrote the lyrics with the Fifth Dimension in mind and then Manhattan Transfer were going to record it but never did.

While in jazz dance mode it seemed to be time to play again some prime exponents of the genre from Japan, where some exciting, at times eccentric, bands emerged from the 1990s. Their music reached the club scene in the UK where UK jazz DJs both played the music and in at least one case worked with the four musicians of Sleepwalker, who along with Quasimode – another band of four musicians – were leaders on the scene. Both are featured this week. Quasimode’s tune Down in the Village is a faithful take on the Tubby Hayes classic recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s in 1962.

Inevitably in such a programme the final selection took us to Brazil. Sabrina Malheiros is the daughter of Alex Malheiros – bass player with Azymuth, a band that has no doubt featured in many a Colin Curtis club night. The tune Clareia swings nicely and melodically and is the title track of an album released in 2017 on the UK’s Far Out label. As with all of Maleiros’ albums for the label the music was written in collaboration with with her father and producer Daniel Maunick – son of Bluey Maunick, the founder of British jazzfunk legends Incognito.

  1. Andrew Hill – Smokestack from Smokestack
  2. Timo Lassy – Moves from Moves
  3. Timo Lassy – Adriatic from Moves
  4. Sierra Maestra – Dundunbanza from Dundunbanza
  5. Richie Cole – New York Afternoon from Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion
  6. Eric Kloss – Morning Song from Colin Curtis Presents Jazz Dance Fusion
  7. Quasimode – Down in the Village from Oneself Likeness
  8. Sleepwalker – Time Voyager from Sleepwalker
  9. Sabrina Malheiros – Clareia from Clareia

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

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