Week ending 08 June 2019: jazz instrumentation

Piano, double bass, drums, saxophone and trumpet are probably the most common instruments to be found on jazz records. Maybe also guitar would push close for inclusion in such a list. But other instruments have found their way into jazz over the years and a click on the MixCloud tab (left) will provide some examples.

First up is the violin. Yes, we may be able to name some violin players in jazz – but probably not that many.  The show began with an interesting and distinctive player. On The Blessing Song from his 1972 Impulse! album Pneuma, Michael White manages to move the violin far away from – for example –  its string quartet context.  Instead, here it’s a beat-driven, up-front instrument which, along with the constant percussion and piano, enables the tune to swing along to an irresistible rhythm that you have to move to. There are also choir-like voices invoking the Lord in the background – always a hit with me. This is the perfect tune to open a show or to listen to any time.

The vibraphone. Again, we could all name some jazz vibes players, but the vibes are not the easiest of instruments to carry along to the average gig and this may be a factor that explains its comparative rarity. One of the finest vibraphonist in jazz has to be Bobby Hutcherson and we find him on McCoy Tyner’s 1968 Blue Note recording Time for Tyner from which Little Madimba appears. With Hutcherson and Tyner on this exemplary Blue Note recording from the famed Rudy van Gelder studios are Herbie Lewis on bass and Freddie Waits on drums.

Brazilian musician Hermeto Pascoal can be found playing a range of instruments even more unfamiliar to most jazz audiences. He makes guest appearances on Palmares Fantasy, a recent album release by UK sax player Sean Khan. On one tune Pascoal is credited as playing a glass of water… Indeed, his view is that anything can be an instrument – a carpets, a chair, a pint of beer, body parts. A pig famously features on his celebrated 1977 album Slaves Mass but on Waltz for Hermeto he simply plays the melodica. Incidentally, also on this tune are other instruments not common in jazz – viola, cello and (again) violin.

The piano/double bass/drums trio is most certainly a common jazz line-up and there are many, many fine examples to be found. One of our current favourites is RGG a trio of young Polish musicians.  They have rightly been included in a list of distinguished Polish jazz and their music is deep, spiritual and moving. On the  tune Gloria tibi Domine (Praise to the Lord?) listen out for some lovely subtle touches from drummer Maciej Garbowski.

The Quantum Trio features another unusual jazz trio format – sax, piano and drums. Polish musicians sax player Michal Jan Ciesielsji and piano player Kamil Zawislak met their drummer Luis Mora Marus in Rotterdam. He  had reached the Netherlands via Brazil and before that his country of birth, Chile. What is not unusual for anything in the way of Polish jazz is that their music can be found and got hold of at the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

Neil has sent some of the music he has been listening to. Nerija are a large UK-based band, The musicians include many of the young players that have made such an impact on the London jazz scene recently – including Cassie Kinoshi, Shirley Tetteh, Rosie Turton and Nubya Garcia. Currently available is their first EP – check it out here on Bandcamp – but look out, too, for live performances from these musicians either in Nerija, other groups or as leaders of their own band.

Mark de Clive-Lowe is a musician/producer who has two new releases, both exploring his heritage. Appropriately titled Heritage I and Heritage II these new albums may be the best music he’s produced so far. De Clive-Lowe was born in New Zealand with Japanese and New Zealand parents but has since moved, first to London and then Los Angeles. The Japanese folk song, O Edo Nihonbashi, comes from the second of these albums, both of them recorded largely live at LA’s Blue Whale club.  Heritage II opens with a meditative solo piano introduction that refers back to the more reflective heritage-based music on Heritage I before giving way to Dilla-inspired beats and basslines. Interestingly, there is no overdubbing or post-production on either album – De Clive-Lowe juggles grand piano, synths, drum machines, samplers and more to create layer upon layer of fascinating music. It’s one of those tunes that had me wondering as it started – but by the end I was enveloped in a cacophony of noise and interesting sounds. I’d recommend starting with Heritage I and exploring de Clive-Lowe’s take on Japanese culture, including an original that sounds like a traditional folk tune – the beautiful Memories of Nanzenji. Check out, too, this traditional interpretation of O Edo Ninonbashi. Both of these new albums are available on Bandcamp here and come highly recommended.

Neil also sent along one of our shared club favourites from ‘back in the day’ – the Snowboy acoustic mix of Keni Burke’s classic Risin’ to the Top. I have this along with four other versions on  12″ vinyl. It is jazzy rather than jazz but I love it. Keni Burke was a member of the Five Stairsteps group – described as the ‘First Family of Soul’ before the Jacksons assumed the title. Their biggest hit was O-o-h Child (sic), a track recently covered in a jazz context by both Kamasi Washington and vocalist Dwight Trible on his album Cosmic.

We chose to finish with another of our favourite artists – alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who ended the show with his tribute to drummer ‘Philly Joe’ Jones. The track is from Garrett’s fourth and most recent release on the Mack Avenue label – titled Do Your Dance, it really is just that. Garrett works his way through a set of original songs that exploit dance rhythms in subtle, unexpected ways. While there are dance beats from swing, funk, Latin, and more throughout the album, the concept is probably more to do with simply ‘doing your own thing’ – a trait that runs deep in Garrett’s music. Philly is more of a swinging post-bop outing than a reflection of the smooth grooves of Gamble and Huff’s classic Philly soul (although the eclectic Garrett could probably do that too). Elsewhere on the album is the interesting Wheatgrass Shot (Straight to the Head) featuring rapper Donald “Mista Enz” Brown which, as one reviewer commented, “sounds like the Roots making an ECM album” and the buoyant Calypso Chant which owes more than a little to Sonny Rollins and his classic St. Thomas.

  1. Michael White – The Blessing Song from Pneuma
  2. McCoy Tyner – Little Madimba from Time for Tyner
  3. Sean Khan feat. Hermeto Pascoal – Waltz for Hermeto from Palmares Fantasy
  4. RGG – Gloria tibe Domine from Memento (Polish Jazz Vol. 81)
  5. Quantum Trio – Streams from Red Fog
  6. Nerija – Pinkham from Nerija EP
  7. Mark de Clive-Lowe – O Edo Nihonbashi from Heritage II
  8. Keni Burke – Risin’ to the Top (Snowboy’s Acoustic Mix) from Badmeaningood Vol. 3
  9. Kenny Garrett – Philly from Do Your Dance

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 01 June 2019: re-visiting Sarah Tandy and more

Things do not always go to plan on Cosmic Jazz. You are supposed to walk into the studio and find on the screen in front of you a computer wall with bricks that contain the tunes sent in for upload. The wall was there, the bricks were there – but none of the tunes  that I sent in… So the plans (which included some new Polish jazz, a touch of Brazil and more Sarah Tandy) had to be abandoned for a more spontaneous show. Luckily, the tracks that were left enabled me include the latter two. The new Polish music will feature in next week’s show.

It had to be a show planned in the moment. I saw that tunes from Sarah Tandy’s excellent album Infection in the Sentence were available and I needed little excuse to play them again. It has been encouraging to note the praise she has been receiving on Twitter, in reviews and on radio. All thoroughly deserved – there is not a weak track on this album and there is plenty of scope to catch her dexterous and inventive piano/keyboard playing, but she leaves plenty of scope for the other musicians too. Snake in the Grass is a twisting, curving tune with a fitting title, Nursery Rhyme is a beautiful and gentle piece and Bradbury Street is inspired by the location for Sarah’s first jazz residency after leaving Cambridge University and returning to London.

Akua Naru may not be a jazz artist but she has a jazz sensibility and plays with jazz musicians. We first came across her because we heard Sarah Tandy say in a radio interview that she had supported her. On her album The Miner’s Canary no less a jazz artist than Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah makes a guest appearance, as well as Cody Chestnutt. Besides, we love her music, so no more excuses required.

There was another play for one of my tunes of the moment, Krewe by US six-piece Lettuce. They were formed in 1992 by Berklee students. The publicity for their new album Elevate describes them as crossing funk/jazz/soul/psych/hip hop/art rock/ambient/avant-garde/experimental – something for everyone you might say! They run the band on democratic principles with no leaders. Lettuce sound a lot of fun and must be great live.

The Brazilian touches started with Sabrina Malheiros from her album Clareiaanother excellent release on the UK label Far Out. The album includes support on bass from her father Alex of the legendary Azymuth and is produced by Daniel Maunick from London.

Also from London and in touch with Brazilian sounds is keyboard player Jessica Lauren. Her 2018 album Almeria is recommended and among several strong tunes Simba Jike is a stand out. Listen for the marimba playing from Mally Harpaz, the percussion from Phillip Harper and the bass of ‘Level’ Neville Malcolm. This tune is a solid and uplifting groove – do not be fooled by the quiet start.

Light as a Feather was the second album from Chick Corea’s Return to Forever group. Recorded in London in 1972, but with musicians from the US and Brazil, the album consolidated the debut record on ECM from the previous year and is a highlight of Corea’s extensive canon. The line up is impressive – Flora Purim provided the lovely (often wordless) vocals and husband Airto Moreira the percussion. They are both still going strong and due in London soon. From the US (with Cuban heritage) the always underrated Joe Farrell provided tenor sax. Most listeners will recall the tenor sax on The Average White Band’s iconic Pick up the Pieces – that’s Joe Farrell. This incarnation of the RTF band also features the bass playing of Stanley Clarke, who was to stick with Corea’s band through all its many variations.

Rachelle Ferrell featured a few weeks back and I wondered what she was up to now. I learn from the June 2019 edition of the UK Black music mag Echoes that she will appear on the forthcoming album by nu-soul singer Rahsaan Patterson. Probably not jazz, but that voice is worth the listen any time.

  1. Sarah Tandy – Snake in the Grass from Infection in the Sentence
  2. Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection in the Sentence
  3. Sarah Tandy Bradbury Street from Infection in the Sentence
  4. Akua Naru – Nag Champa from Live & Aflame Sessions
  5. Lettuce – Krewe from Elevate
  6. Sabrina Malheiros – Renascera from Clareia
  7. Jessica Lauren – Simba Jike from Almeria
  8. Chick Corea – You’re Everything from Light as a Feather
  9. Rachelle Ferrell – Autumn Leaves from First Instrument

Derek is listening to….

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 23 May 2019: no show!

Please note that Cosmic Jazz for 23 May has not appeared on IO Radio. The 23 May tab this week contains no jazz! But, there is still last week’s show + a bumper crop of ten tunes Neil is listening to at the moment – check out the Youtube clips below. More Cosmic Jazz next week.

Neil is listening to…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week ending 11 May 2019: CJ favourites

This week it was a pre-recorded show. Usually, on these occasions I choose a mixture of music with some old Cosmic Jazz favourites thrown in; this week was no exception.

We still love the Sarah Tandy record Infection in the Sentence. It is still garnering positive comments and sounds as good as ever a few weeks after its release. You can catch her stunning piano/keyboard playing with her own group but also with other groups such as Maisha or Camilla George: see her if you can and if you do not own this record it is a must buy.

The next tune was a self-indulgent luxury. I have played it before on the show and will probably play it again. Freddie Hubbard’s First Light is a warm , uplifting joyous number and the solo from George Benson is simply something else. Also on the record are Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette and Airto Moreira. It’s a CTI lable classic and well worth getting hold of if you don’t own it already.

Next it was back to the contemporary jazz with the Brooklyn New York recorded music of the  James Brandon Lewis Trio, one of several tough-sounding and emerging groups that we have featured on the show. Lewis has a new album just out and we shall be featuring it on the show soon.

From then, it was back to the past – starting with world music pioneer, trumpeter Don Cherry and his take on Pharoah Sanders’ perennial The Creator Has a Master Plan from the very cosmic Organic Music Society album. Cherry, like so many jazz greats, got even more exploratory as he aged, and this 1972 album (first appearance on CD in 2011) is probably as far out as Cherry ever got. As we often do on the show, this was a second recent airing for a tune in all its versions that we love. For a different take on this classic, try Leon Thomas’ yodelling (yes!) vocal version right here.

Pianist Andrew Hill is someone we never forget on Cosmic Jazz. He was probably one of the ‘freer’, in jazz music terms, of the musicians on the Blue Note label. His music demands attention: it’s certainly not as easy on the ear as some of the label’s other music of the classic era, but it is essential jazz. The album Black Fire was recorded in 1963 with  Roy Haynes on drums, Richard Davis on bass and Joe Henderson on tenor sax – an all-star lineup. Hill said “We really enjoy playing together. Joe understands me and I understand Joe in the best possible way; that is, we know how to surprise and inspire each other”. Sounds like the perfect combination.

There was a somewhat contrasting sound to follow – probably a strange choice, but I think I got away with it. I doubt if an Ashley Beedle remix of Ricardo Moreira has ever followed Andrew Hill on a show… A first, and perhaps it may never happen again.  Listen and judge for yourself whether it was a successful juxtaposition.

Manchester-based DJ Colin Curtis has served his time with distinction supplying jazz/soul/funk music to dance-floors. His 2CD compilation Colin Curtis presents Jazz Dance Fusion is a showcase for many of his floor fillers from the Muse record label and it is strongly recommended. Artists familiar to Cosmic Jazz followers can be found on the record – for example, Mark Murphy, Dom Um Romao and Charles Earland (whom we played last week). The selection this time came from alto sax player Richie Cole. There are two tracks from him on the compilation – both excellent – although I have to add a word of caution if you are looking  to hear more of this jazz artist. I have bought records by Richie Cole and have found that some of the tunes are – shall we say – a little easy on the ear. Not on this record though.

There was a lively ending to the show with a Blue Mitchell piece from the first compilation assembled by Martin Freeman and Eddie Piller. Another in the series – this time focusing on more obscure soul favourites – is due soon.

  1. Sarah Tandy – Snake in the Grass from Infection in the Sentence
  2. Freddie Hubbard – First Light from First Light
  3. James Brandon Lewis – Say What from No Filter
  4. Don Cherry – The Creator Has a Master Plan from Organic Music Society
  5. Andrew Hill – Subterfuge from Black Fire
  6. Ricardo Moreira (Ashley Beedle remix) – Feel Like Making Love from I Like It Like That
  7. Richie Cole – Harold’s House of Jazz from Colin Curtis presents Jazz Dance Fusion
  8. Blue Mitchell – Mr. Hermano from Martin Freeman and Eddie Piller present Jazz on the Corner

Derek is listening to…..

  1. Ezra Collective – Juan Pablo
  2. United Future Organization – Loud Minority
  3. Nick Walters – Dear Old Thing
  4. Steve Williamson – A Waltz For Grace
  5. Beres Hammond – Give it all you’ve got

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derek is listening to…

 

Week ending 27 April 2019: spiritual sounds and more

There are contrasting moods in this week’s Cosmic Jazz show –  available via the MixCloud tab (left). The first half is on the deep, intense, even spiritual side while the second section of the show is more obviously funky – but still retaining that deep vibe we like so much.

I search my record shelves on a regular basis to find music that I have not played for some time and bring it to the show. Often I discover some great music that needs to be aired – and so it was this week. The disc selected came from Yuko Fujiyama, a pianist born in Japan, who moved to New York after encountering the music of Cecil Taylor. One night in New York in 1980 she heard someone playing a tape of Taylor’s music and this inspiration led to the free approach to improvisation characterised by this music. The album Reentry was recorded in 2000 at the Gilbert Recital Hall, Canton, New York. The track selected is titled Synaethesis and is the opening tune on the album, which gives a good idea of what the album is like. I cannot remember where or when I bought this record but I’m very pleased I did. I notice its Discogs listing gives the record five stars – I endorse that fully.

From the spiritual side came John Ellis and his album Evolution, Seeds and Streams, whose title provides a good feel for what the music is like. It was released in 2016 on the Manchester-based Gondwana label and was commissioned for the Manchester Jazz Festival. John Ellis is a pianist/keyboard player but the record includes some instruments and sounds that are not commonly found on a jazz record – kora, cello, vocal sculpture, birdsong and beatbox.

Last week the show finally caught up with the Polish sax player from Warsaw Michal Kobojek and his album The Outside. The music was so good that a second tune seemed appropriate this week. He not only leads his own group but also plays as a session musician and with other musicians, including vocalist Urszula Dudziak (who may be known to Cosmic Jazz listeners) and saxophonist Michal Urbaniak, who we have played on the show.

By this stage the mood of the programme was beginning to shift, although only moderately with another tune from Wayne Shorter’s award winning epic 2018 album EmanonThere  was a heavier even thumping feel, however, from Theon Cross who plays the tuba, another instrument that is not found on many jazz records. He’s one of the members of the thriving young London jazz scene and has just released his first album Fyah. As with many of his contemporaries, his music crosses boundaries – from early New Orleans jazz to grime and rap. On the tune Brockley from the excellent Gilles Peterson-curated compilation album We Out Here, Cross is joined by two other members of the scene, drummer Moses Boyd and sax player Nubya Garcia.

Hammond organ player Charles Earland may have been too funky, too soulful and too much loved by the Acid Jazz crowd for many jazz followers. They have missed some gems. In 2001 Soul Brother Records in the UK released a 2CD anthology of his music. It includes three tunes from Leaving This Planet – considered one of his finest albums. One of these tunes is a version of the Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay with no less than Hubbard himself playing on it, as well as sax player Joe Henderson and drummer Harvey Mason. This should be enough to confirm Earland’s jazz credentials.

There was more from what might be described as the jazz dance scene. Kathryn Moses is a Brazilian-influenced jazz vocalist who appears on a compilation put together by British DJ Kevin Beadle. UK record labels have done much to promote Brazilian music and the now Brighton-based label Mr. Bongo has been one of the leaders. Their superb seven CD Brazilian Beats series (available in a box set) includes on Volume 3 a tune from distinctive vocalist Seu Jorge. To end Cosmic Jazz this week we went to the title track from the excellent 1977 Soul Village album from Fender Rhodes pianist Walter Bishop Jr. featuring Randy Brecker on trumpet and flugelhorn.

  1. Yoko Fujiyama – Synaethesis from Re-entry
  2. John Ellis – Flight from Evolution, Seeds & Streams
  3. Machal Kobojek – Imago from The Outside
  4. Wayne Shorter – Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean from Emanon
  5. Theon Cross – Brockley from We Out Here
  6. Charles Earland – Red Clay from Anthology
  7. Kathryn Moses – Music in my Heart from Kevin Beadle presents Private Collection Vol 2
  8. Seu Jorge – Chega No Suingue from Brazilian Beats Vol. 3
  9. Walter Bishop Jr. – Soul Village from Soul Village

Derek is listening to …..

  1. Ruby Rushton – Moonlight Woman ( Studio Session)
  2. Nick Walters & the Paradox Ensemble – Dear Old Thing
  3. Alfa Mist – Keep On
  4. Bitty McLean – Walk Away from Love
  5. Steve Williamson – Celestial Blues

 

 

Week ending 20 April 2019: from Miles to Ra

There are no themes for this week’s show but if you click the Mix Cloud tab you can listen to some great jazz from around the world – the USA, Finland, Italy, Poland, the UK, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Egypt.

It is a while – probably too long – since we  heard from Miles Davis on the show but we put this right with the opening tune. Bitches Brew is familiar enough to many jazz listeners but nearly 50 years after the original recording was made, it still has the power to surprise. This version of Bitches Brew was recorded at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 with an audience of over 600,00 people. Davis was the only jazz act amid a host of rock and pop acts, including Jimi Hendrix, the Moody Blues, Chicago, the Doors and Joni Mitchell. It must have been quite a surprise!  Davis’s music was now moving faster than most of his audience could deal with, and the music from this 2011 release documents that change.  Andy Gill of The Independent newspaper commented in his review of the time that the music “capture[s] Davis on the cusp of creating another jazz revolution” and described its music as “jazz reconstituting after meltdown, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis: free-wheeling, edgy, unpredictable and coruscating, and about as hot as this legend of cool ever got.” Saxophonist Gary Bartz had just joined the band – and he will be performing at Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here Festival in August here in the UK.

Still in the US, there was another track from the new album by pianist/keyboard player James Francies. The quality of his playing is in no doubt and is reinforced by Chris Potter – one of the most respected sax players of the moment – selecting him to play on his recent album and to tour with him in the US. On last week’s Cosmic Jazz I enjoyed the DJ Khalab tune Dense featuring the ubiquitous Shabaka Hutchings and Italian saxophonist Tommaso Cappellato and so it seemed a good reason to play it again this week. Moving from Italy/the UK to Northern Europe, the show visited Finland and trombonist Kasperi Sarikoski and his group Nuance. Besides leading his band he is a freelance musician and composer who has played with a number of artists, including Dave Liebman and Peter Erskine. In 2017 Sarikoski moved to New York City for postgraduate study at the Julliard School of Music.

Now, it’s a while since the show made one of its regular visits to Europe. We began with trombonist Kasperi Sarikoski from Finland and a track from his new album Essence and followed this with a first play for Michal Kobojek, a sax player from Warsaw. The tune Seven Steps (and, no it’s not the Miles Davis Seven Steps to Heaven tune) showed this is an artist we have missed out on – great solos from Kobojek and his guitarist too. We will explore more. He is also a session musician and has played with other Polish artists familiar to Cosmic Jazz such as Urszula Dudziak and Michal Urbaniak. And for more information about Polish jazz and a whole bunch of incredible musicians that you’ve probably not heard of before check out this excellent Polish Jazz blogsite.

There was an indulgence with another play for the much-loved tune Tiffany’s Dodo from the Belgian drummer Jelle Van Giel and his band. The track we chose comes from van Giel’s very accomplished debut album Songs for Everyone, released in 2015. It’s highly recommended. For this and so much more your ever-reliable source of new jazz from Poland and beyond. European music check out Steve’s Jazz Sounds, your ever-reliable source of new jazz from Poland and beyond.

Arve Henriksen is a Norwegian trumpet player who established links with the port city of Hull in Yorkshire UK. Alongside Elvind Aarset and Jan Bang they  produced a commissioned work for the Hull City of Culture year in 2017. The music accompanied a sound walk crossing the River Humber in Hull. Apparently, 15,000 tickets were sold – exposing more people to Henriksen’s uniquely atmospheric sound on trumpet.

Don Cherry spent much time in Scandinavia in the 1970s where he perfected his vision of world music, living in the country with his wife Moki Karlsson (who created the album cover you can see left). His Organic Music Society album  was recorded  and released in Sweden in 1972 and includes an interesting take, with some different and mysterious sounds, of the Pharoah Sanders 1969 tune The Creator Has A Master Plan. A fine example of how it is possible to add something to a tune composed by another musician. Organic Music Society was reissued in 2012 on CD for the first time and whilst it’s a diffuse collection of live and studio recordings that won’t appeal to many other than Cherry completists, it’s impossible not to like this take on a Pharoah Sanders classic.

We ended the show with another curiosity – this time from another jazz outsider Sun Ra, this time recording in Egypt with one of Cairo’s most famous musicians, Salah Ragab. Sun Ra had actually first performed with his Arkestra at the foot of the pyramids in a celebrated concert in 1971, but the two tracks that form this EP were recorded in a Cairo studio while Sun Ra was on a second tour of Egypt two years later. And if you’re thinking that the opening melody sounds very familiar, the tune does appear to owe a lot to trumpeter Lee Morgan’s classic The Sidewinder. Compare for yourself here. If you like this Sun Ra track, then the second much longer tune Dawn will also be worth exploring. Like much great music, you can find it here on Bandcamp.

  1. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew from Bitches Brew Live
  2. James Francies – ANB from Flight
  3. DJ Khalab feat. Shabaka Hutchings and Tommaso Cappellato – Dense from Black Noise 2084
  4. Kasperi Sarikoski – The Payment from Essence
  5. Jelle Van Giel Group – Tiffany’s Dodo from Songs for Everyone
  6. Michal Kobojek – Seven Steps from The Outside
  7. Arve Henriksen – Pink Cherry Trees from The Heights of the Reeds
  8. Don Cherry – The Creator has a Master Plan from Organic Music Society
  9. Sun Ra & his Arkestra – Egypt Strut from Egypt Strut/Dawn EP

Neil is listening to:

Week ending 13 April 2019: that spiritual jazz groove

The show has been in a restrained and spiritual mood of late. This is just the groove into which it has gone rather than any preconceived plan and it’s provided some moving and uplifting music. There’s more of the same this week and this time you can download this show right here.

Recently, I heard Yusef Lateef’s Morning on another jazz show and although we have played it before on Cosmic Jazz I needed to play it again. It provided such a powerful opening to the show. A truly spiritual, cosmic and poetic experience with Lateef playing the customary range of interesting instruments – saxophone, flute, arghul (a traditional instrument used in Egypt and Palestine) and scraper – and recorded as long ago as 1957 Truly a world music pioneer.

The mood continued with another musician who uses an instrument from the Islamic tradition. Dhafer Youssef was born in Tunisia, found jazz at an early age and left his homeland for Europe. His 2016 album Diwan of beauty and odd recorded in Paris in 2016 is highly recommended and has been well reviewed. It includes some interesting US musicians well known to Cosmic Jazz including Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Mark Guillana on drums and Aaron Parks on piano.

There have been several examples of restrained and gentle trumpet playing on the show recently. Erik Truffaz is a trumpeter who often sounds understated but, nevertheless, manages to make considerable impact. His Blue Note album Bending New Corners was an introduction to his music for many outside France and Belgium. It was one of those albums where a standout track – in this case, Siegfried – could hide the rest of the music on the album. Minaret, which continued the show’s Islamic references, shows why the whole album deserves full attention.

The saxophonist Nat Birchall, who was born and remains based in the North-West of England, would appear to share similar tastes to those of us on Cosmic Jazz. He loves jazz, he has clearly listened to modal and spiritual jazz, but he also loves reggae. So do we. Sounds Almighty is his acknowledgement of this love and provides some authentic dub sounds. The album includes legendary Jamaican  trombonist Vin Gordon and was recorded on analogue equipment in Manchester.

Shabaka Hutchings  is one of the London-based musicians who has emerged so strongly in recent years that he is now almost a ubiquitous feature of the jazz scene in the UK and beyond. The music he makes is different, unique and challenging but it is not one sound or approach. Shabaka is involved with (at least) three groups, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming – all providing different outlets for his music. Moreover, all his groups are now signed to the essential and historic jazz label Impulse! This week we wanted to feature the exciting new album from The Comet is Coming, perhaps the most radical sounding of the three groups.

But that was not the last appearance of Hutchings on the show. He is also the featured soloist on DJ Khalab’s Black Noise 2084, an EP which includes drummer Moses Boyd on another track – a musician well known to this show. Khalab is actually Raffaele Costantino, one of Italy’s most renowned radio hosts, DJs and producers. His first album was made with Malian percussionist Baba Sissoko but last year he released Black Noise 2084, a six track EP.  Both of these tracks were selections from Neil and previously unknown to me, but very, very interesting.

Between these two tunes was a powerful interlude. The trumpeter Keyon Harrold released his album The Mugician in 2018. It is a strong album. He is from Ferguson, Missouri in the USA and it was in this town that an 18-year-old African American Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014. M B Lament is Keyon Harrold’s comment and tribute. There is some moving trumpet playing and interaction between drummer and bass player right to the final notes at the end of the tune.

Shayna Steele is a singer who has featured with many other well-known musicians – the most interesting to jazz lovers would be her work with Snarky Puppy. Her own music crosses jazz, soul and funk territory. The Art Blakey tune appears on a 2018 UK compilation put together by UK DJ Eddie Piller and actor Martin Freeman in 2018. In 1987 – along with fellow DJ Gilles Peterson – Piller founded Acid Jazz Records, releasing many of the UK artists on the jazz scne at that time – the James Taylor Quartet, Brand New Heavies, Galliano and Jamiroquai. This new compilation reflects the influences of that scene and a second compilation is due shortly. We ended this week’s show with one of our favourite vocalists, Carmen Lundy, and a track from her excellent Soul to Soul album.

  1. Yusef Lateef – Morning from Jazz Mood
  2. Dhafer Youssef – Of Beauty & Odd from Diwan of beauty & odd
  3. Erik Truffaz – Minaret from Bending New Corners
  4. Nat Birchall – Wisdom Dub from Sounds Almighty
  5. The Comet is Coming – Astral Flying from Trust in the Life Force of the Deep Mystery
  6. Keyon Harrold – M B Lament from The Mugician
  7. D J Khalab (feat Shabaka Hutchings & Tommaso Cappellato) – Dense from Black Noise 2084
  8. Shayna Steele – Be from Watch Me Fly
  9. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Kozo’s Waltz from A Night in Tunisia/Jazz on the Corner
  10. Carmen Lundy – Daybreak from Soul to Soul

Derek is listening to …

Neil is listening to…

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…

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