Week ending 22 September 2018: musicians on the move

The life of a jazz musician is not always an easy one. You have to go where the music and the work is. Often this means settling in the capital city of the country where you live, but for some moving countries is the more dramatic alternative. If you check out the MixCloud tab this week you will find some examples of musicians who have moved out of their country of birth and – it would seem -have truly benefited from this international exchange.

We paid tribute to the late Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko two  weeks ago but his achievements deserve more recognition than one tune on the show. The ECM album Lontano brings back to me images and sounds similar to those I heard him play in a church in Norwich. Clear, pure, spiritual music that has you drifting away to the heavens but yet combines this effect with music that is deep and complex. In recent years Stanko had moved to Manhattan and became an important figure on the New York jazz scene, although he died back in his native Poland.

Jerzy Malek is a Polish trumpeter who has been on the scene for over twenty years and has been compared to Stanko and the other great Polish trumpeter we love on Cosmic Jazz, namely Piotr Wojtasik. The album Forevelle was recorded in Warsaw with Polish musicians and the tune on the show has a title that is a clever play on the capital city. Stalgia, his previous album, was a more international affair, involving musicians from the USA. Jerzy Malek is an artist we have come across through the always excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds and another much-loved artist from the same source is Swedish alto saxophonist Fredrik Kronkvist. He is unpredictable in his choice of material. His last album Afro-Cuban Supreme focused on Afro-Cuban jazz as a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie, while a previous release (Monk Vibes) saw him provide new interpretations to classic Thelonious Monk compositions. The tune on this week’s show though is straight hard bop. It’s from an album entitled Brooklyn Playground – an indication of his journey from Europe to the US.

Sax player Luis Nubiola has made more changes than most musicians. He was born in Cuba, moved to Costa Rica and then on to Poland which is where, with Polish musicians, he recorded his album Global Friendship – clearly a subject he knows quite a lot about.

From time to time we feature an artist(s) over a few programmes. The most recent has been the incredible alto sax player Joe Harriott, a pioneer of free jazz in the UK and beyond. The more I have played, the more I have realised just how creative and amazing his music was. The album Abstract was recorded in 1961/1962 and still sounds like progressive jazz today. Any serious jazz lover has to listen to Joe Harriott. He played with some of the leading British jazz musiciams of the day – on this album pianist Pat Smythe, and drummers Bobby Orr and Phil Seaman. Harriott himself, though, moved from Jamaica to the UK as did his frequent collaborator, bass player Coleridge Goode, while trumpeter Shake Keane was born in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. One of the tunes on the album also has Guyanese-born bongo player Frank Holder. We featured Harriott’s take on the Sonny Rollins classic Oleo.

Vocalist Abbey Lincoln may have been born in the USA and lived only there until her death in 2010 – but her influence is felt much more widely.  Jazz singer, lyricist, actress and US Civil Rights activist, Lincoln was not only a distinctive voice in jazz but a powerful interpreter of the music. I came across her album Painted Lady, recorded with Archie Shepp, on my shelves and it felt right to hear her again. As ever, there is some powerful and distinctive sax blowing from Shepp on Stevie Wonder’s tune Golden Lady. 

The show ended with an uptempo number from another vocalist – Brazilian Eliane Elias. Born in Sao Paulo, Elias was married to trumpeter Randy Brecker and recorded with him. It’s her piano playing that has garnered her more recent attention and Latin Grammy Awards along the way for her 2016 album Made in Brazil and then again in 2017 for Dance of Time. We chose a track from the latter album featuring current and previous collaborators including veteran Brazilian guitarist Toquinho, trumpeter Randy Brecker and vibes player from Steps Ahead Mike Mainieri.

  1. Tomasz Stanko – Lontano Pt I from Lontano
  2. Jerzy Malek – War Saw from Forevelle
  3. Fredrik Kronkvist – Open Air from Brooklyn Playground
  4. Juis Nubiola – The New One from Global Friendship
  5. Joe Harriott – Oleo from Abstract
  6. Abbey Lincoln/Archie Shepp – Golden Lady from Painted Lady
  7. Eliane Elias – Sambou Sambou from Dance of Time

Derek is listening to…..

  1. Randy Weston and Billy Harper – Blues to Senegal
  2. Randy Weston – African Rhythms
  3. Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile
  4. Kamasi Washington – Street Fighter Mas
  5. Ntjam Rosie – Space of You

Neil is listening to…

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