Tag Archives: Nat Birchall

10 February 2016: Norway and more

This week’s Cosmic Jazz show, easily available via the MixCloud tab on this page, has three tunes to demonstrate the variety of contemporary jazz available from Norway.

shela simmenesThe prompt came from Sheila Simmenes, who fronts the Love Extra Orchestra, and who contacted CJ. The band has a jazz core but Sheila herself has an interest in reggae and Brazilian music too – much in keeping with the Cosmic Jazz presenters! Sheila has worked in Brazil and with Brazilian musicians. I played the current single Darling, It’s Over, with a breathy vsheila simmenes darling its overocal that seductively draws you in to listen before giving space for the band to feature too. Watch out for the new single Don’t Get Me Wrong coming out in March and find out more about the band here. We shall be featuring more from Sheila and her different musical projects in future shows.

Staying Norwegian, there was another tune from Bugge Wesseltoft. bugge wesseltoft and friendsAll the tunes on the recent album Bugge and Friends have an It in the title – this week it was Faz It. Wesseltoft intersects the worlds of jazz and electronica with ease, creating memorable melodies that spinout from programmed backgrounds. Check out this track from his collaboration with computer whiz, producer and remixer Henrik Schwartz. The final tune from Norway came from old friends of the programme Lucky NovakThis band is based in Oslo but has a British musician, alto player Tim Lowerson included in the bugge wesseltoft henrik schwartzband. They are original, experimental and unpredictable,  A case of art school meets jazz? The tune I played this week – Kul’an – was by their standards quite conventional; it’s simply a beautiful piece of music. Check them out on this video – they look and sound like they just love playing.

I returned to Gregory Porter’s first album Water, where he sings and the musicians seem to play with greater freedom than on his later Blue Note albums. It was in respect and memory of Cheryl – a good friend of this programme – who once set up a memorable interview we held with him in which Porter – then just starting to become well known – answered our questions with interest, energy and grace.

st germainSt. Germain sounded a good prelude to the Bugge tune. Both are jazz inspired musicians using a blend of modern and traditional sounds and instruments. In St. Germain’s case it’s the blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins (here from the song You Caused My Heart to Weep), merged with traditional Malian kora sounds from Mamadou Cherif Soumano and behind it all the programming of Ludovic Navarre, the Parisian who is St Germain. You can hear Soumano on kora here playing live in a trio with bass and soprano saxophone. This is a beautiful musical combination that works.

The Polish contribution this week came from Vehemence black fire new spirtQuartet (love the name!) who provided a fierce and forthright opening to the programme. There was also another tune from Nat Birchall’s stunning Invocations album and the show ended with a fiery contribution from Archie Shepp and Jeanne Lee blending blues and gospel sounds. This is the title track from a 1969 BYG album which will be difficult to find so check out the excellent Soul Jazz double CD compilation where you will find this tune and more great music from Don Cherry, Yusef Lateef, Richard Davis (the excellent track Dealin’) and many more.

  1. Vehemence Quartet – Gabry’s from Anomalia
  2. Gregory Porter – Black Nile from Water
  3. St. Germain – Real Blues from St. Germain
  4. Bugge Wesseltoft – Faz It from Bugge & Friends
  5. Love Extra Orchestra – Darling, It’s Over from single release
  6. Lucky Novak – Kul’an from Up! Go!
  7. Nat Birchall – To Be from Invocations
  8. Archie Shepp & Jeanne Lee – Blase from New Spirits: Radical and Revolutionary Jazz in the USA 1957-82

Derek is currently listening to:

Neil is currently listening to:

charles lloydFinally, it won’t have escaped regular listeners that here at CJ we are bonafide paid up members of the Charles Lloyd Appreciation Society. With a new band and a new album out this month, it seems appropriate to give listeners a chance to hear and see Lloyd performing this new direction live at NYC’s Lincoln Centre just two weeks ago. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels now features Bill Frisell on guitar and Greg Leisz on lap and pedal steel.  The album – out on Blue Note – is called I Long To See You.  Be prepared – the music really is rather different!

03 February 2016: from Krakow to Kingston

CJ is globetrotting again this week – from Krakow to Blackburn, Porsgrunn (check it out!) to Montevideo and more. As always, just click the MixCloud tab on this page to hear for yourself.

algorhythmThe show began with with some of the excellent Polish jazz around. One of my favourite groups at the moment are Algorythm and we started with a tune from their impressive Segments album. Emil Miszk is on trumpet, Piotr Chęcki on tenor, Szymon Burnos on piano, Krzysztof Słomkowski on bass and (despite what I said on the show!) Sławek Koryzno on drums. High Definition Quartet are one of those quirky, unpredictable, up-front bands – and the track V is typical of the music on their new release Bukoliki. Since their formation, they have built up quite a reputation and have played with many other musicians, including Randy Brecker in 2012.

Last week, saxophonist Nat Birchall featured on CJ – both with music from his latest album on Jazzman Records, but also here on the website where we looked at one of the many excellent features on his own website. This week on the show we feature another tune from Invocations but also the track Ethiopia from one of the14921 musicians who has influenced Birchall, Jamaican tenor player Cedric Im Brooks. For more, check out the album Cedric Im Brooks and The Light Of Saba reissued a few years ago on the excellent Honest Jon label. I’m lucky enough to have a copy on the original double vinyl. 

don rendell:ian carr phase IIIAfter the death of the distinguished British sax/flute player Don Rendell last year it seemed appropriate to play again Black Marigolds by The Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet.  This wonderful piece, written by pianist Michael Garrick, still sounds as fresh and interesting as it surely did when issued in 1966. Sadly, there’s almost no video available of this iconic band – but here they are at the Antibes Jazz Festival in 1968 (and still in suits!).

We have recently featured music from Norway and will be playing more in our next show. This week it was more of a re-visit to the album Bugge and Friends from Bugge Wesseltoft. The friends on this record include Erik Truffaz whose new album Doni Doni features Rokia Traore. You can check out a live version of the title track here from the WorldStock Festival in Paris.

I’ll be playing a few older latin jazz tunes, many for jazz dancers, over the coming week. I began with Opa from Uruguay. The Fattoruso brothers from Montevideo formed the band in the 1970s and theiropa magic timetwo records were both produced by Airto Moreira. The track I featured came from their second album Magic Time, released in 1977. Both Airto and his then wife, Brazilian vocalist Flora Purim can be heard. Both albums have been reissued on Milestone and the first – Goldenwings – on BGP Records here in the UK. You’ll find Montevideo on the widely available BGP compilation – details below.

Below, as usual, is this week’s playlist – but also something I hope to do from time to time. It’s five of the records we’re currently listening too – whether on the move or at home. As you’ll see, it’s not all exclusively jazz. Neil will be doing the same while he’s in Beijing – check out his top five below. We’ve linked either the tune or the album to a YouTube video. Enjoy!

  1. Algorythm – Sorry For the Delay from Segments
  2. High Definition Quartet – V from Bukoliki
  3. Nat Birchall – A Luta Continua from Invocations
  4. Cedric Im Brooks – Ethiopia from Studio One Rockers
  5. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Black Marigolds from Phase III/Impressed II
  6. Bugge Wesseltoft – Make It from Bugge & Friends
  7. OPA – Montevideo from Magic Time/BGP presents Jazz Funk

Derek’s currently listening to…

Neil’s currently listening to…

 

 

27 January 2016: sound, soul and spirit

The title for this week’s Cosmic Jazz comes from the strapline for saxophonist Nat Birchall’s excellent blog. There’s more from this below, but we recommend that you take a good look.

We’ve still not finished with some of the great music from 2015 here on Cosmic Jazz. This week’s show, available at the click of the Mixcloud tab on this page, features, in part, some of the tunes that still need to be heard by any CJ aficionado.

082_nat_birchallThe show opened with the title tune from Birchall’s superb 2015 album Invocations and one we’ve promised to feature for a while here on CJ. Birchall is one of the most interesting jazz musicians from the Manchester jazz scene who’s now gaining prominence on a wider stage. He’s previously been heard with Matthew Halsall but has released several very fine albums of his own, all of which we have featured here on CJ.

Birchall’s music is for the body and soul, with obvious references to the Coltranes (John and Alice), Pharaoh Sanders and Albert Ayler – but there is more than this. Birchall is a wholly original player with a strong debt to dub reggae. To me, jazz and reggae cannat birchall and dub make a perfect combination, so  it was interesting to read in the sleeve notes to the record that Birchall’s first musical passion was classic dub and, in particular, the album Grounation by drummer Count Ossie, featuring Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks on tenor sax. The use of hand drums on Invocations adds a mystical quality that evokes Count Ossie’s seminal recording. Check out the blog (again) and read and hear more about some of Birchall’s favourite recordings. If you want to get up to speed on dub reggae you won’t find a better place to start than here. Here, for example, is Birchall on the influence of Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks on the development of his own sound: The tenor saxophone player on this album is the great Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks and his sound and playing here were my first introduction to Jazz type soloing apart from the very short solos that I had heard on Ska tunes and his style has undoubtedly contributed greatly to my concept of how a tenor saxophone sounds. 

When we count ossie grounationplay the saxophone the sound that we actually get from the instrument is not determined by the instrument itself. It can be quite complex but the most important factor in what sound we get when we breathe into the saxophone is what we personally imagine it should sound like. The instrument and mouthpiece and reed all contribute to the sound but the actual character and quality is largely down to the individual player and their sound “concept” and their practice routine. So this album is very important to me personally as it has contributed in no small part to my own sound concept as a saxophone player.

From time to time I have to play music that has touched me during the previous week. Sometimes, and I make no apology, this takes me beyond the borders of jazz. For this week it was the Senegalese baaba maal the travellerartist Baaba Maal who I had just been to see perform in Norwich. What a voice! What a stage presence he has! In fact, as a guest on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions show on 24 January, he stated that improvisation is an essential part of his live performance. So it was in the one I saw with a superb bass player, a masterful and powerful Cuban drummer who gave an extended solo and excellent percussionists. Indeed, on the Radio 3 show Maal acknowledged his debt to jazz. What you may not have guessed is that among the musicians featured on Tiedo – the tune I played from his album Firin’ in Fouta – were two top-rate British jazz musicians, Andy Sheppard on soprano sax and Alec Dankworth on double bass. Maal’s new album is called The Traveller and it’s just been released.

I had forgotten that the compilation Black Fire! New Spirits!: Radical and Revolutionary Jazz in the USA 1957-82 had only been released in 2015. It seems ages ago that CJ first featured this excellentblack fire new spirt Soul Jazz compilation but we have so far not played The Banjo Lesson by flute player Lloyd McNeil and bassist Marshall Hawkins. This comes from an album commissioned for an exhibition to celebrate the art work of Henry Ossawa Turner, who became the first African-American painter to gain international success. McNeil himself was not only a musician but also a painter, photographer, poet and academic.

During 2015 we have championed some excellent Polish jazz which can be obtained via Steve’s Jazz Sounds. Among my favourites has been the music from the trio led by Michal Wroblewski. We have featured pieces from his 2015 City Album but this week I played Jarretiude (which suggests an obvious reference to Keith Jarrett) from the album I Remember.

The other two tunes from Polish bands were, however, definitely produced in 2015. Algorhythm are a young Polish quartet comprising tenor, trumpet, piano and double bass. They are excellent and a must listen for all Cosmic Jazz followers. I will have to play more. See them below performing at the 2013 European Jazz Contest in Rome.

Tatvamasi__The_House_Of_WordsFinally, Tatvamasi are a quintet founded by guitarist Gregory Lesiak. They aim to reveal the hidden depth of the Polish soul in the 21st century, with music inspired by traditional Slavic folk and the avant-garde. Their previous release is reviewed in PopMatters here. The phrase tat tvam asi is a Sanskrit expression meaning “that thou art” or “that art thou” – the self is part of of the oneness, or whole. I can imagine Nat Birchall saying much the same thing…

  1. Nat Birchall – Invocations from Invocations
  2. Baaba Maal – Tiedo from Firin’ in Fouta
  3. Lloyd McNeil and Marshall Hawkins – The Banjo Lesson from Black Fire! New Spirits! Radical and Revolutionary Jazz 1957-82
  4. Michal Wroblewski Trio – Jarretiude from I Remember
  5. Algorhythm – Segment IV from Segments
  6. Tatvamasi – Conversion from The House of Words

New recommended site – UK vibe


nat-birchall_ukvibe_01Cosmic Jazz
has always had a sidebar list of recommended sites – and it’s time to add a new one to the list. UK Vibe has just uploaded an excellent review of the new Nat Birchall release Invocations but the site is home to some great in-depth features too.

Particularly recommended is the extended (and I really mean extended) piece on Keith Jarrett at 70. Read it and check out the videos too. If you’re not yet convinced by Jarrett, have a look and listen to his live reading of the classic God Bless the Child  performed here with his Standards Trio – Gary Peacock on bass and Jack de Johnette on drums.

Playlist – 20 December 2012

Now’s the time (as they say in jazz circles) – this week and next, Cosmic Jazz picks the best of 2012. We look at our favourite new releases and reissues from the last twelve months, check out what hits the CJ spot and offer a few recommendations. Esperanza Spalding was a predictable selection – we’ve been raving about Radio Music Society since it was released earlier in the year. – and so too was Jack deJohnette, drum master for Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and many more. With a new release from ECM of his Special Edition group from the 70s/80s (and too late to feature in most 2012 polls), deJohnette featured twice in our selection. Another four disc set was the latest release from the currently prolific Wadada Leo Smith – his mammoth suite called Ten Freedom Summers. This should be high on the list of any listener interested in the more experimental side of jazz and is a record of the year on many 2012 lists.

But for CJ‘s Neil, another record beat Smith to the top spot. This was an album he camevijay_iyer-001 back to over and over again during the course of the year. Vijay Iyer has one of the great piano trios working in jazz at the moment.and Accelerando is his best release to date and is likely to be one the jazz albums of the decade..Here is where Iyer brings it all together with compositions from such diverse inspirations as Duke Ellington, Flying Lotus and Michael Jackson. The whole thing just works. As Nate Chinen of the New York Times so succinctly says, Accelerando encapsulates his knack for making prickly experimentalism feel approachable, intuitive, even stylish.:

Next week’s show will bring us Derek’s top dogs for 2012 – so expect EST and… well, just wait and see.

  1. Gregory Porter – 1960 What? (Gerardo Frisina Cuban Soul Mix)
  2. Esperanza Spalding – Endangered Species
  3. Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio
  4. Jessica Lauren Four – White Mountain
  5. Nat Birchall – The Black Ark
  6. Jack deJohnette’s Special Edition – I Know
  7. Jack deJohnette – Enter Here
  8. Charlie Mingus – Track C: Group Dancers
  9. Quarteto de Saba – Pra Che Chorar
  10. Wadada Leo Smith – Thurgood Marshall and Brown vs Board of Education: A Dream of Equal Education, 1954
  11. Keith Jarrett Quartet – Personal Mountains
  12. ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Soul Train
  13. Vijay IyerTrio – Human Nature

Video this week has to come from our first 2012 poll winner Vijay Iyer and his trio, Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums (who, incidentally, is grandson of jazz drumming legend Roy Haynes):

Playlist – 22 November 2012

After the exciting choices from Pete last week this week’s show returned to some of Derek’s current listening. Opening the show with two contemporary jazz dance classics, the grooves continued with two CJ favourites – Roy Haynes’ percussion tour de force Quiet Fire and the classic Red Clay from trumpeter Freddie Hubbard.

New music was represented by more from Larry Stabbins and Mercury-nominated Roller Trio with a final nod to CJ’s top album from last year, Nat Birchall’s Sacred Dimension. Birchall has a new CD out on his own label. You can hear extracts from the album – called World Without Form – here. Reviewer Phill Johnson of the Independent on Sunday said:

In a scene dominated by jazz graduates who are fluent in the language but don’t have much to say, the music of saxophonist Birchall – who came to Coltrane via reggae’s Cedric Brooks – screams “Belief!” This latest release invests spiritual jazz with a personal vision evoking space and soul. Doubling up bass and drums creates a thicker sound, with roles for Corey Mwamba, Jon Thorne and Paul Hession. Regular pianist Adam Fairhall is a total star.

Yes – it’s a CD we love too! Expect to hear tracks coming weeks on Cosmic Jazz.

  1. St. Germain – Rose Rouge
  2. Nuyorican Soul feat. George Benson – You Can Do It (Baby)
  3. Roy Haynes – Quiet Fire
  4. Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay
  5. Anthony Joseph & the Spasm Band – Cobra
  6. Rosa Passos – Lobo Bobo
  7. GoGo Penguin – Akasthesia
  8. Roller Trio – Deep Heat
  9. Larry ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Noetic
  10. Nat Birchall – Sacred Dimension
  11. Joe Henderson – Serenity

On video this week is Larry Stabbins as horns boss in the 1980s band Working Week. Here they are live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1985 with singer Juliet Roberts and guitarist Simon Booth, giving a very respectable jazz treatment of Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues.

Playlist – 18 October 2012

Tonight’s show featured more new British jazz and some music that was truly ‘cosmic’ in its feel. The new release from CJ favourite Matthew Halsall – Fletcher Moss Park – is a calm, spiritual and modal piece. Former Working Week sax and flute player Larry ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins also has an excellent release entitled Transcendental featuring another CJ fave, pianist Zoe Rahman. All the musicians are members of Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra, whose performance in May of this year in Norwich was one of the most spectacular I have ever seen.

There were more modal, cosmic sounds on the show, plus a bonus from a new UK trio. Fanfares by the group GoGo Penguin, is on the Manchester-based Gondwana label, which also releases the records of Matthew Halsall and Nat Birchall. From this release you got hard-driving trio jazz, with influences ranging from EST to classical and electronica. It seemed appropriate to pair this with a track from EST’s Seven Days of Falling release before going into a truly cosmic section with Saturnian Sun Ra. And as a final extra, more new British jazz from rising star Trish Clowes.

  1. Matthew Halsall – Cherry Blossom
  2. Nat Birchall – Sacred Dimension
  3. Matthew Halsall – The Sun in September
  4. GoGo Penguin – Seven Sons of Bjorn
  5. EST – Elevation of Love
  6. Sun Ra – Images
  7. Kelan Philip Cohran and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Frankincense and Myrrh
  8. ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Africa
  9. Zoe & Idris Rahman – Sanctuary
  10. ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Transcendental Euphoria
  11. Trish Clowes – Atlas

Playlist – 11 October 2012

This week’s CJ featured music from Trish Clowes and her Tangent Quartet after Derek saw her engaging performance at the Milestones Jazz Club in Lowestoft. In anticipation of Matthew Halsall’s eagerly awaited new release, Fletcher Moss Park, there was music from his previous album On the Go and there was more British jazz from Pangaea, Mike Westbrook and the Curios trio.

  1. Soil & ‘Pimp’ Sessions – Waltz for Goddess
  2. Sleep Walker – Eclipse
  3. Art Blakey – Alamode
  4. The Crescendo Quintet – Variations on the Azerbaijan Mugam ‘Chargiakh’
  5. The Jazz on the Latin Side All-Stars – Mujer Chicana
  6. Pangaea – Coastal Walk
  7. Trish Clowes – Atlas
  8. Trish Clowes Tangent – Coloured Eye
  9. Matthew Halsall – Music for a Dancing Mind
  10. Soul Jazz Orchestra – Consecration
  11. The Mike Westbrook Concert Band  – Tension
  12. Curios – Bradford

This week sees the return of video to the CJ site and more Matthew Halsall seemed an obvious choice. Check out this live version of Colour Yes, the title track from his second Gondwana release and a CJ favourite. Soprano sax is, of course, by long time associate Nat Birchall. And Halsall doesn’t even make an appearance until three minutes into the track. This is a beautifully measured, understated performance and we can’t wait to hear the new album.

Playlist – 12 April 2012

Neil has returned to China and so this week’s CJ was another solo show from Derek. There was recent music from Gregory Porter, Jack deJohnette and  Kenny Garrett together as well as some recent re-releases in Azanyah and Roy Brooks and the Artistic Truth. The mood of the programme was contemplative and  meditative, even spiritual. 

  1. Jack de Johnette – Indigo Dreamscapes
  2. Azanyah – Let God Come First
  3. Gregory Porter – Bling Bling
  4. Kenny Garrett – Seeds from the Underground
  5. Roy Brooks & the Artistic Truth – Black Survival – Prologue
  6. Carlos Garnett – Banks of the Nile
  7. Randy Weston – 1st Movement: Uhuru Kwanza ( Part Two)
  8. Leon Greening – Singapore
  9. Robert Glasper Experience feat. Meshell Ndegedcello – The Consequences of Jealousy
  10. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme Part I Acknowledgement
  11. John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman – Lush Life
  12. Nat Birchall – Sacred Dimension
  13. Erich KleinschusterSextet – Communion

Playlist – 23 February 2012

The promised mix from Palma had to be postponed because of technical difficulties. In compensation, CJ focused on some music that Palma would like. So, after Neil had played a 1963 version of Impressions from the Impulse CD of John Coltrane live at Newport in 1963 and 1965, I chose My Favourite Things  from the same record. Warm, modal jazz dominated proceedings with Pharaoh Sanders from the US and Nat Birchall and Matthew Halsall from the Manchester scene. I hope Palma can return next week for his much-anticipated vinyl mix.

  1. John Coltrane – My Favourite Things
  2. Pharoah Sanders – Greetings to Idris
  3. Pharoah Sanders – Doktor Pitt
  4. Nat Birchall – Ancient World
  5. Matthew Halsall – The End of Dukkha
  6. Neil Cowley Trio – Portal
  7. Dollar Brand – African Marketplace
  8. Miles Davis – Miles Runs the Voodoo Down