Week ending 07 October 2017: sax summit








Listen to the latest CJ show via Mixcloud for new sounds and classic jazz featuring musicians from across the globe. The worldwide reach of jazz was well illustrated by the first tune. Daniel Toledo is a drummer from Ecuador but his trio also features a Swedish bass player and a Polish pianist. The album Atrium was recorded in Poland.

Also from Poland and trained at the Katowice School of Music are the Adam Jarzmik Quintet. Their performance at the annual Polish Jazz Day in April 2017 saw them declared as this year’s winners. Jarznik is a pianist and this week’s tune Dominica’s Dream showcases some fast piano work from him and some interesting tenor sax work from Jakub Lepa with much activity going on from the other players as he is featured.

The rest of the show featured a selection of music from my Cosmic Jazz partner Neil. The music came from Michael J McEvoy, a personal contact of Neil’s, the wonderful The Elder Statesman from New Zealand, classic jazz from Charnett Moffett, Randy Weston and pianist Joey Alexander, the Indonesian piano prodigy. Michael J McEvoy is an American composer and pianist based in London whose 2014 disc The Long Way Home is a great album and one we highly recommend. Recorded with a roll call of the best of British jazz musicians including Gerard Presencer and Jason Rebello, it’s a notably very fine listening experience on vinyl thanks to superior production from Gearbox Records. Silverlink Express features Nigel Hitchcock, with some superb alto sax playing. McEvoy has composed film soundtracks and worked with such well known artists as Ian Dury, Scritti Politti and Steve Winwood, but this album is very much a return to jazz.

The Elder Statesman features drums and production credits from Wellington’s Lord Echo – otherwise known as  Mike Fabulous. Check out and order/download his  music on the Bandcamp site here. Bassist Charnett Moffett is the son of drummer Charles Moffett who featured in Ornette Coleman’s celebrated 1960s trio. If you don’t know the two Blue Note Live at the Golden Circle albums from 1965, then please check them out now – listen to Faces and Places for taste of classic Coleman astringency on alto with wonderful support from Moffett on drums and David Izenzon on bass.

Neil has been getting back into the exceptional double album release from pianist Randy Weston called The Spirits of Our Ancestors. This features solo piano, small group performances and large ensembles – with the added bonus of Pharoah Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie and Dewey Redman on some tracks. If you’re looking for a good place to start with Weston then this is the album for you. It’s a CJ recommendation, of course – listen to another standout track Blue Moses right here and catch Sanders at his wailing best on soprano saxophone. Joey Alexander plays Singapore on 11 November and will have a new Thelonious Monk release out soon. In the meantime, his sophomore 2016 album Countdown is well worth a listen. Here his superb trio of Larry Grenadier and Ulysses Owen Jr. is augmented by Chris Potter – again on soprano sax.

We ended the show this week with baritone vocalist Gregory Porter – now very much part of the jazz establishment but someone we interviewed earlier in his now Grammy Award winning career. We’ve commented on the space Porter gives his band in previous posts but his innovative songwriting is also worthy on mention. Whilst Porter does do covers, his albums largely feature original compositions – and none are finer than the extended metaphor of Painted on Canvas.

  1. Daniel Toledo – Atrium from Atrium
  2. Adam Jarzmik Quintet – Dominica’s Dream from Euphoria
  3. Michael J McEvoy feat. Nigel Hitchcock – Silverlink Express from The Long Way Home
  4. The Elder Statesman – Montreux Sunrise from Montreux Sunrise/Alpine Express
  5. Charnett Moffett – Music From Our Soul from Music From Our Soul
  6. Randy Weston – African Village Bedford Stuyvesant 2 from The Spirits of Our Ancestors
  7. Joey Alexander feat. Chris Potter – Maiden Voyage from Countdown
  8. Gregory Porter – Painted On Canvas from Be Good

Neil is listening to…

27 September 2017: Mercury Music and more







A programme inspired by the Mercury Music Prize, small independent labels and jazz from Poland, New Zealand, the USA, the UK – including not far from where Cosmic Jazz is recorded. Check some great tunes out via the Mixcloud tab.

The Mercury Music Prize in the UK always includes a token jazz group who are never going to win. All you can hope for is that the exposure will enhance their career in some way. This year that token mantle was held by Dinosaur, a Cosmic Jazz favourite.  On the first programme I recorded since the prize I wanted to play the tune Dinosaur performed at the live event. The introduction they received from the programme presenter seemed to be less enthusiastic than the others I saw, but the reception from the audience to their truncated version of Living, Breathing sounded loud and enthusiastic – quite right too. That was not the only reference to this year’s Mercury on the show as the eventual winner Sampha appeared on a tune that Neil contributed. It’s not strictly jazz – but it does include Kamasi Washington and that gave us reason to play this excellent track from a forthcoming EP by Richard Russell’s group Everything is Recorded. Incidentally, the sample that provides the inspiration for the track is from Nightclubbing by Grace Jones from her magisterial 1981 album of the same name. For more Kamasi Washington, his new EP Harmony of Difference is just out on the new Young Turks label. You can listen to the superb 14 minute final track Truth right here.

Birnam CD, an independent Scotland-based record company, were represented by the tuneful London Jazz players and the Italian-born but London-based guitarist Giulio Romano Malaisi.

As well as independent labels we like to support independent stockists and Steve’s Jazz Sounds is one we turn to regularly, particularly for some wonderful Polish jazz. Algorythm play music that is fresh, contemporary and uplifting. EABS have a record that pays homage to a Polish jazz legend, the pianist and composer Krzystof Komeda. However, the tunes often bear little apparent relationship to the compositions of Komeda. His music featured on some of the classic soundtracks to Roman Polanski’s earlier films including Knife in the Water, Cul de Sac and the celebrated Rosemary’s Baby – the recording of which has recently been reissued on vinyl. EABS are more grounded in hip hop and so their twist on Komeda is singular – none more so than on the unpredictable vocal tune God is Love which we included this week’s show.  Listen and you’ll hear what we mean.

Mammal Hands – a group you could almost call local to Cosmic Jazz and one we have promoted since their inception – have a new album out at the end of October. We featured Black Sails, the first release from the album which is titled Shadow Work. Look out for it in your local record stores soon. Mammal Hands will promote the album in major European cities beginning with Istanbul – a major move forward from their early gigs in small Norwich pubs and clubs!  We also played Transalpine Express, one of two tracks from The Elder Statesman, a trio from New Zealand with producer Lord Echo on percussion. It’s a tune that’s catchy, enticing and certainly one to play again. I loved it and we’ll feature its partner Montreux Sunrise in a future programme.

An encouraging aspect of jazz vocalists these days is the way they not only employ top musicians but give them the scope to play – we’ve often commented on how Gregory Porter and Cecile McClorin Salvant are adept at this. Perhaps it’s because the core of their touring bands are usually musicians they have held onto since their rise to fame. In a recent performance here in Singapore [writes Neil], Porter showed how much space he can give to his musicians in a live context too. And that’s not just in obligatory solos around his vocals: the band are presented as very much integral to the show and (largely) in a full-on jazz ensemble performance. Young vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is another example of this encouraging trend in the new generation of jazz singers. CJ this week paired her alongside an earlier example of someone to whom she has been likened and compared – Rachelle Ferrell. I never tire of Ferrell’s outstanding album First Instrument. For me, it is up there among our Cosmic Jazz essentials. Like Jazzmeia Horn, Ferrell draws on some standard tunes, with this week’s selection one both written and made famous by peerless soul singer Sam Cooke in 1957.

  1. Dinosaur – Living, Breathing from Together As One
  2. The London Jazz Players – The News Where You Are from CD single/download
  3. Guilio Romano Malaisi – Randagio from Unexpected Ride
  4. Algorythm – Deep Dive Narcissus from Segments
  5. EABS – God is Love from Repetitions: Letters to Krzystof Komeda
  6. Mammal Hands – Black Sails from Shadow Work
  7. Everything is Recorded – Mountains of Gold feat. Sampha, Ibeyi, Wiki and Kamasi Washington
  8. The Elder Statesman – Trans-Alpine Express from Montreux Sunrise/Trans-Alpine Express
  9. Jazzmeia Horn – Music Makes the World Go Round from A Social Call
  10. Rachelle Ferrell – You Send Me from First Instrument
  11. Somi – Midnight Angels from Petite Afrique


Neil is listening to…

13 September 2017: tunes from the past






Cosmic Jazz usually mixes the old and the new but from time to time we like to have a programme where all the tunes are from the past. This week was one of those programmes and while there were two or three favourites we have played before, most were new to the show.

There is a tendency in such a format to resort to our US favourites – but not this time.  We began in the UK with a band that really did epitomise the best of British jazz. Long before Gilles Peterson championed the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet for a new hip audience, here at CJ we were fans of the band and their ability to go beyond the post-bop conventions of the time and really stretch out on some extraordinary tunes. Shades of Blue is just such an example – it’s an oasis of stillness and calm throughout but driven by the gorgeous tones of Rendell on soprano and tenor saxes and Ian Carr on trumpet. Recorded in 1964, this album title tune was written by composer Neil Ardley and played by a band that truly showed how innovative, inventive and deeply engaging the UK jazz scene could be.  After the quintet folded, all its members continued to play and make their mark both in the UK and wider with trumpeter Ian Carr writing the go-to biographies of both Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett.

Mark Murphy’s version of Stolen Moments was one of the tunes that has made several appearances on the show before. I make no apologies for playing it again. Yusef Lateef also appears on many of our playlists and Chang, Chang, Chang, originally from the album Before Dawn and reissued on the excellent Soul Jazz compilation Black Fire! New Spirits, is one we have played before.

The terrible destruction wreaked on several Caribbean islands by Hurricane Irma made me want  to recognise the musical creativity of the people there as a mark of respect. In 2015 the label Heavenly Sweetness released a highly recommended compilation called Koute Jazz, which covers music from the French Antilles in the 1970s and 1980s, where the jazz of the time embodied a return to roots music as well as to free jazz. This was exemplified by the selection of Gwadloup by trumpeter Edmony Krater and his band Zepiss. He was born in Guadeloupe but the tune was recorded in Paris. It used traditional percussion evocative of the Antilles and in the words of Edmony Krater. This song describes how we don’t manage to value our history, our specificity.

Underground System is a Knitting Factory CD release with three tunes from Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80. This 1992 album was the final one of new material to be released during Fela’s lifetime. The tune Pansa Pansa was first performed by Fela in 1977 and was a response to the Nigerian army’s destruction of his base, the Kalakuta Republic. But the more the authorities persecuted (pansa, pansa means more, more) the more Fela and his extended family would protest…

Brazilian gems from the past seem to be hard for me to avoid at the moment. Once again, we featured tunes that have been re-released on British labels. The amazing Tenorio Jr’s Consolacao is – like most of his music – just over two minutes of perfection. Sadly, Tenorio Jr seems to have travelled from Brazil to Argentina to then become one of the disappeared under the military junta there. The track is available on Bossa Jazz Vol 2 from Soul Jazz Records. Milton Banana’s equally compact (and perfect) Cidade Vazia from 1966 was re-released via the Mr. Bongo label in their excellent Brazilian Beats series.

Finally, there was a taste of another Cosmic Jazz favourite, Patrice Rushen, who any listener to the programme or reader of the blog should know by now has had a life outside Forget Me Nots.

  1. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Shades of Blue from Shades of Blue
  2. Mark Murphy – Stolen Moments from Mark Murphy – the Jazz Singer
  3. Yusef Lateef – Chang, Chang, Chang from Black Fire! New Spirits!
  4. Edmony Krater and Zepioss Gwadloup from Koute Jazz
  5. Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Pansa Pansa from Underground System
  6. Tenorio Jr – Consolacao from Embalo/Bossa Jazz Vol 2
  7. Milton Banana – Cidade Vazia from Balancado/Brazilian Beats Vol 1
  8. Patrice Rushen – Before the Dawn from Before the Dawn


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

06 September 2017: trumpet tones and more

The Guggenheim Museum in New York – designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.









Click the MixCloud tab (left) to hear this week’s programme which travelled to Brazil, Japan, the USA, Poland and the UK. The music ranged from bossa to classic jazz and jazz merged with hip hop – sounds old and new.

At Cosmic Jazz we like to support and highlight independent record labels that promote jazz.  Birnam CD are an example of this. Birnam are based in Dunkeld Scotland and promote some interesting players, some of whom are not well known. But on their latest release, a CD/download single, the pianist is very familiar in  British jazz circles. He is Steve Lodder – a member of The London Jazz Players – whose release The News Where You Are was featured this week. Very interesting it is too with Steve Lodder’s piano playing well to the fore. It followed another example of his playing. Steve has long accompanied Brazilian singer Monica Vasconcelos and is in her current band. We included one of the older tunes they co-wrote, which also provided a fine example of Lodder’s keyboards.

CJ this week began in Brazil with music from the nu-bossa queen Sabrina Malheiros. This is her fourth and most danceable album to date. Her heritage is steeped in the best of Brazilian music: her father Alex Malheiros is the bass player with the samba jazz-funk legends Azymuth and if you have never heard their superlative Jazz Carnival, check out the YouTube link on Derek’s personal music choices for this week. Even if you have, listen again. Alex Malheiros features on his daughter’s new album Clareia, released by the UK Far Out label and produced by the London-based Daniel Maunick – himself son of Incognito’s Bluey Maunick.

There was a great TV programme on UK’s BBC4 last week about pioneer US architect Frank Lloyd Wright. While some background music can really enrich a TV programme, it can also be irritating. But this programme incorporated one of the finer examples and illustrated how powerful jazz can be when used in this way. At the end of the programme came the immediately recognisable and uplifting strains of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints, from his 1966 Blue Note album Adam’s Apple. I couldn’t resist playing the tune this week.

There were further examples of music on the show available from the always reliable Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Polish drummer/composer Tomek Grochot has enlisted the support of US trumpeter Eddie Henderson on his latest release In America. Old and New, our tune this week, is a good example of his sound – and there’s some exquisite playing from Polish pianist Dominik Wania with  the characteristic trumpet sounds of Eddie Henderson – incidentally, a trained doctor and psychiatrist! Henderson was once one of the true inheritors of Miles Davis’ 70s sound – all wahwah pedals, synth washes and jazzrock riffs – but he now ploughs a more restrained post-bop furrow.

Also from Poland, EABS dedicate their new album to Polish jazz master Krzystof Komeda and combine the older sounds of jazz with the new hip-hop rhythms the band grew up with. The hip-hop on this week’s tune is hardly perfect poetry but the music is heavy and there is some fine trumpet playing. It’s a good example of how the worldwide intersection between different music genres informs contemporary jazz.

There was more (heavier) hip-hop jazz from Steve Lehman’s Selebeyone and another restrained piece of trumpet playing from British artist Yazz Ahmed and the programme went out with Japanese jazz-dance favourites Sleep Walker and their classic Resurrection.

  1. Sabrina Malheiros – Clareia from Clareia
  2. Monica Vasconcelos – Sabonate Do Mato from Nois
  3. The London Jazz Players – The News Where You Are CD/download single
  4. Wayne Shorter – Footprints from Adam’s Apple
  5. Tomek Grochot feat Eddie Henderson – Old and New from In America
  6. Yazz Ahmed – The Space Between the Fish and the Moon from La Saboteuse
  7. EABS – Step Into the Light from Repetitions (Letters to Krzystof Komeda)
  8. Steve Lehman’s Selebeyone – Are You In Peace? from Selebeyone
  9. Sleep Walker – Resurrection from Sleep Walker


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

30 August 2017: a (mainly) spiritual thing








For much of this week’s programme there were tune titles and sounds with a distinctly spiritual feel. Dream Weaver, Om Rama and Zen are the titles of the first three tunes on the show – and there indeed the next tune Totem continued this trend.

Some of the selections this week came from Neil and if there is one artist that I always associate with him it is Charles Lloyd. Now 79,  he is still touring and playing and from the evidence of this re-visiting of the tune Dream Weaver recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2016, the tone of his playing is as rich and full as ever. It marked a 10th anniversary reunion of the special quartet he formed with Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. The sound is resonant, deep and spiritual and when the main Dream Weaver melody kicks in around the six minutes mark into this extended version, you know you are witnessing a musician very much at the top of his game.

Alice Coltrane may not have been a favourite of every jazz lover, either in the work she produced with husband John or in her solo projects. Her music was, however, definitely spiritual and the recent release by Luaka Bop of music produced in her later years and unearthed recently by her family comes from a time when she was leading an ashram in California. This is evident in the titles of the tune and the album and the ecstatic sounds produced. The music isn’t strictly jazz (we shouldn’t expect much improvisation on the Wurlitzer keyboard favoured by Coltrane) but the intense spirituality is evident in the first track – and it doesn’t let up. The music invokes both Hindu Vedanta devotional songs and – more surprisingly – the Detroit church choirs of Alice Coltrane’s youth. It’s a heady brew and one that’s impossible not to be (literally) swayed by.

From New York, The James Brandon Trio have an excellent first album released entitled No Filter. It is tough and contemporary in sound, it makes excellent use of hip-hop artists on some of the tunes and has a cool CD sleeve which is minimalist in terms of the information provided about the musicians and music. It does, though, have a tune Zen which continued the spiritual path of the programme.

Kajetan Borowski is a teacher of jazz piano at the Katowice Academy of Music. He leads a trio that produces music that could be described as classic jazz but with a contemporary feel. This was followed by another tune from the impressive album The Journey from the Belgian Jelle Van Giel Group.

The show ended with a trip to Brazil. Both Neil and I have recently seen Brazilian artists perform. In Neil’s case it was the great Marcos Valle in London and for me it was the British-based Monica Vasconcelos performing at a free festival in a park in Ipswich. Vasconcelos is a Sao Paulo native but has headlined here at Ronnie Scott’s, the Jazz Cafe and many other UK venues since moving to the UK. She returns to Suffolk on 07 October for the Flipside Festival at Snape Maltings.

  1. Charles Lloyd – Dream Weaver from Passin’ Thru
  2. Alice Coltrane – Om Rama from The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
  3. James Brandon Trio – Zen from No Filter
  4. Kajetan Borowski Trio – Totem from Totem
  5. Jelle Van Giel Group – Lullaby for Nelle from The Journey
  6. Marcos Valle – Apaixonada por Voce (In Love With You) from Escape
  7. Monica Vasconcelos – Quadras de Roda from Nois


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

23 August 2017: Braziliance +

This week’s show featured an end of summer selection to chill out to – classic Brazilian cool from Elaine Elias and couple of rap-influenced jazz tracks along with the full 12 minute medley of Afro Blue/Eye See You/Wade in the Water from the improbably names Jazzmeia Horn. Check it all out via the Mixcloud tab (left).

We began with Dinosaur, now the token jazz group nomination for the Mercury Music Prize. But trumpeter Laura Jurd’s quartet is more than this – Elliot Galvin is a fine keyboard player and here on our featured tune Extinct, his Wurlitzer swirls create a brooding atmosphere that perfectly compliments Jurd’s  fluttering trumpet figures. Up next were two bands that draw on hip-hop influences – the James Brandon Trio and – from Poland – EABS. Lewis is a tough sounding tenor player and here his trio is punctuated on some tracks by additional instrumentation and vocals. On Bittersweet, it’s vocalist Nicholas Ryan Gant who adds some jazz scatting to the mix.

We couldn’t resist a full three cuts from the new album from Brazilian vocalist Elaine Elias. At 57,  Elias is something of a vocal veteran who very much wears her jazz influence on almost all her many recordings. Currently with Concord Records, her new album is called Dance of Time and – like others – it features her husband bass player Marc Johnson. This time, though, he’s on production duties with Steve Rodby. The band is excellent, the cover tunes are sublime and Elias’s own original compositions – including By Hand (Em Maos)  – among the best on this fine album.

New vocalist Jazzmeia Horn is – like Cecile McLorin Salvant – a winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. Her first album is A Social Call and it includes bassist Ben Williams whose own excellent recent album Coming of Age we have played on this show. Horn has gospel roots and – thankfully – they show. Her sound and style owes a lot to Betty Carter – but that’s no bad thing. In short – an album to check out and buy.

This week’s show ended with another album sourced from the highly recommended Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Jelle van Giel is a Belgian drummer whose album The Journey is a fine recording and one well worth tracking down from Steve.

  1. Dinosaur – Extinct from Together As One
  2. The James Brandon Trio – Bittersweet from No Filter
  3. EABS – Step Into The Light from Repetitions: Letters to Krzystof Komeda
  4. Eliane Elias – Sambou Sambou from Dance Of Time
  5. Eliane Elias – Na Batucada da Vida from Dance Of Time
  6. Eliane Elias – By Hand (Em Maos) from Dance Of Time
  7. Jazzmeia Horn – Medley: Afro Blue/Wade in the Water/Eye See You from A Social Call
  8. Jelle Van Giel Group – The Journey from The Journey


Neil is listening to…

09 August 2017: jazz, hip-hop and bossa








Is there still a debate about whether jazz and hip-hop can combine? I hope not. Some of us will remember, however, the furore over Miles Davis turning to hip-hop, but if there are still any doubters they should have been assuaged by some of the tunes on this week’s programme.

Kevin le Gendre writing in Echoes the Black music magazine and Jazzwise selects some interesting records to review and musicians to write about. His observations are scholarly and his tastes usually impeccable. I came across the first two groups this week  through his writing. The James Brandon Trio and Steve Lehman’s Selebeyone play music that is tough and heavy, contemporary in feel and  adventurous in approach that employs hip-hop artists alongside jazz musicians. Give them a listen but with an open mind; the music is at times challenging.

EABS on their album Repetitions pay homage to the Polish jazz great Krzysztof Komeda, playing some of his tunes, including little-known ones. They were an appropriate act to follow James Brandon Lewis and Selebeyone. They describe their music as a new approach to jazz through the prism of the hip-hop sounds that the band grew up on. Their project has involved UK and US musicians, including Dave Liebman, whom Neil featured on the show last week.

Thanks to some of the music available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds we recognise that so many Polish jazz musicians have the chops and  to play with leading US musicians – and drummer/composer Tomek Grochot is a good example of this. His second album includes veteran US trumpeter Eddie Henderson, who not only plays on the tune selected tonight but has the tune dedicated to him. There is also an appearance from Polish pianist Dominik Wania, who has featured already on Cosmic Jazz. 

Pianist Kaketan Borowski is another young Polish musician who teaches at the Jazz institute of the Academy of Music in Katowice. By now the mood of the programme was more relaxed, more mainstream but still interesting.  The tune selected was Blue Bossa. It’s not presetned here as a true bossa tune, but someone who does know a thing or two about bossa is Brazilian pianist and composer Eliane Elias who has a new album out. The  tune selected Copacabana, has a title, if ever there was one, to conjure up the images  and sounds of bossa nova.

Finally, Jazzmeia Horn’s medley of Afro-Blue/Eye See You from her recent release A Social Call showed the full extent of her creative,  impassioned and deeply moving approach to the tunes she sings and the raps she delivers.

  1. James Brandon Trio – Y’All Slept from No Filter
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Origine from Selebeyone
  3. EABS – Perly/DukatyXIV/Repetition from Repetitions
  4. Tomek Grochot feat Eddie Henderson – Song for Eddie Henderson from In America
  5. Kayetan Borowski Trio – Blue Bossa from Totem
  6. Eliane Elias – Copacabana from Dance of Time
  7. Jazzmeia Horn – Medley: Afro-Blue/Eye See You from A Social Call


Derek is listening to:

After an electrifying show at the Jazz Cafe, London, Neil is now going back to his (extensive) Marcos Valle collection….

Neil is listening to…

03 August 2017: drum ode

Marcus Gilmore (left) and Roy Haynes perform together in Washington, D.C., in 2009. Haynes’ daughter is Gilmore’s mother.








Cosmic Jazz this week began with a brief ode to the power of percussion, taken from Dave Liebman’s Drum Ode album on ECM, before starting with the drumming of Peter Erskine on the newly released Jaco Pastorius 1982 New York concert. The 2CD release is a indication that the innovative bass player’s real passion was not Weather Report but his own Word of Mouth big band. There are stunning performances on this new Resonance Records release called Truth, Liberty and Soul – from Othello Molineaux on steel drums, Bob Mintzer on saxophones, Lew Soloff on trumpet and special guest Toots Thielemans on harmonica.

Up next was a first play on CJ for the new Charles Lloyd album. Recorded live, it’s by what is billed as his new Quartet, although, confusingly,  this contains all the members of his old ECM quartet – namely pianist Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. Harland delivers some thunderous drumming to start this take on Lloyd’s classic tune Dream Weaver, and the whole thing builds into an unmissable 17 minute take. The whole album is a real return to form for Lloyd and is highly recommended.

Alice Coltrane was much more than the wife of the late John Coltrane. We have continued to feature her own extraordinary music ever since we started the Cosmic Jazz show over 10 years ago and this week we focused on a superb new release from David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label titled World Spirituality Classics Vol. 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda. We could only play a shortened version of Om Rama but will return to this superb release in coming weeks.

Pianist Randy Weston is one the greats – and the 2CD album Spirit of Our Ancestors features both Pharoah Sanders and Dizzy Gillespie. Here, though, you heard Weston on his own composition African Village/Bedford Stuyvesant – a nod to his upbringing in New York and his longtime exploration of African rhythms and the heritage of jazz. If you can find it, this is yet another record to add to your list. Weston is on fine form throughout and the arrangements (by Melba Liston who did the same for his excellent Tanjah release of 1973) are perfect. Weston, now 91, is a contemporary of our second pianist Ahmad Jamal, himself a mere 87. This new version of the standard Autumn Leaves comes from Ahmad Jamal’s new album, Marseille. Jamal is on something of a roll at the moment and Marseille is a fine example of his work. Randy Weston released African Nubian Suite this year too. It’s a concert recording from 2012 and features poet Jayne Cortez – once married to Ornette Coleman. Arrangements are once more by Melba Liston.

Drums to the fore once again with the new album from Jack deJohnette’s new band Hudson. Recorded in upstate New York, this features guitarist John Scofield. It’s a great record with versions of songs with an almost classic Americana feel – Lay Lady Lay, Up On Cripple Creek and Woodstock are hardly jazz standards. We chose a deJohnette original composition Song for World Forgiveness. Vocalist Carmen Lundy is something of a Cosmic Jazz hero – we love her voice and recent recordings suggest that she’s still at the peak of her vocal powers. Our choice is taken from her 2CD live album recorded in the Madrid Theatre, Los Angeles which blends One More River to Cross and Langston Hughes’ poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers. The intro is played by Steve Turre on his conch shells. It’s a great performance.

We ended the show this week with a second track called African Village – this one from McCoy Tyner on Blue Note from the album Time for Tyner recorded in 1968. The late Bobby Hutcherson is featured on vibes and – as often with Tyner – one track is a a solo piano piece. On Time for Tyner, it’s the standard I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.

What’s on next week on CJ? Well, we’ll certainly treat ourselves to some more Brazilian music and more new jazz releases. In the meantime, check out our listening choices below the playlist.

  1. Dave Liebman – Goli Dance from Drum Ode
  2. Jaco Pastorius – Reza/Giant Steps from Truth, Liberty and Soul
  3. Charles Lloyd – Dream Weaver from Passin’ Thru
  4. Alice Coltrane – Om Rama from World Spirituality Vol. 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
  5. Randy Weston – African Village/Bedford Stuyvesant 1 from The Spirit of Our Ancestors
  6. Ahmad Jamal – Autumn Leaves from Marseille
  7. Hudson – Song for World Forgiveness from Hudson
  8. Carmen Lundy – One More River to Cross from Jazz and the New Songbook: Live at the Madrid
  9. McCoy Tyner – African Village from Time for Tyner

Thanks to the men who play the drums.


Neil is listening to…

26 July 2017: new music from around the world






This week’s show featured more music chosen by Neil – including a new Cameroon compilation on Analog Africa, music from Cuba, Mali and New Zealand – and, of course, jazz too…

We began with bass player Bill Laswell (above) and one of his reconstruction/transmission projects in which he takes existing recordings and then gives them his unique treatment. Here it was with some Cuban studio, home and street recordings. The album is called Imaginary Cuba and is well worth a listen if you can find it.

Up next was a track from Pop Makossa, a collection on the German label Analog Africa. It’s always exciting when you settle down to listen to new music along with the usually comprehensive booklet we expect from the label. We featured Nen Lambo by Bill Loko, a song that caused something of a dance sensation in Paris when it was released in 1980. It’s easy to hear why – this irrepressible synth disco masterpiece would work on any dancefloor around the world. The CD booklet recounts how the authors tracked down Loko in a Paris cafe after searching for him for over a year. Loko didn’t anticipate the resulting sudden rush of fame and he escaped to Australia for several years before returning to the Cameroon capital Doula. We’ll feature other tracks from this excellent compilation in future weeks on Cosmic Jazz.

We played a teasingly short taster of Jack de Johnette’s new project, Hudson. This is something of a power quartet with deJohnette on drums and piano, Mike Medeski on keys and organ, Larry Grenadier on bass and John Scofield on guitar. Hudson is named after the upstate New York location of the recording and the CD has something of a jazz Americana feel as the group interpret rock classic like Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay and the Band’s Up on Cripple Creek. These are interspersed with original compositions, including the album closer – the native Indian chant of Great Spirit Peace Chant. Check out the brief promo video on deJohnette’s site here.

The next track may be titled Makossa No.3 but it bears little relation really to the authentic sound of Cameroon. But as makossa simply means dance in the Doula language we can forgive Mike Fabulous, the musical mind behind New Zealand’s Lord Echo project. This excellent album is full of the kind of catchy riffs that you think you’ve heard before but are all created by the DJ, producer and engineer who once fronted The Black Seeds – the reggae band from Wellington, NZ that isn’t Fat Freddy’s Drop.

It’s no exaggeration to say that – along with his longtime bandleader Fela Kuti – drummer Tony Allen was responsible for creating the worldwide phenomenon of afrobeat. His characteristic rhythms are in evidence on Yere Faga, one of the tracks on Oumou Sangare’s excellent new album Mogoya. Sangare is special: not only one of Mali’s most successful singers, she is also a hotelier, (the Wassoulou Hotel in Bamoko), a car manufacturer and taxi company owner and longtime advocate of women’s rights. And her songs aren’t afraid to tackle big issues either – Yere Faga deals with suicide and Sangare sings a message of hope – Don’t kill yourself because of suffering/Life on this earth isn’t easy…

Here on Cosmic Jazz we really like Bandcamp, the online site where musicians rub electronic shoulders with their audience. It’s a great way to listen to and then buy your music – and it enables you to directly support the artists involved. It’s where I discovered the music of Alfa Mist and his release Antiphon. The standout track on this mashup of hiphop beats, jazz drumming and conscious lyrics is the opener, Right On. To track down this release, simply head for this Bandcamp page. Another recommendation to explore.

Yaz Ahmed is a young British trumpeter whose very assured new album La Saboteuse has been attracting much attention in recent months. Ahmed has a musical pedigree: her grandfather Terry Brown played with the original John Dankworth Seven in the 1950s. After studying at the Guildhall in London, Ahmed released her debut in 2011. The new release incorporates some electronica alongside some Arabic modes – check out the track we featured, The Space Between the Fish and the Moon. To play the whole album check out her Bandcamp page – and then buy!

Mark de Clive-Lowe was our second Kiwi of the evening – he’s a DJ and live performer whose recent Blue Note Remixed project is one of the finer examples of the turntablist’s art. Armed with a crateful of classics from Blue Note Records’ genre-defining years, de Clive-Lowe has created a live-remix mixtape weaving from jazz to hip hop classics, to underground house and broken beat. Recorded and improvised live in one take, MdCL deploys his drum machine, sample pads, Rhodes and keyboards on-the-fly bringing unique perspective to moments created decades earlier by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Duke Ellington, and Donald Byrd and more. We featured a section from the second half of the disc – how many Blue Note classic samples did you spot? You can download or order the vinyl here at Bandcamp.

We ended the show with something of a contemporary jazz classic – Sonny Sharrock’s Many Mansions. This comes from Ask the Ages – an album I’ve wanted for many years. Recently reissued, it features a stellar quartet of Sharrock on guitar, Pharoah Sanders on tenor, Charnett Moffett on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Recorded in 1994, this was Sharrock’s last album and – in my opinion – a jazz masterpiece. Traditionalists may baulk at this when they hear Sharrock’s guitar-shredding style, but Many Mansions is really a modal classic with saxophone and guitar trading sonic blows to build up to a truly awesome climax. Highly recommended.

  1. Bill Laswell – Habana Transmission 1 #/Avisale a la Vencina Dub from Imaginary Cuba
  2. Bill Loko – Nen Lambo from Pop Makossa
  3. Hudson – Great Spirit Peace Chant from Hudson
  4. Lord Echo – Makossa No. 3 from Harmonies
  5. Oumou Sangare – Yere Faga from Mogoya
  6. Alfa Mist – Keep On from Antiphon
  7. Yaz Ahmed – The Space Between the Fish and the Moon from La Saboteuse
  8. Mark de Clive-Lowe – extract from Blue Note Remixed Vol. 1
  9. Sonny Sharrock – Many Mansions from Ask the Ages


Neil is listening to…

19 July 2017: an all Coltrane show







17 July saw a significant anniversary in jazz – it was exactly 50 years since the death of saxophonist John Coltrane, and so here on Cosmic Jazz we have been celebrating his life and work over the last three weeks. Tonight is our final look at Coltrane’s music – but this time through the interpretation of others.

We began the show with a track featuring the classic Coltrane quartet – Coltrane on tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Tunji comes from the 1962 album Coltrane and is dedicated to Babatunde Olatunji, the Nigerian percussionist who influenced Coltrane’s music.

CJ then celebrated the influence of Coltrane’s music on other musicians, beginning with one of our most underated British saxophonists Alan Skidmore on a 2CD set recorded live at the Boxford Fleece, here in Suffolk. We chose Skidmore’s take on Resolution, the second part of Coltrane’s most famous composition, A Love Supreme and followed this with a take on Countdown, first recorded by Coltrane on the Giant Steps album of 1960 – a virtual template of jazz standards including the title track, Naima and Mr P.C. The artist was the young Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander, whom we have featured on the show previously. Alexander is something of a phenomenon, having recorded his first album at the age of 11 – titled, My Favourite Things, it featured both this and his treatment of Coltrane’s Giant Steps.

We had to play at least one Pharoah Sanders tune and I chose a live version of Naima, recorded on the Crescent with Love album from 1994. Sanders was, of course, a member of Coltrane’s expanded groups of the mid and late 1960s. He first worked with Coltrane in 1965 on the Ascension album, perhaps the most free of Coltrane’s releases. His albums from the 1970s onwards featured Alice Coltrane. Now 76, Sanders continues to record although mainly as a featured artist on other’s recordings.

Dwight Trible’s rich, deep baritone voice has featured on several recent recordings – including his Living Water album of 2006 which featured a vocal version of one of Coltrane’s most beautiful tunes, Wise One. The track we featured – Dear Lord – is very much in the same tradition. It comes from Trible’s new release on Manchester based Gondwana Records and features Matthew Halsall on trumpet.  We will feature more from this excellent album in future programmes. British tenor player Denys Baptiste is one of a number of jazz musicians who have released albums celebrating the music of John Coltrane in recent months, and Late Trane appears on the excellent Edition Records – our label of the year for 2016. Baptiste is joined by Nikki Yeoh on piano and keys, Gary Crosby on bass and with special guest Steve Williamson on tenor on some tracks, including the beautiful After the Rain.

Nat Birchall’s excellent website indicates his debt to his first love – Jamaican dub. This is significant as Birchall makes clear he was an enthusiastic listener before becoming a musician – sound has always been the first and most important thing about music to me, he says. In this he shares much with John Coltrane who released an album simply called Coltrane’s Sound. Writer Ben Ratcliff refers to Coltrane’s continual search for a sound in his thought-provoking book Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, identifying the restless searching that puzzled so many of those around him. As Ratliff explains in his introduction, the book is about jazz as sound. I mean ‘sound’ as it has long functioned among jazz players, as a mystical term of art: an in, every musician finally needs a sound, a full and sensible embodiment of his artistic personality, such that it can be heard, at best, in a single note.  It’s easy to conclude that we have still not caught up with Coltrane’s journey, even fifty years after his death – something that’s not true now of his contemporary, Miles Davis, whose most out-there music (for example, On the Corner, released in 1972) is now appreciated as a ground-breaking work that has influenced so much modern music from Steve Reich to techno and trance. Much like those who worked with Davis at this time,  Coltrane’s own sidemen in the mid sixties had little idea of what Coltrane was up to. Elvin Jones simply shrugged and said Beats the shit outta me and for many listeners this is still what is often thought of Coltrane’s experiments in sound.

We ended the show with something of a contemporary favourite. Several remixers have tried to put their own stamp on Coltrane’s iconic A Love Supreme – but none have succeeded like Berlin duo Skinnerbox. It’s not easily available anymore as a download, but you can listen to the edited dub version here on Soundcloud. Highly recommended.

Finally, to expand your thinking about John Coltrane and his influence, read this feature from Jazzwise magazine by one of our favourite writers, Kevin le Gendre. Incidentally, he would never make Neil’s elementary mistake on the show of referring to Coltrane as an alto saxophonist – although it is true that ‘trane played alto on some of his earliest recordings as well as his final Japanese tour in 1965…

  1. John Coltrane Quartet – Tunji (alternate take) from Coltrane (Deluxe Edition)
  2. Alan Skidmore Quartet – Resolution from Impressions of John Coltrane
  3. Joey Alexander – Countdown from Countdown
  4. Pharoah Sanders – Naima from Crescent with Love
  5. Dwight Trible – Dear Lord from Inspirations
  6. Denys Baptiste – After the Rain from Late Trane
  7. Nat Birchall – To Be from Invocations
  8. Skinnerbox – A Love Supreme Remix download


Neil is listening to…

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio