This week sees an emphasis on contemporary UK based artists with additional contributions from the US and Poland. All exciting stuff available at the touch of the MixCloud tab (left).
Me and My Friends are a group who cross many boundaries – and that’s clearly evident on their new album High as the Sun to be released on 06 December via Split Shift Records. Their tune You Read My Mind provided a jaunty, lively opening to the show with its catchy riff on jazzy Ghanaian highlife. On this new album, the band reference other styles as well – Jamaican roots, soul, Afro-beat and the Ethiopique jazz of Mulatu Astatke. It was an uplifting and joyous way to start the show.
The sense of uplift continued with another tune from an artist based in Scotland. Evelyn Laurie has paid her dues over many years as an artist performing professionally around Scotland. Now she has put together her own self-produced album. She too has a love of many genres of music as seen in the interesting collection of songs from other artists to whom she’s given her own unique interpretations on the album A Little Bit Of Me. The tune selected this week, though – I Love Your Smile – is one of her own compositions.
As usual, there were some music selections from Neil in Singapore, including this week the new release from UK alto sax player Camilla George titled The People Could Fly. It’s a project based thematically around the Nigerian folk tales that George’s mother would read to her as a child. Of these, her favourite was one called The People Could Fly. In a recent interview, Camilla George commented: The cover illustration showed men and women flying over the cotton fields. The idea behind it was that some Africans were magical and had the ability to fly, but through long enslavement lost that ability to fly away. This image is bitter-sweet for me as it is a fantasy tale of suffering and is a powerful testament to the millions of slaves who never had the opportunity to fly away.” The new album is certainly a development from her first release Isang and extends her former quartet to include additional players. Many in the band are making quite a name for themselves in their own right, Drummer Winston Clifford is pretty much a veteran of the scene but names such as Daniel Casimir on bass, Femi Koleoso on drums, Shirley Tetteh on guitar, Cherise Adams-Burnett on vocals and Sarah Tandy on piano/Rhodes should be familiar to regular listeners of Cosmic Jazz.
Up next on the show was a spiritual interlude featuring Nat Birchall’s Eastern (or perhaps Western depending on where you live) influenced A Prayer from the excellent Cosmic Language album and Sarathy Korwar’s take on Abdullah Ibrahim’s classic Hajj from his superb new release Your East is My West. If you don’t known Ibrahim’s iconic original, check it out here. The late Hamiet Bluiett is on oboe and baritone saxophone, with the under-rated Carlos Ward on alto and the distinctive sounds of Don Cherry on his pocket trumpet.
We followed this with some interesting music from Poland. Drummer Jacek Kochan is a veteran of the scene. Born in Poland, in the early 1980s he went to the US and then Canada before returning to Poland in 1995. There is an impressive list of US musicians with whom he has played and the tune Drop from the album Ajee is a free, unpredictable, exciting piece. Lukask Kokoszko leads a quartet of musicians from Krakow and Katowice in Poland that won the Grand Prix in an International Jazz Improvisation Competition.
Finally, another tune from current Cosmic Jazz favourites Maisha and their first full album There is a Place. Maisha are led by drummer Jake Long and on this recording the band also features – yes – Shirley Tetteh on guitar and Nubya Garcia on sax. This UK Jazz scene is certainly bringing out some versatile, world class jazz musicians.
- Me & My Friends – You Read My Mind from High as the Sun
- Evelyn Laurie – I Love Your Smile from A Little Bit Of Me
- Camilla George – The People Could Fly from The People Could Fly
- Camilla George – Carrying on the Runnings from The People Could Fly
- Nat Birchall – The Prayer For from Cosmic Language
- Sarathy Korwar – Hajj from Your East is my West
- Jacek Kochan – Drop from Ajee
- Lukask Kokoszko Quartet – Soulmate from New Challenge
- Maisha – Kaa from There is a Place
Neil is listening to…
- Yussef Dayes and Alfa Mist (feat. Mansur Brown) – Love is the Message
- Ill Considered – Upstart
- Joe McPhee – Nation Time
- Sinn Sisamouth – Sronlanh Sreytouch
- Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out of My Head
Derek is listening to: