Week ending 10 November 2018: Caribbean links and Roy Hargrove

Music from the Caribbean features regularly in my listening choices selected each week for Cosmic Jazz – I love so much music from the many different styles on offer. Neil has also been a recent visitor to the Caribbean and has had his interest in the music refreshed and expanded. A click on the MixCloud tab this week will give you a few samples.

The new release People of the Sun by British/Trinidadian poet/musician/academic and novelist Anthony Joseph has attracted a lot of attention. He has a PhD in creative and life writing, lectures in creative writing at Birkbeck College, London and is also a performer and recording artist. This is his seventh album. It was recorded in Trinidad and Tobago for the French label Heavenly Sweetness, with French pianist, band leader and Cosmic Jazz favourite from the same label Florian Pelissier. UK sax player and Jazz Warriors alumnus, Jason Yarde (with St Lucian roots) features . He will be well known to many of our UK listeners and played on the Hexagonal McCoy Tyner/Bheki Mseleku project we  featured recently on the show. People of the Sun has some outstanding tunes, including He Was Trying, selected this week. Although some tunes disappoint, it’s an interesting and welcome fusion of words and music.

Saxophonist David Murray was on the show this week with his Cuban Ensemble playing Nat King Cole “En Espanol”. Murray handpicked his Cuban musicians, which he recorded with in Argentina, and then moved to Portugal to record string arrangement with the Sinfonieta of Sines. These give the album a surprisingly lush feel that clear seeks to emulate those Latin big bands of the 1940-50s . It’s an unusual combination, but – for the most part – it really works. Also from Cuba is pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa with his trio which includes  younger brother Ruy Adrain Lopez-Nussa. The album Un Dia Cualquiera is recorded on the excellent US label Motema (see more below) but Lopez-Nussa prefers to remain in Havana. “I need the kind of relaxed life that Havana gives me,” he states on his online biography. Cuban music is an essential part of the US jazz scene and jazz is infused through much of Cuban music. Lopez-Nussa did not get involved with jazz until he was 18 years old – “Jazz was scary” – but listening to Herbie Hancock changed that and then he found Cuba’s own jazz pianists Chucho Valdes and his father Bebo Valdes. The tune selected this week is dedicated to Bebo Valdes, another familiar name to Cosmic Jazz followers.

The Motema label appeared again because the November edition of the excellent UK magazine Jazzwise included a CD to celebrate 15 years of the Motema label. Very good it is too. We have featured many artists from this innovative  label over the years on Cosmic Jazz. Motema introduced Gregory Porter to the world with his first album, Water – and we all know what happened to him. Porter is on the compilation and so is David Murray with Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington, and the excellent Jameo Brown. Our choice came from vibes player Stefon Harris, whose new album Sonic Creed is his first since 2009. It’s one of those records which combines contemporary sounds with an acknowledgement of the history of jazz.

The Stefon Harris tune was co-written by Bobby Timmons who is actually mentioned in another tune on the show. This had to be played for a very sad reason. Poetry from the RH Factor was played in tribute to trumpeter Roy Hargrove who died recently at the age of just 49. Hargrove has left a substantial legacy and Neil’s listening choices this week all pay tribute to this most open mind. Poetry come from the first of Hargrove’s excellent three RH Factor EPs and features both Erykah Badu and Q Tip – a sign of Hargrove’s eclectic approach to music. Whether he was performing with one of the many neo-soul artists he recorded with or blowing a tender flugelhorn jazz ballad, Roy Hargrove was always a lyrical player. But despite his presence on neo-soul, hip hop and R&B projects, Hargrove remained in the mainstream jazz tradition: Sonny Rollins, who featured him on a tune called Young Roy in 1991 was a great admirer and many of Hargrove’s straight jazz releases are really excellent albums. A particular favourite here at CJ is his superb Earfood release from 2008 which features the lovely Strasbourg/St Denis (see below) – surely destined to become a jazz standard at some point. Hargrove was also generous as a mentor himself: among the younger musicians who responded to his death on social media was one of our current favourites, fellow trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire who wrote on Twitter “I don’t think I would be alive if I hadn’t met him when I did. I am extremely grateful I got to tell him as a grown man to his face.”

Also on CJ this week was drummer of the moment Makaya McCraven (who will be performing at the end of this month at the London Jazz Festival) and an important re-release from free jazz specialists The Lightmen. The title Free As You Wanna Be says it all and we shall hear more of this record in coming weeks. To wind things down there was the excellent Jamie Saft Quartet and a track from his recent Blue Dream album. Enjoy!

  1. Anthony Joseph – He Was Trying from People of the Sun
  2. The RH Factor – Poetry from Hard Groove
  3. Stefon Harris – Dat Dare from Blackout
  4. David Murray Cuban Ensemble – Black Nat from Plays Nat King Cole En Espanol
  5. Harold Lopez-Nussa – Una Tarde Cualqiera En Paris (to Bebo Valdes) from Un Dia Cualquiera
  6. Makaya McCraven feat. Dezron Douglas – Black Lion from Universal Beings
  7. The Lightmen – Free As You Wanna Be from Free As You Wanna Be
  8. The Jamie Saft Quartet – There’s A Lull In My life from Blue Dream

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

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