Week ending 06 April 2019: more from Scandinavia + James Francies

Sometimes you play a tune on the show and it is so good that you have to play it again as soon as you can. Click the MixCloud tab this week and you’ll notice that we start with two wonderful tunes that ended last week’s show.

There are no apologies for this because the tunes in question are two beautiful, tranquil and awe-inspiring pieces from two groups led by young women jazz musicians. The first was Nursery Rhyme, from British pianist Sarah Tandy and her debut album Infection in the Sentence, currently receiving a huge amount of attention worldwide. Tandy is a remarkable talent and this debut album showcases both her writing and playing. The second tune was from Norwegian sax player Hanna Paulsberg, leading a Norwegian band with a guest Swedish trumpeter, Marcus Broo, who contributes a delicate and enchanting solo – as indeed does Sheila Maurice-Grey on the Sarah Tandy track. Paulsberg is the daughter of jazz drummer Hakon Paulsberg and a member of the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. She’s released four solo albums of which Daughter of the Sun is the most recent.

The Hanna Paulsberg Concept track is available via a free Norwegian sampler CD available with the April 2019 issue Jazzwise magazine and it was another article that inspired the next selection. This month the magazine has a feature on Norwegian sax player Jan Garbarek, which featured a selection of some of his best albums, including an excursion into an early music/jazz fusion outing with the Hilliard Ensemble choral group. The Garbarek tune selected for this week was particularly timely because it includes Danish percussionist/bandleader Marilyn Mazur, whose favourably reviewed new album Shamania features a group of female Scandinavian musicians. Garbarek’s Red Wind is the lead off track from one of his most contemplative albums, Visible World from 1995. Some of Garbarek’s most frequent collaborators appear on the record – Rainer Bruninghaus on keys, Eberhard Weber on bass and Manu Katche on drums.

The Scandinavian connections did not stop there as two tunes from the supergroup RYMDEN were featured on the show. The band is led by Bugge Wesseltoft on piano and keyboards, along with ex-EST members Don Berglund on bass and Magnus Ostrum on drums/percussion.  The disc is released on Wesseltoft’s Jazzman label. At times the music is dramatic, even loud, at other times it has a peaceful tranquility with Wesseltoft’s piano to the fore. The two tunes selected represented both sides of the record – the powerful The Odyssey and the more contemplative Homegrown. I have to admit to a preference for the latter.

Pianist/keyboard player James Francies was the next to receive the two tune feature – this time from his debut album Flight. Interesting it is too. The first tune is a surprise – a very different and original version of the Chaka Khan tune Ain’t Nobody with guest vocalist Kate Kelsey-Sugg. The second includes his regular bass player Burniss Travis II and also showcases Jeremy Dutton on drums. There’s also a feature for up and coming vibes player Joel Ross (who has his own Blue Note album coming out soon) along with outstanding sax player Chris Potter, whose recent album Circuits – released on the British label Edition – features Francies on keyboards.

There was a dip into the not-so-distant past to include Ludovic Navarre – aka St. Germain. A longtime master of cool fusion jazz/house sounds, Navarre’s self titled most recent release (from 2015) merged club styles and Malian musicians on balafon and kora. Hanky Panky is the jazziest of all the tracks on the album and with impeccable production values and some great music, this most recent St Germain album has been a Cosmic Jazz favourite since its release.

The show ended with a track from the James Brandon Lewis Trio’s No Filter. We love Brandon Lewis’s take on the sax, bass drums trio format and we’re going to feature his brand new album An UnRuly Manifesto in upcoming shows.

  1. Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection in the Sentence
  2. Hanna Paulsberg Concept –Scent of Soil from Daughter of the Sun
  3. Jan Garbarek – Red Wind from Visible World
  4. RYMDEN – The Odyssey from Reflections & Odysseys
  5. RYMDEN – Homegrown from Reflections & Odysseys
  6. James Francies – Ain’t Nobody from Flight
  7. James Francies A Lover and a Fighter from Flight
  8. St. Germain – Hanky Panky from St. Germain
  9. James Brandon Lewis Trio – Say What from No Filter

Derek is listening to…..

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 30 March 2019: Scandijazz and more

The lead off tune for this week’s Cosmic Jazz was inspired simply by finding a record on my shelves and deciding it was time to play on the show. Check the show via the MixCloud (click on the tab left) to see if you  agree.

The record in question was Abbey Lincoln + Archie Shepp. Recorded in 1980 while Lincoln was on a European tour, the band included Archie Shepp on saxes, Hilton Ruiz on piano and Roy Burrowes, Shepp’s trumpeter from the Attica Blues Band. Look out for it with the original arresting cover drawing by German free jazz bass player Peter Kowald. The selected tune was Sophisticated Lady, a Duke Ellington number. The album also features an excellent take on Stevie Wonder’s Golden Lady and Lincoln’s own much recorded composition, Throw It Away. One of my favourite versions of this song can be found on the excellent Abbey Sings Abbey record – check it out here. I wanted to follow up and link with a contemporary vocalist, who also works with superb musicians and performs tunes from past catalogues. The choice went to award-winning singer Jazzmeia Horn with a tune taken from her 2017 album A Social Call – a record that announced her arrival on the world jazz stage, exudes sophistication and remains a personal and Cosmic Jazz favourite. And note how well her smoky voice works following Abbey Lincoln’s distinctive dark tones.

CJ has recently featured, in the main,  music that is uptempo, edgy and even loud. There was a quieter and more tranquil mood this week. A good example came from Pawel Kaczmarczyk and his Audiofeeling Trio. A pianist, described as one of Poland’s ‘young guns’ (although there seem to be quite a few of them) and as EST with Polish melancholy. With an earlier album dedicated to the memory of Esborn Svensson, this is perhaps not surprising but more obvious we think is inspiration from US pianist Brad Mehldau. Accompanied by bassist Maciej and drummer Dawid Fortuna, Kaczmarczyk brings a deep lyricism to tracks including his take on to Massive Attack’s Teardrop. Personal is indeed just that, and a record well worth investigating. Also from Poland came Schmidt Electric. A band led by trumpeter Piotr Schmidt, who has a PhD in music, lectures in jazz, has produced and/or performed on at least nine albums and from whom we heard a tune from his 2015 album with the great title Tear the Roof Off. If you’re new to Cosmic Jazz you may wonder where you can get this and other European jazz: the answer is easy – just explore the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds

The next part of the show has a strong Norwegian connection. The April 2019 edition of Jazzwise comes with a CD of jazz from Norway at Jazzahead 2019. Compiled by Music Norway it includes musicians representing Norway at the Jazzahead in Bremen, Germany – held this year between 13-29 April. The tune on the show, Scent of Soil, is a delight – subtle and gentle, with mysterious and surprising sounds.  It comes from the album Daughter of the Sun by the Hanna Paulsberg Concept with Swedish trumpeter Marcus Broo an invited guest. It left me wanting to hear more – what is on the rest of the album I wonder? For more of Hanna Paulsberg’s sound, watch her band playing Catalan Boy from the 2015 album Eastern Smiles.

The Norwegian link continued with an old favourite from drummer/percussionist Thomas Stronen with a band that included British musicians Kit Downes on piano and Lucy Railton on cello alongside Norwegian colleagues. The music on Time is a Blind Guide four years after release, still sounds as deep and as poignant as ever – highly recommended.

Our final Norwegian connection was from a new band with very deep Scandinavian roots – indeed, the band could be described as a supergroup, given that Norwegian pianist/keyboard player and record label owner, Bugge Wesseltoft invited the two surviving members of Sweden’s EST (Esborn Svensson Trio) – Dan Berglund on bass and Magnus Ostrom on drums/percussion – to join him in a new trio. RYMDEN is the name of the group and Reflections & Odysseys their first release on Wessletoft’s own Jazzland label. The music is atmospheric and at times dramatic – and with a touch of that familiar EST melancholy too! Three powerful musicians making very powerful statements.

Finally – and to complete the becalmed ambience of the music this week – came the beautiful and delicately played Nursery Rhyme from Sarah Tandy’s excellent debut album Infection in the Sentence. This album has received universal rave reviews and is highly recommended by Cosmic Jazz. Tandy’s supporting band members are Binker Golding on saxes, Sheila Maurice Grey on trumpet, Mutale Chashi on bass and Femi Koleoso on drums  You can buy the album here on Bandcamp – it’s available on vinyl, CD and download formats.

  1. Abbey Lincoln + Archie Shepp – Sophisticated Lady from Painted Lady
  2. Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun (and West of the Moon) from A Social Call
  3. Pawel Kaczmarczyk Audiofeeling Trio – Something Personal from Something Personal
  4. Schmidt Electric – Still Without from Tear the Roof Off
  5. Hannas Paulsberg Concept with Marcus Broo – Scent of Soil from Norway at Jazzahead/Daughter of the Sun
  6. Thomas Stronen – As We Wait For Time from Time is a Blind Guide
  7. RYMDEN – The Celestial Dog and the Funeral Ship from Reflections & Odysseys
  8. Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection in the Sentence

Derek is listening to….

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 23 March 2019: Cosmic Jazz goes to Japan

Our CJ playlist can be influenced by several things – music we have seen live, new releases, sudden whims, events at the time or music we have heard recently. This week, part of the show was influenced by a recent BBC Radio 3 Sunday feature programme on Jazz Japan – and you can catch it on BBC Sounds here.

The programme was presented by Japan-based musician and journalist Katherine Whatley and included commentary, interviews and snippets of music. Jazz was banned as ‘enemy music’ during the second world war, and yet was wholeheartedly embraced during the immediate post war period and the US-led allied occupation. In fact, the market for jazz within Japan was once so great that the country has variously been credited with having the highest proportion of jazz fans in the world, and almost single handedly propping up the jazz record industry in periods when sales were low.

As an American growing up in Tokyo, a student of traditional Japanese music, and a huge jazz fan herself, jazz was a subject close to presenter Katherine Whatley’s heart. She looked  beyond the enthusiastic collecting (and extensive reissuing) of American jazz records towards the unique contribution that Japanese musicians have made to the jazz scene, and found that the music had become an inextricable part of Japanese culture.

For many years, US groups visited the country to great acclaim.  A quote from Art Blakey on the sleeve notes of his Kyoto album says it all: We’ve played a lot of countries but never has the whole band been in tears when we left. My wife Mary cried all the way to Hawaii. Jazz cafes or jazz  kissaten appeared in Tokyo. On recent years, they have been in decline but some are still surviving – and we have featured them in previous CJ posts (check out 07 April 2018 here). Writers Philip Arneill and James Catchpole  in their Tokyo Jazz Joints have produced a visual history that is well worth exploring. Alongside this, has come several recent Japanese jazz compilations that let you explore that distinctive Japanese approach to jazz. Check out the recent Jazzman 2CD collection for a great introduction.

The programme noted that key features of Japanese jazz included the use of space in the music and the influence of traditional Japanese music. As a fine example of this the show included a Japanese jazz classic Watarase from pianist Fumio Itabashi. It was a very special version of the tune as well – he has recorded several takes of it. This tune is designated as a Symphonic poem, thirteen minutes plus of it, complete with the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra featuring the voice of Yuri Kaneko. It is a grand affair, a moving and spiritual number building to a crescendo where the voice of Yuri Kaneko soars towards the heavens. It is simply one of those very special records and one that – if you can find it in the 2CD version – you will listen to over and again.

Another feature that has developed on the Japanese jazz scene is a club culture. This has forged links with musicians, clubs and DJs in the UK, US and beyond (see Mark de Clive-Lowe below). If you see these bands live it can be a joyous, chaotic and fun-loving experience. None more so than Soil & Pimp Sessions – formed in Tokyo in 2001 – who are notorious for their energetic live performances and who describe their music as death jazz. The other Japanese band we featured this week from that jazz dance scene was Kyoto Jazz Massive. They too were quoted in the BBC programme. Kyoto Jazz Massive produce crossover jazz and electronic sounds and as remixers they have worked with the likes of Bebel Gilberto and Monday Michiru, recorded for the German jazz/dance/electronic label Compost Records and were popularised by British DJ Gilles Peterson.

Mark de Clive-Lowe is a musician/producer/DJ who was born in New Zealand to a Japanese mother. He moved from New Zealand to the UK and then to California. He acknowledges the Tokyo jazz club scene as a major influence on his music. Leaving This Planet was released originally in 2011 as an EP but  was re-worked and reissued as  a digital album Leaving This Planet 2.0 in December 2018. His new album (Heritage) is a direct tribute to the Japanese influences in his music and it may be his best yet. Released earlier this month, we will be featuring it on Cosmic Jazz over coming weeks. You can find it here on Bandcamp and again on Neil’s playlist for this week.

I think there could be mutual admiration between musicians from the Japanese jazz dance club scene and some of the young  jazz musicians that have emerged recently from London.  As evidence, the show included the title tune from Starting Today, the first album from pianist/keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones and Bradbury Street from Sarah Tandy – another piano/keyboard player we have been featuring on the show. This cut is named after the street in Dalston, London where Tandy had a residency as she was starting out with some of those musicians now featured on her album.

We ended the show this week with a short piece from Makaya McCraven, whose new album features some of these new UKK jazz artists and followed this with a tribute to Fela Kuti from Butcher Brown who leads a five-piece band (very small compared to Fela’s…) from Richmond, Virginia. It is not easy to follow the master and some tributes I have heard fall far short, but this one works.

  1. Joe Armon – Jones – Starting Today from Starting Today
  2. Fumio Itabashi with Kanagawa Phiharmonic Orchestra feat. Yuki Kaneko – Symphonic Poem Watarase from Watarase (disc 2)
  3. Soil & Pimp Sessions – Waltz for Goddess from Pimp Master
  4. Kyoto Jazz Massive – M.E. Outroduction from Spirit of the Sun
  5. Sarah Tandy – Bradbury Street from Infection in the Sentence
  6. Mark de Clive-Lowe – Eight from Leaving this Planet 2.0
  7. Makaya McCraven – Above and Beyond from Highly Rare
  8. Butcher Brown – Tales from the Shrine from A Tribute to Fela EP

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 16 March 2019: three more from Sarah Tandy

You can hear this week’s show by clicking the Mix Cloud tab. Do not be put off by a short interruption early on from music that’s nothing to do with Cosmic Jazz. That was a slight technical aberration which luckily I was able to sort quickly. Apologies for this – and particular apologies to Sarah Tandy whose music was playing at the time. Stick with the show and check out lots of fantastic jazz, old and new.

Sometimes you hear on record, or see live, a musician who makes you sit up and take notice. This happened to me when I heard the Camilla George Quartet album Isang. It was confirmed when I saw the band live at the Cambridge Jazz Festival and even more so when I saw Maisha in a Spiegeltent at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.  The musician in question was piano/keyboard player Sarah Tandy. When you see her live, you won’t see any apparent fanfare or attention-seeking gestures, yet she weaves the most incredible, intricate and unpredictable musical patterns, whether it is via delicate moments on the piano or more funky beats on the keyboard. It is great news that she now has her own music released on her debut Infection in the Sentence album. Not surprisingly, there were more tunes from it on this week’s show – we played the final three tracks from the album to complement the first three tracks in a previous show. We can confidently predict Infection in the Sentence (btw – a quote from an Emily Dickinson poem) will be one of the jazz/jazz-related music albums of the year in 2019. If you like what we have played on Cosmic Jazz you need to own this album. Find it here on Bandcamp.

To fulfil a recent commitment on the show to re-visit the past and also because it made an interesting contrast, it was back to the UK in the 1960s. If Sarah Tandy is part of what is happening in the current British jazz scene, the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet were part of what was significant and important on the British jazz scene in the 1960s. Dusk Fire still stands proud today as a moving, intense and spiritual piece composed by pianist Michael Garrick. Along with Ian Carr (trumpet/flugelhorn), Don Rendell (sax, clarinet and flute), Trevor Tompkins (drums) and Dave Green (bass) the quintet is a testament to what is now the long-standing worth of UK jazz.

There were more contrasts between past and present from the 1970s to 2018. There seem in recent years to have been a succession of ‘undiscovered’ or neglected releases from the 1970s. Last year one such was a re-issue of The Lightmen and their record Free As You Wanna Be. The band was led by Houston drummer Bubbha Thomas. As a musician, journalist and radio presenter he was active in the civil rights movement in Houston.  His 15-minute clusters of jazz on his radio show went down well with his listeners but not the station managers. He was fired. Bubbha’s response was to detail his plight in a pamphlet, the front cover of which asked Why do racists fear jazz?

The contrast was to the current international jazz superstar Kamasi Washington. He was in London recently and one of my sons was there for the Brixton show. He was ecstatic about the performance. I could not make it so the next best thing was to include a tune on the show from The Choice, the hidden third CD of his 2018 release Heaven and Earth. The warmth and power of the music radiates through with every note.

There was no particular reason for the next few selections, except that the music is good. Carmen Lundy is a Cosmic Jazz regular but I it’s been a while since we played  Monica Vasconcelos. Brazilian-born but a UK resident, she performs contemporary and classical Brazilian tunes with a jazzy feel and sings with a delicate but joyous voice. Mudanca is a tune written by her and keyboardist Steve Lodder from her album Nois. Seek out this and her other releases for more Brazilian magic.

The final tune came from Poland via a sax player, arranger, composer, educator and player in ensembles of Polish and US musicians, namely Irek Wojtczak. Kiej Jo Ide W Pole is from his album Play it Again. The title of the album is in English, but interestingly, the titles of the tunes are not. So often on many of the Polish music we play, the tunes and album titles are both in English. Do the musicians and/or the record labels feel they have to do this? It would be interesting to know.

  1. Sarah Tandy – Timelord from Infection in the Sentence
  2. Sarah Tandy – Light/Weight from Infection in the Sentence
  3. Sarah Tandy – Snake in the Grass from Infection in the Sentence
  4. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Dusk Fire from Dusk Fire
  5. The Lightmen – Talk Visit from Free As You Wanna Be
  6. Kamasi Washington – My Family from The Choice/ Heaven & Earth
  7. Monica Vasconcelos – Mudanca from Nois
  8. Carmen Lundy – Soul to Soul from Soul to Soul
  9. Irel Wojtcask – Kiej Jo Ide W Pole from Play it Again

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…



Week ending 02 March 2019: Sarah Tandy special!

This week’s Cosmic Jazz is unusual. We’ve been appreciating the piano and keyboard playing of young British pianist Sarah Tandy for some time now – usually through the many bands she has been associated with along with some live recordings on Youtube. But now comes her first self-penned album – released this week on Jazz Re:freshed. It’s called Infection In the Sentence and we featured three tracks in the show alongside other music with Sarah on keys.

Now one of the most in-demand players on the London scene, Sarah has performed on keys for Jazz Jamaica, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, Maisha, Where Pathways Meet, Camilla George, Nubya Garcia, Nerija, Daniel Casimir, Binker Golding, Clark Tracey and many more. She is also a member of Ronnie Scott’s House Band, the W3 Collective and will be launching the new album at the club in 04 March.

Image © Benjamin Amure. 2015

On Infection in the Sentence (the title is drawn from a poem by Emily Dickinson), there’s both technical virtuosity and rhapsodic playing that showcases a fearless approach to music making. She says: The music developed gradually through many years playing on London’s underground music scene, and immersing myself in the myriad musical languages surrounding me. In the album I’m seeking to find a continuum between the jazz music which I grew up listening to, and the multi-faceted, genre-melting sounds of present day London.

Tandy grew up in West London in a strong musical family, learning to play piano at an early age. She eventually went on to study classical piano at a conservatoire and was subsequently a finalist in BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition. Later studying for an English literature degree at Cambridge University, Tandy explored the very different musical world of jazz and began to find out where she wanted to be as a musician. Immersing herself in the music of John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Robert Glasper, Brad Mehldau and many others, Tandy explored the full range of the new London jazz experience. Then a residency at the Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston forged new connections with drummer Femi Koleoso (Ezra Collective), bass player Mutale Chashi (Kokoroko and Jorja Smith) and saxophonist Binker Golding (Binker & Moses) – all musicians we have featured here on Cosmic Jazz. It was her first real insight into the way jazz in London was heading and the types of people that were engaging in the music. These musicians became the nucleus of the band that was to record Infection In the Sentence. I feel like most of what I have ever learnt about music and life has been from the musicians I play with. And the beauty of music is that it transcends boundaries and reaches that place where we are the same, she says.

Tandy has gone on to perform at the Love Supreme Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival and she’s performed twice with her trio at the Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival supporting Robert Glasper. There’s going to be a lot more from this stunning new pianist on the jazz scene and we’ll be following it all on Cosmic Jazz.

We followed the three tracks from Infection In the Sentence with three more keyboard players – beginning with Jessica Lauren and a track from her most recent album, Almeria. McCoy Tyner’s 1968 Impulse! album Time for Tyner gave us Little Madimba and we ended the show with female keyboard pioneer Patrice Rushen and Shortie’s Portion with its all-star line up of Joe Henderson, Hadley Caliman and Ndugu.

  1. Camilla George Quartet – Mama Wata from Isang
  2. Maisha – Eaglehurst/The Palace from There Is a Place
  3. Camilla George – Tappin’ the Turtle from The People Could Fly
  4. Sarah Tandy – Bradbury Street from Infection In the Sentence
  5. Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection In the Sentence
  6. Sarah Tandy – Under the Skin from Infection In the Sentence
  7. Jessica Lauren – Beija Flor from Almeria
  8. McCoy Tyner – Little Madimba from Time for Tyner
  9. Patrice Rushen – Shortie’s Portion from Prelusion

Neil is listening to…

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…

Week ending 16 February 2019: jazz and rap today

Cosmic Jazz was back live this week with Derek for the first time since mid-December 2018. There is nothing wrong with pre-recorded shows –  but a live show does add a certain unpredictability and je ne sais quoi. There was also some music to catch up on too – records released last year to which we have not done justice.

It was Neil who first introduced CJ listeners to Emanative, aka drummer Nick Woodmansey. He’s certainly part of the thriving new London jazz scene, but Nick has been around longer than many of the current crop of feted young lions. But like so many of those new artists, he has always listened to and produced more than just jazz. It shows in his music and last year’s much lauded release Earth reflected this. We played the track Iyaami which begins with a long balafon solo before guest Dele Sosimi (formerly of Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80 and then of Femi Kuti’s Positive Force), delivers a lyric about the universality of all mothers – including Mother Earth. The album constantly sifts its axis from Indian classical to space jazz to vocal reflections on the state of the planet. It’s an ambitious recording and all the better for it. Highly recommended, especially on the double vinyl version!

John Ellis – a pianist, composer, and producer from the north west of England was another one of Neil’s choices. He was new to me, but many of his past and present associations are not. Ellis was a founder member of the Cinematic Orchestra and his 2016 record Evolution: Seeds & Streams is released on the Gondwana label, run by Cosmic Jazz favourite Matthew Halsall, who was also executive producer on this record. It’s really interesting music – I loved the tune. Opening track Flight uses an analogue synth pattern as a base before building building into something restrained, flowing and rhythmic. Layering birdsong, piano, bass and kora with an excellent Ellis piano solo. Again, this album comes recommended by CJ. The Cinematic Orchestra themselves have a long awaited new album out on 15 March. We’ll catch up with it in upcoming shows.

Jazz is constantly evolving – and one the most lasting influences is clearly that of rap. We can probably trace this back to the early 1990s and the work of Gil Scott Heron, rap groups like Gang Starr and The Digable Planets sampling jazz records and real time collaboration projects like Guru’s first Jazzamataz album. Since then, rap and jazz have learned how to live together in numerous collaborations, and it seems to be an increasing trend to find the appearance of rappers in the work of artists we feature. We saw it last year, for example, in the work of Keyon Harrold and in Nicholas Peyton’s Twi-Life and way back in 1999 we were listening to trumpeter Erik Truffaz and his collaborations with rapper Nya (see CJ w/e 02 February for more on this). So we featured two further examples of rap and jazz working together this week. Firstly from EABS, the exciting band of young Polish musicians who are not afraid to incorporate aspects of the music they grew up listening to and who make what is a sound for our times. More surprisingly, perhaps, was to find a rapper on the latest record from the exquisite trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the man who makes tunes with the longest titles in jazz. Origami Harvest is Akinmusire’s most adventurous work to date, a collaboration with the Mivos string quartet and rapper Kool AD. This album is also one that’s not afraid to bring politics into the music too – on Americana the Mivos Quartet’s Philip Glass-style minimalism mutates slowly while Kool AD spins out conversational lines about America’s savage histories, brutal legacies, illusory democracies, feudal tendencies. As this alliance matures and grows we can expect to see much more rap in jazz in 2019. On Cosmic Jazz we are open to it all.

Finally, there was time for something perhaps more conventional than the rest of the show. But no apologies because, quite simply, Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik is right up there among the programme’s favourites and among the most-played. His music combines uplift, depth,  joy and more besides. To Whom It May Concern is his 2018 release but go to Steve’s Jazz Sounds and you will find many more albums to enjoy.

  1. Emanative – Iyaami from Earth
  2. John Ellis – Flight from Evolution, Seeds and Streams
  3. EABS – Step into the Light from Repetitions (Letters to Krzystof Komeda)
  4. Ambrose Akinmusire – A Blooming Bloodfruit in a Hoodie from Origami Harvest
  5. Piotr Wojtasik – Out of Scale from To Whom It May Concern

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 09 February 2019: American favourites and local stars

Just six tunes in this week’s Cosmic Jazz, but what power they present! Cosmic Jazz often focuses on new European jazz – including recent releases from Poland and the UK jazz scene – but this week is a mostly American show, beginning with an Art Blakey stormer from 1973, featuring Woody Shaw on trumpet and Cedar Walton on piano.

Like many jazz artists in the 1970s, saxophonist Harold Land updated his sound to include more funky elements like the Fender Rhodes electric piano – but his music never suffered as a result. Black Caucus is tough, driving music – all enhanced by powerful playing from Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and marimba and Harold Land Jnr. on keyboards.

In contrast, Keith Jarrett was noted for something of a crusade against electricity, starting with his wonderful ECM solo piano recordings and continuing with his Standards Trio. Together for 35 years, Jarrett, Peacock and deJohnette recorded Autumn Leaves several times, both live and in the studio. Many of the stand-out versions include an extended Jarrett vamp as a coda – and this take is no exception. Recorded live in 1998 after Jarrett was recovering from a two year silence as result of chronic fatigue syndrome (hence the antediluvian album title) the music is as gloriously invigorating as you could expect. Jarrett is newly energised – and  nowhere morethan on this 13 minute version of the Kosma and Mercer classic. If you like this, then search out either of the two other epic versions recorded by Jarrett – the first monster 26 minute version on the 6CD Live at the Blue Note set and the second on the Trio’s Up For It (recorded live at Juan les Pins). For fun, watch this visual transcription as the Trio plays Japan in 1996.

Stanley Cowell’s Trying To Find a Way from 1978’s New World album has a bit of an all star line up – Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Pat Patrick (long time member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra) on reeds, Cecil McBee on bass and the great Roy Haynes on drums. The whole set is a delight and the album includes a beautiful take on Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday.

Saxophonist John Stubblefield doesn’t have a very high profile in jazz and there are few records under his own name. This one (Confessin’) for the Italian Soul Note label is certainly worth exploring, especially as it includes fine piano from Mulgrew Miller. If you can find it, check out the whole album or treat yourself to this excellent compilation of Black Saint and Soul Note tracks from the If… label, compiled by the always reliable Jean Claude.

We ended this week’s CJ with music from young British lions (and a lioness). The Ezra Collective has been at the forefront of the contemporary jazz scene in the UK and their take on I Have a God with Zara McFarlane on vocals was a great way to close the show. After two excellent EPs, their first full length album You Can’t Steal My Joy releases on 26 April. Watch this space!

  1. Art Blakey – Anthenagin from Anthenagin
  2. Harold Land – Black Caucus from Choma (Burn)
  3. Keith Jarrett Trio – Autumn Leaves from After the Fall
  4. Stanley Cowell – Trying to Find a Way from New World
  5. John Stubblefield – Confessin’ from Confessin’/You Need This!: Black Saint and Soul Note (1975-1985)
  6. Ezra Collective feat. Zara McFarlane – I Have a God from Chapter 7

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 02 February 2019: trumpeters and more

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.

  1. Maisha – Azure from There is a Place
  2. Sarathy Korwar – Mind Ecology from Your East is My West
  3. William Parker – Hunk Pappa Blues from Raining on the Moon
  4. Erik Truffaz Quartet – Pacheco from Doni Doni
  5. Avishai Cohen – 50 Years and Counting from Cross My Palm with Silver
  6. Donald Byrd – Thomas from Black Byrd
  7. Francisco Mora Catlett – Vital Force from World Trade Music
  8. Eliane Elias – Copacabana from Dance of Time

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 26 January 2019: world sounds past and present

This week’s Cosmic Jazz is a typical CJ mix – we include jazz from 1957, new British and Polish jazz, one of our favourite current rap artists and a classic Latin fusion track.

The show started with  the remarkable Yusef Lateef. Until his recent death at the age of 93, Lateef was – like Don Cherry – a world music pioneer and the atmospheric Morning features Lateef on the arghul, an arabic single reed instrument with an attached drone. It’s remarkable, timeless music and will still sound as revolutionary in another 50 years. It’s similar in effect to Sun Ra’s equally incredible Ancient Aiethiopia from his 1959 album Jazz in Silhouette. Camilla George is one of the new UK saxophonists making waves and now, with her sophomore album The People Could Fly, she moves up another gear. Tappin’ the Land Turtle features vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett and the album features guitarist Shirley Tetteh, drummer Winston Clifford and one of our favourite pianists Sarah Tandy. Vocalist Omar makes an appearance on one track too.

Evelyn Laurie is a Scottish singer whose new self-produced is a conventional but charming delight. Evelyn has explored a range of different musical styles, including her own folk music compositions. A new UK group Me and My Friends ambitiously feature cello at the forefront of their self-penned songs and with African influences (especially on the chosen track You Read My Mind) they press some CJ buttons for sure.

The man with the longest beard in jazz, Jamie Saft, is an unusual keyboard player – equally at home with the avantgarde (for example, his work with John Zorn) and jazz standards. Lelabel from one of Zorn’s many Masada Songbook project albums delicately combines both – check it out here. Blue Dream features his quartet (including celebrated drummer Nasheet Waits) and includes both original compositions and three of those jazz standards.

Michal Martyniuk is a one the seemingly endless new artists to emerge from Poland. Nothing To Prove is his debut album and features Jakub Skowronski on saxophones, Kuba Mizeracki on guitar, Bartek Chojnacki on double bass and Kuba Gubz on drums.

And so to one of our favourite rappers of the moment, Akua Naru, from New Haven, Connecticut. Nag Champa is a great track we have featured previously on the show. It comes from her first album The Journey Aflame and for more from this excellent release check out more here on Bandcamp. And what is nag champa? It’s a Indian perfume – usually a mix of magnolia and sandalwood…

The show ended with two tunes we’ve featured in our Cosmic Jazz live shows –Joe Bataan’s spirited take on Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Bottle and a chilled house remix of Gil Felix’s Que Alegria from Sao Benitez. Joe Bataan took Scott Heron’s highlight from the Winter in America album and gave it a Puerto Rican workover that reflecting his upbringing in East Harlem as a the child of a Filipino father and African American mother. And that searing alto sax? It’s David Sanborn of course – and here’s another of his searing solos, this time from one of his many 1980s Reprise albums recorded with Marcus Miller. The track is Pyramid from the album Close Up.  Bataan himself continues to record – you can hear him on this recent release from boogaloo revival group Spanglish Fly.

  1. Yusef Lateef – Morning from Jazz Mood
  2. Camilla George feat. Cherise Adams-Burnett – Tappin’ the Land Turtle from The People Could Fly
  3. Evelyn Laurie – Close Your Eyes from A Little Bit Of Me
  4. Me and My Friends – You Read My Mind from Look Up
  5. Jamie Saft Quartet – Walls from Blue Dream
  6. Michal Martyniuk – Back from Krakow from Nothing to Prove
  7. Akua Naru – Nag Champa from The Journey Aflame
  8. Joe Bataan – The Bottle (La Botellita) from Afrofilipino/single
  9. Gil Felix – Que Alegria (Sao Benitez mix) from Brazilian Beats

Neil is listening to…

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio