Tag Archives: Kenny Garrett

08 March 2017: featuring the Camilla George Quartet

We like to spread the word through Cosmic Jazz about interesting young musicians when they step forward. This week it was the turn of Camilla George and her Quartet with their album Isang. My own links to and interest in the island of Grenada encouraged me to take an interest in George as her late father was from there and her mother from Nigeria. She studied at Trinity College of Music, where Jean Toussaint was a tutor and then played with Courtney Pine’s Tomorrow’s Warriors big band.  George plays alto saxophone and identifies Kenny Garrett as an important influence, hence the later inclusion of one of his tunes. Most tracks on her album are self-penned and she plays the alto with a rich and distinctive tone. Check also the delicate keyboard work from Sarah Tandy.

The Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2017 from 12-28 May – as in previous years – features some star jazz artists. This year the festival may well have done better than ever. On Thursday 18 May the Brad Mehldau Trio will perform at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, so in recognition the show this week included a tune from their latest album Blues and Ballads. The wide exposure and popularity of the Trio makes it easy to be dismissive but just hear that piano playing; it commands the utmost respect. Mehldau is also known as a remarkably inventive solo performer too. Check out his take on Nick Drake’s River Man (which also features on a couple of Mehldau Trio releases too) and then listen to Drake’s stunning original here.  Another jazz great on the N&N festival programme is Dee Dee Bridgewater. The last time she featured on Cosmic Jazz was as a vocalist on the essential Frank Foster album The Loud Minority. The tune this week was from her own album Love and Peace, a tribute to Horace Silver. Many well-known Horace Silver tunes are on the album, including The Tokyo Blues which featured on this week’s show. She has a new album and that will be featured in her live set at the festival. Jazzwise is an essential UK-produced monthly jazz magazine. From time to time the magazine includes a CD. The March 2017 edition included a CD from Barry Guy on Intakt Records. A few months back there was a compilation of New Jazz from Luxembourg. Interesting, individual and challenging it is too. Check the two tunes played this week. At either end of the show there were Cosmic Jazz favourites. Brian Jackson and Gil Scott-Heron played an extended live cut of Home is Where the Hatred Is and Haitian pianist Andrew Hill gave us another example of his unique music – what a deep, spiritual and intense way to conclude the show.

  1. Brian Jackson/Gil Scott-Heron – Home Is Where the Hatred Is from It’s Your World
  2. Camilla George Quartet – Song For Reds from Isang
  3. Camilla George Quartet – Mama Wati Returns/Usoro from Isang
  4. Kenny Garrett – Calypso Chant from Do Your Dance
  5. Dee Dee Bridgewater – The Tokyo Blues from Love and Peace
  6. Brad Mehldau – Cheryl from Blues and Ballads
  7. Khalife Schumacher Tristano – Los Indignados from Jazzwise New Jazz from Luxembourg, originally Afrodiziak
  8. Jeff Herr Corporation – Funky Monkey from Jazzwise Luxembourg, originally Layer Cake
  9. Andrew Hill – Dedication from Point of Departure

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Derek is listening to:

  • Jane Bunnett & The Spirits of Havana – El Rio
  • Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions
  • Gato Barbieri – Carnavalito
  • Stanislas Slowinski Quintet – Lawina
  • Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life – Alive

Neil is listening to:

03 August 2016: breaking the boundaries with new jazz

Cover_KoutéJazz-350x350The show this week is all music from albums released either this year or last and includes tunes from two recently released compilations – one being yet another spiritual jazz collection which owes something to the lyrical vibe of Leon Thomas’s The Creator Has a Master Plan while the other is clearly a tropical first cousin of Lonnie Liston Smith’s Expansions.

a1323814670_16It’s great to see this music being reissued, but – remember – that not all of it belongs in the ‘long lost classic’ category… However, here at CJ our quality thresholds are set very high and we always sift out the best for our listeners. In the middle are two excellent tracks from Polish jazz musicians – as always, via the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

Next week – look forward to an all-Brazil celebration – and more extensive playlist notes…

  1. Kenny Garrett – Persian Steps from Do Your Dance
  2. Marcus Strickland feat Jean Baylor – Inevitable from Nihil Novi
  3. Ameen Saleem – Best Kept Secret from The Groove Lab
  4. Wojiech Majewski Quintet – Tjonk Blues from Remembrance
  5. Pavel Kaczmarczyk Audio Feeling Trio – Follow Me from Deconstruction
  6. Ed Motta – A Town in Flames from Perpetual Gateways
  7. Francisco – Wache from Koute Jazz
  8. Das Goldene Zeitalter – Don’t Give Up Your Smile from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz

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Neil is listening to:

27 July 2016: Marcus Strickland and more

manny oquendo and libreAt last you can hear the superb and uplifting Latin descarga from master percussionist Manny Oquendo and his band Libre in full on this week’s show – after a few failed attempts! Oquendo was one of the many top Latin musicians with a Puerto Rican heritage who were born in New York. The full range of his skills  are on full display on Major Que Nunca (Better Than Ever) and in the spirit of a descarga (Latin jam) the music is free, unpredictable and exhilarating.

Marcus Strickland is one of the current generation of US jazz artists who are crossing musical boundaries: think, for example, of Ameen Saleem and Theo Croker. His new record Nihil Novi may be marcus stricklandchallenging to many jazz fans but I rate it as an example of where contemporary jazz can and needs to go to reflect the interests of the players. Mirrors starts off sounding like a Tony Allen afrobeat piece and ends as pure jazz. Alive features R’n’B/soul artist Jean Baylor on vocals, the tune has an R ‘n’ B feel but also a jazz one too. This album deserves to be listened to. Musicians on it include Meshell N’degeocello on bass, drummer Charles Haynes and the ubiquitous (at least on Cosmic Jazz) trumpeter Keyon Harrold. N’deNihil Novigeocello has also produced the album – hear Strickland talking about the making of the album here. This is the world of contemporary jazz, with reference points that include R ‘n’ B, hip hop and electronica. There are top drawer guests too, most notably Robert Glasper and Chris Dave.

There was more of the Polish jazz available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds: with a new album from pianist Wojciech Majewski and his Quintet first up. It’s full of the atmospheric intensity we have come to expect from much contemporary Polish jazz. Then more from Piotr Wojtasik, the trumpeter who has been almost a permanent fixture on Cosmic Jazz in recent weeks – simply because he is that good. The tune begins with echoes of Coltrane’s version of The Inch Worm but soon moves into a free and exciting jazz mode.

We used to play music from the pianist Andrew Hill regularly on Cosmic Jazz. Somehow, he has slipped out of our playlists recently so it was time to change things. Hill was a Blue Note artist who recorded from 1963-70 with the label. His labyrinthine melodies and elastic sense of timing Point_of_Departuremark out a very distinctive style that was never like that instantly recognisable conventional Blue Note sound. Outside the free jazz camp, Hill pursued an individual furrow that’s well worth exploring. Point of Departure, Hill’s fourth album for the label, is a good place to start but we’d also recommend Black Fire and Smoke Stack. Here’s the title track from Black Fire. The line up on the Point of Departure track we chose (Spectrum) is phenomenal too – Hill on piano accompanied by  Kenny Dorham on trumpet, Eric Dolphy on alto, flute and clarinet, Joe Henderson on tenor, Richard Davis bass and Tony Williams on drums. In his later years, Hill recorded for the Italian Soul Note label – check out the Cam Jazz box set that features four of these excellent recordings.

kenny garrettWe followed with Philly from Kenny Garrett’s new album Do Your Dance – a tune that’s clearly a tribute to the eponymous Philadelphia dance music sound. The new album is very much in what we can call the Garrett tradition now: long snaking alto sax lines with that acidic tone that’s somewhere between the later Jackie McLean and David Sanborn and yet still utterly distinctive – and all wrapped in a dance-oriented framework that references swing, funk and latin.

florian pellisier biches bleuFinally, we ended with a lovely modal piece from the French pianist Florian Pellisier with his Quintet. This tune was from the 2014 album Biches Bleu on one of our favourite labels, the delightful Heavenly Sweetness. Pellisier has a well-received new album just released – Cap de Bon Esperance. Expect to hear something from it shortly here on Cosmic Jazz.

  1. Manny Oquendo & Libre – Major Que Nunca from Manny Oquendo & Libre
  2. Marcus Strickland – Mirrors from Nihil Novi
  3. Marcus Strickland feat Jean Baylor – Alive from Nihil Novi
  4. Wojciech Majewski Quintet – Zemyslemie from Remembrance
  5. Piotr Wojtasik Quartet – Celebration from Amazing Twelve
  6. Andrew Hill – Spectrum from Point of Departure
  7. Kenny Garrett – Philly from Do Your Dance
  8. Florian Pellisier Quintet – J’ai du Rever from Biches Bleu

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Derek is listening to:

  • Michael Tippett – Deep River (from A Child of Our Time)
  • Wailing Souls – Very Well
  • Sleep Walker – Wind (feat. Yukimi Nagano)
  • Victor Davies – Don’t Believe a Word (Sleep Walker remix)
  • Andrew Hill – Refuge

Neil is listening to:

20 July 2016: new releases and more from Piotr Wojtasik

mac1098_kenny_garrett_900__art_imgIt is always good news when Cosmic Jazz favourites have new releases – but particularly so with alto player Kenny Garrett. Click the MixCloud tab this week and you can hear two tunes from Do Your Dance, his latest album. Bossa includes distinctive phrases and that strong, reedy alto tone easily recognisable as Garrett from his previous work. This new album shows a continuing commitment to incorporate global influences and tunes that ensure jazz is still a medium for dancers. There is the expected tough rhythm section and some deep and extended playing from Garrett himself – check out his solo on Backyard Groove. 

The Polish trumpeter and flugelhorn player Piotr Wojtasik has
emerged recently as being up there among Cosmic Jazz favourites. He has an extensive back catalogue, much of whichpiotr wojtasik quest is available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. This week there were tracks from two Wojtasik albums. Firstly, from the 1996 release Quest came the title tune and then Escape Part 3 from We Want To Give Thanks released in 2006. Wojtasik has an impressive list of connections and contacts – this last piece included Gary Bartz on sax (listen out for his seriously good playing here), Reggie Workman on bass, Billy Hart on drums and George Cables on piano.

a1323814670_16There appears to be a market for compilations of little known music coming under the classification of spiritual jazz. The latest on Tramp Records is Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz. There is an international cast of musicians included on the album, which suits the ethos of this programme which aims to illustrate that top jazz extends far beyond the USA and the UK. This week I included Sheila Landis, who hails from Detroit, but also Deep Jazz led by Jerker Kluge from Munich. You shall hear more from this interesting album.

There were a couple of indulgences to end the programme. The first was Black Nile – a reminder of just how good that first album from Gregory Porter was and how  the backing musicians  were allowed an expansive freedom and the second came from Manny Oquendo. The latter, however, has received rough treatment. We included the track on last week’s no-show show and this week we ran out of time to play it in full. So Oquendo will open CJ next week.

  1. Kenny Garrett – Bossa from Do Your Dance
  2. Kenny Garrett – Backyard Groove from Do Your Dance
  3. Piotr Wojtasik – Quest from Quest
  4. Piotr Wojtasik – Escape Part 3 from We Want To Give Thanks
  5. Sheila Landis – Leigh Ann’s Dance from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz
  6. Deep Jazz – Mystic Sky from Peace Chant: Raw, Deep and Spiritual Jazz
  7. Gregory Porter – Black Nile from Water
  8. Manny Oquendo – Major Que Nunca from Manny Oquendo & Libre

Derek has been entertaining and Neil has been out in the sticks in Shanxi province, China so no Listening to… this week. Back to normal next week with more lots more music on video!

13 July 2016: Piotr Wojtasik and Polish jazz

Last week I delved into more of the Polish jazz available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. In particular, it was Old Land – the title tune from a 2013 album by Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik. This excellent release left Neil and I wondering why we had not picked up on such superb music much earlier. We needed to hear more and felt strongly that Cosmic Jazz listeners piotr wojtasikneeded to as well. As a result there are two more tunes from the album available this week via the MixCloud tab (left).

Wojtasik recorded his first album as leader in 1993 and since then has recorded with leading Polish jazzers along with significant jazz artists including CJ heroes Dave Liebman, Buster Williams and Gary Bartz. His longest association has been with US saxophonist Billy Harper. They met in the late 1990s when Wojtasik was working on his album Quest and they continue to tour and play together. Harper features prominently on Old Land.

Now 20 years into his career,  Wojtasik has became one of the most celebrated trumpeters of his generation in Poland. For this latest album, he has assembled a large and international group of musicians accompanied by choral voices and some celebrat0004367745_350ed American artists – drummers John Betsch and Billy Hart for example. Kirk Lightsey (who also plays with Billy Harper in the celebrated Cookers band) is on piano and NY-based Essiet Essiet anchors the whole project on bass. Old Land has the feeling of Kamasi Washington opus The Epic – although it was recorded earlier. Sadly, Old Land has not received anywhere near the same level of recognition. It receives, though, the highest accolade from us here on Cosmic Jazz – an essential album.

Also from Poland was pianist Pavel Kazmarczk and his Audiofeeling Trio. He has been described as one of the young guns of Polish jazz and as EST with a Polish melancholy. He’s also in the UK this week, performing on 15 and 16 July at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. Invitation, one of the tunes I played, is from his 2016 album Deconstruction while the second choice came from the earlier Something Personal.

Ameen SaleemI returned to The Groove Lab from bass player Ameen Saleem, this time to one of the strictly jazz tunes on the album that features Roy Hargrove on flugelhorn. Hargrove describes Saleem as “one of my favourite musicians” and identifies his talent for “knowing how to pick the right tempo, which is something we learn from the great masters like Theolonius Monk”. High praise indeed!

The Janet Lawson Quintet raised the tempo with some Brazilian inflected rhythms and we followed this with two more examples of non-German artists on the MPS label – Mark Murphy from the US and Francy Boland from Belgium. Here’s Murphy with one of the stand out tracks from his MPS album Midnight Mood – Sconsolato – and check out this version of the same by the aforementioned Francy Boland, this time with Kenny Clarke and their big band.

manny oquendo and libreFinally, came a descarga, a  Latin jam of wild playing and irresistible dance rhythms from the New York born percussionist Manny Oquendo and his band Libre. It is quite simply as good a dance tune as you are likely to hear. Oquendo may have lived in New York but the Puerto Rican roots are infused throughout his playing – there’s salsa, jazz and so much more.

  1.  Piotr Wojtasik – Blackout from Old Land
  2. Piotr Wojtasik – Hola from Old Land
  3. Pavel Kaczmarczk Audiofeeling Trio – Invitation from Deconstruction (Vars & Kaper)
  4. Pavel Kaczmarczk Audiofeeling Trio – Something Personal from Something Personal
  5. Ameen Saleem – For Tamisha from The Groove Lab
  6. Janet Lawson Quintet – Dreams Can Be from Kev Beadle’s Private Collection Vol 2
  7. Mark Murphy – Why and How from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  8. Francy Boland – Lillemor from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  9. Manny Oquendo & Libre – Major Que Nunca: Salsa Jam from Manny Oquendo & Libre

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

06 July 2016: feature on the MPS label

gilles peterson 03There’s a special CJ feature on the German jazz label MPS this week. As always, click the MixCloud tab (left) to listen to the show. MPS – Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (Black Forest Music Production) – was Germany’s first jazz only label and included world recognised artists like Oscar Peterson, George Duke, Lee Konitz and Charlie Mariano.

The occasion for this MPS celebration was the release of a compilation entitled Magic Peterson Sunshinecurated by the DJ Gilles Peterson, a long time fan of the label and Cosmic Jazz DJ hero. Of course, MPS recorded music by German musicians and two of these artists were includedgilles peterson mps this week. First up was Gunter Hampel and his Quintet: Hampel was a versatile musician who played vibraphone, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet and flute. His aim was to create a European jazz sound that moved away from the dominance of the USA. Pianist George Gruntz was an internationalist – notable musicians on our choice Nemeit include Sahib Shihab from the US, Jean-Luc Ponty from France and Eberhard Weber from Germany as well as an ensemble of North African percussionists. Gruntz produced a series of albums for MPS under the heading of Jazz Meets the World. 

One of those US artists recorded by MPS was Mary Lou Williamsmary lou williams black christ of the andes who first released her version of the Gershwin standard It Ain’t Necessarily So on her own label in 1964 on the highly recommended album Black Christ of the Andes. We have featured a track from this release before on Cosmic Jazz (Miss D. D.), but Magic Peterson Sunshine gave us the chance to play music from this superb album again. Black Christ of the Andes can now be found on the Smithsonian Folkways label. For an example of Williams’ unique style at the piano have a look at a live performance of two original numbers – Dirge Blues and Waltz Boogie.

It’s great when you discover a wonderful piece of music that you 0004367745_350have had in your collection but has been unjustly neglected. That happened to me this week when, finally, I played Old Land – the title track of an album by Polish trumpeter Piotr Woktasik, a musician who has played with Cosmic Jazz favourites such as Gary Bartz and Kenny Garrett.  Old Land has an international cast, including the late Billy Hart on drums. This is inspiring and uplifting music featuring both instruments and voices and the album is one of the many treasures that can be found at East European and Scandinavian jazz specialist stevesjazzsounds.co.uk. Billy Hart is a contemporary of Jack deJohnette, one of our favourite drummers on CJ. He’s played with played many of the greatest names in jazz – here he is with Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw at the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 1987.

running refugee songBut we started the show with a tune supplied by Neil. Running (Refugee Song) – written by trumpeter Keyon Harrold – features Gregory Porter and the rapper Common in music with a clear and direct message. It was released last month in honour of World Refugee Day, and is the first composition from a new venture called Compositions for a Cause – a collaboration of musicians Kenyon Harrold and Andrea Pizziconi. The song can be downloaded from refugeesong.com for a donation and is now available on iTunes for $1.99. Proceeds go to some of the world’s biggest refugee-oriented groups, including Refugees International, Human Rights First and the International Rescue Committee. Watch the moving video, listen again and (as we did) donate to this new project.
otis brown iii the thought of youThere was a link to the next tune – Harrold also plays on one of our playlist regulars from Otis Brown III. The Way (Truth & Life) is one of those tough, heavy contemporary-sounding New York jazz tunes that we love so much here on Cosmic Jazz. Two weeks ago I inadvertently mixed the title track of Thomas Stronen’s album Time is a Blind Guide with something else. Music as good as this deserves a proper hearing so we featured it again in full on this week’s show.

Dele SosimiThe show ended with a taste of Afrobeat artist Dele Sosimi, who played with Fela Kuti and again this year appears at a free festival in Christchurch Park, Ipswich (the town where this show is recorded) on Saturday 09 July 2016. Sosimi was a real highlight of last year’s festival – so it’s a gig highly recommended if you’re in the area. This year, though, I am off to the People’s Festival in Lewisham for some reggae… For an introduction to the relationship between afrobeat and the UK dance scene phenomenon of afrobeats (together with some great footage of Fela Kuti) check out this video.

  1. Gregory Porter/Common – Running (Refugee Song)  from download
  2. Otis Brown III – The Way (Truth & Life) from The Thought of You
  3. Piotr Wojtasik – Old Land from Old Land
  4. Gunter Hampel Quintet – Our Chant from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  5. George Gruntz – Nemeit from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  6. Mary Lou Williams – It Ain’t Necessarily So from Magic Peterson Sunshine
  7. Thomas Stronen – Time is a Blind Guide from Time is a Blind Guide
  8. Dele Sosimi – You No Fit Touch Am from You No Fit Touch Am

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

29 June 2016: uplifting jazz

Amid the encircling gloom of the UK’s current political nightmare it seemed time for more joyful and uplifting music on Cosmic Jazz. So this week’s CJ  tries to do just that – click on the Mixcloud tab (left) for the music and check out all the embedded links below.

russell gun ethnomusicologyI cannot remember playing on Cosmic Jazz – at least for some time – one tune that never fails to provide power, presence and the urge to dance around the room. That tune is Del Rio (aka Anita) from trumpeter Russell Gunn. It’s his adaptation of Lalo Schifrin’s Anita from the Che! soundtrack of 1969. Gunn’s album Ethnomusicology Vol 2. features some fine music (try Dance of the Concubine) and uses DJ Apollo to add some turntablist accents. It may be a patchy release overall – but this CJ selection is something else.

bugge wesseltoft and friendsUp next was CJ regular Bugge Wesseltoft and a track from his album Bugge and Friends. Mates here are trumpeter Erik Truffaz and DJ and producer Joe Claussell and all of the tracks have titles ending in ‘it’. This time it was Clauss It. New Yorker Claussell’s music is always worth exploring – whether his compilations, his reworkings of Latin jazz or his own DJ productions. See what you make of one of his most famous collaborations with Haitian Jephte Guillaume, The Prayer.

Ffreddie hubbardreddie Hubbard’s First Light album is one of the trumpeter’s many classics but with over 60 albums released over a 40 year career how do you choose what to listen to? Actually, it’s easy – just check out the record label. Hubbard’s career is defined by his work on three labels – Blue Note, CTI and Columbia. Whilst there is some great playing on his later albums for the Columbia label, choose almost any Blue Note or most of the CTI albums to hear Hubbard’s burnished tone at its best. The title track First Light manages to be both mellow and joyful. freddie hubbard frst lightThis studio version does it for me every time and the George Benson guitar feature is simply heavenly. Its delicacy, precision and beautiful melody make for pure rapture. The album features a stellar rhythm section too: Herbie Hancock on Fender Rhodes piano, Ron Carter on bass and Jack deJohnette on drums.

Latin jazz was a feature of this week’s music in both its Brazilian and Nuyorican/Puerto Rican/Cuban forms. The Brazilian came first. Alto player Cannonball Adderley in 1962 recorded a Bossa Nova album cannonball adderley's bossa novawith a Brazilian sextet that included Sergio Mendes and Dom Um Romao. The album was released as Cannonball’s Bossa Nova in 1963 and then augmented in a reissue with more Brazilian tunes (including The Jive Samba) recorded live in San Francisco in 1962. This time Adderley was with his regular quintet and special guest Yusef Lateef, on flute. Percussionist Airto Moreira kept the Brazilian feel going with Hot Sand from his excellent Virgin Land release again originally on the CTI label. For a taste of Airto, we’d recommend any of the great CTI albums from this period – here’s the track Flora’s Song from the 1972 album Free.

CJ favourite Kenny Garrett was up next with Chucho’s Mambo, a wonderful example of jazz musicians inspired and influenced by  220px-KennyGarrettPushingtheWorldAwayAlbumCoverCuban music. Chucho is a reference to the great pianist Chucho Valdez – seen here performing Lorena’s Tango live at the Marciac Festival last year. Kenny Garrett has long embraced global influences, and in several albums (including Beyond the Wall) the power of his tough rhythm section merges these flavours with a contemporary jazz sound. Garrett has a new album just released titled Do Your Dance – expect to hear it soon on Cosmic Jazz.

Black Cuban and Puerto Rican roots converge to create a rhythm-heavy sound with a New York street  feel. This is how the sleeve notes on the compilation NuYorican Hits from UK-based Charly Records describe the Grupo Folklorico tune from their albulibre con salsa con ritmom Concepts in Unity.  Ace percussionist Manny Oquendo is to the fore as he thrashes forcefully to devastating effect. Check him out – he has a unique sound that has both a roots feel but an urban sound. To find out more about Oquendo and the Gonzales brothers who formed the core of this band, have a look at the excellent Orgy in Rhythm blog and try to track down the Libre album Con Salsa… Con Ritmo (pictured). You won’t be disappointed.

the pharaohs awakeningFinally, to link joyfulness with last week’s messages there was a taste of Freedom Road from The Pharaohs, a band from Chicago whose first drummer was the late leader of Earth, Wind and Fire, Maurice White. Their album Awakening is worth getting hold of – especially for the standout closer Great House which features guitarist Yehudah Ben Israel sounding like Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel.

  1. Russell Gunn – Del Rio (a.k.a. Anita) from Ethnomusicology Vol 2
  2. Bugge Wesseltoft – Clauss It  from Bugge & Friends
  3. Freddie Hubbard – First Light from First Light
  4. Cannonball Adderley – The Jive Samba from Cannonball’s Bossa Nova
  5. Airto Moreira – Hot Sand from Virgin Land
  6. Kenny Garrett – Chucho’s Mambo from Pushing the World Away
  7. Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayoriquino – Anabacoa from Concepts in Unity
  8. The Pharaohs – Freedom Road from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection

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Derek is….

  • Watching Wimbledon!

Neil is listening to:

18 May 2016: some Cosmic Jazz favourites

Cosmic Jazz is back and, to mark our return, the programme features a few favourites.

otis brown iii the thought of youOne such is drummer Otis Brown III  – heard here in two opening tracks.  First, supporting Somi on her Nigeria inspired album The Lagos Music Salon and then on his own record The Thought Of You, where on You’re Still the One the jazz cool but warm and enticing voice of Gretchen Parlato draws you in.  You can see Gretchen Parlato appearing in her own right here.

kenny garrettAny Cosmic Jazz programme of favourites could not exclude Kamasi Washington, an ever-present artist on the show nor alto player Kenny Garrett. This week we chose the title track from his award-winning album Pushing The World Away. The memory of seeing his quartet perform in such a close and intimate setting at the Pizza Express Jazz  Club in Dean Street, London a few years ago still lingers firmly in the memory…

bugge wesseltoft and friendsKeyboard player Bugge Wesseltoft recorded an excellent album in 2015 with his friends – including trumpeter Erik Truffaz who has his own excellent new album out this year.  I shall play tunes from it in coming weeks but, for this edition of Cosmic Jazz, check out the collaboration on the track Play It.

Songs by Johnny Nash have not often appeared on Cosmic Jazz but I simply love the version of I Can see Clearly Now by Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce with Roy’s son Gabriel featured on lead vocal and trumpet. In case you do not reach this stage of the programme via MixCloud you can hear it here and at the same time view the bleak and alluring cover of the album.

nuyorican soulLatin and soul – probably more accurately a combination of both – but all with New York connections, completed the show. The wonderful Charlie Palmieri of New York latino heritage started the segment with a tune that was re-released on a compilation of his work on the Atlantic Masters series. Elements of Life from Eclipse and Jocelyn Brown from the album Nuyorican Soul continued the latin New York sounds. The link between the two is arranger and DJ Louis Vega. elements of life eclipseBest known as a record producer now, Vega comes from latin royalty. His uncle was Hector Lavoe of the celebrated Fania All Stars, and Vega has lent his name to hundreds of records since the 1990s when he began DJing and remixing with fellow house star Kenny Gonzales in the Masters at Work partnership. Here at CJ we always emphasize the close links between much Latin music and jazz – just one small part of that global jazz thing.

  1. Somi – Four African Women from The Lagos Music Salon
  2. Otis Brown III (feat. Gretchen Parlato) – You’re Still The One from The Thought Of You
  3. Kamasi Washington – Leroy and Lanisha from The Epic
  4. Kenny Garrett – Pushing The World Away  from Pushing The World Away
  5. Bugge Wesseltoft – Play It from Bugge and Friends
  6. Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce – I Can See Clearly Now from Complicated Day
  7. Charlie Palmieri – Mambo Show from Latin Bugalu
  8. Elements of Life – Berimbau from Eclipse
  9. Jocelyn Brown – I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun from Nuyorican Soul

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

26 April 2016: from Poland to the DRC; from Martinique to Sheffield…

Click the tab or follow the guide on this page so you can listen to a global traveller edition of Cosmic Jazz.

jonas kullhammarThe show began by dipping into some of the treasures available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds, a specialist source of music from Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, with more besides. One of Sweden’s top jazz musicians, saxophonist Jonas Kulhammer, opened the show followed by an overdue return visit to Poland via a first Cosmic Jazz play for pianist Slavek Jaskalke. His flowing keyboard sounds have been heard at venues from New York to Berlin to Moscow and, of course, Poland. He has also played with Cosmic Jazz favourites David Murray and Urszula Dudziak. Staying in Poland, this segment of the show ended with another tune from the wonderfully named Confusion Project.

The Confusion Project selection reminded me of a tune from Kenny Garrett’s Seeds from the Underground albumI did not play that particular track, but it helped to inspire a choice from Garrett. So too did the impending arrival of his new album, together with the link via a shared drummer to the much-loved Kamasi Washington. In addition, we’ve been talking about the praise heaped on Kenny Garrett by his late boss Miles Davis (of whom we have heard much lately) and finally – and above all – because I love the music of Kenny Garrett. I chose the title track of his last album Pushing the World Away.

papa wembaI could not let the show pass by without a tribute to the late Congolese maestro Papa Wemba. His high, soaring and sweetly inflected vocals just touch and move me whenever I hear them. I chose one of his more Latin-inspired tunes, which  seemed best-fit for the format of the show, but if like me you love Congolese soukous, or even more so if you want to find out what it is all about, try listening to the tunes I have listed below as my listening choices for the week.

From Martinique came Max Cilla an artist who popularised the traditional bamboo flute which is well to the fore on this tune. It’s from the album Koute Jazza wonderful and highly recommended compilation of jazz music from the Antilles, the French-speaking Caribbean islands. Staying with the French connection came Paris-based trumpeter Erik Truffaz, a musician who is always – in the spirit of Miles – moving on and trying something different. Last week we played a tune featuring the Malian singer Rokia Traore – this week it was an instrumental. Next week…

SONY DSC

Finally, I am off to Sheffield shortly and hopeful of catching two jazz shows, one at The Lescar and the other put on by Sheffield Jazz. It seemed fitting to end with musicians that were/are (?) based in Sheffield. Fall Back from Middlewood Sessions is just one of those tunes that never fails to uplift, excite and surprise. It is not strictly a jazz tune, but jazz is in there – check the subtle changes of the vocalist, check the propulsive drumming, check the whole tune and get dancing.

  1. Jonas Kulhammer – The Bear Quartet from Gentlemen Original Motion Picture Jazz Tracks
  2. Slavek Juskulke – On from On
  3. Confusion Project – The Fruit of Change from Confusion Project
  4. Kenny Garrett – Pushing the World Away from Pushing the World Away
  5. Papa Wemba – Epelo from Emotion
  6. Max Cilla – Crepuscule Tropical from Koute Jazz
  7. Erik Truffaz Quartet – Doni Pt. 2 from Doni Doni
  8. Middlewood Sessions – Fall Back (single)

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

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

kevin le gendre

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of Miles DAVIS

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

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

Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to: