Cosmic Jazz Club – the show goes live!

We’ve played live before but now Cosmic Jazz will be playing out every month at Zing Wine Bar in Ipswich. On the last Sunday in each month Cosmic Jazz Club will be playing a mix of at jazz, Brazilian, soul, reggae and more at this great wine bar in Tacket Street. The music will be hot, the drinks cool and the atmosphere electric!

We start on 31 May and then every last Sunday over June, July, August – and beyond. We’ll be on the decks from around 7pm each night and playing a full four hour set. Come and join us! For more details contact Zing on 01473 280000. You can find Zing at 10 Tacket Street, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1AY.

Ornette to curate Meltdown!

ornettecoleman01

Yes, Ornette Coleman is to curate this year’s Southbank Meltdown Festival. The Pulitzer Prize winning radical is the first jazz artist to be given this honour – previous curators include David Bowie, Jarvis Cocker and Massive Attack. Although there’s no indication yet of the artists that willl be appearing at the Festival which runs from 13-21 June, Coleman is likely to involve some of the performers who have championed his unique approach to improvising. These might include new jazz bands like Led Bib and Fraud as well as established jazzers like John Zorn, whose album Spy vs Spy featured very individual approaches to Coleman’s compositions.

Coleman himself will perform two concerts as part of Meltdown, one inspired by his ground-breaking 1959 release The Shape of Jazz to Come and the other by the equally radical This is Our Music. Here on Cosmic Jazz we will feature Coleman’s music over the next couple of months. If you’ve any favourites you’d like to hear just let us know.

There has already been a lot of interest in Meltdown as a result of Coleman’s involvement, with features in national newspapers. This can only be good for contemporary jazz. We’ll continue to promote the event, but for more details call 0871 663 2520 or check out www.southbankcentre.co.uk/meltdown.

Latest news – first names announced!

The Meltdown lineup is taking shape. The first artists to be announced include The Roots, David Murray and the Gwo-Ka Masters with Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Baaba Maal, Bobby McFerrin and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra with Carla Bley and Robert Wyatt. Coleman himself with play with Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka in two oncerts dedicated to the music of classic albums The Shape of Jazz to Come and This is Our Music. Any of these concerts will inspire and challenge and we shall feature music from as many of these artists as we can in coming months.

Playlist – 30th April 2009

As promised, a special show this week with tracks exclusively from Japanese artists. With two special Japanese guests in the studio – Tomohisa and Mao – and a love of Japanese jazz we just had to focus on the great music that has come out of these islands over the last few years. We began with the relatively unknown Japanese band Aurora. We don’t know much about them but thery are easily confused with the other eighteen bands around the world that share this name…

This was followed by a Monday Michiru vocal cut from Nation of Multiverse, the classic Hunt Up Wind from the days of the Mastercuts albums and a longtime favourite from the United Future Organisation who did much to promote the Tokyo club jazz scene worldwide. We had to include tracks from Sleep Walker, Soil and “Pimp” Sessions and Quasimode – probably the most popular nu-jazz bands in Japan at the moment – and we also featured an old favourite, one of the many versions of Watarase recorded by Fumio Itabahsi.

We hope that you enjoyed this special show. If you did, let us know.

1. Aurora – Nacel de Sol
2. Nation of Multiverse – Butterfly (feat. Monday Michiru)
3. Hiroshi Fukamura with Sadao Watanabe – Hunt Up Wind
4. United Future Organization – Loud Minority (radio mix)
5. Sleep Walker – Brotherhood
6. Boy Ken – That’s the Jail
7. Kiyoshi Yamaya – Osorezan
8. Fumio Itabashi – Watarase
9. Mondo Grosso – Star Suite III. North Star
10. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – A Wheel Within a Wheel
11. Sunaga t Experience – High at “NOON”
12. Makoto – Spangle
13. Quasimode – The Land of Freedom (live)
14. What’s Up? – Telemundo
15. DJ Mitsu The Beats – Spireedom 2004
16. Gagle – Eastern Voyage
17. United Future Organization – United Future Airlines
18. Jabberloop – With All My Love

Playlist – 23 April 2009

Ahhh! Sometimes it all comes together in the studio to make a great show… Maybe it’s time to let you know how Derek and I structure Cosmic Jazz. Well, we each bring a big bunch of CDs and vinyl into the studio each week – new releases, old classics and obscure rarities – and then we generally play alternate tracks. Sometimes we’ll create a special mix but most of the time we try to complement the previous track – usually by mood and atmosphere but sometimes by artist, genre or just idea.

Then comes the moment we’ll want to change the mood or groove but still retain a feel of cohesion. This is where knowing each other’s musical ideas is important. We’ve been playing music together now for over ten years, so we’ve got to know how to make it work for us and – we hope – for you listening to the show. Tonight worked – but tell us what you think by sending us a message here on the blog.

This week jazz rubbed shoulders with rap, soul and funk as we featured another track from the recent Blue Note album which celebrates 70 years of the labels’s history with tracks performed by current stars, a rather forgotten classic vocal track from Herbie Hancock’s Future 2 Future CD, pianist Jessica William’s elegaic take on of Billy Cobham’sa Heather and a rap classic from The Pharcyde celebrating the production magic of the late J Dilla (one of Tom’s favourites – and thanks for calling in!). To that we added Roy Ayers at his most modal, something rare from 80s British outfit Izit – which featured one of our favourite British artists Byron Wallen on trumpet – and great new jazz from John Law and Ravi Coltrane. It all fits into the world of Cosmic Jazz . Listen again next week for more great music.

And next week don’t miss our Japanese jazz special! Every track played will be from Japan and we’ll have Japanese guests in the studio. It’s going to be a very special atmosphere so join us. We’ll welcome your calls, texts or emails -check out the ICR site for more details on how to get in touch with us.

1. Blue Note 7 – Inner Urge
2. Herbie Hancock – Be Still
3. Gil Scott Heron – I Think I’ll Call It Morning
5. Roy Ayers – The Ringer
6. Lee Morgan – Exotique
7. Jessica Williams – Heather
8. Clifford Jordan – John Coltrane
9. The Pharcyde – Runnin’
10. Izit – Make Way for the Originals
11. Billy Paul – East
12. Nicola Conte – Black is the Graceful Veil
13. Brad Meldau – I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
14. Sahib Shihab – Om Mani Padme Hum
15. John Law Trio – white label
16. Pharoah Sanders – Thembi
17. Oumou Sangare – Iyo Djeli
18. Ravi Coltrane – Angular Realms
19. Tomasz Stanko Quartet – Suspended Variations II

Playlist – 16th April 2009

More eclectic music from Cosmic Jazz this week including the little-heard Odean Pope in a tribute to another less well known saxophonist Prince Lasha. Pope founded his Saxophone Choir in 1977 – nine saxes and a rhythm section – and they were still blowing strong when this track (featuring some blistering solo work from Michael Brecker) was recorded a few years ago. It’s a tribute to Lasha who died in December last year. Born William Lawsha, he was part of the burgeoning free jazz movement which developed around Fort Worth in Texas and in which Ornette Coleman, Dewey Redman, Ronald Shannon Jackson and John Carter were key players. We’ll play more music with a Forth Worth connection in coming shows.

We also played a great track from Bobby Hutcherson from his recently reissued Head On album on Blue Note, another great track from Jamaican saxophonist Cedric Im Brooks and the lengthy Spanish Gypsy , a classic groove from trumpeter Luis Gasca which features Carlos Santana on guitar and Joe Henderson on tenor. You can find out more about this track on the always informative Breath of Life blog – check out the link in Cosmic Jazz and search for Spanish Gypsy.

Brazilian vocalist Joyce has a new CD out on Far Out Records next week but – until we get a copy of that to play you – we made do with another reminder: this time of Joyce’s classic Feminina album released in Brazil in 1980 and the subject of two independent trips by Derek and Neil (before we knew each other!) to Mr Bongo Records in London to pick up our import copies for £20… We were also reminded of how good a saxophonist the British artist Steve Williamson is. We’ve heard little from him in recent years and (as far as we know) he’s released only three albums in a career that stretches back to his first release in 1989 from which we played the title track A Waltz for Grace.

1. 4 Hero – Conceptions
2. the Blue Note 7 – Mosaic
3. Wes Montgomery – No Blues
4. Sounds of the Unexpected – Papa K-tema
5. Bobby Hutcherson – Hey Harold
6. Steve Williamson – Waltz for Grace
7. Herbie Hancock – The Trailor
8. Joyce – Da Cor Brasileira
9. Cedric Im Brooks – Blackness of Darkness
10. Luis Gasca – Spanish Gypsy
11. Lee Morgan – Sonic Boom
12. Odean Pope Saxophone Choir (feat. Michael Brecker) – Prince Lasha
13. Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Dog Eat Dog
14. Tim Collinson – Little Sunflower
15. Quasimode – Ipe Amarelo
16. Lafayette Afro Rock Band – Hihache

Greetings cards featuring jazz musicians

If you have been to a local jazz or ‘world music’ event and seen someone up the front drawing one of the musicians it was probably Jules. She loves the music and you can see this in the lively and expressive drawings which have emerged. The good news is that 13 of these drawings are now available as greetings cards. The drawings include La Cucina on the double bass, Bruno Piccinu on percussion, Pete Judge on trumpet and Pa Boro on kora and more besides. If you want to get hold of copies, e-mail Jules on: jules@shindig.fsworld.co.uk

Jules is one of the latest jazz enthusiasts to join the Cosmic Jazz radio community & she will be coming along to the ICR studio on 25 June 2009 from 8.00 – 10.00 pm to share some of her favourite jazz tunes with us.

Playlist – 9th April 2009

What’s so good about playing music on Cosmic Jazz each week is that we get to hear so much new stuff. Right now, there’s a buzz around Andy Sheppard’s new album – and it’s justified. His playing is confident and assured throughout; the grooves are relaxed but compact and the ECM sound (it’s his first on the label) is as pristine as always. Sheppard is joined by bassist Arild Andersen, guitarists Eivind Aarset and John Parricelli (two very different styles) and percussionist Kuljit Bhamra and he’s touring the album right now. We’ll be playing more from Movements in Colour over coming weeks.

It’s a similar story with Ravi Coltrane’s new CD – this confident music that shows just how much Coltrane has emerged from his father’s long shadow. Meanwhile, Jon Hassell’s new CD (also for ECM) breaks no new ground but is another characteristic distillation of wispy trumpet sounds with subtlely changing electonic treatments in the background.

Also on tonight’s show was an drum and bass influenced interpretation of Ornette Coleman’s classic Lonely Woman from Joshua Redman, more from percussionist Manny Oquendo and Gil Scott-Heron and a quirky rendition of Neal Hefti’s Batman theme from the irrepressible Sun Ra.

Neil tried being Robert Glasper as he mixed the original Maiden Voyage with Brad Meldau’s take on Radiohead’s Everything in its Right Place and Derek showed how cool Japanese band What’s Up? really are with a great track that belied its title.

More new music next week. Listen in to Cosmic Jazz every Thursday from 20.00 – 22.00hrs UK time.

1. Skream – Sub Island
2. Joshua Redman’s Elastic Band – Lonely Woman
3. Dee Dee Bridgewater – Children Go Round
4. African Dub – Midnight Movie
5. Ravi Coltrane – Coincide
6. Andy Sheppard – Bing
7. Manny Oquendo and Libre – Alabanciosa
8. Corey Wilkes – Drop It
9. Terence Blanchard /Donald Harrison – Are You Sleeping?
10. Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage/Brad Meldau – Everything in its Right Place
11. Lee Morgan – Fathead
12. Sun Ra – Batman theme
13. Quasimode (feat. Valerie Etienne) – Little B’s Poem
14. Tanya Winley – Vicious Rap
15. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson – Peace Go With You Brother
16. Beat Out Shrine – Pinkie
17. John Coltrane – Inchworm
18. Marcos Valle – Escape
19. What’s Up? – That’s Not Cool At All
20. Jon Hassell – Time and Place

Playlist – 2nd April 2009

The programme began today with a tribute to the timbales player Manny Oquendo who died on 26 March 2009. Born in New York, Manny was for many years a prominent figure among the Latin musicians in the city. Like so many of these musicians he crossed the boundaries between Latin music and jazz. We will play more.

Our guest this week was Des Hart from the newly formed Ipswich Jazz Collective. We’ve put a link to their website on this blog. Des is a bass player and his choices reflected that – Kyle Eastwood (yes, he is the son of Clint) and his favourite Stanley Clarke. He also showed an inclination for 70s British/French jazz with a track from on an album which featured erstwhile Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, currently a Suffolk resident. Was this the route from rock which led Des to jazz? We think so…

Neil has a keen eye for important birthdays and played a birthday tribute to that soul/jazz great and founder of hip hop (?) Gil Scott-Heron, who once performed at Ipswich Corn Exchange to a sparse crowd. He’s been battling a cocaine addiction in recent years, but his last album Spirits (released in 1994) was a fine achievement. We’ve played the magnificent title track several times on the show – it’s a real reminder of how good Scott-Heron can be.

Breaking news! Cosmic Jazz will soon be going live again. Beginning on the 31 May 2009 the Cosmic Jazz Club will be playing out at Zing Wine Bar, Tacket Street, Ipswich starting at 20.00hrs. Entry is free and there’s even talk of a special cosmic cocktail to celebrate the event! The music will be our usual eclectic mix – but with a dance twist. Cosmic Jazz Club will then be live on the last Sunday of every month.

Alan Bramwell has started a new series called Jazz Greats broadcast on ICR from 17.00 – 18.00 hrs every Monday. It’s essential listening!!!

1. Manny Oquendo & Libre – Mejor Que Nunca: Salsa Jam
2. Herbie Hancock – Spank-a-Lee (live)
3. A Tribe called Quest – Jazz (We’ve Got It)
4. Protect the Beat – Intrepid
5. Sounds of the Unexpected – Elektrosjokkterapi
6. Tord Gustavsen Trio – Being There
7. Finn Peters – Atlas
8. Gong – Golden Dilemma
9. Rudresh Mahanthappa – The Preserver
10. Joe Zawinul & the Zawinul Syndicate – East 12th Street Band
11. Pharoah Sanders – Lonnie’s Lament
12. Kyle Eastwood – How Y’all Doin’
13. Quasimode – Down in the Village
14. Tim Garland Trio – Blue in Green (live)
15. Stanley Clarke – Indigo
16. Soil & Pimp Sessions – A I E
17. Pandora – Meheeco
18. Gil Scott Heron – Washington DC

Playlist – 26th March 2009

Due to illness this was a solo show from Derek. There were requests from two students that Neil had been working with that day – one for Fela Kuti and one for some dub – hence Water No Get Enemy and the African Dub track. Keep listening Dami and Jugdeep – and spread the word!

I was pleased, in particular, to play something by Sounds of the Unexpected, a Norwegian group that includes an ex-Brighton resident Tim Lowerin on saxophone. We have received a copy of their CD and like it very much. They describe themselves as a jazz group with a poignant sense of melody, mixing up a wide range of styles in the process – folk, Balkan, ska, flamenco and more. Check them on myspace: www.myspace.com/sounds of the unexpected.

There was a taster for the BBC 4 programme on jazz records made in 1959 with tracks by Dave Brubeck and Charles Mingus. Friday nights looks like being a jazz night on BBC4 for the forseeable future – coming up on Friday 03 April is Cool – an exploration of how American jazz culture spread round the world following release of that Miles Davis early classic album Birth of the Cool. I was also pleased to include a tune from the highly recommended new Ravi Coltrane album In Flux and some established favourites like Jose James, Wayne Shorter and Andrew Hill.

Des from the Ipswich Jazz Collective will share records with us on the next programme – 02 April – and listen out for Jazz Greats, a new show on ICR presented by Alan Bramwell from 17.00 – 18.00 hrs on Monday nights. Next week sees the birthdays of Gil Scott Heron and Herbie Hancock so catch some of their great music on the show.

1. Michael Brecker – Two Steps from the Edge
2. John Coltrane – AfroBlue
3. Wayne Shorter – Angola
4. Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Water No Get Enemy
5. Jose James – The Dreamer
6. African Dub – Lovers Serenade
7. What’s Up – That’s Not Cool at All
8. Sounds of the Unexpected – Her kommer superegoene
9. Ravi Coltrane – For Zoe
10. Dave Brubeck – Take Five
11. Roberto Roena – Take Five (Nicola Conte remix)
12. Charles Mingus – Slop
13. Andrew Hill – Compulsion
14. Indigo Jam Unit – Be
15. Russell Gunn – Del Rio (aka Anita)
16. Jarzinho Oliveira – Falso Amor

Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA at the Barbican, London 10 March 2009

The sound of the universe where space really is the place.

This was the night that the Barbican went truly cosmic and allowed the man from Saturn (or at least his newly appointed ambassador in the gap toothed shape of former Special Jerry Dammers) to visit some of his earthbound fans.

AliceColtrane01Dammers has been piloting his Spatial AKA Orchestra for a couple of years now but this was their major concert hall outing in London. Billed as Cosmic Engineering, the choice of music reflected Dammers’ interest in other ‘musical mavericks’ on the fringes of jazz – Sun Ra, Martin Denny, Alice Coltrane and ‘Sir’ Coxone Dodd were his unlikely partners in this journey through the spaceways.

To make this ambitious project happen, Dammers has chosen a big band lineup that’s conventional enough. Some of the leading players on the UK jazz scene have been brought together in a terrific frontline – Mercury nominee Zoe Rahman on Fender Rhodes and piano, Nat Facey (most recently with Empirical) on alto, Finn Peters on flute and Larry Stabbins, Denys Baptise and Jason Yarde on tenors. With the vocalists and percussionists this was a stage full – eighteen in total – and I wasn’t counting the various costumed mannequins less than artfully placed on the edges of the stage alongside Captain Scarlet’s spacecraft, African masks, a glitterball or two and assorted Arkana. Add to this a back projection screen which featured cheesy 1950s space travel images alongside rare footage of Sun Ra, Marshall Allen and others dancing around the Pyramids and the scene really was set.

As Dammers positioned himself in front of a bank of 1970s synthesizers – none of which did anything other than squawk and rumble – the band walked onstage through the audience just like the real thing – space costumes and Pharonic headdresses, flowing robes and painted masks.

SunRaNothingIsAs perhaps one of the few people in the audience who saw the very last visit of Sun Ra to the UK – at the Brixton Fridge in November 1985 – this looked and felt much like the real thing. And the band were convincing too. There might not have been enough solos of the calibre of Sun Ra’s longtime sidemen but Facey’s long and impassioned outing on a deep and dark version of Where Pathways Meet was awesome. This was Pharoah Sanders with the volume set at 11.

Classic Sun Ra tunes predominated – but there was also space for a twisted version of Nelson Riddle’s Batman theme, Salah Rageb’s Egypt Strut and Moondog’s Bird’s Lament. Throw in a couple of Alice Coltrane classics (including the hypnotic Journey in Satchidananda) and some Cedric Im Brooks and you have a mix made in – well – Saturn, I guess. Remarkably, it all came together: the band were authentically ragged in places, the sound mix was muddy and the graphics primitive but the experience was total. To mix the Specials’ Ghost Town with Ra’s Nuclear War was inspired and Alice Coltrane’s Armageddon managed to be both chilling and celebratory.

Dammers explicitly linked the Sun Ra cosmic sound to the deep jazzy grooves of Jamaican saxophonist Cedric Im Brooks (who always acknowledged his debt to Ra), the Cairo Jazz Band of Salah Rageb (who once dedicated a song to Ra) and Coxone Dodd (whose Studio One sound had Leroy Sibbles’ locked in basslines not a million miles away from the cyclical bass figures of Ronnie Boykin, the Ra bass player). Dammers seemed to have achieved the impossible: bringing all this passionate, deep and spiritual music together into a holistic soup that simply worked.

This wasn’t music for everyone but if you were new to the Sun Ra experience it was as close to the real deal as anyone is likely to get following Ra’s departure back to Saturn in 1993. Ending with – of course – Space is the Place, this was a concert experience that few would forget – even if they tried to. As they walked out of the hall they were met with the horn section who had gone out as they came in and who now put a smile on everyone’s face as they carried on playing more choruses of what is probably now the Sun Ra theme tune – “space is the place, yes space is the place…”

Cosmic Jazz on Ipswich Online Radio