Tag Archives: Sun Ra

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.


  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:

09 March 2016: from Sun Ra to Esperanza

Click the Mixcloud tab left to enjoy a varied programme of mainly newish jazz with some older jewels thrown in.

Do I apologise for playing again and starting the show with Kamasi Washington? Certainly not. Listening during the week to Re Run Home it just sounded such a great way to start the show that I couldn’t resist.

esperanza spaldingThere was a link across the next three tunes – Esperanza Spalding. She played acoustic bass on Jack de Johnette’s Indigo Dreamscapes, from the Sound Travels album which celebrated his 80th birthday. But on her new record Emily’s D + Evolution, Spalding is definitely into an electric bass sound as well as providing lead vocals. The album is probably not to the taste of every jazz lover: comments have ranged from the highest praise to pretension masquerading as art. She mentions Cream as an esperanza spalding D + evolutioninspiration and there are certainly rock elements (including shades of Prince) but the jazz roots are still there. Judge for yourself from the two tracks I played this week. I will play more. You can hear what D + Evolution sounds like live on NPR’s First Listen Live show.

The recent publication of the programme for the 2016 Norfolk & Norwich Festival – up the road from us here in Ipswich – provided a mammal handsgood reason to play Mammal Hands. This Norwich-based band play an original, entrancing and magical mix of jazz, classical, Indian, north African and electronic sounds. You need to hear their music. They will play at the festival on 27 May. Last week I mentioned that the Sun Ra Arkestra, directed by the 90 year old Marshall Allen, are due to play the Festival on 13 May. So this week I chose a Sun Ra tune recorded in 1958, the year Marshall Allen joined the Arkestra. What a sustained achievement! Its quirky sound prompted me to follow this with the equally uplifting and bouncy tune Ijo Soul from the wonderful Orlando Julius and the Modern Aces from Nigeria. Orlando Julius is one of the key figures in African music and his Modern Aces were at the forefront of African music development in the 1960s. Interestingly, Fela Kuti performsun ra arkestraed with the the Modern Aces (playing trumpet!) before he formed his own Koola Lobitos band and went on to develop afrobeat. But few artists have been more crucial to the invention, development, and popularization of Afro-pop than Orlando Julius Ekemode. Starting in the ’60s, Julius was fusing traditional African sounds and rhythms with those of American pop, soul, and R&B. In 1966, his album Super Afro Soul made him a celebrity in Nigeria and certainly influenced the the development of funk in the United States. Less well known is that he spent several years in the US working on collaborations with Hugh Masekela and the Crusaders. It’s Julius’s recording Ashiko that forms the basis of Lamont Dozier’s Going Back to My Roots – watch this great Strut Records video to find out more. In early 2014, the London-based Heliocentrics brought him orlando juliusto their all-analogue studio where they backed him on the album Jaiyede Afro, featuring vintage tunes that had never been recorded along with new compositions. Listen to In the Middle and check out that naggingly familiar James Brown riff!

The programme ended with journeys once more to Eastern Europe. The Confusion Project from Poland, who are a trio not a larger band as I said on the programme, have gathered much praise. They consist of drummer Adam Golicki, keyboard player Michal Cieselski and bass player Piotr Gierszewski. Their self titled album is strongly recommended. Finally came the AMC Trio from Slovakia, a trio that have played with a host of other jazz musicians, including Randy Brecker. The wealth of interesting releases from mainly young musicians in Eastern Europe continues apace.

  1. Kamasi Washington – Re Run Home from The Epic
  2. Jack de Johnette – Indigo Dreamscapes from Sound Travels
  3. Esperanza Spalding – Good Lava from Emily’s D + Evolution
  4. Esperanza Spalding – Funk The Fear from Emily’s D + Evolution
  5. Mammal Hands – Kandaiki from Animalia
  6. Sun Ra – Great Balls Of Fire originally from Saturn also on A Space Odyssey
  7. Orlando Julius and his Rhythm Aces – Ibo Soul from Future Funk II
  8. Confusion Project – Status Quo from Confusion Project
  9.  ANC Trio – Beauty Of The Coming Sun from Very Keen Attack

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

nana vasconcelos bush danceWith the recent announcement of the death of Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, I have been listening again to some of the many recordings on which he featured. Vasconcelos was one of the most in demand percussionists around and appeared on records by artists as diverse as Brian Eno, Pat Metheny, Talking Heads and Jan Garbarek. A mesmerising live performer, Vasconcelos was nominated as Best Percussionist of the Year for seven consecutive years by the influential DownBeat magazine.

16 December: best of 2015 part 2

CJ featured more of the new music we enjoyed this year – and you can listen to it all. Just look left and hit that play button to hear all of this week’s show.

Neil’s choices were a mixture of new releases and great reissues. The first two choices are from multi-CD reissue sets, both from Columbia Records. In September 1955, pianist Erroll Garner played a landmark concert at Carmel, California. The result was one of the most popular jazz records of the decade – the celebrated Concert by the Sea album in wherrol garner complete concert by the seaich Garner effortlessly worked his way through a programme of standards. Now, some 60 years later, the compete concert has been reissued. The sound hasn’t been tampered with very much but the real revelation is in some of the additional tracks – especially Ellington’s Caravan which we played. Unlike other pianists we like on CJ, Garner is different. For Ahmad Jamal, for example, less is often more. Not so with Garner. He doesn’t do anything new or challenging  with the melodies, but the sheer unpredictability of his introductions and the sense of joy in his playing are still addictive. For more Garner, check out his 1964 in-studio performance here where you can hear some of his influences including stride piano players like Fats Waller (with whom he shares the habit of sometimes mugging to the camera!). It’s a bravura performance and it captures the sheer charm of Garner’s playing.

Next up was Weather Report and a 4CD set of what – for many – is their most creative (and popular) period. The years from 1978-81 saw the band settle into a core quartet – Joe Zawinul on keyboards, Wayne Shorter on tenor and soprano saxes, Jaco Pastorius on electric bass and Peter Erskine on drums. We featured the track Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz – often played at the time to end their set. I well reweather report legendary live tapesmember hearing the band at this time and their inventive energy was astonishing. here augmented by percussionist Robert Thomas Jr, this track captures this feeling perfectly. Even if you have most of the band’s output already this package, beautifully sequenced by Peter Erskine and Zawinul’s son Tony is essential. Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz (always played together) captures the balance between composed through material and the high levels of improvisation which marked a Weather Report show. The train track sound effect at the end of this piece is typical of the subtle ways in which Zawinul and Pastorius integrated samples into their sets long before they became de riguer. To see what this looked like check out this Montreux Jazz Festival performance from 1976.

joey alexander my favourite thingsBoth of these tracks made it into the Jazzwise best of 2015 lists – but not our next selection. Now, is this because new pianist Joey Alexander is something of a childhood prodigy? Of course, it’s good to be suspicious of mere technical fluency, but I think this 12 year old from Indonesia is the real jazz deal. Listen to what he does with Coltrane’s Giant Steps and decide for yourselves. Of course, it helps to have trio support from Larry Grenadier on bass and Ulysses Owen Jr. on drums but Alexander really thinks through the arrangements on this and all the other tracks on his Blue Note debut My Favorite Things. Have a look at this in-studio performance of the Coltrane classic.

Derek and I have both got into the unique soundworld of arranger and conductor Maria Schneider recently and next I featured a track from her new album The Thompson Fields. Like much of her work, this new release reflects her roots in the American midwest – specifically the Minnesota farmland that’s really a central character in this new album. Both the record and Donny McCaslin’s solo on maria schneider thompson 3our featured track are Grammy-nominated this year. We followed this with more orchestral music, this time from British composer Colin Towns. Improbably, once a member of Ian Gillan’s progressive rock band Towns is now a formidable jazz arranger with a string of excellent releases including the recent small group Blue Touch Paper. Here though with his Mask Orchestra he creates imaginative big band arrangements, all used to create widescreen arrangements linked to British theatre successes including Equus, Jayne Eyre and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. We chose the track Macbeth, full of sweeping drama and unpredictable twists and turns. To get an idea of his work as a film and TV composer, check out this interview where Towns talks about his work on the TV series Doc Martin.

We ended the show with a taste of two contemporary pianists – Robert Glasper and Brad Mehldau. Here Glasper is back with his trio but Mehldau is on his own in a 4CD set of solo piano performances from the last ten years. It’s a typically eclectic selection with music from Radiohead, the Beach Boys and Brahms. We featured one of two versions of Radiohead’s Knives Out.

sun ra - gilles petersonThe show ended with a CJ favourite – Sun Ra from Gilles Peterson’s new Strut compilation To Those of Earth and Other Worlds. We featured part of Sleeping Beauty, the title track from a 1979 album that captures Ra in a deceptively chilled mode, typical of other albums of the time including the essential Lanquidity and On Jupiter – all three now available on Art Yard Records. There’s more Sun Ra in our video clip this week, a typically spirited performance of Face the Music/Space is the Place.

  1. Erroll Garner – Caravan from The Complete Concert by the Sea
  2. Weather Report – Badia/Boogie Woogie Waltz from the Legendary Live Tapes 1978-81
  3. Joey Alexander – Giant Steps from My Favorite Things
  4. The Maria Schneider Orchestra – Arbiters of Evolution from The Thompson Fields
  5. Colin Towns Mask Orchestra – Macbeth from Drama
  6. Robert Glasper Trio – So Beautiful from Covered
  7. Brad Mehldau – Knives Out from 10 Years Solo Live
  8. Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Myth Science Arkestra – Sleeping Beauty from To Those of Earth and Other Worlds

18 November 2015: weaving melodies

This week’s CJ has no obvious theme but vocals and strong melodies are certainly woven through Derek’s selections. The show started with a track from the new album by Wojciech Staroniewicz – a krzysztof komedatribute to Poland’s greatest composer of film music, Krzysztof Komeda. This doctor and jazz pianist was dead at the age of 37 but in his short life he had penned the scores for more than 40 films, including most of Roman Polanski’s up to and including Rosemary’s Baby. Staroniewicz isn’t the first to focus on Komeda’s music – one of our CJ favourites Tomasz Stanko is a frequent interpreter of his work as evidenced by his great ECM album Litania. The Polish link continued with two more tracks from new releases available from Steve’s Jazz Sounds – the first from the trio led by pianist Franciszek Raczkowski and the second from violinist Bartosz Dworak’s group.

ian carr don rendell phase IIIBlack Marigolds by Michael Garrick is here performed in the version on the Phase III album from the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet. With Garrick’s interest in Oriental poetry and church music very apparent in many of his recordings, I’m sure that the title of this piece refers to a now largely forgotten translation by E Powys Mathers of the epic Sanskrit love poem Chaurapanchasika. Mathers was a frequent translator of eastern poetry and I’m sure that Garrick would have known his work.

With the arrival of a second Strut compilation of tracks (this sun ra - gilles petersontime compiled by Gilles Peterson) it’s difficult to avoid the music of Sun Ra at the moment. Derek chose Enlightenment from the collection called Space Odyssey. In fact, this track first appeared on the ground-breaking Jazz in Silhouette album from 1959 but it sounds contemporary. Of the hundreds of Sun Ra albums now available this one should be in any jazz lover’s collection as it features another track played several times on CJ, the extraordinary Ancient Aiethopia [sic].

download (2)Current CJ favourite vocalist is Cecile McLorin Salvant and this week Derek chose one of her own evocative compositions, Fog. The show ended with two more distinctive vocalists, the British Zara McFarlane and the Brazilian Flora Purim. Junior Murvin’s reggae classic Police and Thieves has been covered by a few artists (most notably The Clash on their eponymous first album) but this version is beautifully measured – and just as evocative in The Clash’s interpretation. You can see McFarlane’s video of the song here.

  1. Wojciech Staroniewicz – Cherry from A’Freak-Komeda Project
  2. Franciszek Raczkowski Trio – 5/8 from Apprentice
  3. Bartosz Dworak Quartet – Lullaby For Night Marks from Polished
  4. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Black Marigolds from Phase III
  5. Sun Ra – Enlightenment from A Space Odyssey
  6. Cecile McLorin Salvant – Fog from For One to Love
  7. Zara McFarlane – Police and Thieves from If You Knew Her
  8. Chick Corea – 500 Miles High from Light as a Feather

Playlist – 10 June 2015: featuring Joyce Moreno

I think I said What a voice! on the show as the last of three tunes from Joyce Moreno’s new album Raiz came to an end. To many lovers of Brazilian music, Joyce is someone special. She started out in the 1960s and has been going strong ever since. I remember going into central London to pay good money for the 1980 vinyl import Feminina and the record has remained a firm favourite ever since. British-based label Far Out has just released her latest album Raiz which is dedicated  to her musical roots and features her interpretations of classic Brazilian tunes. Her husband Tutty Moreno is on drums, there is some fine piano work from Helio Alves, but, above all, you cannot miss that voice….

Here she is with a simply (literally) stunning version of Aguas da Marco (Waters of March). Tutty Moreno is on drums here too.

Also on the show this week was more Eastern European jazz, available at: stevesjazzsounds.co.uk This comprised  a touch of paradise from Slovakian pianist Pavel Morochovic and his trio on an original  album entitled Awakening ; a tune by Polish quartet  HoTS from Harmony of the Spheres (a title that reminded me of Sun Ra) and Polish quartet Next Generation – check out the trumpet work from Gabriel Sunday.

The Next Generation CD called Live at Jazz Odra also which prompted  a tune from Charles Lloyd’s new live album on Blue Note. Wild Man Dance is a suite recorded live at the Jazz Odra festival – we featured the lengthy opening tune Flying Over the Odra Valley that we have already played on Cosmic Jazz.

Check this all music out via our MixCloud tab and listen out for more varied jazz next week.

  1. HoTS – Marie El from Harmony of the Spheres
  2. Sun Ra – Sunology from A Space Odyssey CD 2 Lift Off
  3. Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance from Wild Man Dance
  4. Next Generation – Diversity of Opinions from Live at Jazz Odra
  5. Joyce Moreno – Desafinado/Aquarelado Brasil from Raiz
  6. Joyce Moreno – Tamba from Raiz
  7. Joyce Moreno – Ceu E Mar from Raiz
  8. Pavel Morochovik Trio – Renaissance III – Paradise from Awakening


Playlist – 04 February 2015: a Brazilian rare groove classic

Click the MixCloud tab this week to hear two jazz contributions from Scotland; the wonderful trumpeter Colin Steele and a new sound from Circus FM with excellent vocalist Flora Munro.

From France, via Steve’s Jazz Sounds, came the excellent Florian Pellisier Quintet, sounding a bit like the Cosmic Jazz favourite Matthew Halsall and with an album called Biches Bleues. Where did they get that from I wonder? Also from Steve was another excellent, contemporary-sounding trio led by Michal Tokaj.

If there is one tune this programme that you must have it is Aldeia de Ogum  from Brazilian singer/musician and songwriter Joyce.  When I first heard this I went searching in a London record shop and paid a lot of money for a vinyl copy of the album Feminina. The whole album is much treasured but this tune is simply sublime and is now available on CD compilations.

I heard Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics recently and realised that, quite wrongly, I had neglected their album. It is simply deep, engrossing and captivating music. As is Sun Ra whose selection was inspired by the reference to ‘space’ in Jarrod Lawson’s Music and its Magical Way. Come to think of it, Sun Ra might have liked that title too!  Jarrod Lawson straddles soul/R’n’B/gospel/jazz and he is a quality act.

I am not forgetting Carmen Lundy and Esperanza Spalding, but if you follow Cosmic Jazz you will know all about them.

joyce femininaNeil notes: Ah – Joyce and Feminina! When Derek and I first met, we discovered (at least) two specific shared musical experiences. The first was the rare appearance of Fela Kuti in a freezing Brixton venue in the 1983 for an epic concert featuring both a tongue-slashing witch doctor and guest appearances from 24 of his recently married wives. The second was the event referred to above – a specific visit in 1989 to Mr Bongo’s basement record shop in Berwick Street, Soho to get one of the few UK copies of Joyce’s seminal Feminina album – on vinyl of course. Prior to this, rare Brazilian originals were changing hands for well over £100.  Aldeia de Ogum is well chosen: this was the track that would pack the dancefloor at Dingwalls in Camden Town when young DJ Gilles Peterson was on the decks.

Over a forty year recording career, Joyce’s music has spannedjoyce essential musical and cultural divides, from 60s psychedelia to Brazilian dance floor jazz and Joni Mitchell style folk through to anti-government revolutionary political songs. Brazil’s 1970s military dictatorship persecuted many artists, and ensured that their music was censored and often banned. A few years ago, Mr Bongo released The Essential Joyce 1970-1996, currently the only available survey of her full musical career. It’s highly recommended as an overview, but for the real deal buy a CD or vinyl reissue of Feminina, first released in 1980 and revel in the magic of Joyce’s music.

  1. Florian Pellisier Quintet – Valse Pour Helene from Biches Bleues
  2. Michal Tokaj Trio – The Sign from The Sign
  3. Jarrod Lawson – Music and its Magical Way from Jarrod Lawson
  4. Sun Ra – Kingdom of Not from Space Odyssey
  5. Carmen Lundy – Sandegna  from Soul to Soul
  6. Joyce – Aldeia de Ogum from Feminina
  7. Circus FM – It’s All Good from Circus FM EP
  8. Esperanza Spalding – Black Gold from Radio Music Society
  9. Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics – Anglo-Ethio Suite  from Inspiration Information
  10. Colin Steele – The Journey Home from The Journey Home

Playlist – 21 January 2015: Neil’s choice

In the studio this week was Neil: back from Beijing for a short visit, it was time for him to head to the decks and record a live show. The music focused on new albums and reissues from 2014 – along with an extra or two. We bookended the show with a couple of tracks from rising star Taylor McFerrin’s first release, Early Riser. taylor mcferrinTaylor is son of jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin and knowing that the album is on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label tells you quickly that this is not a case of ‘like father, like son’. Robert Glasper and bassist Thundercat are some of the big names supporting multi-instrumentalist McFerrin to create music that moves fluidly between soul, electronica and jazz.

Next up was another new release – this time from American pianist Jason Moran whose recent concerts featured a papier mache head of his most recent inspiration, Fats Waller. The track also featured vocals – this time from bassist Meshell Ndegeocello. Following this was more evidence that the boundary between electronica and jazz continues to blur, with both Black Top and what might be called the Wesseltoft Trio using sonic manipulation to creative effect.

sun ra in the orbit of raFollowing the 100th anniversary of his birth, interest in the original jazz space cadet Sun Ra has never been greater. Reissues of his albums (even the most obscure ones) continues apace but we featured a track from one of the best introductions to his work that you could possibly wish for. Strut Records was definitely one of the labels of 2014 and their 2CD compilation of Ra’s work (In the Orbit of Ra) was compiled by long serving Ra sideman Marshall Allen. Angels and Demons at Play is a typically glorious, brassy romp that’s impossible not to like.

We followed with a great reissue from drummer Horacee Arnold who recorded in the 1970s with a host of big names across two great albums, Tales of the Exonerated Flea and Tribe, both now available on a double album reissue. You might not have heard of Arnold, but you’ll know many of the great names on these two albums. Arnold’s vision was a wide-ranging one and he recruited players from all over the jazz world – bassist George Mraz, flautist Art Webb, saxophonist Sonny Fortune, percussionist Dom Um Romao, and from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, bassist Rick Laird and and keyboard player Jan Hammer. As if this wasn’t enough, Arnold was even able to access two great guitarists who continue to form the backbone of many an ECM release – Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie. The end result is one of the most fascinating, soulful and truly successful albums of the entire jazz rock genre. The album never drops into predictable jazz rock tropes and every track offers a genuine fusion of new rhythmic, melodic and harmonic concepts. This is an album to chase up and enjoy. The funky Latin groove of Benzele Windows is a good example with intricate, modal solos by Webb, Fortune and Abercrombie.

john coltrane offeringTalking of reissues, one of the best of 2014 was John Coltrane’s Offering: Live at Temple University. Much has been written about this double CD album, recorded just eight months before Coltrane’s early death from liver cancer. in 1966 ‘trane’s gig at Temple University was recorded by the university’s radio station but has only been heard in partial, poor-quality bootlegs until this year, when it was polished up and issued for this set. The music on Offering shifts between standard ideas of jazz and noise music, regularly tipping over from chords and melody and harmony into the realm of pure sound. On this night in Philadelphia, Coltrane threw in everything – a couple of extra saxophone players he knew from the area as well as Umar Ali, Algie DeWitt, and Robert Kenyatta on percussion. We don’t hear much of them because the whole thing was recorded through one microphone. The focus is clearly on the leader, but there’s no need to worry about the pressure as Coltrane is on fire –  his playing (and vocalising) makes this record a must.

After the edge of the universe playing on his Live in Japan set (also recorded in 1966), Coltrane seems to return to Earth on Offering.  He starts with the ever-beautiful Naima, roughs it up with Crescent, and tunes in to Rashid Ali’s intense drumming on Leo. But then, halfway through this last track, we hear something unique in all of Coltrane’s extended, various output.  He sets aside his horn and starts to vocalise, singing phrases while beating on his chest to give his vocals an effect something like vibrato. The audience (or more accurately those that were left) must have been mesmerised, perhaps recognising that Coltrane had reached a point where his instrument just couldn’t convey the feelings he had locked inside.

From the intensity of this track we moved to a brief taste of one of the most joyous of returns to form from octogenarian pianist Ahmad ahmad jamalJamal, recorded live in Paris. The package comes as a double CD with DVD and it’s great value. In the second half of the concert,  Jamal brings out special guest Yusef Lateef who was to die at the age of 93 soon after recording. The whole concert is a glorious demonstration that age is no barrier to being cool. There was more Lateef towards the end of the show with an early classic from the beginning of his career.

There was also time to squeeze in a short piece by Alsace DJ and sampler Kira Neris in a track culled from the Japan-only version of his Behind Closed Doors album and a short taste of another great reissue from 2014 which showcases Keith Jarrett’s early American trio but the ‘meat’ of this musical sandwich was the astonishing michael wollnyMichael Wollny Trio. Jazzwise magazine had this release at the top of their Best of 2014 – and it’s easy to see why. Wollny’s vision is more eclectic than most and the influences on this classic piano, bass, drums combination are omnivorous. Wollny takes in the Flaming Lips, Varese, writer Fredrich Nietzsche and punky priestess P!ink amongst others. We ended the show with a drum workout from Pheeroan Ak Laff and another Taylor McFerrin track. In all, an eclectic mix but then – as Frank Zappa noted – “jazz isn’t dead – it just smells funny.”

  1. Taylor McFerrin – Invisible/Visible – Early Riser
  2. Jason Moran – Ain’t Misbehavin’ – All Rise
  3. Black Top – Archaic Nubian Stepdub – # One
  4. Wesseltoft, Schwarz, Berglund – Take a Quick Break – Trialogue
  5. Sun Ra – Angels and Demons at Play – In the Orbit of Ra
  6. Horacee Arnold – Benzele Windows – Tales of the Exonerated Flea
  7. John Coltrane – Offering – Offering: Live at Temple University
  8. Ahmad Jamal – Blue Moon (encore) – Live at the Olympia
  9. Kira Neris – My Room – Behind Closed Doors
  10. Michael Wollny Trio – God is  a DJ – Weltentraum
  11. Keith Jarrett Trio – Life, Dance – Hamburg ’72
  12. Heliocentrics – Prologue – The Last Transmission
  13. Pheeroan Ak Laff – Tzaddi Vau (part 1) – Black Fire! New Spirits!
  14. Yusef Lateef – Chang, Chang, Chang – Black Fire! New Spirits!
  15. Taylor McFerrin – Already There – Early Riser

Video this week comes from bassist Richard Bona and vocalist extraordinaire Bobby McFerrin. Enjoy!

Playlist – 02 November 2013

kev beadleListen to this week’s show – just press the arrow and go! Three of the best compilations of 2013 are represented here along with music from Brazilian Bruno E and more spiritual jazz-inflected rarities from drummer Roy Brooks and pianists Sun Ra and Randy Weston. Vocalist Stella Levitt recorded Note So High in France in 1991 with (husband?) Al Levitt on drums. The rest of this excellent Heavenly Sweetness compilation is of the same high standard.

Roy Brooks played with many leading jazz artists – beginning with Horace Silver and including Pharoah Sanders, Blue Mitchell, Max Roach, Abdullah Ibrahim and Dexter Gordon. He suffered mental health issues for much of his life and was not very active towards the end of his career, but you can still check out his work on several albums with the artists listed above – including Silver’s classic Songs for My Father. Ethnic Expressions was reissued through the always reliable UK Jazzman label in 2010. Also look out for the album Roy Brooks and the Improvisational Sphere (released on the Sagittarius A-Star label out of Italy). It features Amina Claudine Myers on keyboards and Ray Mantilla on percussion.

Sun Ra here is featured in his barrelhouse boogie woogie style, with its usual left field tanjahtendencies. The handclaps and horn phrases are irresistible! Randy Weston is very much a jazz pioneer who decamped to Morocco as early as 1967.The horns and piano sound on Tanjah do in fact recall Sun Ra and the feelgood factor in the studio is high. Ahmed Abdul Malik introduces some north African funky oud into the track and Weston is as percussive as usual on the keys. This is a CJ recommended release – available on Verve but an expensive purchase on CD these days.

  1. Kamal Abdul Alim – Brotherhood from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection
  2. Azar Lawrence – Novo Ono from BGP presents Jazz Funk
  3. Stella Levitt – Note So High from Freedom Jazz France
  4. Bruno E – Carino (For Patricia) from Lovely Arthur
  5. Roy Brooks & the Artistic Truth – Eboness & Eboness Kwanza from Ethnic Expressions
  6. Sun Ra  – Kingdom Of Not from Space Odyssey
  7. Randy Weston – Tanjah from Tanjah

Playlist – 23 May 2013

Tonight’s show included Take Three, a new feature where I play three tracks from a inner urge coverfeatured jazz artist. We started with one of the top Cosmic Jazz favourites – the wonderful Joe Henderson. From 1963 to 1968, Henderson appeared on nearly thirty albums for Blue Note, including five released under his name. Landmark albums he appeared on for the label include Horace Silver’s swinging and soulful Song for My Father, Herbie Hancock’s dark and densely orchestrated The Prisoner, Lee Morgan’s hit album The Sidewinder and tougher, more ‘out there’ albums with pianist Andrew Hill and drummer Pete La Roca. El Barrio is one of the best cuts from Inner Urge, one of Henderson’s best Blue Note albums – and the picture here is of an original 1965 LP cover (in mono too!). This is dark and intense music and yet much of it (including our choice) is accessible. The All Music guide review concluded perhaps the best Henderson recorded in his long and illustrious career, and stands easily alongside the best records of the era. The review site All about Jazz goes further: I consider it not only one of the best dozen Blue Note sessions ever released, I hear it as one of the major statements of jazz in the ’60s, actually recreating the political, economic, and social realities of the turbulent times more precisely than most recorded music of the ’60s in any style. An absolutely essential listen and a major masterpiece. So, at CJ we simply recommend that you go out and buy the album – we guarantee you will not be disappointed.

There was also a track in tribute to Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks who died at the beginning of May. Neil notes: Brooks was a Jamaican saxophonist and flautist whose jazz-influenced style graced many Studio One albums. Brooks was an old boy of the Alpha School in Kingston, Jamaica, alongside alumni like Don Drummond, Johnny Moore and Tommy McCook of The Cedric Im BrooksSkatalites and jazzmen Joe Harriott and Harold McNair, His own musical horizons – especially as far as jazz was concerned – were increasingly distant from restrictive commercial contexts and he eagerly accepted an invitation to visit a friend in the U.S. In Philadelphia, Brooks was awe-struck by the music and vibes of Sun Ra’s Arkestra. He was on the point of joining the commune when the birth of his second daughter necessitated his return to Jamaica. Though rocksteady the sound of the moment on the island, Brooks took up Ra’s challenge by starting The Mystics, to experiment with free jazz and poetry, African robes and dancers. During this period, Brooks’ long association with Studio One produced several hit singles before he set up The Light of Saba, a group that would go deep into aspects of African drumming. Taking leads from Hugh Masekela and Fela Kuti, the recordings of Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks and The Light of Saba delineated world music way ahead of its time. The band showcased a blend of African and US, Cuban and other West Indian influences – calypso and funk, rumba and bebop, nyabinghi and disco – all filtered through a reggae grounding. The 2009 Honest Jon compilation The Magical Light of Saba is the best place to start.

CJ followed this with two tracks by artists who were undoubtedly influences on Brooks – the aforementioned Sun Ra and another CJ favourite, Pharoah Sanders’ classic Astral Travelling.

  1. Byron Morris and Unity – Sun Shower from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection
  2. V.S. Quartet – A Pou Zot from Freedom Jazz France
  3. Cedric Brooks – Ethiopia from Studio One Rockers
  4. Sun Ra – Ancient Aiethiopia from Sun Ra: A Space Odyssey
  5. Pharaoh Sanders – Astral Travelling from Thembi
  6. Joe Henderson – El Barrio from Inner Urge
  7. Joe Henderson – Canyon Lady from Canyon Lady
  8. Joe Henderson – Johnny Come Lately from Lush Life
  9. Jorge Ben – Lalari from Gilles Peterson Back In Brazil
  10. Jorge Ben and Toqinho – Carolina Carol Bela from Brazilian Beats 1
  11. Coherence Quartet – 530 from Coherence
  12. Fredrik Kronkvist Sextet – Close Race from Improvised Action

Video this week comes from the one and only Pharoah Sanders, here performing live at The Jazz Cafe in London in 2011.



Playlist – 09 May 2013

They have been rare occasions of late but tonight was a solo show from Derek. There were French and Finnish connections.

  1. Timo Lassy – Teddy The Sweeper from In With Lassy
  2. Johnny Walker – Dipping from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection
  3. Francois Tusques – Le Musichien from Freedom Jazz France
  4. John Coltrane – Alabama from In A Soulful Mood
  5. Gregory Porter – Illusion from Water
  6. Caribbean Jazz Project – Turnabout from Birds Of A Feather
  7. Yusef Lateef – Blues For The Orient from Eastern Sounds
  8. Sun Ra – India from A Space Odyssey
  9. Jose James – Do You Feel from No Beginning No End
  10. Cassandra Wilson – You Don’t Know What Love Is from Blue Light Till Dawn
  11. The Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Sailin’ from Shades Of Blue
  12. Azar Lawrence – Novo Ano from BGP presents Jazz Funk