Week ending 28 September 2019: more Cosmic Jazz eclecticism

There is more of our Cosmic Jazz mix this week. As usual the musicians come from different countries – perhaps not as many as some weeks – but from the US, UK and Poland. All available on this page via the MixCloud tab.

There was a fiery start to the show last week and there was a pretty intense one to the show this week. If you have not discovered music from Black Jazz Records you need to. It was a unique and significant label and has been championed by in compilations by Gilles Peterson and Theo Parrish. It was the Theo Parrish compilation Theo Parrish’s Black Jazz Signature from which the tune by pianist Doug Carn was selected. Carn made albums for Black Jazz in the early 70s but his career has included work with Nat Adderley, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stanley Turrentine and Shirley Horn.

It was to the UK next and two albums from the last year that we are still enjoying. Firstly, Ruby Rushton, the band led by Edward Cawthorne aka Tenderlonius, who on this occasion was playing flute. The trumpeter Nick Walters and his band The Paradox Ensemble, which includes Cawthorne and Aidan Shepherd from Ruby Rushton, also has a recommended album available called Awakening.

I make no apologies for returning once again to pianist/keyboard player Sarah Tandy and her album Infection in the Sentence. The album was such an impressive debut, There have been many interesting releases of late from the London scene, but in my opinion this is up there as among the very best. Tandy can be found on records from other groups that we have featured on the show – for example, Camilla George and Maisha. Catch her if you can. The cool way in which her fingers fly across the keys makes it look so simple but the sounds produced are complex and range from the sensitive (as in the tune on the show this week) to the downright funky.

We are celebrating 80 years of Blue Note Records. The tune selected this week came from an album that was produced to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the label. A group was put together to produce a tribute. The Blue Note 7 was a collection of musicians brought together who could form a compatible and cohesive whole and reinterpret tunes by Blue Note artists wit new arrangements and individual solos. It comprised Nicholas Payton trumpet, Steve Wilson alto/flute, Ravi Coltrane tenor, Peter Bernstein guitar, Bill Charlap piano, Peter Washington bass, Lewis Nash drums. The tune Mosaic, an apt description of the Blue Note 7, was a favourite of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and was composed by then band member Cedar Walton.

There was more fire from Poland in the shape of the excellent Emil Miszk and the Soul Syndicate. Miszk is a trumpeter and leads an eight-piece band, their album Don’t Hesitate is highly recommended. There was a sample of more Polish music at the end of the show from  the Jan Plaszyn Wroblewski Sextet. Wroblewski is a veteran sax player who played with the seminal Polish jazz musician Krzysztof Komeda.

Snarky Puppy are a large group of fine musicians who are amazing live. I have seen them and if you get the chance you need to be there. There is a feature on the band in the September 2019 edition of Jazzwise magazine to coincide with a fresh tour and album release. I have not been so sure about their recorded output but have recently re-visited the album Family Dinner Volume One and have been enjoying it. Each track includes a distinguished guest artist and the guest on the tune Something is the very special Lalah Hathaway. Another guest on the album is vocalist Shayna Steele, so it was a neat link to play her version of Secret Love from her 2019 album Watch Me Fly.

  1. Doug Carn – Trance Dance from Theo Parrish’s Black Jazz Signature
  2. Ruby Rushton – Return of the Hero from Ironside
  3. Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection in the Sentence
  4. The Blue Note 7 – Mosaic from Mosaic
  5. Emil Miszk & the Soul Syndicate – For S from Don’t Hesitate
  6. Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway – Something from Family Dinner Vol 1
  7. Shayna Steele – Secret Love from Watch Me Fly
  8. Jan Plaszyn Wroblewski Sextet – Don Kichot (live) from Komeda Moja Slodka Europejska Ojczyzna

Derek is listening to …..

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 21 September 2019: the Cosmic Jazz philosophy

We’ve been playing our Cosmic Jazz shows for more than a decade now and some key principles remain. Of course, we really enjoy hearing the music as it is played but the key is our freedom in terms of music selection that makes the show pretty unique. We have never been tied to playing the latest sounds, or old classic jazz or things in between. We try to play a mix of all these elements. What is more, we play tunes that stretch the outer boundaries of what could be termed jazz and we play music from across the globe. It all depends on how the mood takes us and what music is available. This week’s show is a good example of how many of the above can be combined into one hour-long show. Click the MixCloud tab and discover for yourself.

There was a fiery start to the show. Something came up recently on my mix of tunes from Poland’s Emil Miszk & the Soul Syndicate. It was Chorale (Ballad No. 31) from the album Don’t Hesitate. Emil is a trumpeter leading a band of eight musicians  whose music screamed into my headphones, There is drama, fine improvisation and screeching trumpet sounds. Magnificent and just the way to start a show. As we always say, to get this and other Polish music check Steve’s Jazz Sounds

The celebration of eighty years of Blue Note Records continues. This week it was trumpeter Donald Byrd, an artist who crossed a few boundaries himself. The album Black Byrd recorded in 1972 provides evidence of this. It is music intended to be “a sheer delight for dancers & choreographers”. It was intended to revitalise jazz beats and traditional sounds with the new “magnetic” sounds of the time. Artists on the album such as the Mizell Brothers, Joe Sample and Wilton Felder all strayed in their time beyond the jazz confines.

There was another track from the new Jazzmeia Horn album Love and Liberation. Most of the tunes on the album are self-penned but the selection this week was written by George Duke and involved a duet with drummer/vocalist Jamison Ross. It was good to see a positive review of the album in the October edition of Jazzwise Magazine.

The Ronnie Scott Club in Soho, London is a legend in terms of jazz in the UK. The club is celebrating sixty years of presenting the very top jazz artists and the above-mentioned Jazzwise Magazine includes a free CD on which many of the artists, including the man Ronnie Scott himself, talk about and joke about the club and the music. There is also some music on the CD recorded live at the club, including a 1966 piece from Cosmic Jazz favourite  Yusef Lateef, that amply illustrated his skills with percussion instruments from around the world.

The global images continued with Children of the World from Elements of Life from their album EclipseThis was a release on the classic Latin label Fania. All the songs were produced and arranged by Louie Vega and a long list of vocalists and musicians includes the outstanding percussionist Luisito Quintero who has appeared on the show playing with other musicians and in his own right as a band leader. A fitting sequel came from Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and multi -genre musician Ed Motta.

It was back to Poland for the final track. Przemyslaw Florczak is a sax player, one of what would appear to be an endless stream of fine jazz musicians trained at the Academy of Music in Katowice. The quartet has the usual sax/drums/double bass format but instead of piano includes organ.

  1. Emil Miszk & the Soul Syndicate – Chorale (Ballad No. 31) from Don’t Hesitate
  2. Donald Byrd – Flight Time from Black Byrd
  3. Jazzmeia Horn feat. Jamison Ross – Reflections of my Heart from Love & Liberation
  4. Yusef Lateef – Song of Delilah from Jazzwise Ronnie Scott Anniversary CD
  5. Elements of Life – Children of the World from Eclipse
  6. Ed Motta – Flores da Vida Real from AOR
  7. Przemyslaw Florczak Quartet – Straight Story from Image Of My Personality

Derek is listening to…

Week ending 14 September 2019: it’s about that time…

This week’s Cosmic Jazz was a pre-record. I often take this opportunity to play jazz from the past – including taking up the chance to play some Cosmic Jazz favourites once again.

At least once a year here on CJ we find the time to play the full 23 minutes and 40 seconds of Harry Whitaker’s Black Renaissance group and their 1976  eponymous recording. It is quite simply right up there among our favourite tunes and when it finally got a release in the USA in 2002 via Luv N’ Haight/Ubiquity records, Gilles Peterson wrote in the sleeve notes “Black Renaissance is undoubtedly one of my all time favourite tunes, up there with Sun Ra’s Sleeping Beauty and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme”. The story of how the record was released in Japan without Whitaker receiving royalties and the loss of the master tapes when the house of a friend of his burned down is a sad one, but its eventual US release was a cause for celebration. It was recorded spontaneously on Martin Luther King Day 15 January 1976 in one take with an impressive line-up that included Harry Whitaker on piano, Woody Shaw on trumpet, Mtume on percussion, Billy Hart on drums and Azar Lawrence on sax. This record should be in everyone’s jazz collection.

Horace Parlan’s Home Is Africa was the Blue Note contribution for the week. The album Happy Frame of Mind was recorded for the label in 1963 but didn’t see the light of day until 1976 when it was released as a double record Booker Ervin set. Parlan was breaking away from the soul-inflected hard bop that had become his trademark and moving his music into more adventurous, post-bop territory. Aided by a first-rate quintet – trumpeter Johnny Coles, Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Grant Green on guitar and Billy Higgins on drums – this is a set on which the ensemble stretches out, notably on our choice of track this week. Home is Africa is actually a composition by the Sun Ra bass player Ronnie Boykins, and was re-released on the excellent 2008 2CD Blue Note compilation African Rhythms which features tracks from Donald Byrd, McCoy Tyner, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan and Jackie McLean.

Mario Bauza was a bandleader born in Cuba but like many of his contemporaries ended up in New York. His music had an exciting big band sound that combined the very best of jazz and Cuban music. His Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra may reflect an era but the music still sounds fresh and uplifting today.

The ongoing Spiritual Jazz releases from Jazzman Records continues to be one that we enjoy and feature on Cosmic Jazz. Volume 8 was a compilation of music from Japan – all excellent tracks – and included the 1977 tune Spanish Flower from Tee & Company. This band featured Japanese luminaries Hiroshi Murakami on drums and Masayuki Takayanagi on guitar. It was another long and deep track for a week that required only four tunes to complete the show.

  1. Black Renaissance – Black Renaissance from Body Mind & Spirit
  2. Horace Parlan – Home is Africa from Happy Frame of Mind
  3. Mario Bauza & His Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra – Carnegie Hall 100 from The Tanga Suite
  4. Tee & Company – Spanish Flower from Spiritual Jazz 8

Week ending 07 September 2019: featuring Jazzmeia Horn

The notes this  week may be a little shorter than usual but the music is still great – check it out on the Mixcloud tab as usual. There is our now regular celebratory Blue Note feature – this time from Wayne Shorter – more from the excellent Polish drummer Eryk Kuhm and his Quintessence band which includes US trumpeter Rasul Siddik, another new Polish group led by guitarist Andrzej Kowalski, jazz with some rock touches and classic jazz from Booker Ervin.

Wayne Shorter recently celebrated his 86th birthday. He is not only one of the foremost saxophonists in jazz but also one of the greatest (and most idiosyncratic) composers in the genre too. Maybe indebted to the more muscular side to Coltrane’s sound, Shorter quickly went his own way. His tone on tenor sax is pretty much unmistakeable but it is his piercing, lyrical spare sound on soprano saxophone that is really unique. In the 1970s, and playing with Joe Zawinul in Weather Report, this is what drew me to his music. You can hear it most clearly in the lovely album he recorded in partnership with Brazilian Milton Nascimento. The fragile beauty of Nascimento’s voice on Ponta de Areia is complemented by Shorter’s singular sound – a piping clarity of tone that is nonetheless warm rather than cold.  Check it out here.

As a composer, Shorter is best known for carefully conceived, complex, long-limbed, endlessly winding tunes, many of which have become jazz standards. These include this week’s tune – the title track from Speak No Evil – and many more including Footprints and Adam’s Apple.

Our featured artist this week is the wonderful US vocalist Jazzmeia Horn who, in my opinion, passes that difficult second album test. Her wide-ranging voice and the excellent instrumentalists are all there, this time performing a mix of original and other compositions. The new album Love & Liberation does not disappoint and, to make the case as to why this is another excellent record, there are three tunes from it on this week’s show.

Derek and I have both enjoyed the recent work of keyboard player and prolific producer Jamie Saft and the title track of his recent album Blue Dream is a good example. Saft is nothing if not eclectic – he’s played with everyone from Iggy Pop to Donovan, Bill Laswell to the Beastie Boys but he’s recently focused on his current jazz quartet. Their spiritual jazz outing from earlier this year, Hidden Corners, is a good place to start.

Finally, and after a couple of months training in South Korea, China and Oman, Neil is back tweaking the Cosmic Jazz website. Expect to see more extended blog notes, some featured tracks on the show and a wide range of listening choices, starting with this week’s bumper crop of ten!

  1. Eryk Kuhm Quintessence – Flip-Flop from Private Things
  2. Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil from Speak No Evil
  3. Jazzmeia Horn – Free Your Mind from Love & Liberation
  4. Jazzmeia Horn – I Thought About You from Love & Liberation
  5. Jazzmeia Horn – No More from Love & Liberation
  6. Jamie Saft – Blue Dream from Blue Dream
  7. Andrzej Kowalski Quartet – Ogrod from Abstrakt
  8. Henry Threadgill – Black Blues from Just the Facts & Pass the Bucket
  9. Booker Ervin – A Lunar Tune from The Freedom Book

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 31 August 2019: including Maisha and more Blue Note

Quite a mixture of tunes available this week via the Cosmic Jazz show on the Mixcloud tab. There is no master plan but a few links across the tracks – and, as always, a selection of great music.

We began the show with a British jazz album that bears repeated listening – the first full length release from London collective Maisha – and we followed it with a track from vocalist Zara McFarlane.

Last week Gary Bartz was on the show after reports of his headline session at Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here Festival. At this event he was backed by Maisha (after just one rehearsal) with Zara McFarlane a backing vocalist. It seemed appropriate to play more music on the show this week. Incidentally, Gary Bartz, Dwight Trible and Maisha will appear at the London Jazz Festival on 16 November 2019 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

From Poland, the Eryk Kulm Quintessence appeared on Cosmic Jazz for the first time. Kulm is a drummer and veteran of the Polish jazz scene. Also on the album is US trumpeter Rasul Siddik, a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) – a US group founded by pianist Muhal Richard Abrams that has featured a slew of great US jazz artists including Philip Cohran, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Amina Claudine Myers and Wadada Leo Smith – all artists we have featured over the years here on CJ. Joining Kulm and Siddik are three young Polish players who play interesting, wild and free music, with a strong voice-over at the beginning and end of the track.

The Marcin Gawdzis Quartet have appeared before. Neil commented on how much he liked the music. Marcin Gawdzis is another veteran Polish musician, a  trumpeter, composer and jazz lecturer.

The Blue Note selection this week came from pianist Andrew Hill and the title tune of his Passing Ships album recorded in 1969. Andrew Hill was not in the classic hard bop Blue Note tradition being much more unpredictable and free in his sound. His composed melodies were labyrinthine, and usually both rhythmically and harmonically complex. The result is music that is both melodic and spontaneous and rewards extended listening. Hill’s music is certainly never clichéd. On this title tune Passing Ships there is a beautiful melody from Joe Farrell on English horn, accompanied by an all star front line of Julian Priester on trombone and Woody Shaw on trumpet. Also on the album are Dizzy Reece on trumpet, Howard Johnson on tuba and bass clarinet, Ron Carter on bass and Lenny White on drums. Can it get much better than this?

Jazzmeia Horn is a vocalist whose first album A Social Call was often featured here on Cosmic Jazz. The good news is that she has a new album released called Love & Liberation with all but four of the tracks her original compositions. Horn has a bunch of A-list musicians on this new release: pianists Victor Gould (her regular accompanist) and special guest Sullivan Fortner, tenor saxophonist Stacey Dillard and trumpeter Josh Evans, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer/singer Jamison Ross. We played one tune this week, but the album will feature in greater detail on next week’s show. To end was an excerpt from the new album Blume by British collective Nerija.

  1. Maisha – Kaa from There is a Place
  2. Zara McFarlane – Freedom Chain from Arise
  3. Eryk Kulm Quintessence – The Morning After from Private Things
  4. Marcin Gawdzis Quartet – Ballad for G from Mind Recovery
  5. Andrew Hill – Passing Ships from Passing Ships
  6. Jazzmeia Horn – Legs and Arms from Love & Liberation
  7. Nerija – Nascence from Blume

Derek is listening to….

Week ending 24 August 2019: Gary Bartz and the Komeda Quintet

There were only five tunes played on the show this week – but all were exceptional. Here on Cosmic Jazz we can play tracks of any length – and so we did on this occasion.  Click the Mixcloud tab for an hour of delight.

The first track was a comparatively short one. I have been wanting to play The Elder Statesman again – twin brothers and Wellington, NZ fixtures Christopher (piano) and Daniel (double bass) Yeabsley with producer Lord Echo on percussion and drums. One side of the 7″ single was on the show a few weeks back and the other one – Trans-Alpine Express – featured this week. We love this record. Check out Lord Echo’s own releases including the excellent Harmonies album from 2017 which features vocalist Mara TK on a number of tracks.

Saxophonist Gary Bartz had to feature after receiving a most enthusiastic report from one of my sons regarding his performance at Gilles Peterson’s inaugural We Out Here festival, held near Cambridge, UK. Bartz was backed apparently by Cosmic Jazz favourites Maisha – and apparently playing after just one rehearsal. Sounds amazing. The record chosen this week has a much younger-looking Gary Bartz as leader of his Ntu Troop at the Montreux Jazz festival in July 1973. The stories tell that it was a blistering uninterrupted 80-minute set  of conscious, Afrocentric and spiritual music with Hubert Eaves on piano, Stafford James on bass and Howard King on drums. Forty-six years later it sounds as if he can still deliver to similar effect.

Last week the show included music that paid tribute to the legendary Polish pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda. This week it was a long 23.08 minutes of music directly from the Komeda Quintet and their 1965 album Astigmatic. This has been described as one of the very best jazz albums made in Europe. It also marked a move away from an American sound to a distinctly European one and thus became an inspiration for future European musicians.  The Quintet included Tomasz Stanko on trumpet who went on to gain international fame in his own right. The music is complex and deep and it is easy to see why it has inspired particularly so many Polish jazz musicians, but also musicians from other countries, to this day.

One of the musicians from outside Poland who pays respect to Komeda is Edward Cawthorne (aka Tenderlonious) whose band Ruby Rushton include a Komeda tune on their latest album Ironside. It’s dedicated as a requiem to Komeda and is indeed a worthy tribute. We really like this new record here on Cosmic Jazz and will continue to play more music from it in coming weeks – hence the inclusion of Lara’s Theme (alternate take) on this week’s show.

We are currently celebrating 80 years of Blue Note Records here on Cosmic Jazz. We may think of Blue Note as something of a heritage label, but in the hands of new boss Don Was it’s a thriving and ever more contemporary concern. There’s an ambitious re-release programme (including the excellent audiophile vinyl reissues through the Tone Poet series) but Blue Note continues to sign new artists making waves in contemporary jazz. One such is trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire – an artist who favours long album and song titles. Confessions to my Unborn Daughter is from his 2011 album When the Heart Emerges Glistening – see what we mean! – and this was the final track in this week’s show.

  1. The Elder Statesman – Trans-Alpine Express from 7″ single/download
  2. Gary Bartz Ntu Troop – Jujuman from I’ve Known Rivers and Other Bodies
  3. Ruby Rushton – Lara’s Theme (Alternate Take) from Ironside
  4. Komeda Quintet – Astigmatic from Astigmatic
  5. Ambrose Akinmusire – Confessions to my Unborn Daughter from Where the Heart Emerges Glistening

Week ending 17 August 2019: Komeda connections

The programme this week links the interests of Polish and British musicians as well as going back to some classic Blue Note tracks in a significant anniversary year. All these wonderful jazz sounds are available via the MixCloud tab (left).

As promised the previous week, there was another play for the joyous, uplifting tune from one of my favourite musicians –  trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. The vocalists create a soulful and gospel feel and their pleas to Stay in the Time Freedom  provide a message that is as inspiring as the music. If you have not discovered the music of Piotr Wojtasik, you need to check him out.

One of the greats of Polish jazz was Krzysztof Komeda, a pianist and composer who became well known outside Poland for his compositions for films. He has inspired many Polish musicians who followed him but also, it would appear, British musicians as well. The show has two examples of Komeda connections. First came veteran Polish sax player Jan Plaszyn Wroblewski. He played with Komeda’s band and has a recent album with Komeda in the long title (in Polish understandably) and from that CJ included a title with Komeda in it. Probably more surprising is that my current favourite British release from Ruby Rushton. in an album of otherwise original compositions. includes a tune composed by Komeda. They have dedicated it as a Requiem for Komeda. It is an outstanding interpretation, intense, soulful and spiritual. I love this new Ruby Rushton album, and so included one more track on this week’s show.

There was another play for the Petera Sextet – this time for the title tune from their album Flashover. Dariusz Petera is a pianist and composer with a sextet that includes a cellist. He aims to give space and time for all the musicians to express themselves and that was apparent in the title tune.

2019 marks the 80th anniversary of the iconic jazz label Blue Note. It is time to celebrate this and there will be more in future shows. This week had two examples. Firstly, came a 1960 recording from alto player Jackie McClean Appointment in Ghana recorded in 1960. The sound is celebratory and that reflects the purpose, namely to pay tribute to Ghana, the first of the newly independent African states. The tune was first released on Jackie’s album Jackie’s Bag but also featured on an excellent 2008 Blue Note compilation African Rhythms.

The second Blue Note tune was an original McCoy Tyner compostion, found on the superb 1967 album The Real McCoy. It has quite a line-up: Tyner on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Joe Henderson on tenor and Elvin Jones on drums. We love the much less well known version of this tune by Mal Waldron and Marion Brown and so we ended the show with a repeat play of this rarity.

  1. Piotr Wojtasik – Stay in the Time Freedom from Live at Akwarium
  2. Jan Plaszyn Wroblewski Sextet – Komeda in Wazyk Circus from Komeda Moja Slodka Europejska Ojezyzna
  3. Ruby Rushton – Pingwin (Requiem for Komeda) from Ironside
  4. Ruby Rushton – Eleven Grapes from Ironside
  5. Perera Sextet – Flashover from Flashover
  6. Jackie McClean – Appointment in Ghana from Jackie’s Bag
  7. McCoy Tyner – Contemplation from The Real McCoy
  8. Mal Waldron and Marion Brown – Contemplation from Songs of Love & Regret


Week ending 10 August 2019: new jazz from Poland and more

There is plenty of new music on the show this week from the usual places: Poland, the UK and the USA. All good stuff too and well worth a listen via the Mixcloud tab on this page.

My favourite current record has to be the album Ironside by UK band Ruby Rushton. I seem to remember hearing that Ruby Rushton is named after a grandparent of the band’s leader Edward Cawthorne (aka Tenderlonious). He is a flute and soprano sax player and is supported on this new album by Nick Walters on trumpet (who has his own excellent album Awakening out now). We’ll play as soon as we can. Joining Walters and Tenderlonious are Dan Shepherd on keyboards and Tim Carnegie on drums. The album is one of those that fits together seamlessly: as they used to say, ‘all killer, no filler’.  Tenderlonious has shown some restraint in his song titles here: only our chosen tune this week – Lara’s Theme (Alternate Take) – uses a well known title (but it’s not composed by Maurice Jarre). On the excellent On Flute EP, Tenderlonious had titles like Autumn Leaves (not Kosma/Mercer),  Song for My Father (not Horace Silver) and In a Sentimental Mood (not Duke Ellington)! This album is highly recommended to all lovers of the music we play on the show. We will play more.

The next album featured on the show I am not so sure about. UK group Nerija have just had their first album  Blume released. It has received considerable fanfare e.g. record of the day on BBC6 Music, much praise on the cool twitter scene and from the cognoscenti on the new jazz scene. The music is good, but in my opinion, not as good as some of the praise would indicate. There is some thing that really irritates, though, as one who has forked out a considerable sum for the supposedly double vinyl. There are two records of  “limited crystal clear heavyweight vinyl” (an unnecessary sop to cool consumerism if ever there was one) yet there are only three sides of music. I feel cheated. Rather have more more music than the aforementioned vinyl.

There was some self-indulgence in terms of playing more tunes that I really like. There have been several tunes played on the show from Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. If you have never heard him check out the music and Steve’s Jazz Sounds has many of his records available. The tune this week Stay in Time of Freedom was different from much of his music in that it includes vocals from Anna Maria Mbayo and Magdalena Zawartko. It is such a joy with its uplifting tune and vocals, thinking of playing it again next week!

The other was another airing from The Elder Statesman and Montreux Sunrise,  a tune released as a  download and 7″ single (with two sides I should add!) The group from New  Zealand are led by Lord Echo on piano and the tune has a warm feel that makes you move in a gentle and joyful way. It was one of those tunes which when we played it while DJing at a street fair earlier in the summer, soon brought an enquiry as to who was playing. It sounded great in the street.

There was another short funky/soulful/jazzy piece from the US band with one of the most eccentric names – Lettuce, available on their recently released album Elevate.

There was new jazz from Poland.  There was a first play on the show for t he Petera Sextet from their debut album Flashover. They are led by the young pianist/composer Dariusz Petera who studied in Warsaw. His compositions and improvisations are aimed to bring out the best of the five other members of the group playing cello, trumpet, saxophone, double bass and drums. Lovely music it is too and we shall play more of that as well. There was also another tune from the quartet led by alto player Wojciech Lichtanski; the title tune of their album Iga.

  1. Ruby Rushton – Lara’s Theme (Alternate Take) from Ironside
  2. Nerija – Equanimous from Blume
  3. Piotr Wojtasik – Stay in Time of Freedom from Live at Akwarium
  4. The Elder Statesman – Montreux Sunrise from single
  5. Lettuce – Ready to Live from Elevate
  6. Petera Sextet – Nordic Jente from Flashover
  7. Wojciech Lichtanski – Iga from Iga

Week ending 03 August 2019: many places, different musics

For the last few weeks Neil has been making the Cosmic Jazz selections, but this week it was back to Derek – although Neil was very much a presence as many of the tunes were his choices. This week’s show visited different parts of the world, past and present and the music reflected that diversity. Give it a listen via the Mixcloud tab (left).

We began by catching up on more jazz from continental Europe recently made available from the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Our first stop was Poland, with superb music from yet another alumni of the Katowice Academy of Music. Wojciech Lichtanski is an alto player who leads a jazz quartet and a very interesting one too. As a teenager Lichtanski won classical competitions and the music is clearly both composed and improvised. There are strong melodies, but also unexpected contrasts with interesting pauses and changes of direction. Lichtanski has played with one of our favourite musicians from Poland Piotr Wojtasik – surely credit enough? – and he’s also appeared at the Delhi Jazz Festival.

Mark Lotz is a veteran German alto/flute player resident in the Netherlands. He leads a trio with two Polish musicians on acoustic  bass and drums and their debut album, from which Raaste Men is taken, was an impromptu recording made while he gave a masterclass in Wroclaw, Poland. The record was then mixed back in the Netherlands. Raaste Men appears to be translated as ‘people screamed’ – but perhaps a Dutch speaking listener can clarify for us…

I have often heard people refer to “African music”. My response is the same as if they were talking about the music of any continent. How on earth (literally) could we encapsulate the music of Europe or Asia into any one style? We need to know much more – what sort of music, which part of that huge continent does it come from, and when was it recorded? The truth is – of course – that there are as many styles of music on the African continent as there are on any of our inhabited continents.So, not surprisingly, there is very little in common between the two tunes from the African continent played on this week’s show. This is Bolga Part I & II is actually a collaboration between the Bolga All-Stars from Bolgatanga, Ghana and the Polyversal Souls from Germany – but very much reflects the music of  the Bolgatanga area in the north of Ghana. The second is from the veteran and  outstanding pianist from South Africa, Abdullah Ibrahim. His music has long combined the traditional sounds of the South African townships with jazz and gospel. He has made albums over a period of sixty years but now has a new album released, four years since the last one. The Balance has ten tunes, nine of which are Abdullah Ibrahim originals. This has to be one of the significant releases of 2019. The August 2019 edition of Jazzwise Magazine has a feature on Abdullah ibrahim and this new album.

From South Africa, we crossed continents to Brazil and to Marcos Valle from his new album SempreYou could easily be mistaken into thinking that the next tune was also from Brazil given the name of the artists but while Azymuth are the group from Brazil, Azimuth were a trio from the UK formed in the 1970s with Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and flugelhorn, John Taylor on piano and synths and Norma Winstone using her often wordless vocals to ethereal effect. Azimuth recorded three albums for ECM Records, now collected into a box set and highly recommended by us here on CJ. The Tunnel has vocals that float to another plane, appropriate as that tune is also on a compilation assembled by DJ, producer and – yes – neuroscientist Sam Shepherd (or Floating Points) for the latest in the Late Night Tales compilations. The album is full of unusual choices that reflects and eclecticism someway beyond our own here on Cosmic Jazz – recommended nonetheless.

The show ended with two tunes from jazz greats. From time to time, we like to include tunes from essential albums on the show. Few are more essential to any jazz collection than Saxophone Colossus from Sonny Rollins. Recorded as long ago as 22 June 1956 it still sounds as fresh as ever with Rollins on tenor, Tommy Flanagan on piano, Doug Watkins on bass and Max Roach on drums. In the past I have played the Caribbean-influenced St. Thomas but this week it was Strode Rode. To end the show we went back to that excellent selection of Black Saint and Soul Note records and the title track from Archie Shepp’s Down Home New York album from 1984.

  1. Wojciech Lichtanski – First Questions from Iga
  2. Mark Lotz Trio – Raaste Men from The Wroclaw Sessions
  3. Bolga All-Stars & the Polyversal Souls – This is Bolga! Parts I & II
  4. Abdullah Ibrahim – Jabula from The Balance
  5. Marcos Valle – E Voce from Sempre
  6. Azimuth – The Tunnel from Late Night Tales – Floating Points
  7. Sonny Rollins – Strode Rode from Saxophone Colossus
  8. Archie Shepp – Down Home New York from You Need This: An Introduction to Black Saint & Soul Note 1975-1985

Week ending 28 July 2019: jazz old and new

This week’s CJ paid another visit to some of the more obscure corners of jazz and featured another selection of great tunes, both old and new. We began with more from guitarist Jack Wilkins’ Windows album but this time a take on Wayne Shorter’s Pinocchio, a track that initially featured on Miles Davis’ Nefertiti from 1968 and then again ten years later with Weather Report on the Mr Gone album. Drummer Makaya McCraven is no stranger to Cosmic Jazz but we haven’t featured much from his most recent album, recorded live in London in 2017 and featuring Soweto Kinch on saxophone, Theon Cross on tuba, Joe Armon-Jones on Fender Rhodes, Nubya Garcia on saxophone and Kamaal Williams on keys – the cream of new British jazz talent.

Two great tracks next, with the first from a favourite alto sax player, Art Pepper. The raw, lived-in sound of his later recordings reflect a life of hardship and addiction which began with alcoholic absent parents – a 14 year old runaway mother and an absent merchant seaman father. It’s perhaps not surprising that the young Pepper quickly picked up a serious heroin habit that saw him for extended periods in jail in the 1950s and 60s. The title of one of his best albums Straight Life was also the title of his biography, written by his devoted wife Laurie. The title track is a classic late Pepper composition, recorded many times throughout his later career. Our recording is not easy to get hold of and comes from one of the many recordings compiled by Laurie Pepper following his death in 1982. The band is one of Pepper’s best – pianist George Cables, bassist David Williams and drummer Carl Burnett. This live concert was recorded in Japan in 1981, the year before Pepper’s death and is a superb performance throughout with ace versions of Body and Soul, Besame Mucho and Mr Beautiful. So many of these later Pepper albums are stunning and one of the very best is a 4CD set of the complete Ronnie Scott residency in 1980. If you can find it on vinyl you’ll need £140 or so although it’s still available on CD for £55… The recording quality is great and Pepper is superb throoughout.

Flautist James Newton should be much better know. His album The African Flower is a unique take on seven Duke Ellington songs and again features an all star band – violinist John Blake, alto player Arthur Blythe, cornetist Olu Dara and more. The 11 minutes of Virgin Jungle is a highlight. Good luck with finding this one!

Our fifth track was from another under-recorded jazz artist, the alto player Azar Lawrence. His 2014 album, The Seeker, is a really good demonstration of his spiritual jazz credentials and is one of several albums released since 2007 in something of a musical renaissance. Up next was a bona fide classic and now pretty much a contemporary jazz standard. Chick Corea’s Spain is – like Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez – an ode to the country and, indeed, the tune opens with a direct quote from Rodrigo. The song has gone on to be recorded by many greats including Art Farmer, Rare Silk, Stevie Wonder and Al Jarreau. And finally, another great track from a pioneering contemporary label, Soundway Records – African Vibration’s Hinde in a remixed version by Julien Dyne. Glorious!

  1. Jack Wilkins – Pinocchio from Windows
  2. Makaya McCraven – Run ‘Dem from Where We Come From
  3. Art Pepper – Straight Life from The Complete Abashiri Concert
  4. James Newton – Virgin Jungle from The African Flower
  5. Azar Lawrence – Venus Rising from The Seeker
  6. Chick Corea – Spain from Light as a Feather
  7. African Vibration – Hinde (Julien Dyne rework)

Derek is listening to    

  1. Lacksley Castell – Mr. Government Man
  2. Misty in Roors – Oh Wicked Man
  3. Sonny Rollins – Way Out West
  4. Ben Comeau Ensemble – A Song of Innocence & Experience – Dark Sacred Nights
  5. Ruby Rushton – Moonlight Woman (Studio Session)

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