Week ending 17 May 2019: new Polish jazz and some favourites

There are some different sounds on Cosmic Jazz this week. Some definitely stretch the boundaries but all have jazz links and all (bar one!) sound great. Click on the Mixcloud tab (left) and hear some great new sounds.

The opening tune is one of my favourites at the moment. Even though the previous presenter left the mike up and a few pleasantries can be heard in the background at the start it does nothing to minimise the impact of Krewe by US six-piece Lettuce – great (or should that be healthy?) name for a band! The tune is a single from their album new Elevate and is described in the publicity as “Spaghetti Western meets Ethiopian funk” – so how could I resist playing it? Adam Deitch – chief composer and percussionist of the band – says that “This album definitely stretches the boundaries”.  He should know – as producer and drummer for (amongst others) 50 Cent, Pharoahe Monche and Ledisi, he’s worked well outside a jazz frame of reference.  Deitch has also appeared on a couple of albums from jazz guitarist John Scofield, including the excellent Uberjam. Take a listen to Krewe and you will see what he means by boundary stretching.

The same could be said for probably the first five tracks on this week’s show. Next up came the delightfully sweet, West African Highlife inspired You Read My Mind released towards the end of last year on the album Look Up by Me & My Friends. I have played it on the show a few times, simply because I love it so much.

The next selection was a first for the show and it would probably be the same for most jazz shows. West African music in the 1970s often had a touch of jazz, with a good dose of Latin and African beats. Maki Cisse illustrates this with a tune from the excellent compilation AfroLatin via Dakar. He was from Senegal but made his reputation in Bamako and Abidjan. On this tune he sings in Spanish backed by a Malian orchestra led by a soft saxophone.

My record collection includes a number of artists whose album, or even a single tune, have sounded irresistible so I have got hold of the record and then heard nothing about them since. One such artist is Marcina Arnold on whose album Twisted Blue Folk you can find some good stuff, but it’s the track Memory that is outstanding- simply unmissable both musically and lyrically.  I love it and, hearing it again recently, felt it had to be played on the show. Listen out from some lovely, subtle guitar work from Eric Appapoulaly and the trumpet break from Byron Wallen. Also on the album are other high calibre UK jazz musicians such as Tom Herbert, Tom Skinner, Roland Sutherland, Larry Bartley, with some backing vocals from Eska Mtungwazi and spoken word from Zena Edwards. Recommended.

It may be best to pass over the next track from Ameen Saleem. To be upfront and honest I simply selected the wrong tune from the album.

Moving on took us to a Polish – US collaboration. The Janczarski and McCraven Quintet is led by Polish trumpeter Borys Janczarski (a graduate of the Sorbonne) and drummer Stephen McCraven who, along with flautist Rassul Sadik, has been associated with the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Intertwining Spirits has a warm, soulful tone – is Cannonball Adderley an influence? It seemed that way to me…

The current Polish jazz scene continues to impress with a catalogue of outstanding recent records. A new album from the fine young trio RGG includes in its title Polish Jazz Vol 81 – it is a worthy inclusion to any ‘best of’ list too. The tune Monachium is a  beautiful, moving  and sensitive piece. Some might label this music as another example of Polish melancholy, but I would classify it as deep and important. Check them out via Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

From the same site comes the excellent David Kostka Trio. Kostka is a guitarist and composer who graduated from the Poznan Academy of Music. The record is often more than a trio as featured guests (including on Long Way Home) add to the numbers.

There was time at the end to squeeze in an excerpt from Japanese pianist and composer Matsuaki Kanno and a track included on the superb Spiritual Jazz 8.

  1. Lettuce – Krewe from Elevate
  2. Me & My Friends – You Read My Mind from Look Up
  3. Maki Sisse – Como El Macao from AfroLatin via Dakar (Disc 1)
  4. Marcina Arnold – Memory from Twisted Blue Folk
  5. Ameen Saleem – Don’t Walk Away from The Groove Lab
  6. Janczarski & McCraven Quintet – Intertwining Spirits from Travelling East-West
  7. RGG – Monachium from Memento: Polish Jazz Vol. 81
  8. David Kostka Trio – Long Way Home from Progression
  9. Mitsuaki Kanno – Kuma No Ito from Spiritual Jazz  8

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