Category Archives: Playlist

Week ending 16 March 2019: three more from Sarah Tandy

You can hear this week’s show by clicking the Mix Cloud tab. Do not be put off by a short interruption early on from music that’s nothing to do with Cosmic Jazz. That was a slight technical aberration which luckily I was able to sort quickly. Apologies for this – and particular apologies to Sarah Tandy whose music was playing at the time. Stick with the show and check out lots of fantastic jazz, old and new.

Sometimes you hear on record, or see live, a musician who makes you sit up and take notice. This happened to me when I heard the Camilla George Quartet album Isang. It was confirmed when I saw the band live at the Cambridge Jazz Festival and even more so when I saw Maisha in a Spiegeltent at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.  The musician in question was piano/keyboard player Sarah Tandy. When you see her live, you won’t see any apparent fanfare or attention-seeking gestures, yet she weaves the most incredible, intricate and unpredictable musical patterns, whether it is via delicate moments on the piano or more funky beats on the keyboard. It is great news that she now has her own music released on her debut Infection in the Sentence album. Not surprisingly, there were more tunes from it on this week’s show – we played the final three tracks from the album to complement the first three tracks in a previous show. We can confidently predict Infection in the Sentence (btw – a quote from an Emily Dickinson poem) will be one of the jazz/jazz-related music albums of the year in 2019. If you like what we have played on Cosmic Jazz you need to own this album. Find it here on Bandcamp.

To fulfil a recent commitment on the show to re-visit the past and also because it made an interesting contrast, it was back to the UK in the 1960s. If Sarah Tandy is part of what is happening in the current British jazz scene, the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet were part of what was significant and important on the British jazz scene in the 1960s. Dusk Fire still stands proud today as a moving, intense and spiritual piece composed by pianist Michael Garrick. Along with Ian Carr (trumpet/flugelhorn), Don Rendell (sax, clarinet and flute), Trevor Tompkins (drums) and Dave Green (bass) the quintet is a testament to what is now the long-standing worth of UK jazz.

There were more contrasts between past and present from the 1970s to 2018. There seem in recent years to have been a succession of ‘undiscovered’ or neglected releases from the 1970s. Last year one such was a re-issue of The Lightmen and their record Free As You Wanna Be. The band was led by Houston drummer Bubbha Thomas. As a musician, journalist and radio presenter he was active in the civil rights movement in Houston.  His 15-minute clusters of jazz on his radio show went down well with his listeners but not the station managers. He was fired. Bubbha’s response was to detail his plight in a pamphlet, the front cover of which asked Why do racists fear jazz?

The contrast was to the current international jazz superstar Kamasi Washington. He was in London recently and one of my sons was there for the Brixton show. He was ecstatic about the performance. I could not make it so the next best thing was to include a tune on the show from The Choice, the hidden third CD of his 2018 release Heaven and Earth. The warmth and power of the music radiates through with every note.

There was no particular reason for the next few selections, except that the music is good. Carmen Lundy is a Cosmic Jazz regular but I it’s been a while since we played  Monica Vasconcelos. Brazilian-born but a UK resident, she performs contemporary and classical Brazilian tunes with a jazzy feel and sings with a delicate but joyous voice. Mudanca is a tune written by her and keyboardist Steve Lodder from her album Nois. Seek out this and her other releases for more Brazilian magic.

The final tune came from Poland via a sax player, arranger, composer, educator and player in ensembles of Polish and US musicians, namely Irek Wojtczak. Kiej Jo Ide W Pole is from his album Play it Again. The title of the album is in English, but interestingly, the titles of the tunes are not. So often on many of the Polish music we play, the tunes and album titles are both in English. Do the musicians and/or the record labels feel they have to do this? It would be interesting to know.

  1. Sarh Tandy – Timelord from Infection in the Sentence
  2. Sarah Tandy – Light/Weight from Infection in the Sentence
  3. Sarah Tandy – Snake in the Grass from Infection in the Sentence
  4. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Dusk Fire from Dusk Fire
  5. The Lightmen – Talk Visit from Free As You Wanna Be
  6. Kamasi Washington – My Family from The Choice/ Heaven & Earth
  7. Monica Vasconcelos – Mudanca from Nois
  8. Carmen Lundy – Soul to Soul from Soul to Soul
  9. Irel Wojtcask – Kiej Jo Ide W Pole from Play it Again

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

 

 

Week ending 02 March 2019: Sarah Tandy special!

This week’s Cosmic Jazz is unusual. We’ve been appreciating the piano and keyboard playing of young British pianist Sarah Tandy for some time now – usually through the many bands she has been associated with along with some live recordings on Youtube. But now comes her first self-penned album – released this week on Jazz Re:freshed. It’s called Infection In the Sentence and we featured three tracks in the show alongside other music with Sarah on keys.

Now one of the most in-demand players on the London scene, Sarah has performed on keys for Jazz Jamaica, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, Maisha, Where Pathways Meet, Camilla George, Nubya Garcia, Nerija, Daniel Casimir, Binker Golding, Clark Tracey and many more. She is also a member of Ronnie Scott’s House Band, the W3 Collective and will be launching the new album at the club in 04 March.

Image © Benjamin Amure. 2015

On Infection in the Sentence (the title is drawn from a poem by Emily Dickinson), there’s both technical virtuosity and rhapsodic playing that showcases a fearless approach to music making. She says: The music developed gradually through many years playing on London’s underground music scene, and immersing myself in the myriad musical languages surrounding me. In the album I’m seeking to find a continuum between the jazz music which I grew up listening to, and the multi-faceted, genre-melting sounds of present day London.

Tandy grew up in West London in a strong musical family, learning to play piano at an early age. She eventually went on to study classical piano at a conservatoire and was subsequently a finalist in BBC’s Young Musician of the Year competition. Later studying for an English literature degree at Cambridge University, Tandy explored the very different musical world of jazz and began to find out where she wanted to be as a musician. Immersing herself in the music of John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Robert Glasper, Brad Mehldau and many others, Tandy explored the full range of the new London jazz experience. Then a residency at the Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston forged new connections with drummer Femi Koleoso (Ezra Collective), bass player Mutale Chashi (Kokoroko and Jorja Smith) and saxophonist Binker Golding (Binker & Moses) – all musicians we have featured here on Cosmic Jazz. It was her first real insight into the way jazz in London was heading and the types of people that were engaging in the music. These musicians became the nucleus of the band that was to record Infection In the Sentence. I feel like most of what I have ever learnt about music and life has been from the musicians I play with. And the beauty of music is that it transcends boundaries and reaches that place where we are the same, she says.

Tandy has gone on to perform at the Love Supreme Festival, the Berlin Jazz Festival and she’s performed twice with her trio at the Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival supporting Robert Glasper. There’s going to be a lot more from this stunning new pianist on the jazz scene and we’ll be following it all on Cosmic Jazz.

We followed the three tracks from Infection In the Sentence with three more keyboard players – beginning with Jessica Lauren and a track from her most recent album, Almeria. McCoy Tyner’s 1968 Impulse! album Time for Tyner gave us Little Madimba and we ended the show with female keyboard pioneer Patrice Rushen and Shortie’s Portion with its all-star line up of Joe Henderson, Hadley Caliman and Ndugu.

  1. Camilla George Quartet – Mama Wata from Isang
  2. Maisha – Eaglehurst/The Palace from There Is a Place
  3. Camilla George – Tappin’ the Turtle from The People Could Fly
  4. Sarah Tandy – Bradbury Street from Infection In the Sentence
  5. Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection In the Sentence
  6. Sarah Tandy – Under the Skin from Infection In the Sentence
  7. Jessica Lauren – Beija Flor from Almeria
  8. McCoy Tyner – Little Madimba from Time for Tyner
  9. Patrice Rushen – Shortie’s Portion from Prelusion

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 23 February 2019: Wayne and Sarah

More excellent music available on Cosmic Jazz this week at a touch of that MixCloud tab. In recent shows we have played almost exclusively new music, or newly re-released music, but it was one of the re-releases that suggested maybe we need to go back into the past more often…

The show began with the summery sounds of the ever-youthful Marcos Valle and a stand out track from his Far Out Records come back album Nova Bossa Nova. Now re-released on vinyl 20 years after its original emergence, it still sounds as cool and fresh as it did in 1998. Valle is a Brazilian keyboard player, vocalist and composer who mixes bossa nova (with an emphasis on the nova) with jazzy keyboard sounds. is an essential album for your collection – Valle’s new tunes (like this one, Bar Ingles) sounding as good as the retreads of some of his favourites from the 1970s. The ‘half drop’ on this track when the music fades at the six minute point and then leaps back into life is truly life-affirming. Bar Ingles is one of those tunes that never fails to spread the feel good factor. The perfect opener to any show. And for those of you who haven’t seen Valle in concert, make sure you catch him if you can. His 2017 show at London’s Jazz Cafe was a real highlight of over 30 years of live gigs.

Still keeping that Brazilian vibe, UK keys player Jessica Lauren was up next. Simba Jike is a track from her most recent album – and very good it is too. It’s contemporary jazz with a a range of Brazilian influences. Almeria features a range of instrumentalists on percussion, woodwinds, marimba, flugelhorn, bass and drums with Tamar Osborn a standout on baritone sax. Next up, drummer and band leader Nick Woodmansey, aka Emanative, digs in deep on his track from the excellent double vinyl album Earth, released last year. Reflection features one of our homegrown heroes Nat Birchall, along with vocalist and frequent Emanative collaborator Liz Elensky. Also appearing on this excellent track is  Lauren was followed by a musician she has collaborated with – Emanative and another selection from his album Earth.

Here at Cosmic Jazz we love the lightness of touch demonstrated by UK group Me and My Friends on their track You Read My Mind. There’s a Ghanaian highlife influence here with Emma Coleman’s cello at the heart of this infectious track – it’s short, sweet and one you will keep on humming to yourself. It’s a tune we premiered here on CJ and it’s now been picked by none other than Gilles Peterson on his UK BBC6 show…

It’s Cannonball Adderley style but our next track this week was from Kenny Clark and Francy Boland’s brilliant 1963 classic Jazz is Universal. As Derek noted in the show, this was a jazz dance favourite back in the day and the kind of track that would get the Jazzcotech crew on the floor.  The band was created in 1961 by the US drummer Kenny Clarke and the Belgian pianist/composer Francy Boland. Many notable musicians passed through the ranks, including on this album the great Sahib Shihab, Zoot Sims and Jimmy Deuchar. Playing the track was a reminder of the jazz heritage that’s so important to us – there will always be more than contemporary jazz releases on CJ. Our show has no set format, we are bound to no-one and these freedoms will always be an encouragement to play great music from the past.

Some of those seminal artists from the jazz canon are still very much with us. Once such is saxophonist Wayne Shorter, one of the great jazz composers. Several of his tunes have entered the realm of jazz classics – we think of Footprints, Infant EyesTom Thumb and Adam’s Apple from his Blue Note years; Nefertiti and ESP for Miles Davis and Palladium and Plaza Real for Weather Report. Here he is from last year’s stunning 3CD + comic strip cartoon book release, Emanon, with a superb reworking of Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean (originally found on 2005’s Beyond the Sound Barrier album). Listen to how that spare, lyrical soprano tone matches perfectly with Danilo Perez’s latin piano. And it’s worth here trying to put into words what it is that Shorter is doing. The first thing is that, unlike some players, he has two completely different sounds on tenor and soprano saxes – but both are (perhaps uniquely) easily identifiable as Wayne Shorter’s sound. Tenor is gruff and thick while soprano is clear and liquid. If there’s a strong melody, he like’s to improvise around that – little ostinatos, lots of big intervals and spiralling chunks of sound. Shorter is one of the giants of jazz and will always be worth exploring.

There are violin players in jazz but they are not too common. A new name to many will be the Polish violinist Tomasz Chyla who leads a quintet. He is yet another of the young musicians on the burgeoning Polish scene and Circlesongs is his second album. The music is inspired by a variety of musical traditions – including choral music, with which Chyla is strongly associated. The track Stanko can only be a tribute to the great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko who died last year.

This was followed by another young Polish artist Irek Wojitczack is a saxophone player, composer, arranger and a tutor at the Academy of Music in Gdansk. It is not right that European musicians should be judged by their association with more universally famous US musicians but it is irresistible to note that he has played with Dave Douglas and toured with David Murray. The sound of this young quintet has more than a touch of ECM artist Tord Gustavsen – see what you think.

This week’s show ended with more Polish jazz – this time from one of our favourites, Piotr Wojtasik, a CJ regular who was introduced to us by the ever-reliable Steve’s Jazz Sounds. The trumpeter’s latest album To Whom It May Concern is another quality release. There will undoubtedly be more from this album in week’s to come.

Finally, regular CJ readers will note that there’s an unusual degree of linkage in our listening choices this week. That’s because we were thrilled to get a copy of Sarah Tandy’s new album, Infection in the Sentence (out on 08 March) along with some thoughts on artists and tracks that have been important to her. We’ll be doing a feature on Sarah next week on the show – but, for now, enjoy below a taster of the new release and (in Neil’s choices) three of her favourite tracks.

  1. Marcos Valle – Bar Ingles from Nova Bossa Nova
  2. Jessica Lauren – Simba Jike from Almeria
  3. Emanative – Reflection from Earth
  4. Me and My Friends – You Read My Mind from Look Up
  5. Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band – Charon’s Ferry from Jazz is Universal
  6. Wayne Shorter – Adventures Around the Golden Mean from Emanon
  7. Tomasz Chyla Quintet – Stanko from Circlesongs
  8. Irek Wojitczack – Weselny from Play It Again
  9. Piotr Wojtasik – Backatcha from To Whom it May Concern

Derek is listening to….

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 16 February 2019: jazz and rap today

Cosmic Jazz was back live this week with Derek for the first time since mid-December 2018. There is nothing wrong with pre-recorded shows –  but a live show does add a certain unpredictability and je ne sais quoi. There was also some music to catch up on too – records released last year to which we have not done justice.

It was Neil who first introduced CJ listeners to Emanative, aka drummer Nick Woodmansey. He’s certainly part of the thriving new London jazz scene, but Nick has been around longer than many of the current crop of feted young lions. But like so many of those new artists, he has always listened to and produced more than just jazz. It shows in his music and last year’s much lauded release Earth reflected this. We played the track Iyaami which begins with a long balafon solo before guest Dele Sosimi (formerly of Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80 and then of Femi Kuti’s Positive Force), delivers a lyric about the universality of all mothers – including Mother Earth. The album constantly sifts its axis from Indian classical to space jazz to vocal reflections on the state of the planet. It’s an ambitious recording and all the better for it. Highly recommended, especially on the double vinyl version!

John Ellis – a pianist, composer, and producer from the north west of England was another one of Neil’s choices. He was new to me, but many of his past and present associations are not. Ellis was a founder member of the Cinematic Orchestra and his 2016 record Evolution: Seeds & Streams is released on the Gondwana label, run by Cosmic Jazz favourite Matthew Halsall, who was also executive producer on this record. It’s really interesting music – I loved the tune. Opening track Flight uses an analogue synth pattern as a base before building building into something restrained, flowing and rhythmic. Layering birdsong, piano, bass and kora with an excellent Ellis piano solo. Again, this album comes recommended by CJ. The Cinematic Orchestra themselves have a long awaited new album out on 15 March. We’ll catch up with it in upcoming shows.

Jazz is constantly evolving – and one the most lasting influences is clearly that of rap. We can probably trace this back to the early 1990s and the work of Gil Scott Heron, rap groups like Gang Starr and The Digable Planets sampling jazz records and real time collaboration projects like Guru’s first Jazzamataz album. Since then, rap and jazz have learned how to live together in numerous collaborations, and it seems to be an increasing trend to find the appearance of rappers in the work of artists we feature. We saw it last year, for example, in the work of Keyon Harrold and in Nicholas Peyton’s Twi-Life and way back in 1999 we were listening to trumpeter Erik Truffaz and his collaborations with rapper Nya (see CJ w/e 02 February for more on this). So we featured two further examples of rap and jazz working together this week. Firstly from EABS, the exciting band of young Polish musicians who are not afraid to incorporate aspects of the music they grew up listening to and who make what is a sound for our times. More surprisingly, perhaps, was to find a rapper on the latest record from the exquisite trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the man who makes tunes with the longest titles in jazz. Origami Harvest is Akinmusire’s most adventurous work to date, a collaboration with the Mivos string quartet and rapper Kool AD. This album is also one that’s not afraid to bring politics into the music too – on Americana the Mivos Quartet’s Philip Glass-style minimalism mutates slowly while Kool AD spins out conversational lines about America’s savage histories, brutal legacies, illusory democracies, feudal tendencies. As this alliance matures and grows we can expect to see much more rap in jazz in 2019. On Cosmic Jazz we are open to it all.

Finally, there was time for something perhaps more conventional than the rest of the show. But no apologies because, quite simply, Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik is right up there among the programme’s favourites and among the most-played. His music combines uplift, depth,  joy and more besides. To Whom It May Concern is his 2018 release but go to Steve’s Jazz Sounds and you will find many more albums to enjoy.

  1. Emanative – Iyaami from Earth
  2. John Ellis – Flight from Evolution, Seeds and Streams
  3. EABS – Step into the Light from Repetitions (Letters to Krzystof Komeda)
  4. Ambrose Akinmusire – A Blooming Bloodfruit in a Hoodie from Origami Harvest
  5. Piotr Wojtasik – Out of Scale from To Whom It May Concern

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 09 February 2019: American favourites and local stars

Just six tunes in this week’s Cosmic Jazz, but what power they present! Cosmic Jazz often focuses on new European jazz – including recent releases from Poland and the UK jazz scene – but this week is a mostly American show, beginning with an Art Blakey stormer from 1973, featuring Woody Shaw on trumpet and Cedar Walton on piano.

Like many jazz artists in the 1970s, saxophonist Harold Land updated his sound to include more funky elements like the Fender Rhodes electric piano – but his music never suffered as a result. Black Caucus is tough, driving music – all enhanced by powerful playing from Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and marimba and Harold Land Jnr. on keyboards.

In contrast, Keith Jarrett was noted for something of a crusade against electricity, starting with his wonderful ECM solo piano recordings and continuing with his Standards Trio. Together for 35 years, Jarrett, Peacock and deJohnette recorded Autumn Leaves several times, both live and in the studio. Many of the stand-out versions include an extended Jarrett vamp as a coda – and this take is no exception. Recorded live in 1998 after Jarrett was recovering from a two year silence as result of chronic fatigue syndrome (hence the antediluvian album title) the music is as gloriously invigorating as you could expect. Jarrett is newly energised – and  nowhere morethan on this 13 minute version of the Kosma and Mercer classic. If you like this, then search out either of the two other epic versions recorded by Jarrett – the first monster 26 minute version on the 6CD Live at the Blue Note set and the second on the Trio’s Up For It (recorded live at Juan les Pins). For fun, watch this visual transcription as the Trio plays Japan in 1996.

Stanley Cowell’s Trying To Find a Way from 1978’s New World album has a bit of an all star line up – Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Pat Patrick (long time member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra) on reeds, Cecil McBee on bass and the great Roy Haynes on drums. The whole set is a delight and the album includes a beautiful take on Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday.

Saxophonist John Stubblefield doesn’t have a very high profile in jazz and there are few records under his own name. This one (Confessin’) for the Italian Soul Note label is certainly worth exploring, especially as it includes fine piano from Mulgrew Miller. If you can find it, check out the whole album or treat yourself to this excellent compilation of Black Saint and Soul Note tracks from the If… label, compiled by the always reliable Jean Claude.

We ended this week’s CJ with music from young British lions (and a lioness). The Ezra Collective has been at the forefront of the contemporary jazz scene in the UK and their take on I Have a God with Zara McFarlane on vocals was a great way to close the show. After two excellent EPs, their first full length album You Can’t Steal My Joy releases on 26 April. Watch this space!

  1. Art Blakey – Anthenagin from Anthenagin
  2. Harold Land – Black Caucus from Choma (Burn)
  3. Keith Jarrett Trio – Autumn Leaves from After the Fall
  4. Stanley Cowell – Trying to Find a Way from New World
  5. John Stubblefield – Confessin’ from Confessin’/You Need This!: Black Saint and Soul Note (1975-1985)
  6. Ezra Collective feat. Zara McFarlane – I Have a God from Chapter 7

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 02 February 2019: trumpeters and more

This week’s Cosmic Jazz started with two of our recent favourites  – both from UK artists making waves around the world. We began with a stand out track from Maisha’s first album released at the end of 2018. Maisha are a London group led by drummer Jake Long and featuring some of the leading lights in the current UK jazz scene including Shirley Tetteh on guitar and Nubya Garcia on saxes. Like many of this new crop of jazz artists, their influences well extend beyond jazz and into hiphop, afrobeat and more. With more than a nod to the spiritual jazz tradition of pioneers like Pharoah Sanders, Maisha are one of the most mature of this new crop of artists.

Sarathy Korwar’s first album featured music inspired by the Sidi folk music tradition in India and was an accomplished introduction to his ambitious musical plans. However, the two CDs of Your East is My West takes Korwar’s music to another level altogether. The record features two quintets, one of UK musicians and the other of Indian instrumentalists – much like Joe Harriott’s influential Indo Jazz Fusions record from the 1960s. That influential release had an impact on a generation of British jazz artists and perhaps this new release (also from late 2018) will do the same. Rather than original compositions though, Korwar has chosen to interpret some contemporary jazz classics (like Sanders’ The Creator Has a Master Plan) along with some rather less well known compositions including John McLaughlin’s Mind Ecology, recorded with his Shakti group.

The American acoustic bass player William Parker recorded initially with Cecil Taylor but was long a mainstay of David S Ware’s groups. Since the late 1990s he’s recorded prolifically with his own groups and the 2002 album Raining On the Moon is an excellent example of his quartet at work. His music has often featured vocalist Leena Conquest – listen to her work here on Parker’s superb tribute to the songs of Curtis Mayfield here on the expansive track If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going To Go. Compare it with the Curtis original right here.

Cosmic Jazz has long enjoyed the music of trumpeter Erik Truffaz (photo above). Back in the day we promoted his Blue Note albums which often featured the subtle rapping of vocalist Nya. You can hear that on one of our favourites, Siegfried from Bending New Corners (1999) which includes some sublime piano from Patrick Muller. More recently, Truffaz has recorded in a wide variety of locations and with vocalists, local musicians and electronic artists – as in the atmospheric Good News From the Desert, a highlight from his Rendezvous 3CD set (2009). Three albums, recorded with different artists in three different cities – Paris, Benares and Mexico City – resulted in some of the most adventurous music of Truffaz’s career to date. The chilled Pacheco from the recent album Doni Doni doesn’t sound like a tribute to Cuban maestro Johnny Pacheco – but see what you think.

Up next was another trumpeter, Israeli-born New York based Avishai Cohen – not to be confused with the identically named bass player, also Israeli-born and also based in NY. Cohen has said that he’s been much influenced by Miles Davis (as was Erik Truffaz) and his 2017 ECM album Cross My Palm With Silver has a quiet reflective tone that endorses this.

Next up were two favourites from the past, beginning with a standout track from Donald Byrd’s first record with Mizell Brothers production, the excellent Black Byrd. We played the always funky Mr Thomas (with 1970s rhythm guitar, flute solo and horn section to the fore) and then came a bonafide CJ standout that we come back to time and again. It’s drummer Francisco Mora Catlett’s Vital Force from his World Trade Music album. We certainly played it as long ago as 23 September 2010 and I’m sure we’ll feature it again!

Finally, we ended this week’s show on a Brazilian vibe with a track from pianist and singer Elaine Elias. It comes from her 2017 release Dance of Time and – in this 100th year of the samba – features a range of classic and contemporary sambas. The album is also notable for the line up – Elias’s trumpeter ex-husband Randy Brecker and Steps Ahead vibraphone partner Mike Mainieri are there, along with Brazilian guitar legend Toquinho. The last of these should be much more well known worldwide: if you don’t know his music then check out this duet with Gilberto Gil on Tarde em Itapoa.

  1. Maisha – Azure from There is a Place
  2. Sarathy Korwar – Mind Ecology from Your East is My West
  3. William Parker – Hunk Pappa Blues from Raining on the Moon
  4. Erik Truffaz Quartet – Pacheco from Doni Doni
  5. Avishai Cohen – 50 Years and Counting from Cross My Palm with Silver
  6. Donald Byrd – Thomas from Black Byrd
  7. Francisco Mora Catlett – Vital Force from World Trade Music
  8. Eliane Elias – Copacabana from Dance of Time

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 26 January 2019: world sounds past and present

This week’s Cosmic Jazz is a typical CJ mix – we include jazz from 1957, new British and Polish jazz, one of our favourite current rap artists and a classic Latin fusion track.

The show started with  the remarkable Yusef Lateef. Until his recent death at the age of 93, Lateef was – like Don Cherry – a world music pioneer and the atmospheric Morning features Lateef on the arghul, an arabic single reed instrument with an attached drone. It’s remarkable, timeless music and will still sound as revolutionary in another 50 years. It’s similar in effect to Sun Ra’s equally incredible Ancient Aiethiopia from his 1959 album Jazz in Silhouette. Camilla George is one of the new UK saxophonists making waves and now, with her sophomore album The People Could Fly, she moves up another gear. Tappin’ the Land Turtle features vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett and the album features guitarist Shirley Tetteh, drummer Winston Clifford and one of our favourite pianists Sarah Tandy. Vocalist Omar makes an appearance on one track too.

Evelyn Laurie is a Scottish singer whose new self-produced is a conventional but charming delight. Evelyn has explored a range of different musical styles, including her own folk music compositions. A new UK group Me and My Friends ambitiously feature cello at the forefront of their self-penned songs and with African influences (especially on the chosen track You Read My Mind) they press some CJ buttons for sure.

The man with the longest beard in jazz, Jamie Saft, is an unusual keyboard player – equally at home with the avantgarde (for example, his work with John Zorn) and jazz standards. Lelabel from one of Zorn’s many Masada Songbook project albums delicately combines both – check it out here. Blue Dream features his quartet (including celebrated drummer Nasheet Waits) and includes both original compositions and three of those jazz standards.

Michal Martyniuk is a one the seemingly endless new artists to emerge from Poland. Nothing To Prove is his debut album and features Jakub Skowronski on saxophones, Kuba Mizeracki on guitar, Bartek Chojnacki on double bass and Kuba Gubz on drums.

And so to one of our favourite rappers of the moment, Akua Naru, from New Haven, Connecticut. Nag Champa is a great track we have featured previously on the show. It comes from her first album The Journey Aflame and for more from this excellent release check out more here on Bandcamp. And what is nag champa? It’s a Indian perfume – usually a mix of magnolia and sandalwood…

The show ended with two tunes we’ve featured in our Cosmic Jazz live shows –Joe Bataan’s spirited take on Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Bottle and a chilled house remix of Gil Felix’s Que Alegria from Sao Benitez. Joe Bataan took Scott Heron’s highlight from the Winter in America album and gave it a Puerto Rican workover that reflecting his upbringing in East Harlem as a the child of a Filipino father and African American mother. And that searing alto sax? It’s David Sanborn of course – and here’s another of his searing solos, this time from one of his many 1980s Reprise albums recorded with Marcus Miller. The track is Pyramid from the album Close Up.  Bataan himself continues to record – you can hear him on this recent release from boogaloo revival group Spanglish Fly.

  1. Yusef Lateef – Morning from Jazz Mood
  2. Camilla George feat. Cherise Adams-Burnett – Tappin’ the Land Turtle from The People Could Fly
  3. Evelyn Laurie – Close Your Eyes from A Little Bit Of Me
  4. Me and My Friends – You Read My Mind from Look Up
  5. Jamie Saft Quartet – Walls from Blue Dream
  6. Michal Martyniuk – Back from Krakow from Nothing to Prove
  7. Akua Naru – Nag Champa from The Journey Aflame
  8. Joe Bataan – The Bottle (La Botellita) from Afrofilipino/single
  9. Gil Felix – Que Alegria (Sao Benitez mix) from Brazilian Beats

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 19 January 2019: jazz vocalists old and new

This week’s Cosmic Jazz featured tracks from some of the Jazzwise best of 2018 releases along with a focus on female vocalists, including the recently departed Nancy Wilson. We began with a little cracker of a track though – Harold Land’s In the Back, In the Corner, In the Dark originally from his 1972 album Damisi, but now available on of one of two recent Mainstream Records compilations. This gem has Land on tenor sax, Oscar Brashear on trumpet, Buster Williams on bass and Ngudu on drums. Then we travelled in a more mellow direction – but rather controversially in that neither Derek nor I are convinced by the current approach being taken by one of our jazz heroes, Charles Lloyd. His Vanished Gardens may have secured the overall top spot in Jazzwise this year but we’re not so sure. It’s certainly a bold move: Lloyd is accompanied by vocalist Lucinda Williams on several of the tracks and Greg Liesz on pedal steel joins with guitarist Bill Frisell. The group have certainly integrated their sound since a first collaboration in 2016 but this melange of Lloyd’s post-Coltrane accents and Frisell’s Americana tendencies is still something of a curiosity. We shall keep listening…

Next up were vocalists Cecile McLorin Salvant and Nancy Wilson. The former has a new album in which she is accompanied only by pianist Sullivan Fortner. Like Lloyd’s new direction, this is a bold move, but the quality of McLorin Salvant’s arrangements and the vocal risks she takes make her new album Windows an unalloyed success. Elsewhere on the record is a stunningly original take on West Side Story’s Somewhere and an equally adventurous reading of Dori Caymmi’s Obsession. We ended our show this week with a second track, Jimmy Rowles’ The Peacocks – made famous in this version by Stan Getz. McLorin Salvant presents it in the version with lyrics by Norma Winstone and there’s additional tenor sax from Melissa Aldana. For another interesting twist on this almost-standard, try this take on John McLaughlin’s underrated album The Promise. But perhaps the best interpretation (not unexpectedly) is that of pianist Bill Evans on the posthumous album You Must Believe in Spring.

Singer Nancy Wilson sadly died in December 2018. She recorded over 70 albums and won three Grammy awards, but she is still less well known than she should be. We presented two cuts from her celebrated 1962 collaboration with the Cannonball Adderley Quintet which featured a great take on the standard A Sleeping Bee.  Heretical it might be, but I love this more Broadway version from Barbra Streisand too!

Benin singer Angelique Kidjo performed her exciting new project in in London and elsewhere  in 2017 before releasing it on record last year. It’s her take on Remain in Light, Talking Heads’ seminal album from 1980, which showed the NY artpunk band stretching out with the help of producer Brian Eno and a bunch of additional musicians. We played the opening cut on both versions of the album – Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On). If you don’t know the Talking Heads original, here it is… It’s a bonafide classic and a worthy listen for anyone who likes great music in any genre. What Kidjo has done is – to some extent –  reclaimed the African influences of the original, enhancing them with New York afrobeat band Antibalas and, on a couple of tracks, recruiting Tony Allen himself, the magisterial creator of afrobeat rhythms. It seemed appropriate then to follow this with a track from the septuagenarian drummer’s latest collaboration – this time with Detroit techno master Jeff Mills. Most of their new EP works really well and our featured track Seed is a good example.

We’ve enjoyed a lot of Indian-inflected music over the last year, and none more so that the superb live recording created by Sarathy Korwar that we’ve featured over the last few weeks. But back in the day, many jazz artists were exploring similar territory. A relatively rare 1974 release on ECM Records, Dave Liebman’s Drum Ode featured tabla from Badal Roy and Collin Walcott. We played Satya Dhwani (True Sound).

Another well received new release from 2018 was pianist Brad Mehldau’s new album Seymour Reads the Constitution!, the title apparently a reference to a Mehldau dream. The quality of performance is typically universally high with Mehldau’s usual trio collaborators Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard in fine form.

We ended the show with more from our featured vocalists Nancy Wilson and Cecile McLorin Salvant along with a new original composition from that Charles Lloyd and the Vanished Gardens album.

  1. Harold Land – In the Back, In the Corner, In the Dark from Damisi/Innerpeace: Rare Spiritual Funk and Jazz Gems
  2. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels – Monk’s Mood from Vanished Gardens
  3. Cecile McLorin Salvant – Visions from Windows
  4. Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley – A Sleeping Bee from Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley
  5. Angelique Kidjo – Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) from Remain in Light
  6. Tony Allen/ Jeff Mills – The Seed from Tomorrow Comes the Harvest
  7. Dave Liebman – Satya Dhwani (True Sound) from Drum Ode
  8. Brad Mehldau – Almost Like Being In Love from Seymour Reads the Constitution
  9. Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley – The Masquerade is Over from Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley
  10. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels – Blues for Langston and La Rue from Vanished Gardens
  11. Cecile McLorin Salvant – The Peacocks from Windows

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 12 January 2019: Ali to Akinmusire

Neil returned to Singapore this week and so the show featured his music choices, including some brand new releases. First up was the duo of drummer Rashied Ali and Frank Lowe with their free jazz album from 1973, recently re-released and sampled on a new Soul Jazz compilation (see below). Ali was the drummer in John Coltrane’s last recordings and this rare release was clearly a re-examination of the landmark 1967 Coltrane album Interstellar Space in which Coltrane and Ali recorded extended duo tracks. Frank Lowe was an up and coming tenor saxophonist who had already recorded with Alice Coltrane on her World Galaxy album in 1972.  Whilst Lowe and Ali don’t rise to the free improvisational heights of the Coltrane recording, it’s an interesting experiment.

We then glided into a track from one of 2018’s best albums, Arve Henriksen’s The Height of the Reeds, which started as a commissioned work for the city of Hull, designated as Britain´s cultural capital 2017. Norwegian Henriksen, working with longtime fellow sound architects Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, explored the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia using his muted trumpet to great atmospheric effect. The music was originally the companion to a sound walk that over 15,000 listeners accessed via headphones while walking across the Humber Bridge.

This year, Blue Note Records is 80 years old and one of its pioneer artists, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, is celebrating with a 3CD release on the label. But the package is even more ambitious in that it  includes a space-themed graphic novel written by Shorter and the screenwriter Monica Sly and with a powerful graphic treatment from Randy DuBurke.

In the 1960s, Shorter recorded seven albums in three years with the Miles Davis Quintet, several featuring his own enigmatic compositions. But Shorter’s current ensemble, with Brian Blade on drums, Danilo Pérez on piano, and John Patitucci on bass often focuses on deconstructing older compositions, including tunes that are now part of the jazz standard repertoire. The new release is called Emanon (or ‘Nowhere’ backwards) and includes two discs of live material from Shorter’s Barbican Hall concert in November 2016. I saw the band a year earlier and would judge that concert as one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen. Emanon combines a four-part suite recorded with the conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with the other two discs of the quartet playing those pieces and others live in London. The best of the music is undoubtedly these two live discs in which Shorter revisits The Three Marias from his Atlantis album and Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean from the quartet’s 2005 album, Beyond the Sound Barrier. Drummer Brian Blade’s role is reminiscent of the great Tony Williams from some of those Blue Note albums – first he flickers the sticks all over his kit and then injects more explosive cymbal work. Shorter slithers around on both tenor and soprano saxophones, combining that distinctive gruff tenor tones with the clear piping sound he introduced on the soprano in his years with Weather Report.

Shorter turned 85 in November but he has unfortunately recently had to cancel his appearance at a four night SFJazz Center event. We wish this most gifted of jazz artists well and hope that his proposed opera with Esperanza Spalding sees the light soon.

The Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band was one of the most noteworthy European bands of its day. Between 1961 and 1972 they recorded fifteen albums, with the first being Jazz is Universal which featured the track Charon’s Ferry. A new release from keyboard player, DJ and producer Mark de Clive-Lowe is always welcome, even if it’s a compilation of some of his most recent projects. Leaving This Planet (2.0) was originally released in as a 5 track EP early 2011, but it’s now reissued via Bandcamp as a full length compilation of MdCL productions, collaborations, one-offs, B-sides and remixes. The new album Heritage will be released in early 2019.

One of our favourite new Polish bands (and there are many – see last week’s show for more) is EABS, or Electro-Acoustic Beats Sessions. Originating from Wroclaw in south west Poland, their musical influences come from far and wide. The band deconstructs hiphop and funk rhythms to create authentically new music, and the Puzzle Mixtape from 2014 fuses these varied influences into a sound that’s most like the recent work of self-proclaimed beat scientist Makaya McCraven, whose work is often featured on this show. Burgundy Whip features MED, a Californian rapper more at home with Madlib and Quasimoto. The Puzzle Mixtape is full of more exciting collaborations – check it out here on Bandcamp.

There’s always space for some great reggae on Cosmic Jazz and Protoje is a good example of where reggae is right now. With a high profile (including memorable collaborations with Chronixx) his two most recent releases are well worth exploring.

New York loft scene guitarist Marc Ribot is a veteran collaborator too. In the past, he’s worked with artists as varied as John Zorn, Tom Waits and Elvis Costello and his 2018 project is called Songs of Resistance 1942-2018. It’s a clear response to the election of Donald Trump and How to Walk in Freedom – one of the more jazz-influenced cuts on this most varied album – has some beautiful flute from Roy Nathanson. For something very different try Ribot’s work with his band The Young Philadelphians as they recast classic funk tracks into something very different – here’s their ragged live take on Van McCoy’s classic The Hustle.

Kitty Bey has recently been covered on Toshio Matsuura’s recent album but this week we went back to the original version from Byron Morris and his group Unity which features on a new Soul Jazz Records compilation along with the Rashied Ali and Frank Lowe piece that kicked off the show this week. This second Soul of A Nation album complements the first one, released to coincide with the London Tate Modern exhibition Soul of a Nation – Art in the Age of Black Power. This international exhibition is now at the Brooklyn Museum, New York and then travels to Los Angeles in 2019.

The new album features a number of important and ground-breaking African-American artists – The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry, Funkadelic, Gil Scott-Heron and more – alongside a host of lesser-known artists all of whom in the early 1970s were exploring new Afrocentric poly-rhythmical styles of music – radical jazz, street funk and proto-rap – while at the same time exploring the Black Power and civil-rights inspired notions of self-definition, self-respect and self-empowerment in their own lives. It’s a worthy successor to the first album and – as often with Soul Jazz Records – includes an excellent illustrated booklet.

Butcher Brown may be a young band from Richmond, Virginia but their roots go deep into a wide range of jazz styles. For their Afrokuti release from August last year, they bridged jazz and afrobeat to good effect, especially on the track we chose – Tales From the Shrine.

Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire has just released what is probably his most ambitious album yet. Working in the Mivos String Quartet with a rapper has to be a challenge but, on the opening track of Origami Harvest, Musire makes it work perfectly. By the end of this long track, Akinmusire, drummer Marcus Gilmore, and pianist Sam Harris, come together with rapper Kool A.D.’s sound.

  1. Rashied Ali and Frank Lowe – Exchange (Part II) from Duo Exchange/Soul of a Nation compilation
  2. Arve Henriksen – Pink Cherry Trees from The Height of the Reeds
  3. Wayne Shorter Quartet – Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean from Emanon
  4. Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band – Charon’s Ferry from
  5. Mark de Clive-Lowe – Eight from Leaving This Planet (2.0)
  6. EABS (feat. MED) – Burgundy Whip from The Puzzle Mixtape
  7. Protoje – A Matter of Time from A Matter of Time
  8. Marc Ribot – How To Walk in Freedom from Songs of Resistance 1942-2018
  9. Byron Morris and Unity – Kitty Bey from Blow Thru Your Mind/Soul of a Nation compilation
  10. Butcher Brown – Tales From the Shrine from Afrokuti: a Tribute to Fela
  11. Ambrose Akinmusire – a blooming bloodfruit in a hoodie from Origami Harvest

Neil is listening to…

Christmas and New Year: new Polish jazz feature

We have always played a lot of Polish jazz on Cosmic Jazz. There is a seemingly never ending supply of new jazz coming out of the country, much of it on debut albums by young and emerging artists. In Steve’s Jazz Sounds we have an unique source in the UK where this exciting music can be obtained. Click our MixCloud tab on this page, listen to the music and you will want to hear more.

The show began with another tune from a long-established artist and one who is up there among our favourites. Trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik has played with many leading artists from Poland and other European countries but also with US jazz musicians like Kenny Garrett, Dave Liebman and Billy Hart. His new album for 2018 is To Whom it May Concern – and it’s as good as ever. The track we chose to feature this week has the modal, spiritual qualities that we admire so much.

Sobiechowski is a composer and pianist who leads a quintet and is described as an experienced member of the young Polish jazz scene. In 2014 he received a six-month scholarship to study at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. The album Vital Music draws upon influences from both classical music and European jazz. The title of our choice this week – Global Warming – seemed to be particularly appropriate as the show was recorded while the international conference on climate change was taking place in Poland.

Dominik Kisiel is another young pianist and composer. The music on his album Exploration is all original and explores a soundscape which projects energy and cosmic energy”.

Lucasz Borowicki and his sextet believe in “improvised playfulness” and the music certainly has plenty of free improvisation and unexpected twists and turns. Our tune (An Indiscreet Case of Squareness) and the title of the album (Morbidezza of Decadence) certainly suggest something playful, different and unexpected. You will not be disappointed – it is! The leader is a Polish guitarist now based in Odense, Denmark.

Jacek Kochan is a drummer/composer whom we have played on the show before. He has also played with Dave Liebman as well as US artists Greg Osby, Eddie Henderson and Joey Calderoso. Tomasz Chyla leads a quintet and he is a violin player, the likes of which are still not easy to find in jazz.

There was some more exciting, improvised music from saxophone player/composer/arranger Irek Wojtczak whose album Play it Again is highly recommended. As well as being a working jazz musician he is also a tutor at the Gdansk Academy of Music and is yet another of these Polish musicians who have played with distinguished US musicians. In his case, trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist David Murray.

The show ends with a tune from the P.E. Quartet, another group of young, but experienced musicians who have been long-time friends. The band comprises tenor sax, guitar, double bass and drums.

  1. Piotr Wojtasik – Only Very Few People from To Whom it May Concern
  2. Mateusz Sobiechowski Quintet – Global Warming from Vital Music
  3. Dominik Kisiel Exploration Quartet – Exploration from Exploration
  4. Lucasz Borowicki Sextet – An Indiscreet Case of Squareness from Morbidezza of Decadence
  5. Jacek Kochan – Central Station from Ajee
  6. Tomasz Chyla Quintet – Full Circle from Circles
  7. Irek Wojtczak – Weselny from Play it Again
  8. P.E. Quartet – Niewazne from Cokolwick

Derek is listening to…