Playlist – 22nd January 2009

We really enjoyed this show and hope you did too. We started with Neil’s mix of Harold Budd and the original sources of his inspiration. Harold Budd is a Californian avant garde/ambient composer whose first recording Pavilion of Dreams (1978) featured the track Two Songs – an ambient vocal arrangements of two then contemporary jazz pieces – a track by Pharoah Sanders from his Impulse album Summun, Bukmun, Umyun (yes, that’s what it’s called!) and After the Rain by John Coltrane. We mixed Budd with the originals and listeners seemed to like it – thanks to Al who called in and emailed to tell us! The rest of the show was our typically eclectic mix of jazz and jazz inflected music, including Stevie Wonder’s classic Too High as well as brand new jazz from Big Bang, Yaw and Beat Out Shrine. All that and some great new jazz from Japan and a track each from Pass It On Dave Holland’s great album from last year and Q-Tip’s back on form first full release for nine years The Renaissance.

Cutting edge new music that defines our thinking about jazz.

1. Harold Budd – Two Songs (Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord/Butterfly Sunday)/Pharoah Sanders – Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord/John Coltrane – After the Rain
2. Afro Blues Quintet + One – Afro Rock
3. Hajime Yoshizawa – Yoake-Dawn
4. Stevie Wonder – Too High
5. Cassandra Wilson – Tupelo Honey
6. Tubby Hayes – Down in the Village (live)
7. Big Bang – Spiral Waltz (Indigo Jam Unit Remix)
8. Dave Holland Sextet – Equality
9. Yaw – Where Would You Be
10. The Soul Jazz Orchestra – Mista President
11. Amadou and Mariam – Magossa
12. Joe Henderson- Inner Urge
13. Roy Hargrove and the RH Factor – Pastor “T”
14. Beat Out Shrine – Pinkie
15. Azymuth – Sao Pedro (Roc Hunter remix)
16. Art Blakey – The Feast
17. Q-Tip – You

Cosmic Jazz Feature 5. Don Pullen

donpullenWe’ve had a Don Pullen track on our Youtube links before. This one featured the Afro-Brazilian Connection live at the Montreux Festival in 1993 playing a version of Indio Gitano which appeared on the Blue Note album Random Thoughts in 1990.

The band was put together shortly before Pullen died two years later from lymphoma. The Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam is father of rapper Akon. Saxophonist Carlos Ward and drummer Guilherme Franco have played with many great jazz musicians over the years from Don Cherry to Keith Jarrett.

Access that clip and just watch Pullen’s piano style – especially his right hand technique. Nobody else in jazz plays like this! Pullen will start a melodic run over very heavy chords, using his right hand to roll over the keys, creating a unique sound. His playing is always very precise – yet it has this freedom in style. For an avant garde pianist, this makes his playing very approachable to new listeners. I saw Pullen play in London on his last tour and the effect was mesmerising.

For more information, check out a full and accurate biography of Don Pullen here. Pullen was born in 1941 and grew up in Virginia. Like many jazz musicians of his era, he learned the piano at an early age, playing with the choir in his local church. His cousin was a professional jazz pianist. Pullen trained as a doctor but abandoned his studies to make a career in music. His first recordings in 1964 and 1965 were with the little known Giuseppi Logan but they show his unique technique already well formed. Update: Logan’s album has just been re-released and video footage of a homeless Logan playing in Tompkin Square Park in New York has recently surfaced on Youtube – check it out!

It was in this first group that Pullen encountered free drummer Milford Graves and subsequently, he and Graves formed a duo. Pullen began to play the Hammond organ to extend his opportunities for work, transferring elements of his individual piano style to the very different sound of the Hammond. During the remainder of the 1960s and early 1970s, he played with his own organ trio in clubs and bars, worked as self-taught arranger for record companies, and accompanied various singers including Arthur Prysock and Nina Simone.

Pullen often polarized critics and suffered from two undeserved allegations. The first – despite his grounding in the church and blues – was that he was purely a free player and thus unemployable in any other context, the second that he had been heavily influenced by Cecil Taylor or was a clone of Cecil Taylor, to whose playing Pullen’s own bore a superficial resemblance. Pullen always denied that he had any link with Cecil Taylor, stating that his own style had been developed in isolation before he ever heard of the other pianist. But this isn’t the issue. I’ve seen both players live and their approach to the instrument is only superficially linked. Taylor is an incomparable technician with a style that extends well beyond jazz and into the contemporary avant garde but while Pullen’s playing has a superficial similarity (big chords, aggressive runs and apparent atonality) his music is always grounded in the lyrical and his lines may often be spiky, but they’re always deeply melodic. Taylor would never release a piece of music called Ode to Life which is more Beethoven than Bartok.

In 1973 Pullen was introduced to bass player and celebrated bandleader Charlie Mingus. Being part of the Mingus group and appearing at many concerts and on three Mingus studio recordings in 1973 and 1974 gave great exposure to Pullen’s playing and helped to persuade audiences and critics that Pullen was not really a player in the free tradition.

Pullen had always played piano with bass and drums behind him, feeling more comfortable this way, but in early 1975 he was persuaded to play a solo concert in Toronto. There was now a growing awareness of Pullen’s abilities and with ex-Mingus bandmembers George Adams and Dannie Richmond he appeared on some Italian label recordings before being signed in to Atlantic in 1977. With Cameron Brown on bass, this quartet made a dozen recordings until the death of Dannie Richmond in early 1988. After signing with Blue Note, they consolidated their growing reputation in the US and Europe, with their music – usually original compositions by Pullen, Adams and Richmond – ranging from blues, through ballads, to post-bop and avant-garde. Later that year, Pullen went into the studio with Gary Peacock and Tony Williams to make his first trio album New Beginnings – the start of his final period of recording – and followed this with Random Thoughts, this time with James Genus on bass and Lewis Nash on drums.

In late 1990 Pullen added a new element to his playing and his music with the formation of his African Brazilian Connection which mixed African and latin rhythms with jazz. During the last few years of his life, Pullen toured with his trio, with his African Brazilian Connection, as a solo artist, and with groups led by others, making much fine music, but sadly not enough records.

In 1994 Pullen was diagnosed with the lymphoma which eventually ended his life the following year. Today, very little of Pullen’s music is currently available on CD so grab it when you can. You may be lucky enough to track down some vinyl too. As always, here on Cosmic Jazz we’ll always do our bit. Over the next three months we’ll feature Pullen in various combinations – from solo piano to quartet.

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Tune into Cosmic Jazz every Thursday between 8 and 10pm on www.icrfm.co.uk

Cosmic Jazz Feature 4. Jack deJohnette

deJohnetteDeJohnette is one of jazz’s most complete drummers. What’s so special about him? Let’s start with the number of people he has played with in his 40 year career – Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, John McLaughlin, David Murray, Lester Bowie, John Scofield and many more. Now add in his ability to combine free jazz styles with the deep groove of a complete funk drummer. Deepen the mix with his desire to experiment and yet maintain the tradition. Yes, deJohnette is a complete drummer – and he plays the piano and melodica too.

DeJohnette was born in Chicago in 1942. He first became known as a member of Charles Lloyd’s band. This A group featured Keith Jarrett on piano – a combination that was to surface again many years later in the Standards Trio. The drummer couldn’t have picked a moment to step into the limelight. In late 1966 the Charles Lloyd Quartet had played the Monterey Jazz Festival before going on to the Fillmore Auditorium in January of the following year. Fillmore was no ordinary date – the Quartet was opening for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and this was the start of Californian counter-culture. The Lloyd group had the distinction of recording the first ever live album at the Fillmore and this level of exposure was to change the way young audiences thought about jazz. Find out more about this period on the recently released double CD anthology Dream Weaver on Warner Jazz.

The live albums that emerged (predicatably called Love-In and Journey Within) were huge sellers and it wasn’t surprising that both deJohnette and Jarrett were to catch the eye of a jazz man famous for his talent spotting abilities. Miles Davis was on the cusp of a change in his sound. He made no secret of wanting to expand his musical palette and capture a new young market, and young guns like deJohnette and Jarrett were just what he needed. DeJohnette first appeared on Bitches Brew in 1970 – one of the most influential jazz albums ever released and he must certainly have been influenced by Davis’s recording practices. Calls to musicians would be made at very short notice and they would have very little or no idea what they were to record. Once in the studio, musicians were given just a few instructions – usually suggestions as to mood or tone. Davis liked to work this way; he thought it forced musicians to pay close attention to one another, to their own performances, or to Davis’s cues, which could change at any moment. DeJohnette must have been influenced by this freewheeling approach: he has continually sought new challenges in the music he has played, constantly creating new group combinations – from the jazz rock of Compost, the free blowing sounds of Special Edition and the timeless trio sounds of his work with Keith Jarrett and Gary Peacock in the Standards Trio. In his autobiography, Miles Davis said of deJohnette “he just gave me a deep groove that I love to play over.” For his own part, de Johnette has said:

“As a child, I listened to all kinds of music and I never put them into categories. I studied classical piano and listened to opera, country and western music, rhythm and blues, jazz, swing, whatever. To me it was all music and great. I’ve kept that integrated feeling about music, all types of music, and just carried it with me, and I’ve maintained that feeling in spite of this habitual attempt to try and keep people pinned down to a certain style.”

The diversity of deJohnette’s output since his time with Miles has been immense. He’s in demand as a special projects drummer, is the kitman of choice for many big names and he leads his own groups, many of which include the biggest names in jazz. Recently, deJohnette has even taken to making music as an aid to meditation. A couple of years ago, I saw him playing with a live group that accompanied the full length silent feature film about the world’s first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson.

So where to start with listening to this peerless drummer? Any choices will be personal but here’s a few places to begin – the track name is followed by the CD that you’ll find it on:

Charles Lloyd – Dream Weaver (The Charles Lloyd Anthology – Warner Jazz)
Miles Davis – Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (Bitches Brew – Columbia)
Jack deJohnette – India (Special Edition – ECM)
The Standards Trio – Autumn Leaves/Up for It (Up for It – ECM)

If you can’t get access to these tracks, don’t worry. We’ll be playing them on the show in coming weeks in the new year.

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Tune into Cosmic Jazz every Thursday between 8 and 10pm on www.icrfm.co.uk.

Playlist – 15th January 2009

1. Michel Petrucciani – Caravan (Matthew Herbert remix)
2. Mr Fingers – Can You Feel It?/Christian Prommer’s Drumlesson – Can You Feel It?
3. Dave Douglas – Ruckus
4. Bossa 3 – Nao Me Diga Adeus
5. Marilyn Mazur – Pathway/ Don Pullen – Jana’s Delight
6. Christopher Hollyday – Appointment in Ghana
7. Charles Lloyd – Dream Weaver Part 2. Dervish Dance
8. Joe Henderson – Felicidade
9. Kurt Elling – Nightmoves
10. Quasimode – Down in the Village (live)
11. Don Cherry – Universal Mother
12. Donald Byrd – Dixie Lee
13. The Detroit Experiment – Space Odyssey
14. Barcode Trio – Esbjorn
15. Art Farmer Quartet – Ad Infinitum
16. Grant Green – Hurts So Bad
17. Joe Lovano – Eternal Joy
18. Sleep Walker – The Southern Cross

Playlist – 8th January 2009

Our first lived show of the new year started with an hour long tribute to the great trumpeter Freddie Hubbard who died in December. We played music recorded under his own name but also tracks showing what a great sideman he was for big names such as Oliver Nelson (love that solo on Stolen Moments!) and Wayne Shorter. Hubbard recorded for Blue Note in the 60s – so don’t forget that you can hear more of his music at our Blue Note live DJ set at Saints in Ipswich on 04 February. There are more details in the news section in this blog.

After all that classic jazz we needed some new sounds – and what better than Christian Prommer’s jazz trio take on a great techno classic? It sounded great and led us into more left field music – nujazz, house and contemporary Japanese sounds.

We hope you like the mix – send us a comment with your thoughts.

1. Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage
2. Eric Dolphy – Gazzeloni
3. Oliver Nelson – Stolen Moments
4. Freddie Hubbard – Povo
5. Freddie Hubbard – Hub-Tones
6. Wayne Shorter – Angola
7. Bobby Hutcherson – Catta
8. Christian Prommer’s Drumlessons – Can You Feel It?
9. Nicola Conte – All Gone
10. Kurt Elling – I Like The Sunrise
11. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Red Clay
12. Flora Purim – Open Your Eyes You Can Fly
13. Roberto Roena – Take Five (Nicola Conte remix)
14. Makoto – Freedom Suite
15. George McCrae – I Got Lifted (Mischief Brew re-edit)
16. Quasimode – Giant Black Shadow
17. Donald Byrd – You and the Music

Cosmic Jazz goes live!

Yes – to celebrate Blue Note’s 70th birthday, Cosmic Jazz will be playing live.
On 04 February we will be DJing at Saints in Ipswich and playing a totally Blue Note set.
Expect old favourites and new remixes, together with lots of music that you might not have realised came from the Blue Note label.
The event starts at 8pm and costs just £5 with a tapas selection included.

Join us at Saints on St Peter’s Street, Ipswich for a special night of Blue Note music.

Saints – 01473 251438
1-3 St. Peters Street, Ipswich, IP1 1XB

Playlist – 1st January 2009

This programme included some tidying up from our Best of 2008 show, with records that inexplicably had been overlooked in that programme – for example Leucocyte – the last-ever album from EST following the death in 2008 of Esbjorn Svensson and the wonderfully relaxed and atmospheric album The Dreamer by José James. For most of the show, however, it was a New Year jazz party. At times, the outer limits of ‘jazz’ were reached but then that is what Cosmic Jazz does.

Listen to our first live show of 2009 when there will be a tribute to the great jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard who died on 29 December 2008. Keep in touch, also, to find out about our celebration of 70 years of Blue Note records at the Saints tapas bar in Ipswich.

1. José James – black eyed susan
2. Charles Lloyd – Booker’s Garden
3. Marcus Valle – Bar Ingles
4. Hector Lavoe (Louis Vega EOL remix) – Mi Gente
5. Sly Dunbar – River Niger
6. Miles Davis – Miles
7. Herbie Hancock – Blind Man, Blind Man
8. Ramsey Lewis – The “In” Crowd
9. Willis Jackson – Nuthern like Thuthern
10. Bobby Hutcherson (Kenny Dope remix) – La Malanga
11. Mr. Spock – Words and Poets
12. Crusho – Someone to Love
13. United Future Organisation – Moondance Chant feat. Abigail Grimsel
14. Marco di Marco – Take Off Nicola Cinte’s Campi’s Idea Version
15. Gerardo Frisina – Bluesanova
16. Makoto & Akra – Flying High
17. Marcelo D2 – Qua/E
18. African Jazz Pioneers – Nanto Sangoma
19. Lester Bowie – Rios Negros
20. Les McCann/Eddie Harris – Compared to What
21. EST – Premonition/Earth

Playlist – 25th December 2008

Cosmic Jazz does not go away for Christmas, although the show was pre-recorded.
There is plenty of sparkle as the show included some festive and celebratory tunes old and new. There was even a touch of Christmas jazz courtesy of a Verve album.

1. Jazz for Joy – Those Soulful Jingle Bells
2. Kenny Dorham – Mamacita
3. Harry Beckett – Fantastic Things
4. Tabu Ley with Afrisa International – Mongali
5. Nightmares on Wax – 195lbs
6. Luisito Quintero – Obagado, Obagado, Obagado, Abogodo, Abogodo, Abogodo
7. Luisito Quintero – Aquilas Coisas Todas
8. Hajime Yoshizawa – Waltz for Jason (re-edit of Banks of Four remix)
9. Charles Earland – Black Talk
10. Sidewinder – The Adventure
11. Hank Mobley – High Voltage
12. Gato Barbieri – Viva Emiliano Zapata
13. The Afro-Rican Ensemble – Tanga
14. Orlando Julius – Mapami
15. Nina Simone – Little Boy Blue
16. Kenny Garrett – Intro to Africa
17. Cannonball Adderley – Sticks
18. Jazztronik – Samurai
19. Joe Henderson – Blue Bossa
20. Val Bennett – Take Five
21. Marcia Arnold – Memory
22. Jazz for Joy – Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

Alan Bramwell on Blue Note

bluenoteI have a lot to thank Grant Green for.

As a fan of soul and funk music I have always loved the guitarist’s funkier sides for many years without knowing much about him or his story. But, after reading Richard Cook’s Blue Note Records- the Biography I now have a much fuller picture of the “Great Green” as I call him. I learned how Blue Note founder Alfred Lion had given the young Green an opportunity to lead his first debut session in November 1960 – but then rejected the session as unsatisfactory even though it included the pianist Wynton Kelly and drummer Philly Joe Jones. It would be left on the shelf gathering dust for forty years. By the time it was released in 2001, Green had recorded thirty solo albums for the label, was recognised as a genius and had been dead for over twenty years.

It was Grant Green’s story that was partly my inspiration for a series of radio shows currently being broadcast on Ipswich Community Radio (105.7FM and www.icrfm.co.uk) on Monday between 5-6pm. They tell the story of this much loved record label, started by two German immigrants (Alfred Lion and Max Margulis) which was to become one the greatest and most recognisable brands in musical history.

All that happened seventy years ago and in 2009 Blue Note will celebrate 70 years of inspirational jazz music. Today – after many transitions, trials and musical fashions – the label remains a powerful force in jazz.

Of course its roster of artists is very different. In Alfred Lion’s day you wouldn’t see a single vocalist but instead the instrumental talents of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Kenny Burrell and the ubiquitous Art Blakey‘s Messengers were at the heart of Blue Note.
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Today the label is home to the most diverse range of artists a label could have – from vocalist Norah Jones to hip hop producer Madlib. Hundreds of rap artists have sampled Blue Note grooves over recent years, giving the label a hip profile with a new younger generation.

Within months of its launch, in May 1939, an early flyer described Blue Note as “a musical and social manifestation”. And that’s the spirit that current Director Bruce Lundval has skilfully managed to maintain. Blue Note lives!

[Blue Note covers by Reid Miles – graphic artist]

Alan Bramwell

Tune into Cosmic Jazz every Thursday between 8 and 10pm on www.icrfm.co.uk

Playlist – 18th December 2008 – Best of 2008

Our first ever best of the year show with some great tracks from 2008.

We started with the new CD from Harry Beckett, produced by dub maestro Adrian Sherwood. This is a really contemporary sound for the great Barbadian/British trumpeter and worked well followed by Nigeria’s Seun Kuti and the Ethiopian dub of the Dub Colossus project, led by Nick Page. Derek and I have really enjoyed a couple of the cover mount CDs from Jazzwise magazine this year – vocalist Ruby Wood’s version of Coltrane’s Africa featured on the latest one and so it seemed appropriate to follow with a contemporary classic – Jack deJohnette’s unique take on ‘trane’s India from one of the many ECM Touchstone reissues which came out this year.

New music from rising stars like Arun Ghosh and Jamil Sheriff was matched by brilliant new material from Holland and Arve Henriksen but there just wasn’t time for all our favourites in this two hour special. So, there will be more in our first live show of 2009 – including EST’s amazing Leucocyte, the live CDs from Charles Lloyd and Kenny Garrett and the dubstep collection Steppa’s Delight.

Listen in on 08 January for great new music from 2008, and on New Year’s Day extend the party mood with a jazz dance special!

1. Harry Beckett – Ultimate Tribute
2. Seun Kuti – Mosquito Song
3. Dub Colossus – Azmari Dub
4. Ruby Wood – Africa
5. Jack deJohnette’s Special Edition – India
6. Arun Ghosh – Bondhu
7. Zoe and Idris Rahman – Sanctuary
8. Claudia and Brazilian Octopus – Gosto de Ser Como Sou
9. Arve Henriksen – Migration
10. Tabu Ley with Onaza – Likambo ya Mokanda
11. Sleep Walker – Brotherhood
12. Quasimode – Raw Cotton Field (live)
13. Joe Zawinul – Scarlet Woman (live)
14. Celestine Ukwu and his Philosophers National – Okwukwe Na Nchekwube
15. Dave Holland – Pass It On
16. Jamil Sheriff Octet – The Happy Ending
17. Dave Douglas – Tough (live)
18. Hajime Yoshizawa – Yoake -Dawn-

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