Week ending 04 May 2019: music from Nigeria, Brazil, Italy, Poland and USA

Sometimes a programme picks up themes/ideas from the previous week. This is what happened this week – but this time in reverse order. This time the show starts in a dancing mood and ends up more contemplative, travelling to countries along the way.

Seun Kuti and his Egypt 80, one of the sons of the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti, started the show with a remix of Kalakuta Boy. If you have not seen the video of Seun performing Fela’s Opposite People in the studio  with Newen Afrobeat from Chile then you’ve missed something. Check it out below in Derek’s listening selections.

Brazil has been well served by British record labels. Last week we featured something from Mr. Bongo, this week it came from another strongly recommended source – Far Out Records  started by Joe Davis in Greenford, West London. If you know the area it may seem a surprising place for such a venture but why not?  Some great records have emerged. The Brazilian Love Affair series was superb and this week’s show featured Grupo Batuque from Volume 5. Jair Oliveira represented the contemporary music of 2003 from the favelas of Sao Paulo – music inspired by Serbian-born producer Suba, who became one of Brazil’s leading music producers until his tragic death in a studio fire in 1999 in which he was trying to rescue the music that would later become Bebel Gilberto’s classic Tanto Tempo album.

There were two records from the Membran label. Shayla Steele has moved from soul via gospel and R’n’B to jazz. She has sung with artists including Snarky Puppy, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller, Eric Harland, Bette Midler, Rihanna, John Legend and Queen Latifah. Quite a range. Her new album Watch Me Fly is more soul than jazz, but her version of Secret Love has a lovely jazzy feel. On the same label is Italian vocalist Joe Barbieri and his record of homage to Billie Holiday. He is big on the Italian jazz scene and the new record features three other Italian jazz musicians – Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet), Luca Bulgarelli (double bass) and Pietro Lussu (piano). Barbieri’s outlook is a global one: he has recorded with Omara Portuondo of the Buena Vista Social Club, devised a tribute to Chet Baker and on one of his records made a statement of support for refugees. He has a dreamy, enticing voice too!

Anyone who follows this show should know of Steve’s Jazz Sounds.  – the best place to get East European and Scandinavian jazz and much more besides. The latest music to reach us from this source comes from Michal Jaros and RGG. The record by Michal Jaros is part of the Polish Multikulti Project and is a bass player who has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Polish jazz, including one of this show’s favourites, Piotr Wojtasik, as well as artists outside the country including Wadada Leo Smith. The band is like a Polish supergroup and his sax player Maciej Obara is signed to ECM Records. This is truly impressive music.

Trio RGG and their album Memento has just been released. The three friends are graduates from the Jazz Institute of the Academy of Music in Katowice and already they’ve worked with big names like Tomasz Stanko, Evan Parker and Trevor Watts. The album includes an interesting take on Ornette Coleman’s classic Chronology from The Shape of Jazz to Come.

It is often interesting to hear musicians talk of their influences. In a recent radio  interview I heard the young US vocalist Jazzmeia Horn identify Rachelle Ferrell as one of her influences. This is not surprising when you hear them both – and that’s just what we’ve done on the show this week. They both bend and twist jazz standards into ways you have never heard before. Ferrell was classically trained in violin and piano but it was at Boston’s Berklee College that she developed her vocal skills. She released the awe-inspiring record First Instrument in 1990: it’s one we go back to here on CJ, especially as she’s released little jazz since concentrating more on R’n’B (but check out a 2002 live recording from Montreux Jazz Festival). Her version of the standard Autumn Leaves reveals the full range of her voice – and what a range it is! The bonus is having Wayne Shorter on tenor sax, Michel Petrucciani on piano, Stanley Clarke on bass and Lenny White on drums…

We ended the show with something of an awakening – the tune of that name from trumpeter Woody Shaw’s excellent 1972 album Song of Songs.

  1. Seun Kuti – Kalakuta Boy from the Reflex Full Voice Revision
  2. Jair Oliveira – Sao Paulo Fin Do Dia from Sampa Nova
  3. Grupo Batuque – Ida E Volta from Brazilian Love Affair Vol 5
  4. Shayna Steele – Secret Love from Watch Me Fly
  5. Joe Barbieri – Dear Billie from Dear Billie
  6. Michal Jaros – The Yard of Forgotten Toys from Floating Bridges
  7. RGG – Ellipsis from Memento
  8. Jazzmeia Horn – I Remember You from A Social Call
  9. Rachelle Ferrell – Autumn Leaves from First Instrument
  10. Woody Shaw – The Awakening from Song of Songs

Derek is listening to…

 

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