Week ending 23 February 2019: Wayne and Sarah

More excellent music available on Cosmic Jazz this week at a touch of that MixCloud tab. In recent shows we have played almost exclusively new music, or newly re-released music, but it was one of the re-releases that suggested maybe we need to go back into the past more often…

The show began with the summery sounds of the ever-youthful Marcos Valle and a stand out track from his Far Out Records come back album Nova Bossa Nova. Now re-released on vinyl 20 years after its original emergence, it still sounds as cool and fresh as it did in 1998. Valle is a Brazilian keyboard player, vocalist and composer who mixes bossa nova (with an emphasis on the nova) with jazzy keyboard sounds. is an essential album for your collection – Valle’s new tunes (like this one, Bar Ingles) sounding as good as the retreads of some of his favourites from the 1970s. The ‘half drop’ on this track when the music fades at the six minute point and then leaps back into life is truly life-affirming. Bar Ingles is one of those tunes that never fails to spread the feel good factor. The perfect opener to any show. And for those of you who haven’t seen Valle in concert, make sure you catch him if you can. His 2017 show at London’s Jazz Cafe was a real highlight of over 30 years of live gigs.

Still keeping that Brazilian vibe, UK keys player Jessica Lauren was up next. Simba Jike is a track from her most recent album – and very good it is too. It’s contemporary jazz with a a range of Brazilian influences. Almeria features a range of instrumentalists on percussion, woodwinds, marimba, flugelhorn, bass and drums with Tamar Osborn a standout on baritone sax. Next up, drummer and band leader Nick Woodmansey, aka Emanative, digs in deep on his track from the excellent double vinyl album Earth, released last year. Reflection features one of our homegrown heroes Nat Birchall, along with vocalist and frequent Emanative collaborator Liz Elensky. Also appearing on this excellent track is  Lauren was followed by a musician she has collaborated with – Emanative and another selection from his album Earth.

Here at Cosmic Jazz we love the lightness of touch demonstrated by UK group Me and My Friends on their track You Read My Mind. There’s a Ghanaian highlife influence here with Emma Coleman’s cello at the heart of this infectious track – it’s short, sweet and one you will keep on humming to yourself. It’s a tune we premiered here on CJ and it’s now been picked by none other than Gilles Peterson on his UK BBC6 show…

It’s Cannonball Adderley style but our next track this week was from Kenny Clark and Francy Boland’s brilliant 1963 classic Jazz is Universal. As Derek noted in the show, this was a jazz dance favourite back in the day and the kind of track that would get the Jazzcotech crew on the floor.  The band was created in 1961 by the US drummer Kenny Clarke and the Belgian pianist/composer Francy Boland. Many notable musicians passed through the ranks, including on this album the great Sahib Shihab, Zoot Sims and Jimmy Deuchar. Playing the track was a reminder of the jazz heritage that’s so important to us – there will always be more than contemporary jazz releases on CJ. Our show has no set format, we are bound to no-one and these freedoms will always be an encouragement to play great music from the past.

Some of those seminal artists from the jazz canon are still very much with us. Once such is saxophonist Wayne Shorter, one of the great jazz composers. Several of his tunes have entered the realm of jazz classics – we think of Footprints, Infant EyesTom Thumb and Adam’s Apple from his Blue Note years; Nefertiti and ESP for Miles Davis and Palladium and Plaza Real for Weather Report. Here he is from last year’s stunning 3CD + comic strip cartoon book release, Emanon, with a superb reworking of Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean (originally found on 2005’s Beyond the Sound Barrier album). Listen to how that spare, lyrical soprano tone matches perfectly with Danilo Perez’s latin piano. And it’s worth here trying to put into words what it is that Shorter is doing. The first thing is that, unlike some players, he has two completely different sounds on tenor and soprano saxes – but both are (perhaps uniquely) easily identifiable as Wayne Shorter’s sound. Tenor is gruff and thick while soprano is clear and liquid. If there’s a strong melody, he like’s to improvise around that – little ostinatos, lots of big intervals and spiralling chunks of sound. Shorter is one of the giants of jazz and will always be worth exploring.

There are violin players in jazz but they are not too common. A new name to many will be the Polish violinist Tomasz Chyla who leads a quintet. He is yet another of the young musicians on the burgeoning Polish scene and Circlesongs is his second album. The music is inspired by a variety of musical traditions – including choral music, with which Chyla is strongly associated. The track Stanko can only be a tribute to the great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko who died last year.

This was followed by another young Polish artist Irek Wojitczack is a saxophone player, composer, arranger and a tutor at the Academy of Music in Gdansk. It is not right that European musicians should be judged by their association with more universally famous US musicians but it is irresistible to note that he has played with Dave Douglas and toured with David Murray. The sound of this young quintet has more than a touch of ECM artist Tord Gustavsen – see what you think.

This week’s show ended with more Polish jazz – this time from one of our favourites, Piotr Wojtasik, a CJ regular who was introduced to us by the ever-reliable Steve’s Jazz Sounds. The trumpeter’s latest album To Whom It May Concern is another quality release. There will undoubtedly be more from this album in week’s to come.

Finally, regular CJ readers will note that there’s an unusual degree of linkage in our listening choices this week. That’s because we were thrilled to get a copy of Sarah Tandy’s new album, Infection in the Sentence (out on 08 March) along with some thoughts on artists and tracks that have been important to her. We’ll be doing a feature on Sarah next week on the show – but, for now, enjoy below a taster of the new release and (in Neil’s choices) three of her favourite tracks.

  1. Marcos Valle – Bar Ingles from Nova Bossa Nova
  2. Jessica Lauren – Simba Jike from Almeria
  3. Emanative – Reflection from Earth
  4. Me and My Friends – You Read My Mind from Look Up
  5. Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band – Charon’s Ferry from Jazz is Universal
  6. Wayne Shorter – Adventures Around the Golden Mean from Emanon
  7. Tomasz Chyla Quintet – Stanko from Circlesongs
  8. Irek Wojitczack – Weselny from Play It Again
  9. Piotr Wojtasik – Backatcha from To Whom it May Concern

Derek is listening to….

Neil is listening to…

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