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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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Neil is listening to…

12 July 2017: Jazzmeia Horn and more Coltrane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jazz continues to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane on 17 July 1967. To start this week’s show we featured 18 minutes of ethereal, spiritual beauty in the form of the tune Ole.  Unbelievably, this was recorded as far back as 1961 and with a line-up of jazz heavyweights playing with Coltrane – Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Art Davis, and Reggie Workman. Quite simply, the album is a jazz lovers essential must-have release – but then again this is true of so many Coltrane records. There are two versions of this album currently available, but avoid the Complete Ole Sessions: it’s simply a marketing ploy, as the additional tracks were recorded in an unrelated session the previous year. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have an original vinyl copy of the 1961 release – and it’s still a personal favourite album.

Reggie Workman, one of the two bass players on Ole, is identified by Jazzmeia Horn (what a name!) on the sleeve of her new CD A Social Call as one of her mentors. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Horn (see photo above) relocated to New York where in 2013 she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz competition and then won the Theolonius Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. She describes the album as a call in peace about issues affecting peace and that her inspiration comes from the social issues that exist in the world today. The social issues are all listed at the start of the first of her tunes played on the show People Make the World Go Round. None of the songs on the album are originals but the songwriters selected include Betty Carter, Jimmy Rowles, Norma Winstone, Mongo Santamaria, Oscar Brown Jr and Norman Whitfield – an eclectic selection. Jazzmeia Horn serves them all up with an original treatment. She is also one of those vocalists who employ top-class backing musicians and gives them the scope to show that they can play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The social issues continued with another New York based singer Somi, who was raised in a family with Rwandan Ugandan descent. On the tune Black Enough she asks Am I black enough for you? I don’t talk the way you do as she explores the dilemmas of her identity. Petite Afrique, her sophomore album is a love letter to her parents for their sacrifices when leaving their home country and the extended, strong and generous immigrant community I was fortunate to be raised in. Marcus Strickland appears on the tune playing tenor sax.

One of the latest Polish gems available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds comes from a trio led by pianist Marcin Losik. This is an uplifting piece adding an energy and bounce that is not always found in the acoustic piano/bass/drums format. So often have I read comments on Polish jazz that describe a new release as yet another example of Polish melancholy. This album is anything but. Beside, is this not a huge over generalisation about the music from a country with many outstanding jazz musicians?

To end the show there was further buoyant and uplifting music via a tune from The Janet Lawson Quintet album recorded in 1980 but re-released on the British BBE label. Janet Lawson is a fine example of a jazz vocalist who used her voice as an instrument. So High is the title of the tune and that is where it takes you.

We’re going to feature more Coltrane music in a final feature on the legacy of his music in next week’s show.

  1. John Coltrane – Ole from Ole
  2. Jazzmeia Horn – People Make the World Go Round from A Social Call
  3. Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) from A Social Call
  4. Jazzmeia Horn – Going Down from A Social Call
  5. Somi – Black Enough from Petite Afrique
  6. Marcin Losik Trio – Modal Enterprise from Emotional Phrasing
  7. The Janet Lawson Quintet – So High from The Janet Lawson Quintet

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Neil is listening to:

05 June 2017: ‘trane tracks and more

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 July 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane. His music is really at the heart of what we do here at Cosmic Jazz – always searching, sometimes on the edge, often lyrical and usually deeply emotional. Perhaps that’s why we’ve played so much of Coltrane’s music over the years – and, of course, he remains a huge influence and presence for many young musicians today.

Among these is Nubya Garcia who played the Singapore Jazz Festival this year with Gilles Peterson. Garcia is a young London-based saxophonist and her group includes Binker Moses, the drummer who featured on CJ last week and who – but for a slight technical problem – would have featured again this week.  We played Contemplation from her album Nubya’s 5ive – a highlight for me of her live performance in Singapore. It’s a McCoy Tyner composition and he was, of course, a prominent member of John Coltrane’s classic quartet. It’s an interesting example of how an interpretation should be done – new perspectives and a sound that is very much of now whilst retaining the modal heartbeat of the original.

For a take of the real deal we then featured the Coltrane tune Offering. Recorded in February 1967, a few months before his death, with ‘trane’s band now featuring Alice Coltrane on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Rashied Ali on drums, this album wasn’t released until 1995. It gives no suggestion of where Coltrane might have gone in his musical exploration but his playing is as spirited and sharply defined as ever. Stellar Regions is an album well worth getting hold of.

But we began the show this week with more contemporary British jazz boundary stretching – perhaps a reflection that Cosmic Jazz is playing out this weekend at the Global Village in Christchurch Park Ipswich on Saturday and at 13:30 on Sunday afternoon at the Norwich Lanes Summer Fayre, outside the treasure that is the independent Soundclash record shop. The Comet is Coming has what has been described as combining elements of jazz, funk, electronica & psychedelic rock! Shabaka Hutchings is one of the core players and, with pure jazz credentials not in doubt, he’s one of many new(ish jazz musicians, who need to extend beyond the artificial boundaries that can sometimes contain any genre of music. Drummer Nick Woodmansey (aka Emanative) also provided an edgy, contemporary, electronic sound – and you can find much more of his music here on his Bandcamp site.

A trip around three European countries demonstrated that jazz – perhaps in more conventional form – is alive and well across the continent. Trumpeter Jerzy Malek sounded very melodic after what had been on the show up to that point and Belgian drummer Jelle van Giel led his band on a pleasantly uplifting number from his 2017 album The Journeymanaging to make what is not a large group sound like an orchestra. Talking of orchestras, from Finland came the Koko Jazz Orchestra, set up as a house band for the Helsinki Jazz Club. Its leaders are drummer Jussi Lehtonen and pianist Jussi Fredriksson and the band’s new album presents the music of these two. For another taste of this band, listen here to Chillin’, another composition from Jussi Lehtonen.

I loved The Lagos Music Salon album from New York based singer/composer Somi. The music has a jazz feel while incorporating other sounds too. The same feel is on her new album Petite Afrique – whilst it’s perhaps not as good as the last one there are still many interesting moments.

  1. The Comet is Coming – Final Eclipse from Death to the Planet
  2. Emanative – Black Enchantment from Black Enchantment
  3. Nubya Garcia – Contemplation from Nubya’s 5ive
  4. John Coltrane – Offering from Stellar Regions
  5. Jerzy Malek – Homeroad from Forevelle
  6. Jelle Van Giel Group – Bonito from The Journey
  7. Koko Jazz Orchestra – Chat With a Bass Drum from presenting the music of Jussi Lehtonen & Jussi Fredriksson
  8. Somi – They’re Like Ghosts from Petite Afrique

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

28 June 2017: drumagic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the heart of music around the world is the drum – and its influence in jazz is, of course, profound. We began this week’s show with a focus on drummers in four very different context. The first two tracks came from the new Binker and Moses release. It’s available through the vinyl and download only Gearbox Records, and To the Mountain of Forever is a real step forward from their MOBO and Jazz FM award-winning first release from last year. To start with, on vinyl it’s two albums – the first the familar duo and the second disc with an enhanced line up that includes revered soprano saxman Evan Parker and trumpeter Byron Wallen. Fete by the River is pure Sonny Rollins calypso, but The Valley of the Ultra Blacks shifts everything up a gear. Parker does his circular breathing to great effect and tabla textures come from Sorathy Korwar. This is a standout release and well worthy of your investigation.

Up next was a favourite album of Neil’s dating back to 1974 – Dave Liebman’s Drum Ode on ECM Records. Loft Dance features Liebman on soprano sax, Badal Roy and Collin Walcott on tabla, John Abercrombie on guitar and Ritchie Beirach on Fender Rhodes. Very much of its time, but with a driving force that’s irresistible. Liebman is much influenced by Coltrane of course, but has his own sound – honed by time with Miles Davis in his most extreme bands of the 1970s. Resonance Records have a really good new release out this week featuring Liebman and Joe Lovano celebrating Coltrane’s music – check it out here. Afrobeat legend Tony Allen is – according to Brian Eno – perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived, and he has an intriguing new EP on release. It’s a tribute to another master kitman, Art Blakey, and it gives a new twist to some familiar Blakey tunes. At 77, Allen’s sound remains unique – his distinctive drum patterns appear immediately on The Drum Thunder Suite and then sustain the tune through some some interesting soloing from his Parisian quintet.

A change of tone came with a reflective tune from the Daniel Toledo Trio’s excellent album Atrium. Bassist Toledo is from Ecuador, his drummer Paul Svanberg from Sweden and they are complemented by Polish wunderkind Piotr Orzechowski – or Pianohooligan. It doesn’t seem a wholly appropriate moniker for such thoughtful music but there’s plenty of energy elsewhere on this album.

Next, something of a rarity. Neil has been working in Cambodia in recent weeks and – in the search for some jazz related Cambodian music (not an easy task) he came across this – a version of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints played by the group Khmer Jazz Fusion. They’re certainly a fusion band – recorded in 2004 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the music is a collaboration between four young jazz musicians from San Francisco and five leading Cambodian masters of traditional Khmer music. The album even features a Khmer twist on Take Five alongside more traditional Khmer courtly pinn peat music.

Saxophonist Joe Henderson remains a Cosmic Jazz favourite and this week Neil chose a track from his In Pursuit of Blackness album from 1971. No Me Esqueca (Portuguese meaning don’t forget me) is a twist on Recorda Me (meaning remember me) – a well known Henderson composition. It’s a real favourite of ours and works well in any club setting. With Henderson on tenor is Woody Shaw on trumpet  and George Cables on Fender Rhodes.

Up next was Me’Shell Ndegeocello with a track from her tribute album to Nina Simone – Pour Une Ame Souveraine. Ndegeocello doesn’t try to recreate Simone’s music, but instead give a unique take on a tune like See Line Woman which features Tracy Wonnomae on flute. We ended the show this week with some downright funk. The Blackbyrd’s recently performed at London’s Barbican and Hash and Eggs is a Mizell brothers classic from their 1975 City Life album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neil’s listening choices celebrate the music of pianist Geri Allen and trumpeter Kelan Philip Cohran, both of whom died this week. We’ve featured their music on Cosmic Jazz over the years and – whilst the legacy of both will live on – Allen and Cohran were sadly not always acknowledged as the masters they were. Geri Allen was particularly under-rated as an innovative pianist, at home with both the jazz tradition and the avantgarde. Notably, Allen said in a 1992 interview I like to look at the piano as a drum – as 88 drums with pitch. Rhythm is the core of my music. The choices cover just some of the range of music played by both artists and we’ll feature more in weeks to come.

  1. Binker & Moses – Fete by the River from To the Mountain of Forever
  2. Binker & Moses – The Valley of the Ultra Blacks from To the Mountain of Forever
  3. Dave Liebman – Loft Dance from Drum Ode
  4. Tony Allen – The Drum Thunder Suite from A Tribute to Art Blakey EP
  5. Daniel Toledo Trio – Tawny from Atrium
  6. Khmer Jazz Fusion – Footprints from Khmer Jazz Fusion
  7. Joe Henderson – No Me Esqueca from In Pursuit of Blackness
  8. Me’Shell N’degeocello – Seeline Woman from Pour Une Ame Souveraine
  9. The Blackbyrds – Hash and Eggs from City Life

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

21 June 2017: jazz – the global beat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music – the most international of languages – is good at travelling. There are no borders and certainly no walls. But results can vary. It may depend on the artist’s purpose, cultural understanding or musical assimilation. Reggae, for example, has gone global but one could question the quality of some of the bands comprised of musicians from European heritages. The same could be said of some Latin music too. Jazz, on the other hand, seems to do a good job of transcending its American origins. One of Art Blakey’s early Blue Note albums was called Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World – and that’s where our CJ artists gather too. Around the world, jazz has truly become a global language – perhaps because the spirit of invention and improvisation is a global impulse – and we have some fine examples for you in this week’s show.

The record from the Daniel Toledo Trio, which has just arrived from Steve’s Jazz Sounds, is an interesting example of both the worldwide appeal and the creativity and fine musicianship of jazz players of differing heritages. The trio includes Daniel Toledo, a bass player from Ecuador, Paul Svanberg, a Swedish drummer and Piotr Orzechowski, a classically trained pianist with a well-established reputation as a serious jazz artist in  his homeland of Poland. The record, incidentally, was recorded in Poland. It is recommended.

In the week that I attended the Aldeburgh Festival at Snape Maltings in Suffolk – a festival established by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – it seemed appropriate to play again something from bass player Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance. The record Accident and Insurgency was the outcome of their playing and composing residency at Snape – they were the first jazz musicians to be granted such a residency. The tune Broadside paid homage to a local beer rather than the music environment but that was obviously an important stimulant. The touches and work throughout the album of pianist Tim Lapthorn are a delight and the album features American trumpeter Eddie Henderson as guest.

Looking at the listings in Jazzwise magazine for what seem to be an ever-increasing number of summer festivals that are either jazz festivals or include jazz, it is noticeable how often Mammals Hands are in the line-up. This is deservedly so, and pleasing for those of us at Cosmic Jazz who have seen what is a local trio develop from playing a pub on the seafront in Felixstowe, to a meagre half disinterested audience noisily talking  away to themselves, to international crowds. They are very good and have something different to offer; catch them if you can and/or listen to their records.

The programme this week had very much a British focus. In addition to Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance and Mammal Hands there was a further reminder of how promising Camilla George and her Quartet sound on their first album and there were two tunes from albums  released on the British Edition record label. Some of the musicians were British but in Phronesis, a multi-national band if ever there was one, playing with Julian Arguelles and the Frankfurt Big Band, there is another example of the wide and successful reach of jazz music.

To end the show, it was a return to Poland for the wonderful band led by Lukas Korybalski, a trumpet and flugelhorn player.

  1. Daniel Toledo Trio – Atrium from Atrium
  2. Arnie Somogyi’s Ambulance – Broadside from Accident and Insurgency
  3. Mammal Hands – Quiet Fire from Floa
  4. Phronesis, Julian Arguelles and the Frankfurt Radio Big Band – Zeiding from The Behemoth
  5. Tim Garland – Foretold from One
  6. Camilla George Quartet – Mama Wati Returns/Usoro from Isang
  7. Lukas Korybalski – Taniec Greka from CMM

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Neil is listening to…

14 June 2017: in a silent way?

Silence is golden, except on a radio show. There is a silence in this show, albeit a short one towards the end. It’s ironic really as I was about to play a tune called He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing… Suffice to say no more than such problems are usually the result of the user rather than the equipment – sorry.  Do listen, though, to the show via the MixCloud tab (left) as there are some great tunes either side of the silence.

The aforementioned He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing did get played – and it is worth hearing. It’s by Polish trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski from his remarkably mature debut album CMM released this year. It has been described as providing a musical journey into something like a trance. Certainly it has a very warm and inviting feel to it. There are lovely solos, but they are woven almost into the music  – and the backing throughout of drummer Lukasz Zyta is intricate and complex but in an understated way.

As so often on the programme, the show began with a tune that I had recently played and enjoyed. Cosmic Jazz seems to be going through yet another John Coltrane appreciation phase and why should I make apologies for that? 14 minutes and 09 seconds of India recorded live at the Village Vanguard on 03 November 1961, from the Impressions album was just such a perfect spiritual and uplifting way to begin. Coltrane was on soprano, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, McCoy Tyner piano, Jimmy Garrison and Reggie Workman on basses and Elvin Jones on drums. I just listen and wonder in amazement that this was recorded so long ago and at its sophistication – especially if you compare it to some of the popular jazz of the time. We’re not alone here: it’s reported that American group the Byrds had only one cassette to listen to on their late 1965 tour and that one side featured Ravi Shankar while the other had Coltrane’s Impressions and the Africa/Brass albums. They acknowledged Coltrane’s influence in their celebrated Eight Miles High. Listen to this extended instrumental version from the 1970 Filmore concert which is powered by Skip Battin’s jazzy basswork and see what you think.

There was what I considered a sequence of tunes that complemented each other and sounded fresh, contemporary with an element of challenge. This began with Steve Lehman and Selebeyone, went into Dinosaur and ended with Led Bib, who have a new album recently released.

Poland holds an annual Jazz Day in April. Bands perform and there is a competition for band of the year. In 2017 the winner of the Grand Prix  was the pianist Adam Jarzmik and his Quintet of musical friends with their 2017 release Euphoria. Among the judges was the Cosmic Jazz favourite Piotr Wojtasik. The award was a good choice. It is a record of strong  emotional sounds, mixing the contemporary with the traditional and embracing a subtle intensity.

There was a trip to Brazil at the end of the show. The voice of Milton Nascimento  interwoven with the soprano sax of Wayne Shorter and the further presence on the record of Herbie Hancock, Raul de Souza and Airto Moreira among others. Finally came Baden Powell, the Brazilian guitarist who named himself after the British founder of the scout movement with a tune that epitomises the delicacy, intimacy and melodic beauty of much Brazilian bossa jazz of the 1960s/early 1970s. The album from which this track comes is something of a rarity. For a further taste, listen to one of my favourite tracks – Coisa No1 – which achieves miracles in just over three minutes…

  1. John Coltrane – India from Impressions
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Laamb from Selebeyone
  3. Dinosaur – Living Breathing from Together As One
  4. Led Bib – Battery Power from Jazzwise sampler Babel Label 1994 – 2014
  5. Adam Jarzmik Quintet – Euphoria from Euphoria
  6. Lukasz Korybalski – He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing from CMM
  7. Milton Nascimento – Saidas e Bandeiras (Exits & Flags) from Milton
  8. Baden Powell – Rosa Flor from Swings with Jimmy Pratt

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Neil is listening to…

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio