Tag Archives: Miles Davis

25 May 2016: jazz from the Czech Republic and France

Click the MixCloud tab (left) to hear a selection of mainly contemporary jazz from continental Europe with a couple of oldies from elsewhere thrown in.

sun ra arkestra a song for the sunRecently I heard the Sun Ra Arkestra live led by the 92 year old Marshall Allen. It was quite a spectacle with Allen’s sax well to the fore and reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders’ loud rasping tone.  It seemed appropriate to start with a piece from the Arkestra under Allen’s direction – but not a free jazz blow-out as might be expected but rather The Way You Look Tonight, written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern in 1936 but given an Arkestra rethink.

It was long overdue that CJ featured more music from Steve’s Jazz Sounds, so there were a couple of gems from the Czech Republic. As is so often the case, there were musicians linking across the tracks. First off was tenor player Ondrej Sveracek and the title tune from his album Calm. The Dutch drummer Erik Ineke on hearing  Sveracek’s music commented that Coltrane’s in the house – sounds interesting. The album also features the US drummer Gene Jackson whose CV includes work with Kevin Eubanks, Hugh Masekela, Andrew Hill, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

petr benes quartetThe Petr Benes Quartet (+1) are also based in the Czech Republic. The tune Unusual Neighborhood is as interesting as the title and tenor player Ondrej Sveracek features here alongside his bass player Tomas Baros. From Poland came the excellent Algorythm: having heard them on my iPod selection during the week, they had to be circulated more widely. Check out their excellent album Segments – we’ve featured tracks from it before on Cosmic Jazz.

I once saw the trumpeter Erik Truffaz perform at Norwich Arts Centre to an audience of about 25 people – something of an embarrassing insult to a fine jazz adventurer who changes personnel, draws on many outside influences and yet maintains a pitch-perfect ambient calm in his playing. His new release Doni Doni includes contributions from Malian singer Rokia Traore, but the tune tonight featured the hip hop artibending new cornersst Oxino Puccino. I added another Erik Truffaz tune which included another rapper – this time Nya –  from the 1999 Blue Note album Bending New Corners which first introduced me to his work. Check out Truffaz performing Doni Doni Part 2 at the World Stock Festival in Paris.

ameen saleemOne of my favourite musicians was the enthusiastic comment made by trumpeter Roy Hargrove about bass player Ameen Saleem. You can see why from the tune Possibilities on Saleem’s new album The Groove LabHis bass provides a firm and prominent beat throughout the tune which has Cyrus Chestnut on piano, Greg Hutchinson on drums and Stacy Dillard on tenor sax. Hargrove is featured on the album but not on this track. The music throughout is varied – expect to hear soul and funk as well as jazz.

spiritual jazz 4Finally on tonight’s show, an excerpt from a long tune I heard during the week. A co-operation between radical vibes player Bobby Hutcherson and sax player Harold Land recorded in what was then Yugoslavia, now Serbia. It is a deep, deep cosmic tune and is available on the superb compilation Spiritual Jazz 4.

  1. The Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen – The Way You Look Tonight from A Song for the Sun
  2. Ondrej Sveracek – Calm from Calm
  3. Petr Benes Quartet – Unusual Neighborhood from Pbq + 1
  4. Algorhythm – Sorry for the Delay from Segments
  5. Erik Truffaz feat Nya – Sweet Mercy from Bending New Corners
  6. Erik Truffaz Quartet feat Oxinno Puccino – Le Complement du Verbe from Doni Doni
  7. Ameen Saleem – Possibilities  from The Groove Lab
  8. Bobby Hutcherson/Harold Land Quintet – The Creators from Spiritual Jazz Vol 4

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Derek is listening to:

  • Thomas Stronen – Pipa
  • Thomas Stronen – Lost Souls
  • Erik Truffaz – Siegfried
  • Papa Wemba feat. Barbara Kanam – Triple Option
  • Misty in Roots – Oh! Wicked Man

Neil is listening to:

Miles Ahead – a film by Don Cheadle

Miles Davis is the jazz superstar. It’s remarkable that there’s never been a biopic before. But wait – this very definitelyMiles is always cool isn’t a biopic. Director and lead Don Cheadle has been very clear about that from the start. Anyone coming to this film and expecting a cool-fest of decorative advertising images with A Kind of Blue soundtrack will be very disappointed.

Miles Ahead ploughs a very different furrow. It’s said that ten years ago Miles’ nephew Vince Wilburn told Don Cheadle that only he could play Davis in any film of his life, and now – thanks to crowdfunding through Indiegogo – it’s happened. Cheadle has said I want to tell a story that Miles himself would have wanted to see, something hip, cool, alive and AHEAD. 

don cheadle as miles 02So – does the film deliver? In some ways, yes it does. This is Cheadle’s directorial debut and it’s a visually arresting one. He’s taken what Ian Carr in his excellent biography calls ‘the Silent Years’, when Davis was holed up in his Queens apartment unable to play. When Cheadle flashes back to earlier periods (for example, the recording of Sketches of Spain with Gil Evans or Miles’ fascination with boxing and black world champion Jack Johnson) we’re gripped by the authenticity.  Cheadle creates a completely believable Miles – angry, frustrated, washed up and ready to quit music.

miles davis jack johnsonAnd the music! There’s no reliance on hackneyed ersatz coolness: instead Cheadle confidently lets the film buzz with the best of Davis’ music from the 1970s and 1980s. We get to hear Back Seat Betty, Go Ahead, John (which turns out to be perfect car chase music) and Prelude from Agharta. This is adventurous stuff, and as a result the film throbs with a visceral tension that’s delivered by the pacey direction and this powerful score.

So what’s wrong? Cheadle has admitted that the only reason the film was fully financed was because he agreed to have a white co-star. Enter the MacGuffin that is Ewan McGregor as Dave Braden, Rolling Stone reporter – and the stolen tapes of a Davis studio session. Enter Starsky and Hutch car chases, Miles firing shots at his Coludon cheadle as miles 03mbia record boss and night club police beatings. No – hang on, that last one really did happen. And here’s another problem: there’s so much in this eventful life that could have been the basis of a much more credible plot. With this, and Cheadle’s startingly original direction and central performance, the result would have been a five star film. As it is, go and see this Miles Ahead. You may be disappointed, but you’ll come away with a wholly believable snapshot of the most important musician of the 20th century.

20 April 2016: jazz on vinyl

Record Store Day 2016 celebrated the black wax – music on vinyl – and five of the tracks featured on this week’s show are newly available in that format. To listen to it all, just press that arrow to your left. The music is another sign of the vinyl renaissance and, here at CJ Towers, we welcome that. Edition Records phronesis parallaxnow have a fine vinyl catalogue including their new releases like the excellent Phronesis album Parallax and the track Just 4 You with which we began the show. Ed Motta’s new album Perpetual Gateways has been issued on vinyl (as his last excellent recording AOR) and so has the brand new release from Erik Truffaz, from which we featured Djiki’n.

we want miles Shirley Horn was noted for her very slow tempos – and George Gershwin’s wonderful My Man’s Gone Now suits her approach perfectly – especially in this radical reworking of the song. In his excellent book The Last Miles, George Cole describes Horn’s reaction when she first heard the version Davis features on his album We Want Miles (1981): “I went into a little bit of a shock. It was the first time I had heard that drummer Al Foster. He was playing those rhythm patterns. I listened, listened and listened. I got stuck on it. When I shirley horn i remember milesused to do My Man’s Gone Now, I did it really straight with a little ad libbing and maybe a small tempo change. I hadn’t imagined I could do it like on the yellow album and I thought at the time ‘I want to do some of that and I want to do it with Al Foster'”. And she did – Foster plays drums on Shirley Horn’s great tribute album from 1998, I Remember Miles.

Two unusual vocalists followed next. First up was Anna Maria Jopek, a Polish singer whose vocal reworkings of Pat Metheny’s melodic tunes came to his attention. The result – a new recording on which Metheny featured. The band include some excellent Polish musicians like pianist Leszek Modzer and bass player Darek FrontCover.qxp_KoutÈJazzOleszkiewicz. The compilation Koute Jazz (available in all formats) focuses on jazz from the French Antilles and is another imaginative release from the Paris-based label Heavenly Sweetness. It’s not the first time we’ve played music from this island group: the saxophonist David Murray has an excellent album that uses the Gwo Ka rhythms from Antillean island Guadeloupe and Soul Jazz Records has issued a thoroughly researched compilation of Gwo Ka rhythms.

The last album Miles recorded for CBS was You’re Under Arrest miles davis you're under arrestand we played the title track. Originally, Miles wanted Gil Evans to create arrangements for some popular songs, including D-Train’s Something On Your Mind and Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, along with Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time (which was to become a live staple in the last concerts). But during the winter of 1984-85, Davis made an about-face and decided to redo everything in several days. The result was an album of great contrasts: popular songs, a memorable solo by John Scofield on the title track and even the return of guitarist John McLaughlin. It’s worth checking out. Mtume’s album mtume rebirth cycleRebirth Cycle, which features the final track played this week – Yebo – has never appeared on CD, or been reissued on vinyl. An original copy will cost you anything between £25 and £85… It’s worth getting hold of too – if only to hear musicians of the calibre of Buster Williams, Stanley Cowell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Michael Henderson and Al Foster in some fine spiritual jazz.

  1. Phronesis – Just 4 Now from Parallax
  2. Ed Motta – Awunism from Aystelum
  3. Ed Motta – Overblown Overweight from Perpetual Gateways
  4. Erik Truffaz (feat. Rokia Traore) – Djiki’n from Doni Doni
  5. Shirley Horn – My Man’s Gone Now from I Remember Miles
  6. Miles Davis – You’re Under Arrest from You’re Under Arrest
  7. Anna Maria Jopek with Pat Metheny – Mania Mienia from Upojenie
  8. Camille Soprann Hildevert – Sopran aux Antilles from Koute Jazz
  9. Mtume – Yebo from Rebirth Cycle

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

16 April 2016: RSD2016

16 April was Record Store Day all round the world and – of course –  Cosmic Jazz joined in the festivities.  We visited two of our local record stores – Soundclash logoSoundclash Records in Norwich and Vinyl Hunter in Bury St Edmunds. Soundclash is one of the city’s oldest record shops: established in 1991, it’s got a great selection of both vinyl and CDs in a wide range of musical genres. Vinyl Hunter maybe new in town but it’s already building a loyal customer base.  Not only is it a specialist vinyl store (with some CDs) but there’s cafe space downstairs too and – thanks to the bakery upstairs there are excellent cakes and coffee. Vinyl vinyl hunter logoHunter also carries a range of quality turntables including Lenco and Rega models – and co-founder Rosie Hunter made clear that selling good quality decks on which to play both new and secondhand vinyl is just part of their comprehensive service for customers.

soundclash record store day 01Those early morning Soundclash queues are testimony to the appeal of Record Store Day and – like the Norwich store – Vinyl Hunter had a busy inaugural RSD2016 with over 60 customers buying in the first hour. Their crate digging approach is going global too – in August the Hunters will be visiting Brazil for the Olympic Games, but Rosie confirmed that there will be time for some vinyl hunting in some of the country’s best record stores!

UK vinyl sales continue to grow year on year with a 64% increase in 2015 sales over the previous year. What looked like a passing fad is clearly now a substantial resurgence. Independent vinyl shops are a viable business proposition – the longevity of Soundclavinyl hunter 01sh and the customer service ethos of Vinyl Hunter are both testimony to this. What HMV (the sole surviving major music retailer) never succeeded in doing was to rebrand themselves as a specialist, niche service – and that’s where two of our local record shops have the edge. Cosmic Jazz salutes both. For more vinyl news, start with The Vinyl Factory or sign up to any of the other great independent record store around the country.  The music choices below celebrate RSD exclusive cuts and more – enjoy!

On Record Store Day Neil listened to: 

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Meanwhile, our Miles Ahead fest continues: Neil has chosen five Miles Davis tracks, each of which featured in Jez Nelson’s Sunday night Somethin’ Else prograjez nelson and don cheadlemme on Jazz FM. Much of this is Miles music that is rarely heard on the radio – and as actor/director Don Cheadle notes in his interview with Nelson, some of these tracks often centre on “meta-Miles” – Davis playing what’s not there. The music built up to the period in Miles’ life that’s at the heart of the movie – his enforced retirement from 1975 that then led to the final comeback years. The interview ended with Cheadle’s choice of Circle, from the album Miles Smiles.

On Somethin’ Else Neil listened to:

13 April 2016: it’s not jazz; it’s social music

kevin le gendre

This week’s CJ was very much influenced by an excellent talk given here in Suffolk by the music writer and critic Kevin Le Gendre. The focus for his presentation was the importance of the musicians behind the vocalist in different genres of black music – whether soul, funk, RnB or rap – and how the democratisation of the black music experience is integral to its sound. It got me thinking – and the result is this week’s music – and a major CJ feature to come.

We began with more from Cannonball Adderley’s magnificent Soul cannonball adderley soul of the bibleof the Bible release from 1972 and the track Space Spiritual. The narrator Rick Holmes says, “Serenity, love, usefulness and obedience is the theme of my soul” and Adderley’s souljazz take on the gospel idiom is full of interesting musical themes and solos – especially from the versatile George Duke.

The Sun Ra Arkestra (under the direction of Marshall Allen) was up next with a stirring version of Saturn from the live album Babylon (that’s a club in Istanbul, by the way). We then followed with one of the tracks cited – james brown helland played – in Le Gendre’s talk – the iconic Papa Don’t Take No Mess. The key point here is that James Brown gives his musicians space – and more. He allows them to develop the music that he is curating/creating by vocally encouraging extended solos – whether from Maceo Parker on alto or John ‘Jabbo’ Starks on drums.

King Curtis – who went to school and studied music with Ornette Coleman in Fort Worth, Texas – was a big-toned tenor player who masterminded Aretha Franklin’s backing band the Kingpins. Memphis Soul Stew comes from his Live at Fillmore West album – which formed part of the same concert that produced the excellent Aretha Franklin album of the same name. Curtis enccharlie haden liberation music orchestraourages his
musicians in just the same way as James Brown – and as Donny Hathaway does in his magnificent Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)  – see CJ 30 March 2016 for more. Finally, in this part of the show regular CJ listener Pete recommended Gato Barbieri’s contributions to the first of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra releases and so we featured Barbieri’s spirited, free blowing on the track Viva la Quince Brigada.

New Yorker Sabu Martinez was up next with one of the stand out tracks from sabu martinez afro templean album that’s very hard to find these days. The track we featured has been re-released by Mr Bongo as a vinyl single – and deservedly so. We’ve featured it before in our (rare) Cosmic Jazz Live outings. Back then to our featured artist from last week – Miles Davis – and one of the most revolutionary albums he ever released. Today On the Corner sounds so contemporary – no wonder, then, that on its release in 1972 it was dismissed as “an insult to the intellect” and complete on the corner sessionsworse. As a useful article from the Guardian newspaper in 2007 on the release of the Complete On the Corner Sessions notes,  it’s now regarded as “a visionary musical statement that was way ahead of its time.” We played the most accessible track Black Satin, one of those little hook melodies (like Jean Pierre) that Miles loved to inject into his playing.

Nat Birchall’s excellent new album features his take on a late John Coltrane track – one which unusually features the leader on flute.  Birchall retains all of the intensity of To Be from Coltrane’s album Expression. We ended this week’s show with two tracks that arebert jansch avocet deliberately very different, although both have a strong jazz sensibility. Guitarist Bert Jansch was one of the finest folk musicians the UK has produced and his work often features imaginative improvisation. From the recently re-released Avocet album, we featured the track Bittern with the rich, resonant bass-work of Danny Thompson. We ended the show with vocalist Ian Shaw and a track from one of his two albums with an American quartet led by pianist Cedar Walton. It’s Shaw’s excellent version of Bill Withers’ Grandma’s Hands.

Photo of Miles DAVIS

So where does the title of this week’s show come from? It’s back to Miles Davis. When asked in a 1982 television interview about jazz, Davis said “I don’t like the word ‘jazz’ … it’s social music… it’s not jazz anymore” and this now features as a quote in the Miles Ahead trailer we linked last week.

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  1. Cannonball Adderley – Space Spiritual from Soul of the Bible
  2. Sun Ra Arkestra – Saturn from Babylon
  3. James Brown – Papa Don’t Take No Mess from Hell
  4. King Curtis – Memphis Soul Stew from Live at Fillmore West
  5. Charlie Haden – Viva la Quince Brigada from Liberation Music Orchestra
  6. Sabu Martinez – Hotel Alyssa-Sousse, Tunisia from Afro Temple
  7. Miles Davis – Black Satin from On the Corner
  8. Nat Birchall – To Be from Invocation
  9. Bert Jansch – Bittern from Avocet
  10. Ian Shaw – Grandma’s Hands from In a New York Minute

Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to:

06 April 2016: Gato and Miles

This week’s CJ is now available for you to listen to – just click on the tab left – or above on your mobile or tablet. gato barbieri 01The show featured music from Leandro (Gato) Barbieri and Miles Davis, who features in a new film out in the UK later this month. Barbieri, who died last week, was an Argentinian tenor saxophonist with a raw, fiery tone that was unmistakeable. We began with Oliver Nelson whose live Montreux date from 1971 featured Barbieri on the expansive Swiss Suite before diving into one of Barbieri’s Impulse! releases. The album Chaptoliver nelson swiss suiteer Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata is a personal favourite and features superb arrangements by Cuban Chico O’Farrill. We chose El Sublime which does everything you could ask for in six minutes. If there’s one album to start your Barbieri journey, this could be the one. As we said on the show, it’s probably best to avoid some of the later ‘easier listening’ music – you’ll just wonder what all the fuss is about. We ended our tribute to Barbieri with another great track – this time his version of the Jorge Ben tune Maria Domingas from the album Under Fire (1971). And what a band – Lonnie Liston Smith is on piano and keyboards, John Abercrombie on guitar, Stanley Clarke ongato barbieri chapter three bass and Roy Haynes on drums.  For a taste of the original, try this lovely (but extremely crackly) version from Brazilian TV in 1971. Jorge Ben’s backing band here is Trio Mocoto, who had a recent renaissance with their album Samba Rock – named after the style they pioneered in the 1970s and highly recommended by CJ. Listen to Mocoto Beat here.

We explored other music with jazz influences in the final part of this week’s showtribe called quest low end theory – starting with a brief tribute to Phife Dawg, late rapper with the influential A Tribe Called Quest. Butter samples Weather Report’s River People and is testimony to the dizzying quality of his rapping. Almost uniquely, ATCQ told lyrical stories – and never better than on this downtempo classic album The Low End Theory.

Our second feature this week celebrated the upcoming UK release (on 22 April) of actor/director Don Cheadle’s film Miles Ahead. miles ahead official posterThis crowdfunded production has already received a lot of airtime – some of it controversial. Don Cheadle acknowledged, for example, that the film wouldn’t have been made unless there had been a white co-star involved – and so in came Ewan McGregor, playing a fictitious journalist investigating the disappearance of some studio tapes. You can watch the official trailer here. We began with a clip from the film soundtrack and followed it with one of the original tracks from the soundtrack album – Junior’s Jam which features pianist Robert Glasper, the musical director of this project. Don’t turn to this new miles ahead soundtrackrelease for an introduction to the music of Miles: only two of the original tracks are unedited (Frelon Brun and So What) but consider it a momento of the film. However, it’s worth noting that the film (and this soundtrack) don’t shy away from Davis’ More ‘difficult’ music – it’s endlessly frustrating to hear TV or radio features on the film that concentrate on A Kind of Blue only. Miles was so much more than this – and we’ll continue to feature the range of his music in upcoming CJ shows. Miles Davis remains not merely an icon of 20th century music but one of the greatest musical innovators of all time.

The new Blue Note release from GoGo Penguin has some excellent tracks – we featured one of the standout tracks, Smarra. Count Ossie is a Jamaican musical maven whose range of influences cover reggae, afrobeat, jazz and more. His excellent album Tales of Mozambique23 skidoo 23 skidoo has just been re-released on the excellent Soul Jazz label – check it out if you can. 23 Skidoo seem to have been forgotten, but they were an influential British band active between 1979-2002 who still sound relevant today. Their most jazz-influenced release is the self-titled 23 Skidoo album from 2000 which features Pharoah Sanders on two tracks including Kendang.

We ended this week’s show with more conventional jazz from British saxophonist Tony Kofi – whose 2005 Thelonious Monk tribute All is Know is outstanding – and a last brief look at Miles Davis. There will be more next week…

  1. Oliver Nelson – Swiss Suite from Swiss Suite
  2. Gato Barbieri – El Sublime from Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata
  3. Gato Barbieri – Maria Domingas from Under Fire
  4. A Tribe Called Quest – Butter from Low End Theory
  5. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis – Dialogue 1 from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  6. Robert Glasper et al – Junior’s Jam from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  7. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis – Dialogue 2 from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  8. Miles Davis – Back Seat Betty from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  9. GoGo Penguin – Smarra from Man Made Object
  10. Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari – Nigerian Reggae from Tales of Mozambique
  11. 23 Skidoo – Kendang (feat. Pharoah Sanders) from 23 Skidoo
  12. Tony Kofi – Light Blue from All is Know
  13. Miles Davis – So What from A Kind of Blue

New York state of Miles...Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to:

16 March 2016: tribute to Nana Vasconcelos

nana vasconcelosClick our CJ MixCloud tab left to hear a show that begins with a tribute to the late Brazilian percussionist and berimbau player Nana Vasconcelos (02 August 1944 – 09 March 2016).

The first tune was recorded by Vasconcelos in 2014 for the Sonzeira album produced by Gilles Peterson. Sean Kuti is one of the voices. Nana then provides conga and berimbau to the rasping tenor of Gato Barbieri on Carnavalito recorded in 1973. In a different mood, he played talking drum and percussion for Jan Garbarek in a 1980 trio recording on ECM that also included John Abercrombijan garbarek eventyre. Nana made several recordings for artists on the ECM label, including the fellow Brazilian Egberto Gismonti. The three tunes I played this week offered a superb illustration of the range of his work and the inventiveness and sensitivity of his playing which you can also see in this live concert footage from 1983.

As promised, there was a return to the new recording by Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D + Evolution. It so happens that there is one of those fun (?) or trivial (?) quick 20 question interviews with her in the March 2016 edition of Echoes, a UK-based black music magazine. In this interview esperanza spalding D + evolutionshe identifies Judas (the tune I played this week) as her favourite own song. Among other questions you may be interested to know the answers to, Spalding names Wayne Shorter as the best musician she has worked with, The Fire Next Time as a book worth reading, Laura Mvula’s as the next album she will buy, Janelle Monae as the best live gig she ever saw and Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now as the song she wished she had written.

Also in the show this week were two excursions to Poland: firstly, for the wonderfully named Obama International who include British trumpeter Tom Arthurs on their Live in Minsk recording. The second was for another of those great Polish trios, the AMC Trio with Three Knight’s Chant.

Also I returned to music from the last year or two. We don’t just stick to new music on Cosmic Jazz and are happy to return to recent releases we like as well as older music. Otis Brown III was a great favourite among the records I discovered in 2015, although it was recorded in 2014. The sublime vocals of Gretchen Parlato on You’rotis brown iii the thought of youe Still The One get me every time. David Murray had the ubiquitous Gregory Porter on Army of the Faithful (Joyful Noise) and the combination of his now easily recognisable vocals and the free tenor playing of David Murray makes for a great mix. CJ continues to feature freedom songs and Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson did just that for us once again with The Liberation (Red, Black and Green) from the album we showcased earlier this month – The First Minute of  New Day.

  1. Nana Vasconcelos/Sonzeira – Where Na Na Hides from Brasil Bam Bam Bam
  2. Gato Barbieri – Carnavalito from Fenix
  3. Jan Garbarek – Lillekort from Eventyr
  4. Esperanza Spalding – Judas from Emily’s D + Evolution
  5. Obama International – Idzie Bakiem from Live in Minsk Mazowiecki
  6. Otis Brown III feat Gretchen Parlato – You’re Still The One from The Thought Of You
  7. David Murray Infinity Quartet feat Gregory Porter – Army Of The Faithful (Joyful Noise) from Be My Monster Love
  8. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson – The Liberation (Red Black and  Green) from The First Minute of a New Day

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

24 November 2015: jazz icons live

This week’s CJ featured only four selections – but what powerful performances they were! We began with John Coltrane performing live at Temple University in 1966 from a recording that john coltrane offeringfinally emerged last year on Impulse! Records. The saxophonist was relentlessly exploring his music during the last the last two years of his life, frequently deploying extra musicians in expanded groupings. On this night in Philadelphia, he had some additional musicians on stage – a couple of extra saxophone players he knew from the area as well as Umar Ali, Algie DeWitt, and Robert Kenyatta on percussion. But they don’t really intrude into the the performance – Coltrane himself is at the heart of it (there was, after all, only one microphone recording all of this) and the performance is full of explosive atonal blowing – as you can hear on the 26 minutes of Crescent.

As the excellent Pitchfork review attests, ‘trane’s playing is unbearably intense, the brittle shrieking egged on by someone yelling “Hey!” in the background. Melody and harmony are sacrificed at the altar of texture and feeling, anger and joy bleed into sadness. Once in a while you can hear a cowbell in the background, and you get a glimpse of what it might have been like to be here on this night. “

Next up was Miles Davis, perhaps the most iconic of all jazz artists and another restlessly exploring musician. Coltrane didn’t embrace the growth of electric music in jazz in the way that his one time boss did – the intensity of his playing didn’t need any additions. But by the time of this second live track in 1970, Miles was fully electric,bitches brew live playing his trumpet through a wah wah pedal and using two electric keyboards on stage. This performance is from the Isle of Wight Festival where Davis shared the bill with such artists as Chicago, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix. This was exactly the audience Miles wanted to bring his new music to and this was to be the biggest audience (600,000 people) ever played to by a jazz artist. The first ten minutes of the continuous set is a version of Bitches Brew, released the previous year as as a double vinyl album.

CJ next played Charles Lloyd whose 1966-68 quartet featured Keith Jarrett on piano, who was earlier heard wreaking havoc on a Fender electric organ with Miles Davis. But this 2007 band is altogether different. Lloyd is very much the elder statesman here leading his rabo de nubeyoung band through a set of mostly Lloyd originals at a Basel concert. Here on CJ we come back to this recording time and again – why? It’s probably the centrepiece of Lloyd’s many recordings for the ECM label and a great place to begin to investigate his music. He had recorded several albums for the German label by time this one was released in 2008 and here he invests several earlier tracks with a new spirit thanks to a superb band. High school classmates Eric Harland on drums and Jason Moran on piano are joined by Reuben Rogers on bass and each pushes their leader to new heights of improvisation. Start with Rabo de Nube and you’ll want to experience all of Lloyd’s work with this astonishing quartet.

The final track in this very special show came from an artist that Miles Davis had huge respect for. Ahmad Jamal, now , is here jamal marciacrecorded last year at the Marciac festival in France. Another elder leader invigorated by a young band featuring bassist Reginald Veal,  percussionist Manolo Badrena and drummer Herlin Riley, this live show (available with a DVD) captures warmth and good nature of a band who know how to work around Jamal’s quirky take on both standards and originals. Check out our video below which shows Jamal revisiting his Poinciana original in Paris in 2012 with this same quartet.

  1. John Coltrane – Crescent from Offering: live at Temple University
  2. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew from Bitches Brew Live
  3. Charles Lloyd – Migration of Spirit from Rabo de Nube
  4. Ahmad Jamal – Sunday Afternoon from Live in Marciac

Playlist – 09 September 2015: worldwide sounds

This week’s Cosmic Jazz features the usual eclectic range of improvised music from around the world – Mali, China, Jamaica, the USA and homegrown spiritual jazz from the UK.

in c maliNeil notes: This was the first of my final two shows for a while – but I’ll be back later in the year. This week began with a short edit from the new arrangement of Terry Riley’s classic work In C, a piece which has influenced a whole generation of contemporary composers. In C turned 50 years old in 2014 and this new interpretation reinvents this iconic composition with a host of Malian kora players and percussionists along with guests from Damon Albarn’s Africa Express project including producer Brian Eno and Andi Toma from the group Mouse on Mars.

Dou Wei is a Beijing multi-instrumentalist who has been involved in dou weia wide range of musical genres from heavy metal to ambient but on this 2CD live release he explores contemporary jazz. Sadly, you probably won’t be able to track this one down anywhere outside Beijing. It seemed appropriate to follow this with the very special 2015 album from drummer and producer Emanative (Nick Woodmansey) whose British jazz supergroup features a whole host of big names – Jessica Lauren, Four Tet, The Pyramids and Finn Peters – all previously played on CJ. The Light Years of the Darkness is a stunning work and well worth getting hold of. You can find it on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label.

The_Case_of_the_3_Sided_Dream_in_Audio_ColorTrombonist Rico Rodriguez died last week. He may have been most famous for his work with the Specials but he’d been a fixture on the Jamaican music scene since the late 1950s. We featured his take (pun intended) on a Dave Brubeck classic. Cory Henry is the keyboard player from another CJ favourite Snarky Puppy – but we featured a great track from his new album First Steps. We always enjoy the work of the late Yusef Lateef on the programme and this week it was the turn of a soul jazz classic from the really rather weird album The Case of the Three Sided Dream in Audio Color – Echoes of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs.

Up next was a track from the recent Miles Davis at Newport 4CDmiles davis at newport set. This was really Newport Jazz on tour in Europe (it was recorded live in Berlin) and it featured one of Miles’ most incendiary groups. The music is loud, raw and not for the faint hearted. However, it makes a lot more sense when you see it – check out this week’s video. Ronnie Scott was on hand to make the introduction (no jokes!) and then Miles launches the band into Turnaroundphrase.

dangeloWe ended with a track from the long awaited release from singer D’Angelo. Is it jazz? Well, there’s a jazz sensibility at work in both the structure and the instrumentation – and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sugah Daddy is covered by at least one bonafide jazzer before the end of the year.

There was no Cosmic Jazz Essential Tune this week, but this video is a teaser for an upcoming number (thanks Jacob!)… Both video tracks are fiery examples of jazz on the edge – enjoy them both.

  1. Africa Express – Mali in C (edit) – from Mali in C
  2. Dou Wei and the Not Sure Yet – Republican Guard from Three States, Four Scores
  3. Emanative – Fire (feat. Collocutor and Finn Peters) from The Light Years of the Darkness
  4. Rico Rodriguez – Take Five from Roots to the Bone
  5. Cory Henry – Afro Brooklyn (feat. Phil Lassiter) from First Steps
  6. Yusef Lateef – Echoes of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs – from The Case of The Three Sided Dream in Audio Color
  7. Miles Davis – Introduction (by Ronnie Scott)/Turnaroundphrase from Miles Davis at Newport (1955-1975)
  8. D’Angelo – Sugah Daddy from Black Messiah

Playlist – 25 March 2015: some tough tunes

The theme of this week’s show, available on the MixCloud tab is Tough Tunes. This was inspired by the deep and demanding tunes that have started the show off for the last two weeks.

message from the tribeThe context I chose for the selection was either tough in the sense of being musically challenging or tough in terms of music with a powerful message, or in some cases, a combination of both these criteria. Such choices will always evoke a response as to what has been left out or, indeed, whether or not this collection of tunes can truly be described as ‘tough’. Posts in response on this blog will be welcome.

  1. Kenny Garrett – Welcome Earth Song from Seeds from the Underground
  2. Otis Brown III – Stages Of Thought from The Thought Of You
  3. Max Roach – Freedom Day from We Insist! Freedom Now Suite
  4. John Coltrane – Africa (first version) from the Complete Africa Brass Sessions
  5. Tribe – What We Need from Message From The Tribe
  6. Michael Brecker – Two Blocks From The Edge from Two Blocks From The Edge
  7. Miles Davis – Bitches Brew Live from Bitches Brew Live

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