Tag Archives: Matthew Halsall

15 June 2016: crossing genres

fania all starsAvailable on the MixCloud tab from CJ this week are some favourite records from the last year or so, plus a couple of older tunes. Make sure you check out all the links embedded below for max effect!

First up was a track from an old recording released in 2011 by the always-reliable Strut Records as a 40th anniversary CD and DVD of The Fania All Stars playing live at The Cheetah, New York. I played this in memory of a friend who back in the 1970s lent me two remarkable download (2)vinyl records – now rare collectors items – of the All Stars, live on Virgin Records. This was my introduction  to Latin music, and it’s been a passion that has remained strong ever since. Of course, the link between Latin music and jazz has always been there – and they come together in the umbrella term Latin jazz. Coined during the 1950s by the American media, it’s a simplistic description of a very complex cultural melting pot. There are, after all, 22 countries in Latin American with each one having an extraordinary diversity of rhythms, styles and genres that represent the individual cultural mixes of that country and its region. We selected Ray Barretto’s Cochinando, the lead off track from this excellent record of one of the most influential Latin concerts ever.

Cover_KoutéJazz-350x350Just one of those many Latin permutations was shown in the next selection from the excellent Koute Jazz compilation on French label Heavenly Sweetness. This time it was a group from Guadeloupe using Brazilian rhythms to invoke memories of the island’s original inhabitants. Catch the lovely Fender Rhodes on this one! Ed Motta is Brazilian – but don’t go to his new album Perpetual Gateways if you are looking for stereotypical Brazilian sounds. While Motta’s previous album AOR (a self conscious tribute to ‘adult oriented rock’) was a slick Steely Dan-esque affair, the new one works at delivering both soul and jazz – in fact, it’s presented as two suites of five songs each – one called Soul Gate and the other Jazz Gate. Produced by Kamau Kenyatta (Gregory ed motta perpetual gatewaysPorter) and featuring an impressive supporting cast that includes such west coast session luminaries as Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes, and Hubert Laws, Perpetual Gateways is a delight. We played I Remember Julie which features Rushen and an extended acoustic piano solo – a long way away from the smooth jazzfunk of Forget Me Nots!

Ameen Saleem appeared again this week but in jazz rather than soul/R’n’B mode – both of which sit happily on his genre-hopping new release The Groove Lab. It’s great to see the current crop of US jazz artists adopting this more freewheeling approach – and making it work. We’ll be checking out saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s latest album along with the Miles Davis/Robert Glasper R’n’B collaboration, Everything’s Beautiful in future shows.

st germainOne of my very favourite records of  the last twelve months has been another record that crossed genres. St Germain is the third album from the eponymous French artist (Parisian producer Ludovic Navarre) and is a superb example of how jazz, Malian blues and contemporary beats can be merged into a seamless whole. If you do not have this record, then we regard it as an essential must-have: it may not have the spell-binding blend of jazz and house that so characterised Tourist, but it is an excellent addition to the genre crossing canon. It’s worth comparing the lead off track on St Germain (Real Blues which features Lightning Hopkins) with its spiritual predecessor from Tourist (Sure Thing with John Lee Hooker). Navarre is a late headline addition to next month’s Love Supreme jazz festival – check him out if you can.

marshall allen and the arkestraEuropean jazz, so integral to CJ, was represented this week via the Czech Republic from Ondre Sveracek and the Petr Benes Quartet – check the subtle horn playing on this one. Of course, Thomas Stronen from Norway had to appear again and to end the show we travelled the spaceways once more with the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of 92 year old Marshall Allen.

  1. Fania All Stars – Cocinando from Our Latin Thing
  2. Guadeloupe Reflexions – Samba Arawak from Koute Jazz
  3. Ed Motta – I Remember Julie from Perpetual Gateways
  4. Ameen Saleem – Korinthis from The Groove Lab
  5. St. Germain – Family Tree from St. Germain
  6. Ondre Sveracek – Meditation from Calm
  7. Petr Benes Quartet – My Little Ruth from Pbq+1
  8. Thomas Stronen – As We Wait For Time from Time Is A Blind Guide
  9. Sun Ra Arkestra – Galactic Voyage from Song For The Sun


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

01 June 2016: featuring Thomas Stronen and Norwegian jazz

thomas stronenRecently I went to a performance by Thomas Stronen at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival 2016. It was simply an amazing, highly memorable experience and if you click the MixCloud tab (left) you can hear some of the tunes from the album Time Is A Blind Guide on which Stronen’s set was based.

The music wa2467_X_1 (1)s intense, spiritual, emotional jazz drawing upon classical, Far Eastern and traditional Norwegian influences. The combination of Lucy Railton on cello (not a common jazz instrument), Hakan Aase on violin and  Ole Morton Vagan on double bass created a beautiful, warm, melodic sound – check the tune Pipa for an example of this. The subtle, precise drumming of Thomas Stronen, interacting with the flowing and adventurous piano of Kit Downes was mesmerising – listen to The Stone Carriers which was also featured on this week’s CJ. The album is on ECM and is very highly recommended.

tord gustavsen what was saidAlso on ECM is the album What was said by Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen with Afghan/German voice Simin Tander singing in Pashto and English accompanied by Jarle Vespestad on drums. This is another ECM group I have heard live this year – excellent too, but edged out by Thomas Stronen.

Also from Norway this week came LEO,  (Love Exit Orchestra) featuring vocalist Sheila Simmenes whose many interests include jazz and Brazilian music and Lucky Novak, a quirky, original and experimental Norwegian band with a British saxophonist.

shela simmenesAll the music this week was recorded in Europe and featured – with the odd exception – European musicians. This included more music available at Steve’s Jazz Sounds. For example, Spanish, a modal tune from Czech Republic saxophonist Ondrej Sveracek on his album CalmThis also includes US drummer Gene Jackson with a controlled, complex  feature towards the end of the tune. Also, for the first time on Cosmic Jazz came the Cracow Jazz Collective, an eight-piece band featuring young Polish jazz musicians with compositions by pianist Mateusz Gaweda. Take a look at the No More Drama video for more from this exciting collective.

erik truffaz doni doniDoni Doni, the new record from Erik Truffaz, is still on the CJ ‘tables. This time, it was a contrast from his more ambient, relaxed and minimalist sounds. Finally, there was a chance to catch part of Archangelo from Raphael available on Spiritual Jazz 2. Raphael was a US pianist but the album was recorded in Belgium with Belgian musicians.

  1. Ondrej Sveracek – Spanish from Calm
  2. Cracow Jazz Collective – Polish Drama from No More Drama
  3. Thomas Stronen – The Stone Carriers from Time Is A Blind Guide
  4. Thomas Stronen – Tide from Time from Time is a Blind Guide
  5. Thomas Stronen – Everything Disappears 1 from Time is a Blind Guide
  6. Thomas Stronen – Pipa from Time is a Blind Guide
  7. Tord Gustavsen – Sweet Melting from What was said
  8. LEO (Love Extra Orchestra) – Don’t Get Me Wrong from preview copy
  9. Lucky Novak – Ornette from Up! Go!
  10. Erik Truffaz Quartet – Fat City from Doni Doni
  11. Raphael – Archangelo from Spiritual Jazz 2


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…


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)


Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

Playlist – 19 August 2015: searching for the perfect beat…

Neil was back for this week’s Cosmic Jazz (although he didn’t make the beginning of the programme!) and the music reflected some of his current listening. First up was Matthew Halsall’s cover of Bill Lee’s Strata East classic John Coltrane – a track we never tire of here marcelo d2 CJ. Another old favourite came from Marcos Valle – and then it was time for the less familiar. We started with Marcelo D2, Brazilian rapper and nu-samba artist who was (as we all are) searching for the perfect beat. It’s not strictly jazz but that improvisational sensibility is always there – just as it is with the under-rated saxophonist Joe Farrell who has just featured in his own CJ blog entry. Check it out below this playlist and then listen (again) to his brilliant take on Stevie Wonder’s Too High.

More Wonderful stuff from Marcus Miller’s Tales album and then a track from someone who – like Farrell – deserves to be better know. Maria Schneider leads her own jazz orchestra and crafts rich and rewarding albums that are released on her own ArtistShare label. The music is stunning and the CDs are works of art too.

Time to end the show, and Neil featured one of Yusef Lateef’s lastthe-detroit-experiment major recordings, this time with the French Belmondo brothers. Their expansive double album Influence is not perfect but the featured track Shafaaa is a delight. We played out with another release that doesn’t always succeed in its ambitions but the Carl Craig-penned Think Twice is a bit of a monster. If you like this, try the minimalism remix by Henrik Schwartz that strips this slice of housey jazz to its barest essentials. It’s our first video clip this week. Does it sit easily with this White Magic Fred Astaire clip? I think so! If this isn’t for you, then try Maria Schneider conducting the NDR Big Band live at the 2009 Jazz Baltica festival – our second video clip this week.

  1. Matthew Halsall – John Coltrane from download
  2. Marcus Valle – Agua de Coco from Contrasts
  3. Marcelo D2 – A Procura du Batida Perfeita from A Procura du Batida Perfeita (Searching for the Perfect Beat)
  4. Joe Farrell – Too High from Penny Arcade
  5. Marcus Miller – Medley: Vision/Joy Inside My Tears from Tales
  6. Maria Schneider Orchestra – Walking by Flashlight from The Thompson Fields
  7. Belmondo/Yusef Lateef – Shafaa from Influence
  8. Carl Craig – Think Twice from The Detroit Experiment

Playlist – 11 February 2015: music on my iPod

I returned this week from three weeks on the wonderful island of Grenada in the Caribbean. I heard lots of reggae and soca but the jazz I heard was limited to my iPod. So, the choices for this week’s show included some of the tunes that caught my attention as well as a nod to the Caribbean, to Neil and to some live music I missed while away. If you want to hear this week’s selection, just press the Mixcloud tab. You’ll not be disappointed.

I missed both Matthew Halsall and Mammal Hands both at a local venue and on tour – but I heard from a son who saw the Sheffield performance that it was amazing. Online reviews seem to be giving the same message. What more can you say?

4PAN1TSPBThe Theo Parrish Black Jazz Records compilation was probably the highlight of the music that appeared on my iPod. I don’t know how to tell you enough that this is a wonderful must-have record. It’s widely available so go out and buy a copy for yourself. Some Cosmic Jazz favourites appeared on the show this week too, namely Esperanza Spalding, Zara McFarlane, Carmen Lundy and Gregory Porter – who was also on British television again this week.

The Charles Lloyd choice was for Neil who persuaded me that I needed to listen to his music, after which I wondered why it had taken me me so long. What a line-up there was for this record! Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette. Wow!

Ernest Ranglin was my Caribbean link. The title track Below The below the basslineBassline from the album of the same name was released on what Island called their Jamaica Jazz label and the presence of Monty Alexander on piano and melodica is evidence enough of its jazz credentials. Many Jamaican musicians of that era, including Ernest Ranglin himself, grew up immersed in jazz sounds and learnt to play through jazz groups. At the beginning of the tune Ira Coleman’s bass seemed to disturb the IO Radio speakers but it was soon sorted. A bass-heavy, jazzy, reggae tune and a beautifully recorded, understated album that is required listening.

  1. The Awakening – Jupiter from Theo Parrish’s Black Jazz Signature
  2. Esperanza Spalding – Radio Song from Radio Music Society
  3. Matthew Halsall and the Gondwana Orchestra – Falling Water from When the World Was One
  4. Mammal Hands –  Tiny Crumb from Animalia
  5. Zara McFarlane – Woman In The Olive Groves from If You Knew Her
  6. Ernest Ranglin – Below The Bassline from Below the Bassline
  7. The Charles Lloyd Quartet – Bird Flight from Dream Weaver
  8. Carmen Lundy – When Will They Ever Learn from Soul to Soul
  9. Gregory Porter – Hey Laura from Liquid Spirit

Playlist – 17 December 2014: jazz we like from 2014

This week I played some tunes that I heard and liked from 2014 . I avoid notions of “best of”: there are probably many that I missed. I do know, however, that this week has eight fantastic jazz and jazz-related pieces crammed into an hour – and from groups and performers that have excited me and strengthened my love of jazz during the year.

  1. Mammal Hands – Mansions of Millions from Animalia
  2. Michal Wroblewski Trio – Warsaw Blues from City Album
  3. Eple Trio – Island Sunrise from Universal Cycle
  4. Phronesis – Black from Life to Everything
  5. Matthew Halsall & the Gondwana Orchestra – When the World Was One from When the World Was one
  6. Samuel Prather – Fela Snarky from Groove Orchestra
  7. Somi feat Angelique Kidjo – Lady Revisited from The Lagos Music Salon
  8. Zara McFarlane feat Leron Thomas – Angie La La from If You Knew Her
  9. George Garzone – Restless from Quintonic

Playlist – 18 July 2013

This week CJ featured two tunes from Spiritual Jazz 4, the growing series of releases on the British Jazzman label which seem to get better and better. The music certainly continued the spiritual, deep and contemplative vibspiritual jazz 4e of the previous week. Spiritual Jazz 4 is indeed highly recommended. I would go so far as to say it is the best in the series so far. It features Americans in Europe: Modal, Esoteric and Progressive Jazz from the European Underground 1968 – 1979 and this week’s show included tunes from Billy Gault and the Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land Quintet. Other Cosmic Jazz favourites included on the 2CD compilation are Sahib Shihab, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler (with a version of Summertime), Grachan Moncur III, Don Cherry, Lee Konitz and Eric Dolphy.  All the tracks were either recorded in Europe or were issued originally on a European label. It was good to see the highly-rated British altoist Peter King appearing with the unlikely combination of Johnny Hawksworth and Hampton Hawes. Hawksworth is a fine British bass player who is also a library music and TV theme tune composer – including Man About the House and the Thames Television ident music! As with the other releases in the series there are extensive liner notes on the music and musicians.

There were also some diversions from our spiritual path, although not to the extent of the club-based, fun-loving approach of the tunes two weeks previously. Dinah Washington’s performance from the celebrated Jazz On A Summer’s Day film and iconic Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto were chosen as appropriate artists to reflect the summery weather in the UK right now and Jessica Lauren (featuring Jocelyn Brown on vocals) took us up-tempo with a great tune from the self-titled Jessica Lauren album from 2012. Two tracks from this release have been featured several times on CJ previously but we have not featured Happiness Train before. Orchestre Dakar Band was a piece of personal indulgence in Afro-Latin music and included a trumpet solo that sounded great even if it does not quite reach those upper registers.

For the next few weeks the programme will be in the capable hands of Gary – ICR station manager and then Palmer, whose excellent selections need no introduction to Cosmic Jazz listeners. The playlist will not go up as the tunes are played but Neil will ensure that they are up there as soon as possible.

  1. Full Moon Ensemble – Bamba Miaou from Spiritual Jazz 3
  2. Billy Gault – Mode For Trane from Spiritual Jazz 4
  3. Matthew Halsall – Finding My Way from Fletcher Moss Park
  4. Jessica Lauren feat. Jocelyn Brown – Happiness Train from Jessica Lauren
  5. Orchestre Dakar Band – Baylien Di Yelwane from AfroLatin Via Dakar
  6. Dinah Washington – All Of Me from Jazz On A Summer’s Day
  7. Astrud Gilberto – Once Upon A Summertime from Gitanes Jazz – Stan Getz
  8. Kairos 4Tet (feat Omar) – Song For The Open Road from Everything We Hold
  9. Larry ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Transcendental Euphoria from Transcendental
  10. Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land Quintet – The Creators from Spiritual Jazz 4

Playlist – 25 April 2013

There have not been many of them lately, but this week’s show was a return to a solomatthhew halsall john coltrane presentation from Derek.The choices were inspired partly by others. Firstly, last week’s show hosted by Palmer and Alex had Manchester-based trumpeter Matthew Halsall’s version of Clifford Jordan’s John Coltrane. Tonight the track was played in full. You can still download it, along with a couple of other great covers.There  was also a repeat for Lost Keys, the title track of an album from Poland’s excellent Maciej Fortuna Quartet and Clusters from NuYorican master Charlie Palmieri, which I found on a CD hidden in a basement at home. If you come across anything by Charlie Palmieri give it serious attention.

An email from Neil during the week recounted how he had walked into a cafe in Beijing recently to hear Siegfried by Swiss-born French-based trumpeter Erik Truffaz. We have played this several times on Cosmic Jazz but this was too good an excuse to play it again. Are we right to repeat CJ favourites from time to time? On the evidence of this wonderful and uplifting piece of music I think so. [Agreed! Neil}.

The latest selection of tunes from Steve’s Jazz Sounds resulted in the Winther, Bergonzi, Amon, Mogensen title track from their album, a US-Scandinavian collaboration of tough, contemporary jazz.

There’s a new compilation from the rare jazz vinyl collection of jazz dance DJ Kev Beadle. In the past he was a DJ at the legendary Sunday Afternoon sessions at Dingwalls in Camden London. Not surprisingly, Private Collection is the title of the CD and we shall play more from it in the future. I began this week with Brotherhood by Kamal Abdul Alim, a tune Neil and knew from the Japanese band Sleep Walker, not knowing there is an original. Both versions are fine jazz dance floor gems and when I tested the Kamal Abdul Alim one when playing out last Friday it stood out as a highlight of the evening.{I knew it would be! Neil]

There was also a quiet phase to the programme – for no particular reason, but I loved it and must do this again. We had Betty Carter, Mario Biondi and Shirley Horn which links to  the long awaited return of the video. See below as this week we dived deep with a one hour programme from 1992 on legendary vocalist Shirley Horn.

  1. Matthew Halsall – John Coltrane
  2. Maciej Fortuna Quartet – Lost Keys
  3. Charlie Palmieri – Clusters
  4. Winther Bergonzi Amon Mogensen – Tetragonz
  5. Erik Truffaz feat. Nya – Siegfried
  6. Rudolph Johnson – The Highest Pleasure
  7. Betty Carter – I Can’t Help It
  8. Mario Biondi – On A Clear Day You Can See Forever
  9. Shirley Horn – Travellin’ Light
  10. Kamal Abdul Alim – Brotherhood
  11. Jose James – Come To My Door
  12. Larry ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Transcendental Euphoria
  13. Bossa Tres – Imprevisto
  14. Joe Henderson – Gazelle

So here’s the late Shirley Horn in the 1992 film Here’s to Life, released at the same time as the album of the same name. Enjoy!



Playlist – 11 April 2013

This week Palmer and Alex are sitting in on the show with their own personal selections.

  1. Michal Urbaniak Group – Lato
  2. John Coltrane – India, NYC 1961
  3. Andrew Hill – Dusk
  4. Matthew Halsall – J.C (John Coltrane)
  5. Roland Kirk – A Handful Of Fives
  6. Abbey Lincoln – Brother, Where Are You
  7. Sun Ra – Angels and Demons at Play
  8. Maciej Fortuna Quartet – Lost Keys
  9. Roland Kirk – Domino
  10. Marc de Clive Lowe and the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra – Take The Space Trane
  11. Sons Of Kemet – The Jungalist
  12. Flora Purim – Speak No Evil
  13. Milano Jazz Dance Combo – Changes ft. Colonel Red
  14. Odell Brown & The Organizers – Think About It
  15. Chester Thompson – Power House
  16. Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 – Upa Neguinho
  17. Three Sounds – Soul Symphony
  18. George Benson – I Want You
  19. Della Reese – It Was A Very Good Year
  20. Horace Silver Quintet – Wipe Away The Evil
  21. Robert Lowe – Back To Funk
  22. Charlie Palmieri – Clusters
  23. Roy Haynes – Satan’s Mysterious Feeling

Playlist – 27 December 2012

This week’s programme was the second of our Best of 2012. There were plenty of great new releases squeezed into our 90 minute slot but we also managed a few re-releases with Sun Ra and Spider’s Web, a rarity from the BGP Jazz Funk compilation. Spider’s Webb was the brainchild of drummer Spider Webb and his wife Carol Kaye, the renowned bass guitar session player, famed for her work with Phil Spector, David Axelrod and others.

Neil played a flying visit at the start of the show with a mix of five tracks from new albums and Derek continued with more of the music we enjoyed over the year. For more on what we liked this year, check out our upcoming feature – watch this space.

  1. Flying Lotus – Until the Colours Come
  2. Ahmad Jamal – Autumn Rain
  3. Mala – Cuba Electronic
  4. John Surman – On Staddon Heights
  5. Nik Bartsch’s Ronin – Modul 41_47 (live)
  6. Matthew Halsall – Fletcher Moss Park
  7. EST – Three Falling Part 1
  8. GoGo Penguin – Fanfares
  9. Trish Clowes – Atlas
  10. Kelan Philip Cohran and The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Frankincense & Myrrh
  11. Sun Ra – Plutonian Nights
  12. Kenny Garrett – Welcome Earth Song
  13. Carmen Lundy – Love Thy Neighbour
  14. Gabriel Poso – Freedom
  15. Ebo Taylor – Abonsam
  16. Spider’s Web – I Don’t Know What’s On Your Mind