This week’s Cosmic Jazz started with two of our recent favourites – both from UK artists making waves around the world. We began with a stand out track from Maisha’s first album released at the end of 2018. Maisha are a London group led by drummer Jake Long and featuring some of the leading lights in the current UK jazz scene including Shirley Tetteh on guitar and Nubya Garcia on saxes. Like many of this new crop of jazz artists, their influences well extend beyond jazz and into hiphop, afrobeat and more. With more than a nod to the spiritual jazz tradition of pioneers like Pharoah Sanders, Maisha are one of the most mature of this new crop of artists.
Sarathy Korwar’s first album featured music inspired by the Sidi folk music tradition in India and was an accomplished introduction to his ambitious musical plans. However, the two CDs of Your East is My West takes Korwar’s music to another level altogether. The record features two quintets, one of UK musicians and the other of Indian instrumentalists – much like Joe Harriott’s influential Indo Jazz Fusions record from the 1960s. That influential release had an impact on a generation of British jazz artists and perhaps this new release (also from late 2018) will do the same. Rather than original compositions though, Korwar has chosen to interpret some contemporary jazz classics (like Sanders’ The Creator Has a Master Plan) along with some rather less well known compositions including John McLaughlin’s Mind Ecology, recorded with his Shakti group.
The American acoustic bass player William Parker recorded initially with Cecil Taylor but was long a mainstay of David S Ware’s groups. Since the late 1990s he’s recorded prolifically with his own groups and the 2002 album Raining On the Moon is an excellent example of his quartet at work. His music has often featured vocalist Leena Conquest – listen to her work here on Parker’s superb tribute to the songs of Curtis Mayfield here on the expansive track If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going To Go. Compare it with the Curtis original right here.
Cosmic Jazz has long enjoyed the music of trumpeter Erik Truffaz (photo above). Back in the day we promoted his Blue Note albums which often featured the subtle rapping of vocalist Nya. You can hear that on one of our favourites, Siegfried from Bending New Corners (1999) which includes some sublime piano from Patrick Muller. More recently, Truffaz has recorded in a wide variety of locations and with vocalists, local musicians and electronic artists – as in the atmospheric Good News From the Desert, a highlight from his Rendezvous 3CD set (2009). Three albums, recorded with different artists in three different cities – Paris, Benares and Mexico City – resulted in some of the most adventurous music of Truffaz’s career to date. The chilled Pacheco from the recent album Doni Doni doesn’t sound like a tribute to Cuban maestro Johnny Pacheco – but see what you think.
Up next was another trumpeter, Israeli-born New York based Avishai Cohen – not to be confused with the identically named bass player, also Israeli-born and also based in NY. Cohen has said that he’s been much influenced by Miles Davis (as was Erik Truffaz) and his 2017 ECM album Cross My Palm With Silver has a quiet reflective tone that endorses this.
Next up were two favourites from the past, beginning with a standout track from Donald Byrd’s first record with Mizell Brothers production, the excellent Black Byrd. We played the always funky Mr Thomas (with 1970s rhythm guitar, flute solo and horn section to the fore) and then came a bonafide CJ standout that we come back to time and again. It’s drummer Francisco Mora Catlett’s Vital Force from his World Trade Music album. We certainly played it as long ago as 23 September 2010 and I’m sure we’ll feature it again!
Finally, we ended this week’s show on a Brazilian vibe with a track from pianist and singer Elaine Elias. It comes from her 2017 release Dance of Time and – in this 100th year of the samba – features a range of classic and contemporary sambas. The album is also notable for the line up – Elias’s trumpeter ex-husband Randy Brecker and Steps Ahead vibraphone partner Mike Mainieri are there, along with Brazilian guitar legend Toquinho. The last of these should be much more well known worldwide: if you don’t know his music then check out this duet with Gilberto Gil on Tarde em Itapoa.
- Maisha – Azure from There is a Place
- Sarathy Korwar – Mind Ecology from Your East is My West
- William Parker – Hunk Pappa Blues from Raining on the Moon
- Erik Truffaz Quartet – Pacheco from Doni Doni
- Avishai Cohen – 50 Years and Counting from Cross My Palm with Silver
- Donald Byrd – Thomas from Black Byrd
- Francisco Mora Catlett – Vital Force from World Trade Music
- Eliane Elias – Copacabana from Dance of Time
Neil is listening to…