All posts by Derek

Week ending 20 January 2018: CJ is back!








Derek returns after the Christmas break with some old Cosmic Jazz favourites, featuring music from Nigeria, the USA and Argentina. It’s a mixture of sounds to make you dance and connect your soul with your spirit. Most artists in this week’s show are likely to be familiar to regular listeners – with the exception of Francisco Mora Catlett, US drummer and son of the Mexican artist Francisco Mora and American sculptor Elizabeth Catlett.

Living in Mexico City, Mora Catlett began as a session musician for Capitol Records. In 1970, he was awarded to attend the Berklee College of Music, where he studied composition and African percussion with the iconic Nigerian drummer, Babatunde Olatunji who so influenced John Coltrane’s music.

From 1973 to 1980 Mora Catlett traveled the spaceways as a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra and it was Ra who introduced him to the African-American poet and writer, Henry Dumas. Inspired by Dumas’s writings, Mora Catlett assembled the first incarnation of his Afro Horn project in Detroit in the early 1980s. He appeared with legendary drummer, composer, and bandleader Max Roach on several of Roach’s all-percussion ensemble albums, M’Boom.

In 1996 Mora Catlett took part in two groundbreaking jazz/electronica fusion projects with techno producer, Carl Craig – Bugs in the BassBin and OuterZone – and in 1999, he released the highly acclaimed World Trade Music album which features the track Vital Force.

  1. Fela Kuti and Africa 70 – Roforofo Fight from Roforofo Fight/The Two Sides of Fela
  2. Francisco Mora Catlett – Vital Force from World Trade Music
  3. Gato Barbieri – Viva Emiliano Zapata from Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata
  4. Alice Coltrane – Radhe-Shyam from Transcendence
  5. Eddie Harris – Freedom Jazz Dance from The In Sound
  6. Donald Byrd – Black Byrd from Black Byrd

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 16 December 2017: featuring Piotr Wojtasik and more

Another revisit feature this week which came from superb Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. Either side of this the show begins with some very recent sounds and ends with a Herbie Hancock/George Coleman link.

The three tunes that kicked off the show provided fresh, tough and contemporary sounds. They came from the James Lewis Trio and the title track of their album No Filtertrumpeter Keyon Harrold (who we have played extensively in recent weeks and who’s the subject of a feature by Kevin Le Gendre in the current edition of the Black Music magazine Echoes) and Dziedzic, a Polish trumpeter who – after supporting other musicians for twenty years – now has his own record. The title of every tune on his album Tempo includes BPM and an accompanying number. So, at 143BPM, this one is right between Miles Davis’ So What (142) and Herbie Hancock’s Sly (146). It’s the ideal jogging or running tempo apparently…

Now, there is always time on the show for vocalist Jazzmeia Horn – deinitely one of the breakthrough artists of the year. Like Cecile McClorin Salvant and Gregory Porter she provides space for her excellent musicians and the jazz standard East of the Sun and West of the Moon was no exception

The revisit album this week is a definite favourite. Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik has produced an album that stands up to the very best of modern jazz. CJ came across the stunning Old Land via the Polish and Scandinavian jazz specialist Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Steve has a comprehensive range of music from artists who often down’t get mainstream jazz press reviews – and that’s a good reason to promote them on Cosmic Jazz. As we have noted before, Wojtasik’s stature can be judged by the calibre of US musicians he has played with – Kenny Garrett, Dave Liebman and drummer Billy Hart, who features on this highly recommended record.

Our playlist is often affected by events during the week. An old contact/friend – who got me one of my first-ever DJ slots – posted an enquiry  on Facebook asking if  anyone could recommend music by the sax player George Coleman. Much in demand in the 1960s on Blue Note and beyond, at 82 Coleman is still leading his own quintet and recorded an album as recently as 2016. He played on Herbie Hancock’s classic album Maiden Voyage, and so we featured the title track (if you’re interested, around 118BPM). I and another friend recommended Amsterdam After Darkso it seemed appropriate to conclude the show with an excerpt from the Herbie Hancock standard followed by George Coleman’s title track from this excellent 1978 record which showcases the late Hilton Ruiz on piano.

  1. James Brandon Lewis – No Filter from No Filter
  2. Keyon Harrold feat. Josh David Barrett – The Mugician from The Mugician
  3. Dziedzic – 143 BPM from Tempo
  4. Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun and West of the Moon from A Social Call
  5. Piotr Wojtasik – Dr. Gachet from Old Land
  6. Piotr Wojtasik – Hola from Old Land
  7. Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage from Maiden Voyage
  8. George Coleman – Amsterdam After Dark from Amsterdam After Dark

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 09 December: focus on Keyon Harrold and Charles Lloyd

Click the Mixcloud tab to hear this week’s show with two great jazz artists featured. One is Keyon Harrold from his new 2017 release album and the other is another example of our current feature to re-visit Cosmic Jazz favourites – and particularly to play tunes we may not have played before. This week the selections came from master saxophonist Charles Lloyd.

The show began with more from the labels described as the Italian equivalent of Blue Note – Black Saint and Soul Note. The tune this week was a wonderful modal piece from US saxophonist John Stubblefield who was a member of the Mingus Big Band, but who also played with a long list of top US jazz artists.

Trumpeter Keyon Harrold – as we mentioned last week – is one of the young US jazz players of the moment and someone who collaborates with other artists, both on their record and his own. His album The Mugician includes several collaborations, including the Wailer’s vocalist Josh David Barnett on a tune with reggae influences which we have played previously. There is a different collaboration on one of this week’s tracks: Her Beauty Through My Eyes features rapper Pharoahe Monch. Overall, The Mugician is not the uptempo album you might expect and MB Lament, our first tune from this recommended album, provides some calm and gentle playing. Other guests on this sophomore release include Robert Glasper, Bilal and Gary Clark Jnr.

The Charles Lloyd album selected for a re-visit was the superb Rabo de Nube – truly one of our all time favourite recommendations here on CJ. This ECM album was recorded live in Basel Switzerland on 24 April 2007. Besides Charles Lloyd on tenor saxophone and flute, the musicians are the superb Jason Moran on piano, (who somehow doesn’t sound so interesting on a solo album of his that I have), Reuben Rogers on double-bass and Eric Harland on drums and percussion. Normally, I cannot resist playing the wonderful Booker’s Garden which includes Moran at his very best but, in the spirit of what I set out to do with this feature of old favourites, I resisted the temptation and played two other equally absorbing tunes.

There was another track from the highly recommended Blue Note All-Stars album – an extended version of Wayne Shorter’s classic Witch Hunt. We have featured several tracks from this excellent 2CD release: the track lengths are frequently self-indulgently long but somehow the quality of the ensemble playing ensures that it all works. We ended this week’s CJ with another cut from the excellent John Armstrong presents Afro-Beat Brazil, one of our favourite re-issue compilations of 2017.

  1. John Stubblefield – Confessin’ from You Need This: an Introduction to Black Saint and Soul Note
  2. Keyon Harrold – MB Lament from The Mugician
  3. Keyon Harrold – Her Beauty Through My Eyes from The Mugician
  4. Charles Lloyd – Prometheus from Rabo de Nube
  5. Charles Lloyd – La Colline de Monk from Rabo de Nube
  6. The Blue Note All-Stars – Witch Hunt from Our Point of View
  7. Lucas Santtana – Musico from John Armstrong presents Afro-Beat Brazil

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 02 December 2017: making connections

Jazz musicians are flexible and move around to play in different groups. Often, they need to do so in order to make a living – you have to be very successful to limit your playing to one group only. Even then, the most successful appear as guests on the records of others – as, for example, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock who appear on the Blue Note All Stars record we have featured on recent shows.

The first three tunes on this week’s Cosmic Jazz illustrated this perfectly. The show began with Otis Brown III and the trumpeter on that record was Keyon Harrold. This was followed by a tune from The Mugician, Keyon Harrold’s sophomore release as leader. Playing sax on that record was Marcus Strickland – who also appeared on the third tune from the Blue Note All Stars. Also with the Blue Note All Stars are Robert Glasper and Derrick Hodge, both of whom played on the Otis Brown III record. Oh, and Keyon Harrold is also featured on Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life album – another CJ favourite. It sounds complicated, but it’s just part of the interconnected nature of jazz – musicians adding their ‘voice’ to a new context to make music with friends and labelmates. CJ highly recommends all three of these albums as places to start checking out some of the best American new jazz artists.

Having talked on last week’s show about the current crop of British jazz artists, it made sense to revisit one of our favourites from an earlier era. The Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet was perhaps the greatest jazz group to come out of the UK in the 1960s. Ian Carr went on to form the jazzrock group Nucleus and become a definitive biographer of Miles Davis. Many of their albums are CJ favourites – for an introduction, start with Dusk Fire or Shades of Blue – reissued on a 2CD set on the excellent BGO label.

I decided to re-visit some old Cosmic Jazz favourites and will from time to time on the show play two tunes from favourite albums. I began this week with an artist who has probably appeared on the show as much as any – alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. His fine Seeds From the Underground album of 2012 coincided with me seeing a live performance of his group, and so has a particular resonance. Garrett is one of those alto sax players with a very distinctive ‘voice’ – whether it’s his earlier work with Miles Davis or his most recent Mack Avenue label records his sound is immediately recognisable. Check out the title track from one of our favourite albums, Beyond the Wall.

Somi is an artist I have played quite frequently on the show, particularly The Lagos Music Salon inspired by her year in Lagos. I have just, however, revisited her 2017 release Petite Afrique and found an impassioned account of the effects of gentrification, with reference to Harlem, New York. Interesting vocals and interesting musical arrangements.

The show this week ended with another excellent piece of contemporary jazz from Poland courtesy of trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski.

  1. Otis Brown III – The Way (Truth & Life) from The Thought of You
  2. Keyon Harrold – Ethereal Sounds from The Mugician
  3. The Blue Note All Stars – Meanings from Our Point of View
  4. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Blue Mosque from Shades of Blue
  5. Kenny Garrett – Boogety Boogety from Seeds from the Underground
  6. Kenny Garrett – Seeds from the Underground from Seeds from the Underground
  7. Somi feat. Aloe Blacc – The Gentry from Petite Afrique
  8. Lukasz Korybalski – Crossing from CMM

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 25 November 2017: analogue sounds

These are good times for jazz in the UK. There are some excellent young musicians around, including the superb quartet led by saxophonist Camilla George who I saw this week. Their pianist Sarah Tandy, who has her own trio, was something else. As a classical pianist, she’s a former BBC Young Musician of the Year but is now getting noticed as an exciting and inventive jazz artist. In performance, she just takes off and goes you cannot predict where when it’s her turn to feature, while still maintaining the level of invention while supporting others. She has been chosen by  eminent jazz critic John Fordham in the current edition of Jazzwise magazine as his musician to look out for in 2018.

Ironically, this week’s CJ doesn’t contain music from any native UK artists but – in compensation – we include many excellent, pioneering musicians from the Americas.

As promised last week, I trawled through my record racks and dug out some I have ignored for a while. As a result, the first tune on the show is from Don Cherry – a world musician long before the term ‘world music’ was used as an understandable way to find music in record shops. This comes from the celebrated Mu albums, recorded on the Actuel/BYG label in Paris in 1969.  Here Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell play as a duo with Cherry on flute and Blackwell on percussion. Cherry continued his explorations of music influenced by middle eastern, traditional African and Indian musics and between 1978-82 he recorded the three Codona albums for ECM with percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and sitar/tabla player Collin Walcott. These have now been reissued as a 3CD box set – highly recommended if you want to explore this pioneering music.

Kelan Philip Cohran (08 May 1927-28 June 2017) is someone whose death this year we should have acknowledged earlier on the show. His role playing mainly trumpet with the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1969-71 provided him with essential Cosmic Jazz  credentials. This week he is featured playing with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble,  eight of whose nine members are his sons. Look out for their new album Book of Sound just released on UK Honest Jon’s label.

Reggae in jazz is not new. When record producer Coxsone Dodd  was choosing musicians in Kingston for what became The Skatalites he looked for jazz musicians and chose Don Drummond, Roland Alphonso and Tommy McCook. Cedric im Brooks was another Jamaican musician brought up on jazz whom we have featured here on CJ. It was great, however, to play a 2017 released tune with a reggae-meets-jazz feel to it. Trumpeter Keyon Harrold supplied this with the title tune of his new album The MugicianThere are CJ-friendly musicians on the album including, on this powerful, forceful tune, James Poyser and Marcus Strickland.

Marcus Strickland also appears on the next selection which is complex and full of surprises. It came from the new 2017 Blue Note All Stars who comprise Lionel Loueke, Ambrose Akinmusire, Kendrick Scott, Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge and Strickland on saxes. Our choice from the album featured two masters from an ealier generation – Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock – in a version of Shorter’s tune Masqualero, first heard on the Miles Davis album Sorcerer in 1967.

Two or three weeks ago Neil posted on his current listening selection a collaboration between Chilean musicians  (Newen Afrobeat) and Seun Kuti. DJ and long-established record compiler John Armstrong has now assembled a collection merging Afrobeat with another Latin American country, this time Brazil. Excellent it is too. The Camarao Orchestra, like Newen Afrobeat, show how musicians from one country can draw upon and play successfully the music of another – pretty much what many jazz musicians across the world have done since the music began… And eagle eared listeners may have that nagging feeling that they have heard a version of the riff that appears partway through the wonderful Afoxe – perhaps this link from the previously mentioned Herbie Hancock may help…

To end the show we featured a long track from William Parker released in 2002 with soul/hip hop vocals from Leena Conquest, who lists many causes including Native Americans to Civil Rights leaders. I have tried to track down this album for some time but have just managed to do so via the superb Soundclash Records in Norwich. I will play more.

Finally, a shout out to another excellent record shop, and one selling exclusively vinyl – Bury St Edmunds’ excellent Vinyl Hunter. Along with my MC buddy Derek, this week Cosmic Jazz took to the streets of Bury and presented a set of Caribbean music courtesy of Vinyl Hunter. It’s very encouraging to see a small market town the size of Bury St. Edmunds supporting analogue music and, in its dual role of cafe and record store, the place was heaving yesterday. Business is good too – Vinyl Hunter have recently opened a second store in Elmstead, Essex. It’s interesting that the current vinyl revival is not experiencing the much predicted slowdown. The fascination with the format has been taken up by advertising agencies too – vinyl is seen as not only cool but also authenticHere it is with a Rega Planar turntable taking centre stage in a recent Specsavers advertisement. The music is Lester Bowie’s take on The Great Pretender, the title track from his 1981 ECM album. More convincingly, this is Raphael Saadiq chillin’ out in a loft apartment to his own excellent Movin’ Down the Line (Don’t You Go).

  1. Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell – Omelejo from Mu First Part
  2. Kelan Philip Cohran and The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Frankincense and Myrrh from Kelan Philip Cohran and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
  3. Keyon Harrold feat. Josh David Barrett – The Mugician from The Mugician
  4. Blue Note All Stars feat. Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock – Masqualero from Our Point of View
  5. Camarao Orchestra – Afoxe from John Armstrong presents Afrobeat Brazil
  6. William Parker feat. Leena Conquest – Raining On the Moon from Raining On the Moon

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 18 November 2017: jazz from around the world

This week is the usual mixture of the new and old, some of it influenced by groups I have recently seen live – or am about to see. Check the MixCloud tab to hear some eclectic choices.

On 21 November I am off to hear the Camilla George Quartet at the Cambridge Jazz Festival which has a varied and interesting programme. It looks as if it’s now a fixed item in the jazz calendar – good news. I have enjoyed the Quartet’s record Isang so the tune Lunacity was a timely taste of what I can expect to hear soon – quotes from St Thomas (and Salt Peanuts too) suggest a direct Caribbean connection. The Quartet are collaborators with other jazzers on the current London scene – you can check out Daniel Casimir’s new release here on the jazzre:freshed section of Bandcamp. Expect more and a report on the Camilla George gig next week.

There’s been an Afro-Cuban flavour to CJ recently so I extended this further. After hearing it once again on my shuffle songs I could not resist playing again a tune from the Orchestre Dakar Band, who were a group of young Senegalese students living in Abidjan. This tune was there to make the Senegalese youth dance – beware, it could have the same effect on you! Listen out, in particular,  for the wild trumpet blast during the instrumental break in the tune. It is another example of the influence Afro-Cuban music had, and indeed still has, in West Africa. The track comes from a compilation of Senegalese Afro-Latin music.

The other Afro-Cuban piece this week came from the influential band leader Machito, whom we have played recently supporting other artists. Here he is, though, as the front man to his own New York big band on the track Tibiri-Tabaro from an excellent Charly Records compilation. Check out this club favourite from the same disc.

Neil has introduced me to an excellent compilation of music from the music from Black Saint and Soul Note labels which have been described as the Italian equivalent to Blue Note. The label managed to attract some top-notch US artists to its stable, as embodied in this week’s selection from Don Pullen featuring cult US saxophonist Sam Rivers.

It may be a month late, but CJ this week also took time to remember Theolonius Monk on his centenary, 10 October 2017. The tune Misterioso has been used at the London Jazz Festival as a basis for performances about his life and work.

The Polish section, another regular CJ feature, this week included the young trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski from his exciting 2017 release CMM. Great, contemporary-sounding jazz, strongly recommended. The other tune came from one of my favourite Polish musicians, trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik and his stunning album Old Land. Wojtasik’s stature can be judged by the calibre of US musicians he has played with – Kenny Garrett, Dave Liebman and drummer Billy Hart, who features on this highly recommended record.

Mammal Hands is a band I have seen recently in their home city of Norwich. To be honest, their most recent material has not had a great impact on me but their previous album Floa is fantastic, so I settled for a tune from there. Another band I saw in Norwich, albeit a couple of years ago, was the Anglo-Norwegian combination assembled by percussionist Thomas Stronen for his superb ECM album Time is a Blind Guide. It was time to return to this record to close the show.

  1. Camilla George Quartet – Lunacity from Isang
  2. Orchestre Dakar Band – Baylen Di Yelwane from AfroLatin Via Dakar
  3. Machito – Tibiri-Tabara from Nuyorican Hits
  4. Don Pullen feat Sam Rivers – Joycie Girl from You Need This, Intro to Black Soul & Soul Note 1975 – 85
  5. Theolonius Monk – Misterioso  from The Best of the Blue Note Years
  6. Lukasz Korybalski – CMM from CMM
  7. Piotr Wojtasik – Recognition, Understanding & Acceptance from Old Land
  8. Mammal Hands – Kudu from Floa
  9. Thomas Stronen – I Don’t Wait for Anyone from Time is a Blind Guide

Derek is listening to…

  1. Kenny Garrett – Seeds From The Underground
  2. Don Cherry – Rhumba Multikulti
  3. Steve Colson & Unity Troupe – Lateen
  4. Gabriel Faure – Requiem
  5. Raging Fyah – Nah Look Back

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 11 November 2017: jazz with a message

Kamasi Washington poses for photos with his saxophone “The Duchess” at The Atom Factory in Culver City, CA (March 8, 2016)

Can instrumental jazz have a message? Of course. Music of all kinds speaks to the body, mind and spirit and this includes jazz. Whether it’s the spiritual intensity of Kamasi Washington as he channels Pharoah Sanders or the elegaic trumpet of Avishai Cohen as he reflects on the tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre and beyond. Cohen was clearly moved by saxophonist Jimmy Greene, whose daughter was killed in that 2012 high school attack and who released the excellent tribute album Beautiful Life in 2014. Whilst the NRA and Donald Trump appear to be ignoring the real issue, the New York Times recently made the situation crystal clear. The simple fact is that a country making up 4.4% of the world’s total population owns 42% of the world’s guns. Just let that sink in – and then think about what the obvious solution must be…

More new jazz this week, then, from five 2017 releases, one superb reissue compilation and some downtempo Braziliana from UK producer Mark Pritchard’s group Troubleman – and all available as soon as you click on the link left.

The show began with man of the moment (or more accurately, the last 24 months) Kamasi Washington. Familiar to CJ listeners since the release of his 3CD monster The Epic in 2015, Washington has carved out a mainstream profile and is now one of the most recognised figures in contemporary jazz. For those new to this remarkable LA-based tenor saxophonist, his new EP Harmony of Difference (on The Young Turks label and available here) is an admirable summary of his style. The record consists of variations on a theme – including the opening track Desire – and Washington powers his way through all six tracks, culminating the mini-epic Truth. You can listen to that complete track and watch the powerful AG Rojas video here.

Up next was trumpeter Avishai Cohen – not to be confused with jazz bass player Avishai Cohen. We’ve been featuring his new ECM release Cross My Palm with Silver – a convincing recommendation from Cosmic Jazz. More Polish jazz next courtesy of the ever reliable Steve’s Jazz Sounds and then a new Blue Note double album from some of the label’s big name artists including Robert Glasper on keys, Marcus Strickland on saxes and Lionel Loueke on guitar.  It’s truly an all star lineup and the compositions are good too. This week’s show featured Meanings. Elsewhere, there’s a fine reading of Wayne Shorter’s Masquelero and both he and Herbie Hancock guest on the track. Again, highly recommended.

Record shop owner Jean Claude of If Music… in Soho, London has long been an enthusiastic champion of vinyl and now he’s brought out a fascinating compilation of tracks from the Black Saint and Soul Note labels out of Milan, Italy. From 1975 onwards, these two affiliated labels released a huge range of music – including key American artists like Archie Shepp, Don Pullen, Oliver Lake and the late Muhal Richard Abrams. When Cam Jazz acquired the label in 2008, they created a series of artist and group box sets that are all worth checking out if you like edgy, avantgarde jazz sounds. This week, we chose a track by the George Adams/Dannie Richmond group from their Soul Note album Hand to Hand. You can read an interview with Jean Claude of If Music… on the Vinyl Thoughts blog here.

The show ended with two contrasting tracks – the first from trance DJ James Holden who has gone on a Moroccan Gnawa music trip and come back with Animal Spirits, a trance jazz album that successfully fuses at least three different musical genres – and finally the aforementioned slice of Brazilian chillout from Troubleman. The ethereal vocals here are by Smoke City’s Nina Miranda.

  1. Kamasi Washington – Desire from Harmony of Difference EP
  2. Avishai Cohen – Will I Die Miss, Will I Die? from Cross My Palm With Silver
  3. Lukasz Korybalski – Taniec Greka from CMM
  4. Blue Note All-Stars – Meanings from Our Point Of View
  5. George Adams and Dannie Richmond – Joobubie from You Need This: an introduction to Black Saint and Soul Note 1975-85.
  6. James Holden & The Animal Spirits – Pass Through Fire from The Animal Spirits
  7. Troubleman feat Nina Miranda – Paz from Time Out Of Mind

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 04 November 2017: searching for jazz

This week Cosmic Jazz returned to some themes from our last show – check it out via the Mixcloud tab left.

There was another attempt to find the jazz in Zara McFarlane’s new album, Arise. I am still struggling. Her voice does not have the range or expressiveness of CJ favourites like Jazzmeia Horn or Cecile McClorin Salvant and musically Arise is neither notable jazz nor typical of any Caribbean musical styles . At times, it sounds to me like a pop record! Neil notes: heaven forfend! I agree with what you say Derek, but Arise is being presented as more of a mainstream breakthrough record and so evaluation needs to be on those terms. McFarlane’s voice is actually better suited to soul rather than jazz and the new record reminds us of this. Is McFarlane’s Peace Begins Within a good cover? Yes, because it reinterprets Nora Dean’s reggae original and gives it a smoother take on what, in other more adventurous jazzier hands, could have been an all-out spiritual anthem. And that trombone/sax break from Nathaniel Cross and Binker Golding is pretty cool… Producer Moses Boyd has ensured that the album sound clean and crisp – all directed at that more mainstream audience. As a whole, Arise is a better use of McFarlane’s vocal limitations than her more jazz inflected earlier releases – but there is certainly a lot less jazz here. So, with Brownswood’s intention to target a different audience, does Arise succeed? Overall, yes – but with caveats for both Neil and Derek here on CJ.

Zara McFarlane’s reworking of the Max Roach classic All Africa is – however – the real jazz deal. It’s worth getting hold of the 10inch single/download to hear the extended McFarlane take on this celebrated cut from Max Roach’s anthemic 1960 album We Insist! There are great solos from Binker Golding on sax and Ashley Henry on keys.  Listening to this version was a useful reminder to play the inspiring original which featured vocals from Abbey Lincoln alongside an all star band including Julian Priester, Booker Little and Coleman Hawkins.

Once I get into a phase of listening to a particular style I tend to return to it. Afro-Cuban Jazz was the example this week. I could not resist returning to the Dizzy Gillespie and Machito album and that led to another record with connections. Mario Bauza appears on the Dizzy/Machito record, as does Chico O’Farrill and trumpeter Victor Paz. They are all together again on a tune from Mario Bauza and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra, Carnegie Hall 100. It is uplifting – check out the speed and clarity of that conga playing. The Tanga Suite, the album from which it comes is highly recommended.

The Horace Tapscott tune came from a compilation put together to mark a recent art exhibition at Tate Modern gallery in London, which I was  pleased to visit.  Soul of a Nation: Afro-Centric Visions in the Age of Black Power seemed to be an appropriate selection as Black History Month came to its conclusion – as did Terra Firma from Joe Henderson’s Black is the Color record.

To end I could not resist at least another play of Yusef Lateef’s Morning from the latest release in the Spiritual Jazz series and originally found on his – yes – his first 1957 album Jazz Mood. What a revolutionary track this was! Lateef taps deep into middle eastern sounds and in a wonderful piece of modal jazz is featured on tenor sax, with bassist Ernie Farrow doubling up on rabat. In his autobiography The Gentle Giant, Lateef notes how he would visit Detroit’s Eastern Market and the Syrian spice shop where he first encountered the arghul, an Egyptian twin reed clarinet which features elsewhere on Jazz Mood.

Searching for jazz? Oh yes, we found it…

  1. Zara McFarlane – Pride from Arise
  2. Max Roach – All Africa from We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite
  3. Dizzy Gillespie y Machito – Pensativo from Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods
  4. Mario Bauza and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra – Carnegie Hall 100 from The Tanga Suite
  5. Horace Tapscott – Desert Fairy Princess from Soul of a Nation: Afro-Centric Visions in the Age of Black Power/Live at IUCC
  6. Joe Henderson – Terra Firma from Black is the Color
  7. Yusef Lateef – Morning from Spiritual Jazz 7/Jazz Mood

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 28 October 2017: 100 years of Dizzy

Jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie is seen performing at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, June 30, 1967. (AP Photo/Frank C. Curtin)

Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie was born on 21 October 2017. He died in 1993 aged 75, but to celebrate 100 years since his birth his music was a key inclusion in this week’s programme.

Gillespie made many important contributions to jazz – most significantly being one of the original bebop musicians along with  alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. But it’s his collaborations linking jazz and Latin musicians through Afro-Cuban jazz that were celebrated in this week’s show.  The 1975 album Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods featured five compositions by Chico O’Farrill in big band arrangements led by Machito and featuring Gillespie, Mario Bauza, Jorge Dalto, Mario Rivera and more. Chico O’Farrill is not celebrated enough in jazz: his often complex arrangements are always striking,  usually owing more to jazz than Cuban rhythms, and because his work was under-recorded there are fewer great recordings than you’d expect. For more great O’Farrill music check out the 1995 comeback album Pure Emotion and the superb documentary Calle 54 which also showcases a host of Latin performers.

On his death in 1991, Arturo O’Farrill took over his father’s band and they continue to perform worldwide. I hope to bring a recent tribute from Arturo to the programme soon. Oro, Incienso Y Mirra, the opening tune on Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods is all of 15 minutes 38 seconds but we just had to play it in its entirety. Look out for more Latin Jazz next week.

The programme this week began with more from Avishai Cohen and his 2017 release Cross My Palm With SilverThe tune includes a beautiful and clear solo from Cohen towards the end, the assurance of which contrasts with the tune’s title Shoot Me In The Leg. This and other titles suggest statements about the US today – make of that what you will…








Charles Lloyd, the masterful sax player, is  still playing and touring aged 79 – and releasing interesting Facebook posts including one recently on Dizzy. He appears with regularity on Cosmic Jazz and rightly so, he is right up there for us. His most recent Blue Note release Passin’ Thru celebrates ten years of his New Quartet featuring the superlative Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. It includes an extended version of Dream Weaver, a tune that he first recorded in 1966 – wonderful! There’s also a superb film portrait of Charles Lloyd, Arrows Into Infinity and, although it’s not available on Youtube, you can see a trailer for the film right here.

Pawel Kazmarczy is a Polish pianist born in  Krakow and former student of the Katowice Academy of Music. He is one of what appears to be many outstanding young Polish pianists whose work can be obtained via Steve’s Jazz Sounds. He leads the Audio Feeling Trio which has performed at several international festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival. The tune this week is from the trio’s 2016 release. The playing has been described as EST with Polish melancholy!

Finally, I returned to the new Zara McFarlane album Arise. I played  Pride which is one of the better tunes on the album, but – sorry – I remain unconvinced. From the album reviews I have seen and its inclusion on Jazzwise playlists it looks like I may be the only one. Is this really so? Comments gratefully received!

  1. Avishai Cohen – Shoot Me in the Leg from Cross My Palm With Silver
  2. Dizzy Gillespie y Machito – Oro, Incienso Y Mirra from Afro-Cuban Jazz Moods
  3. Charles Lloyd – Dream Weaver from Passin’ Thru
  4. Pawel Kazmarczy Audio Feeling Trio – Mister John from Deconstruction
  5. Zara McFarlane – Pride from Arise

Neil is listening to…

Derek is listening to…

Week ending 21 October 2017: spiritual sounds

This week’s show has the usual mix of old, new and nearly jazz music with musicians from different countries and diverse heritages. Tap the Mixcloud tab (left) and enjoy.

It happens regularly that I hear a tune on my shuffle songs and react with total pleasure and enthusiasm. The outcome is an airing on Cosmic Jazz. The latest example is the Cannonball Adderley Quintet playing Mercy, Mercy, Mercy. This classic souljazz composition was by Adderley’s Austrian-born pianist Joe Zawinul who later went on to form Weather Report with saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Is there a more uplifting piece of souljazz (with more than a hint of gospel)? It’s billed as being recorded live at The Club in Chicago, but was actually set up as a live studio recording in Capitol Studiios in Los Angeles by famed produced David Axelrod. Adderley wanted some publicity for his friend who owned The Club and so billed the new album as this. To make sure the audience were on good form, Axelrod created a guest list and provided free drinks. However, he needn’t have worried: the album went on to be one of Adderley’s most celebrated performances and the audience participation just adds to the wonder and joy of the music. Take a listen and join in the fun yourself! Neil notes: for the same kind of interactive audience response there’s just one other competitor – Donny Hathaway’s album simply called Live, recorded at two clubs – the Troubadour in Hollywood and The Bitter End in New York. For a a taste of one of the best live albums in any genre, try The Ghetto, which features a terrific Fender Rhodes solo from Hathaway.

The next selection was from new album Arise by Zara McFarlane whose previous records I have also bought and enjoyed, including the recent 10″ single version of Max Roach’s tune All Africa. Alongside drummer Moses Boyd on production, the album features a stellar line up of some of the key players on the London scene: Binker Golding on tenor sax, Peter Edwards on piano, Shirley Tetteh on guitar, Nathaniel Cross on trombone and an unusually restrained turn on clarinet from Shabaka Hutchings. All these musicians are very much key to the current jazz renaissance in London and all explore links between different musical styles – from US hard bop  and free jazz, to reggae and dub. They’re boosted by new platforms like East London showcase Church of Sound and a newly-refreshed Jazz Café and with these impeccable credentials and a clutch of favourable reviews, including a cover feature in the Black Music monthly Echoes, I felt I should like this record. Sadly, I didn’t. Arise aims to connect Caribbean origins to African music,  jazz and funk to the narrative of a Black Londoner but somehow I was disappointed. As the tune Fussin’ and Fightin’ started, I was reminded of How Long Jah by my old friends Misty in Roots. The track starts in militant style but then deteriorates into lighter repetition. The album as a whole has  a touch of uplifting militancy but it is not maintained and, put simply, I am not enjoying the tunes. I wonder from what I have read if I am alone in my judgement, but – as always – listen and judge for yourself. I shall play more and listen more. Arise could grow on me but at the moment I am unconvinced.

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s 2017 release Cross My Palm With Silver is a heavy and serious work, not for casual background listening, but for intense and deep involvement. It is released on ECM Records, with the characteristic cover style cover and immaculate produced by label owner Manfred Eicher. Yonathan Avishai is on piano, Barak Mori on double bass and Nasheet Watts on drums.

There was another of our regular forays into contemporary music from Poland. Marcin Losik is a newly rising Polish piano talent playing improvised music with energetic phrasing filled with contrasting rhythms. The NAK Trio features Jacek Kochan as pianist and composer, Dominik Wania on piano and Michal Kapczuk on bass. One Polish reviewer on the Polish Jazz Blogspot described The Other Side Of If as an album where mathematics takes the upper hand over metaphysics. Whatever, I enjoyed it.

I returned to the Michael J. McEvoy album The Long Way Home which I know my colleague Neil loves – and so do I. The London-based pianist/composer has put together an album of jazz that is both at times soulful and from the evidence from the two tunes played this week beautiful as well. He has garnered some leading British jazz players as guests on the album, including trumpeter Gerard Presencer who appears on Stillness and Being and saxophonist Ben Castle who is featured on When I Get My Wings.

We have supported and enthused about the Spiritual Jazz series of compilations from Jazzman records. The series is now up to Volume 7 and from this compilation came the wonderful Morning from the incomparable Yusef Lateef. It begins in the same vein as his classic tune Before Dawn and progresses into music that is what can I only describe as  spiritual. You can find this track on Lateef’s 1957 release Jazz Moods – worth getting for every track. This was followed by John Coltrane’s timeless Equinox,  its persistent three beats built around the bass and modal enveloping tune ascending the listener further towards the ethereal. Equinox comes from Coltrane’s Sound – one of his last Atlantic Records, and a must for CJ listeners if they don’t know it.

  1. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy from Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
  2. Zara McFarlane – Fussin’ and Fightin’ from Arise
  3. Avishai Cohen – 340 Down from Cross My Palm With Silver
  4. Marcin Losik – Modal Enterprise from Emotional Planning
  5. NAK Trio – The Other Side Of If from The Other Side Of If
  6. Michael J. McEvoy – Stillness and Being from The Long Way Home
  7. Michael J. McEvoy – When I Get My Wings from The Long Way Home
  8. Yusef Lateef – Morning from Jazz Mood and Spiritual Jazz 7
  9. John Coltrane – Equinox from Coltrane’s Sound and The Kings of Jazz

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

* The music here comes from the one continuous session for Spalding’s upcoming new album Exposure. The fascinating recording process is outlined here on Spalding’s website where the whole three day process was recorded live and  broadcast live for a global audience. Once the cameras started rolling, viewers could see every second of Spalding’s process, including her eating and taking breaks to sleep in the studio, making it the first album ever created entirely on Facebook Live for an unprecedented 77 hour live feed. Once the record is finished, a limited edition 7,777 CDs will be released and the packaging of each CD will include a piece of the original notepaper Spalding will have used to write the lyrics and music. It’s expected that the album will be released in November 2017.