Tag Archives: Kenny Garrett

12 July 2017: Jazzmeia Horn and more Coltrane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cosmic Jazz continues to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane on 17 July 1967. To start this week’s show we featured 18 minutes of ethereal, spiritual beauty in the form of the tune Ole.  Unbelievably, this was recorded as far back as 1961 and with a line-up of jazz heavyweights playing with Coltrane – Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Art Davis, and Reggie Workman. Quite simply, the album is a jazz lovers essential must-have release – but then again this is true of so many Coltrane records. There are two versions of this album currently available, but avoid the Complete Ole Sessions: it’s simply a marketing ploy, as the additional tracks were recorded in an unrelated session the previous year. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have an original vinyl copy of the 1961 release – and it’s still a personal favourite album.

Reggie Workman, one of the two bass players on Ole, is identified by Jazzmeia Horn (what a name!) on the sleeve of her new CD A Social Call as one of her mentors. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Horn (see photo above) relocated to New York where in 2013 she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz competition and then won the Theolonius Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. She describes the album as a call in peace about issues affecting peace and that her inspiration comes from the social issues that exist in the world today. The social issues are all listed at the start of the first of her tunes played on the show People Make the World Go Round. None of the songs on the album are originals but the songwriters selected include Betty Carter, Jimmy Rowles, Norma Winstone, Mongo Santamaria, Oscar Brown Jr and Norman Whitfield – an eclectic selection. Jazzmeia Horn serves them all up with an original treatment. She is also one of those vocalists who employ top-class backing musicians and gives them the scope to show that they can play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The social issues continued with another New York based singer Somi, who was raised in a family with Rwandan Ugandan descent. On the tune Black Enough she asks Am I black enough for you? I don’t talk the way you do as she explores the dilemmas of her identity. Petite Afrique, her sophomore album is a love letter to her parents for their sacrifices when leaving their home country and the extended, strong and generous immigrant community I was fortunate to be raised in. Marcus Strickland appears on the tune playing tenor sax.

One of the latest Polish gems available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds comes from a trio led by pianist Marcin Losik. This is an uplifting piece adding an energy and bounce that is not always found in the acoustic piano/bass/drums format. So often have I read comments on Polish jazz that describe a new release as yet another example of Polish melancholy. This album is anything but. Beside, is this not a huge over generalisation about the music from a country with many outstanding jazz musicians?

To end the show there was further buoyant and uplifting music via a tune from The Janet Lawson Quintet album recorded in 1980 but re-released on the British BBE label. Janet Lawson is a fine example of a jazz vocalist who used her voice as an instrument. So High is the title of the tune and that is where it takes you.

We’re going to feature more Coltrane music in a final feature on the legacy of his music in next week’s show.

  1. John Coltrane – Ole from Ole
  2. Jazzmeia Horn – People Make the World Go Round from A Social Call
  3. Jazzmeia Horn – East of the Sun (And West of the Moon) from A Social Call
  4. Jazzmeia Horn – Going Down from A Social Call
  5. Somi – Black Enough from Petite Afrique
  6. Marcin Losik Trio – Modal Enterprise from Emotional Phrasing
  7. The Janet Lawson Quintet – So High from The Janet Lawson Quintet

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Neil is listening to:

14 June 2017: in a silent way?

Silence is golden, except on a radio show. There is a silence in this show, albeit a short one towards the end. It’s ironic really as I was about to play a tune called He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing… Suffice to say no more than such problems are usually the result of the user rather than the equipment – sorry.  Do listen, though, to the show via the MixCloud tab (left) as there are some great tunes either side of the silence.

The aforementioned He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing did get played – and it is worth hearing. It’s by Polish trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski from his remarkably mature debut album CMM released this year. It has been described as providing a musical journey into something like a trance. Certainly it has a very warm and inviting feel to it. There are lovely solos, but they are woven almost into the music  – and the backing throughout of drummer Lukasz Zyta is intricate and complex but in an understated way.

As so often on the programme, the show began with a tune that I had recently played and enjoyed. Cosmic Jazz seems to be going through yet another John Coltrane appreciation phase and why should I make apologies for that? 14 minutes and 09 seconds of India recorded live at the Village Vanguard on 03 November 1961, from the Impressions album was just such a perfect spiritual and uplifting way to begin. Coltrane was on soprano, Eric Dolphy on bass clarinet, McCoy Tyner piano, Jimmy Garrison and Reggie Workman on basses and Elvin Jones on drums. I just listen and wonder in amazement that this was recorded so long ago and at its sophistication – especially if you compare it to some of the popular jazz of the time. We’re not alone here: it’s reported that American group the Byrds had only one cassette to listen to on their late 1965 tour and that one side featured Ravi Shankar while the other had Coltrane’s Impressions and the Africa/Brass albums. They acknowledged Coltrane’s influence in their celebrated Eight Miles High. Listen to this extended instrumental version from the 1970 Filmore concert which is powered by Skip Battin’s jazzy basswork and see what you think.

There was what I considered a sequence of tunes that complemented each other and sounded fresh, contemporary with an element of challenge. This began with Steve Lehman and Selebeyone, went into Dinosaur and ended with Led Bib, who have a new album recently released.

Poland holds an annual Jazz Day in April. Bands perform and there is a competition for band of the year. In 2017 the winner of the Grand Prix  was the pianist Adam Jarzmik and his Quintet of musical friends with their 2017 release Euphoria. Among the judges was the Cosmic Jazz favourite Piotr Wojtasik. The award was a good choice. It is a record of strong  emotional sounds, mixing the contemporary with the traditional and embracing a subtle intensity.

There was a trip to Brazil at the end of the show. The voice of Milton Nascimento  interwoven with the soprano sax of Wayne Shorter and the further presence on the record of Herbie Hancock, Raul de Souza and Airto Moreira among others. Finally came Baden Powell, the Brazilian guitarist who named himself after the British founder of the scout movement with a tune that epitomises the delicacy, intimacy and melodic beauty of much Brazilian bossa jazz of the 1960s/early 1970s. The album from which this track comes is something of a rarity. For a further taste, listen to one of my favourite tracks – Coisa No1 – which achieves miracles in just over three minutes…

  1. John Coltrane – India from Impressions
  2. Steve Lehman & Selebeyone – Laamb from Selebeyone
  3. Dinosaur – Living Breathing from Together As One
  4. Led Bib – Battery Power from Jazzwise sampler Babel Label 1994 – 2014
  5. Adam Jarzmik Quintet – Euphoria from Euphoria
  6. Lukasz Korybalski – He Who Talks Loud Says Nothing from CMM
  7. Milton Nascimento – Saidas e Bandeiras (Exits & Flags) from Milton
  8. Baden Powell – Rosa Flor from Swings with Jimmy Pratt

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Neil is listening to…

18 May 2017: Cosmic Jazz plays cosmic jazz

This week’s show, available now via the Mix Cloud tab (left), is made up of four long, Old School tunes. An identifying feature of two of them at least (and maybe elements of a third) is that they are not only on a Cosmic Jazz show they are cosmic in sound, ambience and effect!

Saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders is a name many would associate with cosmic jazz. His tone is one of the most distinctive voices in jazz – full of raw, rasping overtones one moment and warm, rich and deep at others. The fire of his eleven Impulse! label albums recorded from 1967-1974 gave way to an often more lyrical exploration of jazz standards but still with that commanding tone that remains uniquely strong. For more on that golden age at Impulse! Check out this Red Bull Music Academy feature for more information – and then search out some of the albums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now 76, Sanders is still performing, although his most recent record releases tend to be as guest slots on other albums. Some of these are well worth seeking out: we have featured two on CJ over recent years – The Voyage with Japanese band Sleep Walker and his live recording with alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett on the Sketches of MD: Live at the Iridium album. Listen to the deep Intro to Africa track here.

Both sides of Sander’s unique tenor saxophone voice can be heard on the track Love is Everywhere played in full on the show this week. It comes from one of the last of the albums Sanders recorded for Impulse! and features the under-rated piano of Joe Bonner. This is truly music that encompasses freedom and gentleness and speaks deeply of peace and understanding. Sanders, of course, played with John Coltrane in his last years – and in his more recent recordings Sanders channels ‘trane so convincingly that if you close your eyes… You can hear this clearly on this excellent 2011 live concert from London’s Jazz Cafe (here presented in full) – for example, on  the Sanders composition Nozipho that begins the show.

The Pharoah Sanders world of cosmic spirituality could apply equally to the music of  Alice Coltrane. This week’s show featured the tune Blue Nile – which includes Sanders on tenor saxophone and alto flute. Recorded in 1970, this harp/piano/tenor saxophone combination has become a template for many more recent cosmic jazz heroes, including the UK’s Matthew Halsall and Nat Birchall. Just listen to Halsall’s Tribute to Alice Coltrane here to see what we mean. Coltrane’s soaring, modal sounds can be found on Ptah, the El Daoud or the excellent Impulse! compilation Astral Meditation which is an excellent place to start your Alice Coltrane journey. Joining Coltrane and Sanders here are Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Ron Carter (bass) and Ben Riley (drums).

Last week I played the tune Black Renaissance by the band of the same name led by Harry Whitaker. The CD has two tunes only and normally I am so enraptured and mesmerised by the first that I play it over and over again. Last week, however, I left the CD playing and gave the second track some attention. Magic Ritual does not match Black Renaissance – I doubt if there is much that can – but it is good, deserves to be heard and has that same feeling of spontaneity, joy and the search for  African-centric expression.

To end the show I played as much as time would allow of what is currently my favourite Fela Kuti tune, Just Like That. You can find it on a number of Fela releases including the excellent compilation, The Two Sides of Fela,  French Barclay release and distributed here by none other than Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label. It’s not that easy to find now but you can also get Just Like That on the Underground System album.

  1. Black Renaissance – Magic Ritual from Black Renaissance: Mind, Body and Soul
  2. Pharaoh Sanders – Love is Everywhere from Love In Us All
  3. Alice Coltrane – Blue Nile from Astral Meditations
  4. Fela Kuti and Africa 80 – Just Like That from The Two Sides of Fela – Jazz and Dance (from Jazz CD 1)

So – having whetted your appetities – would you like to listen to twelve hours of spiritual jazz? For much more of this music, listen to this magisterial, extended review of the genre from London’s NTS Radio. Thanks to Kalamu ya Salaam and his excellent Neo Griot blog for this one.

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Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to…

19 April 2017: Caribbean connection

I have just returned from three weeks in the beautiful, friendly, warm and music rich Spice Isle of Grenada. I have, therefore, heard more soca and reggae than jazz. This is reflected in what I am currently listening to (see list below) with Far From Finished by Voice, which won the February 2017 Soca Monarch title in Trinidad and Tobago’s 2017 Carnival, a particular favourite.

There is no soca or reggae in the programme but I was able to start the show with some Caribbean jazz links. The show began with an album we like from young British alto saxophonist Camilla George, whose father was born in Grenada. George’s quartet of young British-based musicians will be well worth seeing live – you can catch them here on the jazzre:freshed site. This was followed by a calypso-influenced piece from alto player Kenny Garrett who has been a great influence on Camilla George. She includes his Ms. Baja bossa influenced composition on her album Isang – you can find Garrett’s original on his excellent album Songbook from 1997.

Some jazz tunes did appear among my iPod shuffle songs while sitting on a verandah enjoying the sea breeze, two of which reminded me of just how good are the albums from which they came. I need say no more about Kamasi Washington but the Dhafer Youssef’s tune I heard reminded me how tranquil, spiritual and profound is his 2016 album  Diwan of Beauty and Odd. The superb trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire is a guest on the record. The third in this sequence came from Belgian drummer Jelle Van Giel and his Group. The tune is modal, calming and deep – you could be forgiven for thinking you are listening to Matthew Halsall. Finally, the iPod brought more of Polish trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik and his album Old Land which has become a Cosmic Jazz essential.

The final two tunes on the show reflected my visits to Norwich, both past and in the future. Just before I went away I saw the excellent Norwich-based trio Mammal Hands who have now established a formidable reputation not only nationally but internationally. Their most recent recording Floa is highly recommended as a prime example of contemporary jazz that appeals to a wide age range. Finally there was Brad Meldhau, who I will see at the 2017 Norfolk & Norwich Festival on 18 May, followed by Dee Dee Bridgewater on the 20th.

  1. Camilla George Quartet – The Night Has A  Thousand Eyes from Isang
  2. Kenny Garrett – Calypso Chant from Do Your Dance
  3. Kamasi Washington – Re Run from the Epic
  4. Dhaffer Youssef – 17th Flyway from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
  5. Jelle Van Giel Group – A New Beginning from Songs For Everyone
  6. Piotr Wojtasik – Recognition, Understanding & Acceptance from Old Land
  7. Mammal Hands – Quiet Fire from Floa
  8. Brad Meldhau – Since I Fell For You from Blues and Ballads

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Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

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…