Tag Archives: Kenny Garrett

Week ending 24 November 2018: Coltrane’s heritage

Available to you this week at the touch of the Cosmic Jazz MixCloud tab – music from Poland, Cuba, the US and UK.

Poland is the first stop. We have said it before, but it is worth repeating that there is a wealth of new music coming out of Poland and much of it getting recognised beyond the borders of the country. Stockists such as Steve’s Jazz Sounds have done much to make easy access to the music possible. Many of the bands are young too and their influences are many and diverse – like many of the current jazz musicians we feature here on CJ. There are two examples this week. The Tubis Trio are led by pianist Maciej Tubis and Flashback (great album cover!) is their second release. The title tune comes complete with its own flashback moments... Monosies are a quintet led by guitarist/composer Lukasz Komala and Stories of the Gray City is their debut album. Do these tunes present further examples of what is often referred to as Polish melancholy? I am not sure – we leave that judgement to you.

From Cuba came more music this week from pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa and his new trio album Un Dia Cualquiera – which translates as Just another day. In some ways the music is firmly in the tradition of the piano/bass/drums trio tradition, but with this record the Cuban flourishes are integral to Lopez-Nussa’s sound. The music references back to a number of Cuban styles, including Yoruba chants, rumba, descarga and – on our choice this week – an old bolero-style classic from 1946. But don’t think that all this roots referencing has created a traditional album – far from it. It’s a joyous contemporary celebration of a deep musical heritage that is an ongoing musical exploration

Ok, so we all know John Coltrane was a genius – it’s a naive truism in jazz – and, of course, his influence is still with us through many of the younger generation of jazz soloists. But, listening again to the 2018 Impulse! release Both Directions at Once: the Lost Album, made me stop and simply say, yes – this music really does take us to another place. But what is it about Coltrane’s music that’s so influential?  Well, a good place to start might be with this Earworm analysis of Coltrane’s iconic Giant Steps, surely an influence on pretty much every contemporary jazz musician. Why? Well, you don’t need to be a musician to understand the significance of the circle of fifths – a musical principle that guided ‘trane’s musical explorations – but the video will give you renewed sense of John Coltrane’s musical mastery. The image here is Coltrane’s own hand-drawn annotated circle of fifths – and check out Derek’s Coltrane listening choice below which features a graphic based on this musical principle.

All of this suggested it was a good time to play Coltrane again and follow this with a contemporary musician who has clearly been influenced by him. Coltrane’s classic quartet released the tune Tunji in 1962 as part of the album just called Coltrane. McCoy Tyner is on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. It’s simply a masterpiece and you owe it to yourself to check out the complete version of this Impulse! album as it contains five alternate versions of the tune.

One of our CJ favourites, Manchester-based saxophonist Nat Birchall has just released his version of Tunji as a single. You don’t get the piano and bass features of the Coltrane version – rather Nat Birchall blows his sax all the way through on what is a much shorter version. But it stands up well – a praiseworthy achievement. Respect is due, as they say. You can still get the 7inch single or download Tunji along with Mode for Miles (also from the Coltrane album) from the ever-reliable Bandcamp site here. It’s also well worth seeking out all of Birchall’s work from his earliest albums like Akhenaten through to his most recent release Cosmic Language on the Jazzman label.

While in the groove of playing those influenced by Coltrane it seemed appropriate to feature something more from Kamasi Washington and his most recent release Heaven and Earth album. Washington has been championed in Cosmic Jazz for a good few years now, and his 2018 3CD release doesn’t disappoint. It’s full of lengthy, sometimes overblown tracks but the spiritual jazz legacy of Coltrane and others is undoubtedly there and Washington is a powerful force in the jazz new wave. Heaven and Earth is highly recommended as is The Epic from 2016 and – a really good place to start for Washington novices – the Harmony of Difference EP.

We ended the show with a tune by UK DJ/producer/musician Kaidi Tatham, formerly of the influential Bugz in the Attic collective. As producers and remixers to many in the London broken beat scene, the Bugz released a couple of excellent compilations of their work – both worth looking out for. Tatham is now a prolific artist and producer in his own right having worked with Amy Winehouse, Slum Village, Mulatu Astatke, Soul II Soul, Amp Fiddler, Macy Gray, King Britt and DJ Spinna, Like the two Tunji selections, I See What You See was one of Neil’s selections and – at last – it got an airing. It’s an example of one of those many tunes we play on the show, without apology, which stretch beyond the boundaries of what some might call jazz. We love it. Tatham’s newest EP (released in October 2018) can be found here – again on Bandcamp.

  1. Tubis Trio – Flashback from Flashback
  2. Monosies – Passages from Stories of the Gray City
  3. Harold Lopez-Nusa – Contigo en la Distancia from Un Dia Cualquiera
  4. John Coltrane – Tunji from Coltrane
  5. Nat Birchall – Tunji from single release
  6. Kamasi Washington – Vi Lua Vi Sol from Heaven and Earth
  7. Kaidi Tatham – I See What You See from Hard Times

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 31 March 2018: crossing boundaries

Welcome to this week’s Cosmic Jazz, where just clicking on that Mixcloud tab (left) opens up a world of contemporary jazz. It involves musicians from different countries and continents working together, stretching the boundaries of jazz and creating new sounds as they do so. As always, comments are welcome from our registered users.

For a second week, the show begins with one of our favourite Polish jazz groups of the moment, the Marcin Stefaniak Trio. The combination of sax, drums and bass is familar but here it’s woven into something fresh, sharp and modern.

At last I found time to play something that Neil has recommended for some time – a tune from the recent album Black Notes from the Deep by British sax player Courtney Pine. His lyrical take on Herbie Hancock’s Butterfly features vocalist Omar. Swedish alto player Fredrik Kronkvist (above) is someone who appears regularly on Cosmic Jazz – and rightly so. He has travelled from Sweden to the US where he is now based and – over the years – he’s played with a number of prominent US jazz musicians. To me [writes Neil], his tone and style is sounding even more like one of our CJ favourites – Kenny Garrett. Check this out for yourself by listening to one of Garrett’s earlier recordings in Neil’s listening choices for this week – all of which feature great alto sax performances. Kronkvist’s recent album On the Move features another Swede, Martin Sorjstedt – a bass player who also plays piano. This album also features bass player Ameen Saleem as well as drummer Gregory Hutchinson. There’s more from the first two later in the show.

There were links to these artist on Cosmic Jazz as the show gave further attention to both Sorjstedt and Saleem as band leaders in their own right. Martin Sorjstedt definitely plays piano on his album Whereaboutswith an ensemble that includes musicians from Germany, Denmark and the US as well as Sweden. Check the tune Bueno on the show for some interesting trumpet playing from Axel Schlosser. Sorsjstedt is quite a veteran – more than one hundred record productions and six solo albums – and he’s still only thirty-nine – while bass player Saleem was featured on CJ last year with his 2017 album The Groove Lab. It is a varied record and one that crosses and fuses musical genres – of which more later.

There was a contribution to the show from Cubans who have themselves crossed boundaries. Daymé Arocena is an exciting young Cuban vocalist who recorded her second album Cubafonia for the UK Brownswood label under the direction of DJ Gilles Peterson. She first came to his attention as part of the Havana Club music promotion during Peterson’s first visit to Cuba, that Daymé improvised a head-turning rumba show with Edrey, from Grammy nominated group Ogguere. Two years later, the Havana Cultura Mix: The Soundclash! album saw the beginning of her work with Gilles and the Havana Cultura platform. Arocena also released an EP of cover versions – titled One Takes – in early 2016.

Luis Nubiola is a Cuban-born sax player and composer who moved first to Costa Rica and then to Poland. His album Global Friendship (surely an apt description of his life experiences) was made with Polish musicians. It is essentially a good jazz record with some nods towards Cuba.

Fusion was once a dirty word for many jazz lovers – and perhaps because so many lacklustre records were released by jazz musicians (particularly in the 1970s) as they tried to make jazz ‘relevant to today’ with disco and fusion leanings. The same happened in the 1990s as jazz took on hiphop and rap to ‘stay in tune’. I can remember a presenter of a local radio jazz show railing against Miles Davis when he included rapping from Easy Mo Bee on his Doo-Bop album.

In that case, perhaps justifiably so – but thankfully things have moved on and much of todays new jazz musicians start from the simple premise that they grew up listening to nu-soul, hip hop and rap. It’s not an add on, but rather an integrated part of their cultural and musical development. The result – much of their music is hip, cool and undoubtedly the place to be. From the US the likes of Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Christian Scott, Keyon Harrold and our bass player Ameen Saleem have attracted new and younger admirers for jazz through their work in these current idioms. We’ll continue to feature the music of these trailblazers in upcoming CJ shows.

And, of course, in the UK there are many young musicians now following the same aesthetic. For those of us UK jazz lovers who like to think we have a progressive and open outlook to the music, these are exciting times. There were two examples in this week’s show to illustrate what is happening. Firstly, drummer, composer, producer  Moses Boyd and then sax/flute player Nubya Garcia, a beneficiary of support from the Foundation set up in memory of drummer Steve Reid. I am looking forward to seeing both of these musicians at the end of May at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival – Moses Boyd with partner Binker Golding and Nubya Garcia as a member of Maisha. Open musicians, with open minds opening further adventurous paths into the music we love.

  1. Marcin Stefaniak – Wheelers from Unveiling
  2. Courtney Pine – Butterfly from Black Notes from the Deep
  3. Fredrik Kronkvist feat Martin Sjostedt, Ameen Saleem & Gregory Hutchinson – Essential from On the Move
  4. Martin Sjostedt – Bueno from Whereabouts
  5. Ameen Saleem – Love Don’t from the Groove Lab
  6. Dayme Arocena – Mambo Na Ma from Cubafonia
  7. Luis Nubiola – The New One from Global Friendships
  8. Moses Boyd – The Balance from We Out Here
  9. Nubya Garcia – When We Are from When We Are EP

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 02 December 2017: making connections

Jazz musicians are flexible and move around to play in different groups. Often, they need to do so in order to make a living – you have to be very successful to limit your playing to one group only. Even then, the most successful appear as guests on the records of others – as, for example, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock who appear on the Blue Note All Stars record we have featured on recent shows.

The first three tunes on this week’s Cosmic Jazz illustrated this perfectly. The show began with Otis Brown III and the trumpeter on that record was Keyon Harrold. This was followed by a tune from The Mugician, Keyon Harrold’s sophomore release as leader. Playing sax on that record was Marcus Strickland – who also appeared on the third tune from the Blue Note All Stars. Also with the Blue Note All Stars are Robert Glasper and Derrick Hodge, both of whom played on the Otis Brown III record. Oh, and Keyon Harrold is also featured on Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life album – another CJ favourite. It sounds complicated, but it’s just part of the interconnected nature of jazz – musicians adding their ‘voice’ to a new context to make music with friends and labelmates. CJ highly recommends all three of these albums as places to start checking out some of the best American new jazz artists.

Having talked on last week’s show about the current crop of British jazz artists, it made sense to revisit one of our favourites from an earlier era. The Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet was perhaps the greatest jazz group to come out of the UK in the 1960s. Ian Carr went on to form the jazzrock group Nucleus and become a definitive biographer of Miles Davis. Many of their albums are CJ favourites – for an introduction, start with Dusk Fire or Shades of Blue – reissued on a 2CD set on the excellent BGO label.

I decided to re-visit some old Cosmic Jazz favourites and will from time to time on the show play two tunes from favourite albums. I began this week with an artist who has probably appeared on the show as much as any – alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. His fine Seeds From the Underground album of 2012 coincided with me seeing a live performance of his group, and so has a particular resonance. Garrett is one of those alto sax players with a very distinctive ‘voice’ – whether it’s his earlier work with Miles Davis or his most recent Mack Avenue label records his sound is immediately recognisable. Check out the title track from one of our favourite albums, Beyond the Wall.

Somi is an artist I have played quite frequently on the show, particularly The Lagos Music Salon inspired by her year in Lagos. I have just, however, revisited her 2017 release Petite Afrique and found an impassioned account of the effects of gentrification, with reference to Harlem, New York. Interesting vocals and interesting musical arrangements.

The show this week ended with another excellent piece of contemporary jazz from Poland courtesy of trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski.

  1. Otis Brown III – The Way (Truth & Life) from The Thought of You
  2. Keyon Harrold – Ethereal Sounds from The Mugician
  3. The Blue Note All Stars – Meanings from Our Point of View
  4. Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet – Blue Mosque from Shades of Blue
  5. Kenny Garrett – Boogety Boogety from Seeds from the Underground
  6. Kenny Garrett – Seeds from the Underground from Seeds from the Underground
  7. Somi feat. Aloe Blacc – The Gentry from Petite Afrique
  8. Lukasz Korybalski – Crossing from CMM

Neil is listening to…

Week ending 18 November 2017: jazz from around the world

This week is the usual mixture of the new and old, some of it influenced by groups I have recently seen live – or am about to see. Check the MixCloud tab to hear some eclectic choices.

On 21 November I am off to hear the Camilla George Quartet at the Cambridge Jazz Festival which has a varied and interesting programme. It looks as if it’s now a fixed item in the jazz calendar – good news. I have enjoyed the Quartet’s record Isang so the tune Lunacity was a timely taste of what I can expect to hear soon – quotes from St Thomas (and Salt Peanuts too) suggest a direct Caribbean connection. The Quartet are collaborators with other jazzers on the current London scene – you can check out Daniel Casimir’s new release here on the jazzre:freshed section of Bandcamp. Expect more and a report on the Camilla George gig next week.

There’s been an Afro-Cuban flavour to CJ recently so I extended this further. After hearing it once again on my shuffle songs I could not resist playing again a tune from the Orchestre Dakar Band, who were a group of young Senegalese students living in Abidjan. This tune was there to make the Senegalese youth dance – beware, it could have the same effect on you! Listen out, in particular,  for the wild trumpet blast during the instrumental break in the tune. It is another example of the influence Afro-Cuban music had, and indeed still has, in West Africa. The track comes from a compilation of Senegalese Afro-Latin music.

The other Afro-Cuban piece this week came from the influential band leader Machito, whom we have played recently supporting other artists. Here he is, though, as the front man to his own New York big band on the track Tibiri-Tabaro from an excellent Charly Records compilation. Check out this club favourite from the same disc.

Neil has introduced me to an excellent compilation of music from the music from Black Saint and Soul Note labels which have been described as the Italian equivalent to Blue Note. The label managed to attract some top-notch US artists to its stable, as embodied in this week’s selection from Don Pullen featuring cult US saxophonist Sam Rivers.

It may be a month late, but CJ this week also took time to remember Theolonius Monk on his centenary, 10 October 2017. The tune Misterioso has been used at the London Jazz Festival as a basis for performances about his life and work.

The Polish section, another regular CJ feature, this week included the young trumpet/flugelhorn player Lukasz Korybalski from his exciting 2017 release CMM. Great, contemporary-sounding jazz, strongly recommended. The other tune came from one of my favourite Polish musicians, trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik and his stunning album Old Land. Wojtasik’s stature can be judged by the calibre of US musicians he has played with – Kenny Garrett, Dave Liebman and drummer Billy Hart, who features on this highly recommended record.

Mammal Hands is a band I have seen recently in their home city of Norwich. To be honest, their most recent material has not had a great impact on me but their previous album Floa is fantastic, so I settled for a tune from there. Another band I saw in Norwich, albeit a couple of years ago, was the Anglo-Norwegian combination assembled by percussionist Thomas Stronen for his superb ECM album Time is a Blind Guide. It was time to return to this record to close the show.

  1. Camilla George Quartet – Lunacity from Isang
  2. Orchestre Dakar Band – Baylen Di Yelwane from AfroLatin Via Dakar
  3. Machito – Tibiri-Tabara from Nuyorican Hits
  4. Don Pullen feat Sam Rivers – Joycie Girl from You Need This, Intro to Black Soul & Soul Note 1975 – 85
  5. Theolonius Monk – Misterioso  from The Best of the Blue Note Years
  6. Lukasz Korybalski – CMM from CMM
  7. Piotr Wojtasik – Recognition, Understanding & Acceptance from Old Land
  8. Mammal Hands – Kudu from Floa
  9. Thomas Stronen – I Don’t Wait for Anyone from Time is a Blind Guide

Derek is listening to…

  1. Kenny Garrett – Seeds From The Underground
  2. Don Cherry – Rhumba Multikulti
  3. Steve Colson & Unity Troupe – Lateen
  4. Gabriel Faure – Requiem
  5. Raging Fyah – Nah Look Back

Neil is listening to…

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: