Tag Archives: Pharoah Sanders

Week ending 07 March 2020: the spiritual heritage

Cosmic Jazz this week kicks off with what many would call ‘spiritual jazz’. About as misleading a term as – for example – ‘yacht rock’, it’s now used to describe any lost or private press jazz recording from the 1970-80s influenced by a vague Afrocentrism that includes cover art featuring at least one dashiki and some ‘tribal’ art. Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but here at CJ we might suggest that the ‘buyer beware’…

No worries though regarding our opening music choices this week, as we began the show with the genuine article – two tracks from the master Pharoah Sanders and one from current British favourites, Maisha. As always, the show is available via the Mixcloud/Listen Again tab – expect warm, spiritual, challenging and politically conscious music.

As Derek noted, in cold weather he often turns to warm-sounding music. Journey to the One was released on Californian label Theresa, Sanders’ home for most of the 1980s, and even the abstract cover art evokes a warm glow. Derek remembers getting it out to play on a cold UK winter’s day as a visitor from Los Angeles was about to arrive and it remains his favourite Pharaoh Sanders album. It’s easy to see why: some of the Impuse! label indulgences are held in check and there are memorable tunes. too. It’s not an album we have featured extensively on Cosmic Jazz although Greetings to Idris has made some previous appearances.  Of course, You’ve Got To Have Freedom is the totemic anthem that features in many a DJ’s jazz dance set, but there’s much more on this double album to enjoy. Sanders is on fine form throughout and there is excellent support from the great John Hicks on piano and – on Doktor Pitt – flugelhorn from Eddie Henderson. With no shortage of great melodies, there’s also there’s some reflective koto on Kazuko and a lovely version of Coltrane’s After the Rain.  Spiritually uplifting music indeed and warmly recommended.

Maisha are led by drummer Jake Long and are one of the finest of the current crop of British jazz artists. The band includes Amané Suganami, Twm Dylan, Tim Doyle, Yahael Camara-Onono, Shirley Tetteh and Nubya Garcia – the latter two with distinctive solos on our choice from the album, the opening tune OsirisRecorded across just three days in 2018, There Is a Place is a really fine album. There’s an organic element to the music that has emerged from the group’s two years of rehearsing and playing together. Short it may be, but this is a record to return to – as we often do both at home and here on the show. You’d be wise to buy (vinyl or CD) or download the whole album – best done here on Bandcamp. As Derek noted on the show, Maisha joined forces with saxophonist Gary Bartz at Gilles Peterson’s inaugural We Out Here Festival last year, and a studio album of that collaboration will be released in May. It’s one to look out for. To get a taste of the group live look out for the album tour – they’ll be in Norwich on 26 May – incidentally, just after the Norfolk & Norwich Festival for 2020 which features an excellent lineup this year including a number of artists we’ve featured on Cosmic Jazz. Look out for Kandace Springs, the Rob Luft Band, Oscar Jerome and Sarathy Korwar.

One record deservedly getting a lot of airplay on Cosmic Jazz is the excellent Polska from Piotr Damasiewicz & Power of the Horns Ensemble. Damasiewicz has dedicated the album to four heroes of Polish Jazz – Krzysztof Komeda, Tomasz Stanko and Piotr Wojtasik are likely to be familar to regular CJ listeners – but perhaps saxophonist Tomasz Szukalski rather less so.  In a tragic life, Szukalski did not record as much as he could – but here he is in Stanko’s quartet with an inspired version of First Song, from Stanko’s ECM recording Balladyna.

The music on Polska is big, passionate and majestic and the ensemble is well named: there are five horns, a piano, two double basses and drums. Komeda’s presence resonates throughout the four original tunes, but so, too, do echoes from beyond Poland. The opening track Billy  – which we featured this week – is named for tenor saxophonist Billy Harper who played on a number of records by  contemporary Polish artists – including Piotr Wojtasik.

2019 release We Are On the Edge is very much a 50 year celebration of the Art Ensemble of Chicago – and yet it doesn’t really sound like a typical AEoC record. Formed as an avant-garde jazz group out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago, the AEoC have released dozens of excellent free jazz recordings over the years. We Are On the Edge is a 2CD set of studio recordings and live performances, with an extended lineup beyond the two surviving members of the group, Roscoe Mitchell and Famoumdou Don Moye. Rapper and vocalist Camae ‘Moor Mother’ Ayewa is bought on for a couple of tracks (including the reflective Mama Koko) and elsewhere there are contributions from flautist Nicole Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid and new bassist Jaribu Shahid. But the complete ensemble includes a small string section, four percussionists (including Moye), electronics, and several musicians who also contribute vocals. Mama Koko has plenty of cultural and historical references with percussive West African sounds and mentions for Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey and the importance of the Congo heritage. We Are On the Edge is not an album that will appeal immediately to AEoC fans but it’s worth a listen.

There is much excitement at the moment concerning the young/youngish jazz musicians that have emerged out of the UK. It is important, however, not to forget some of the earlier pioneers of the British jazz scene – and one of the greatest was sax player Tubby Hayes. Sadly, a combination of ill health and drugs led to an early death, but Hayes had a prolific recording history and performed regularly. I was one of those lucky enough to see him in some of my earliest jazz experiences. In December 2019 a record was released of a lost Fontana session, originally  recorded at the Philips studios in London on 24 June 1969 with Spike Wells on drums, Mike Pyne on piano and Ron Matthewson on bass. Where Am I Going?, the third take of which is on this week’s show, features a long Tubby Hayes solo. A fitting testament and highly recommended. The recording comes in two versions – go for the 2CD set if you want all the takes of these tunes. If you’re not familiar with Tubby Hayes’ music, then try the fabulous Down In the Village recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s in London and, yes, that’s Hayes on vibes rather than sax!

  1. Pharoah Sanders – Greetings to Idris from Journey to the One
  2. Pharoah Sanders – Doktor Pitt from Journey to the One
  3. Maisha – Osiris from There is a Place
  4. Piotr Damasiewicz & Power of the Horns Ensemble – Billy from Polksa
  5. Art Ensemble of Chicago – Mama Koko from We Are On the Edge
  6. Tubby Hayes – Where Am I Going? (Take 3) – from Grit, Beans and Greens (the Lost Fontana Sessions)

Derek is listening to… music inspired by his jukebox, the BBC4 documentary on Eric Burdon and a selection from Neil

Neil is listening to… music inspired by Somethin’ Else 30th Anniversary show on JazzFM

19 July 2017: an all Coltrane show

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 July saw a significant anniversary in jazz – it was exactly 50 years since the death of saxophonist John Coltrane, and so here on Cosmic Jazz we have been celebrating his life and work over the last three weeks. Tonight is our final look at Coltrane’s music – but this time through the interpretation of others.

We began the show with a track featuring the classic Coltrane quartet – Coltrane on tenor saxophone, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Tunji comes from the 1962 album Coltrane and is dedicated to Babatunde Olatunji, the Nigerian percussionist who influenced Coltrane’s music.

CJ then celebrated the influence of Coltrane’s music on other musicians, beginning with one of our most underated British saxophonists Alan Skidmore on a 2CD set recorded live at the Boxford Fleece, here in Suffolk. We chose Skidmore’s take on Resolution, the second part of Coltrane’s most famous composition, A Love Supreme and followed this with a take on Countdown, first recorded by Coltrane on the Giant Steps album of 1960 – a virtual template of jazz standards including the title track, Naima and Mr P.C. The artist was the young Indonesian pianist Joey Alexander, whom we have featured on the show previously. Alexander is something of a phenomenon, having recorded his first album at the age of 11 – titled, My Favourite Things, it featured both this and his treatment of Coltrane’s Giant Steps.

We had to play at least one Pharoah Sanders tune and I chose a live version of Naima, recorded on the Crescent with Love album from 1994. Sanders was, of course, a member of Coltrane’s expanded groups of the mid and late 1960s. He first worked with Coltrane in 1965 on the Ascension album, perhaps the most free of Coltrane’s releases. His albums from the 1970s onwards featured Alice Coltrane. Now 76, Sanders continues to record although mainly as a featured artist on other’s recordings.

Dwight Trible’s rich, deep baritone voice has featured on several recent recordings – including his Living Water album of 2006 which featured a vocal version of one of Coltrane’s most beautiful tunes, Wise One. The track we featured – Dear Lord – is very much in the same tradition. It comes from Trible’s new release on Manchester based Gondwana Records and features Matthew Halsall on trumpet.  We will feature more from this excellent album in future programmes. British tenor player Denys Baptiste is one of a number of jazz musicians who have released albums celebrating the music of John Coltrane in recent months, and Late Trane appears on the excellent Edition Records – our label of the year for 2016. Baptiste is joined by Nikki Yeoh on piano and keys, Gary Crosby on bass and with special guest Steve Williamson on tenor on some tracks, including the beautiful After the Rain.

Nat Birchall’s excellent website indicates his debt to his first love – Jamaican dub. This is significant as Birchall makes clear he was an enthusiastic listener before becoming a musician – sound has always been the first and most important thing about music to me, he says. In this he shares much with John Coltrane who released an album simply called Coltrane’s Sound. Writer Ben Ratcliff refers to Coltrane’s continual search for a sound in his thought-provoking book Coltrane: The Story of a Sound, identifying the restless searching that puzzled so many of those around him. As Ratliff explains in his introduction, the book is about jazz as sound. I mean ‘sound’ as it has long functioned among jazz players, as a mystical term of art: an in, every musician finally needs a sound, a full and sensible embodiment of his artistic personality, such that it can be heard, at best, in a single note.  It’s easy to conclude that we have still not caught up with Coltrane’s journey, even fifty years after his death – something that’s not true now of his contemporary, Miles Davis, whose most out-there music (for example, On the Corner, released in 1972) is now appreciated as a ground-breaking work that has influenced so much modern music from Steve Reich to techno and trance. Much like those who worked with Davis at this time,  Coltrane’s own sidemen in the mid sixties had little idea of what Coltrane was up to. Elvin Jones simply shrugged and said Beats the shit outta me and for many listeners this is still what is often thought of Coltrane’s experiments in sound.

We ended the show with something of a contemporary favourite. Several remixers have tried to put their own stamp on Coltrane’s iconic A Love Supreme – but none have succeeded like Berlin duo Skinnerbox. It’s not easily available anymore as a download, but you can listen to the edited dub version here on Soundcloud. Highly recommended.

Finally, to expand your thinking about John Coltrane and his influence, read this feature from Jazzwise magazine by one of our favourite writers, Kevin le Gendre. Incidentally, he would never make Neil’s elementary mistake on the show of referring to Coltrane as an alto saxophonist – although it is true that ‘trane played alto on some of his earliest recordings as well as his final Japanese tour in 1965…

  1. John Coltrane Quartet – Tunji (alternate take) from Coltrane (Deluxe Edition)
  2. Alan Skidmore Quartet – Resolution from Impressions of John Coltrane
  3. Joey Alexander – Countdown from Countdown
  4. Pharoah Sanders – Naima from Crescent with Love
  5. Dwight Trible – Dear Lord from Inspirations
  6. Denys Baptiste – After the Rain from Late Trane
  7. Nat Birchall – To Be from Invocations
  8. Skinnerbox – A Love Supreme Remix download

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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:

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…

10 May 2017: featuring Black Renaissance

Every year as summer draws near I have to play Harry Whitaker’s sensational Black Renaissance: Mind, Body and Spirit – and in full. It is simply a wonderful piece of free, spontaneous and Afrocentric jazz, soul and rapping – before rap was known. In effect and reality, the whole piece was a jam session recorded in one take and – rather fittingly – on Martin Luther King day in 1976.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are just two tracks – Black Renaissance (side 1) and Magic Ritual (side 2). Whitaker comments on the record sleeve that “we discussed ideas the night before – just the basics like the bass lines and the drums, but that was it. It was recorded in what I call moment-to-moment.” For many years the tapes were thought to be lost forever, but they they were eventually tracked down in 2002 by the Luv’n’Haight label in California and released on Ubiquity.

Harry Whitaker was a pianist, producer, arranger and composer who played and recorded with Roy Ayers and Roberta Flack and had influential jazz friends and contacts. The record includes Woody Shaw (check out his trumpet solo), Azar Lawrence, Buster Williams, Billy Hart and Mtume. The music is essentially a  map of the African American musical canvas of 1976, with echoes of Sun Ra’s call and response, Coltrane’s tonal meditations and touches of the electronic wizardry of Herbie Hancock’s early 1970s music.  You simply need to hear this essential music – press the Mixcloud tab now! You can still track down the album on both vinyl and CD. Original Japanese pressings from 1976 come up at around £300 so go for the Lu’n’Haight reissue – around £10 for CD and a little more on vinyl. If you don’t have this jazz essential just treat yourself.

It was another tune from the Dinosaur record Together as One that started off the show. Extinct has been an ever-present on my current playlist for some time now. The clarity of the playing from each player comes out really strongly on this tune. It is jazz for our times from a significant, young British group.

I was reminded recently that a year ago this week I saw the Sun Ra Arkestra under the musical direction of Marshall Allen, now aged 92 and still as strong as ever. The orchestra continues to carry the spirit of Sun Ra and Cosmic Hop manages to combine the spiritual with the danceable. The Jelle Van Giel group from Belgium have featured regularly on the show. We like them and they merit repeated listening. There was another tune from The Devotion, US drummer John Lumpkin’s release from last year. This was one of those tunes that ends in a free and improvised blow-out (like Black Renaissance) – quite different from how it starts. The whole album, available on download, is, in fact, quite unpredictable. One tune, in particular, is very different, maybe I should try it next week…

Two other artists I saw almost a year ago were UK musicians pianist Kit Downes and cello player Lucy Railton. At that time, they were playing with Norwegian Thomas Stronin as he toured in Europe. This week we ended the show with a track from the duo’s recent release Tricko .

  1. Dinosaur – Extinct from Together as One
  2. Black Renaissance – Black Renaissance from Black Renaissance: Body, Mind and Spirit
  3. Sun Ra Arkestra – Cosmic Hop from Songs for the Sun
  4. Jelle Van Giel Group – The Truth from Songs for Everyone
  5. John Lumpkin – The Red Sea from The Devotion
  6. Kit Downes – Jinn from Tricko

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Neil is listening to…

06 April 2016: Gato and Miles

This week’s CJ is now available for you to listen to – just click on the tab left – or above on your mobile or tablet. gato barbieri 01The show featured music from Leandro (Gato) Barbieri and Miles Davis, who features in a new film out in the UK later this month. Barbieri, who died last week, was an Argentinian tenor saxophonist with a raw, fiery tone that was unmistakeable. We began with Oliver Nelson whose live Montreux date from 1971 featured Barbieri on the expansive Swiss Suite before diving into one of Barbieri’s Impulse! releases. The album Chaptoliver nelson swiss suiteer Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata is a personal favourite and features superb arrangements by Cuban Chico O’Farrill. We chose El Sublime which does everything you could ask for in six minutes. If there’s one album to start your Barbieri journey, this could be the one. As we said on the show, it’s probably best to avoid some of the later ‘easier listening’ music – you’ll just wonder what all the fuss is about. We ended our tribute to Barbieri with another great track – this time his version of the Jorge Ben tune Maria Domingas from the album Under Fire (1971). And what a band – Lonnie Liston Smith is on piano and keyboards, John Abercrombie on guitar, Stanley Clarke ongato barbieri chapter three bass and Roy Haynes on drums.  For a taste of the original, try this lovely (but extremely crackly) version from Brazilian TV in 1971. Jorge Ben’s backing band here is Trio Mocoto, who had a recent renaissance with their album Samba Rock – named after the style they pioneered in the 1970s and highly recommended by CJ. Listen to Mocoto Beat here.

We explored other music with jazz influences in the final part of this week’s showtribe called quest low end theory – starting with a brief tribute to Phife Dawg, late rapper with the influential A Tribe Called Quest. Butter samples Weather Report’s River People and is testimony to the dizzying quality of his rapping. Almost uniquely, ATCQ told lyrical stories – and never better than on this downtempo classic album The Low End Theory.

Our second feature this week celebrated the upcoming UK release (on 22 April) of actor/director Don Cheadle’s film Miles Ahead. miles ahead official posterThis crowdfunded production has already received a lot of airtime – some of it controversial. Don Cheadle acknowledged, for example, that the film wouldn’t have been made unless there had been a white co-star involved – and so in came Ewan McGregor, playing a fictitious journalist investigating the disappearance of some studio tapes. You can watch the official trailer here. We began with a clip from the film soundtrack and followed it with one of the original tracks from the soundtrack album – Junior’s Jam which features pianist Robert Glasper, the musical director of this project. Don’t turn to this new miles ahead soundtrackrelease for an introduction to the music of Miles: only two of the original tracks are unedited (Frelon Brun and So What) but consider it a momento of the film. However, it’s worth noting that the film (and this soundtrack) don’t shy away from Davis’ More ‘difficult’ music – it’s endlessly frustrating to hear TV or radio features on the film that concentrate on A Kind of Blue only. Miles was so much more than this – and we’ll continue to feature the range of his music in upcoming CJ shows. Miles Davis remains not merely an icon of 20th century music but one of the greatest musical innovators of all time.

The new Blue Note release from GoGo Penguin has some excellent tracks – we featured one of the standout tracks, Smarra. Count Ossie is a Jamaican musical maven whose range of influences cover reggae, afrobeat, jazz and more. His excellent album Tales of Mozambique23 skidoo 23 skidoo has just been re-released on the excellent Soul Jazz label – check it out if you can. 23 Skidoo seem to have been forgotten, but they were an influential British band active between 1979-2002 who still sound relevant today. Their most jazz-influenced release is the self-titled 23 Skidoo album from 2000 which features Pharoah Sanders on two tracks including Kendang.

We ended this week’s show with more conventional jazz from British saxophonist Tony Kofi – whose 2005 Thelonious Monk tribute All is Know is outstanding – and a last brief look at Miles Davis. There will be more next week…

  1. Oliver Nelson – Swiss Suite from Swiss Suite
  2. Gato Barbieri – El Sublime from Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata
  3. Gato Barbieri – Maria Domingas from Under Fire
  4. A Tribe Called Quest – Butter from Low End Theory
  5. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis – Dialogue 1 from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  6. Robert Glasper et al – Junior’s Jam from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  7. Don Cheadle as Miles Davis – Dialogue 2 from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  8. Miles Davis – Back Seat Betty from Miles Ahead Soundtrack
  9. GoGo Penguin – Smarra from Man Made Object
  10. Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari – Nigerian Reggae from Tales of Mozambique
  11. 23 Skidoo – Kendang (feat. Pharoah Sanders) from 23 Skidoo
  12. Tony Kofi – Light Blue from All is Know
  13. Miles Davis – So What from A Kind of Blue

New York state of Miles...Neil is listening to:

Derek is listening to:

30 March 2016: the power of the groove

This week’s CJ features jazz old and new together with music from New Zealand, France and Brazil.  To listen again, just click that left hand tab. The dramatic opening from Santana’s most openly jazz-influenced album Caravanserai started the show before we dipped into two tracdonny hathaway 02ks with the same bass riff – the first from Nat and Cannonball Adderley and the second from soul singer Donny Hathaway. The latter came from Hathaway’s epic live album – a real treasure of a record. There’s almost no video footage of Hathaway’s magnetic live performances but here he is with a fragment of The Ghetto. The quality is dire but to hear more of either his live performances at The Bitter End club in Manhattan or at the Troubadour in donny hathaway these songs for you live!Hollywood look out for These Songs for You, Live! – a compilation of both performances together with Valdez in the Country from Hathaway’s appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1973. Fender Rhodes magic throughout. Both these opening tracks present a deep jazz groove – but then, so did most of the tracks on this week’s show.

Hammond hero Dr Lonnie Smith has a new (and well reviewed) album out on Blue Note – and so we celebrated this with Mama Wailer, the title track from his 1971 CTI/Kudu album before diving into a bonafide Blue Note classic from one of my favourite alto players, Jackie McLean. On the Nile comes from one of those sometimes overlooked Blue Note releases from the mid 1960s – jackie mclean jacknifeJacknife. This Charles Tolliver composition is a modal gem, featuring a young Jack deJohnette on drums. We cut into this track with something new from Auckland’s finest band, Fat Freddy’s Drop. It’s not jazz as we know it, of course, but there’s no doubting the levels of musicianship in this excellent new release.

Back to Africa and Egypt with another jazz classic from (appropriately) Pharoah Sanders – an edited version of the pharoah sanders tauhid16 minute Upper Egypt Lower Egypt from Sander’s Tauhid album before diving into the opening cut from GoGo Penguin’s Blue Note debut. The buzz about this band is global and we’ve been playing their contemporary take on the jazz piano trio since they began. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, check out this live version of the track we featured, All Res. Next up were two great vocalists – the yacht rock elegance of Ned Doheny in an acoustic demo version of his jazz club classic Get It Up For Love and then Gretchen Parlato live in New York with her beautiful twist on Simply Red’s Holding Back the Years. Amazingly, Doheny’s demo is delightfully fully formed. You can find this track on the Numero label’s excellent Separate Oceans compilation of Doheny tracks. One of ned doheny separate oceansthe pleasure’s of Parlato’s recording is the always imaginative drumming of American Mark Guiliana, one of the most in-demand drummers of the moment: he’s worked with Brad Mehldau, Dave Douglas, Donny McCaslin and – of course, David Bowie. Another cover version came next – the Philippe Saisse Trio’s take on Steely Dan’s Do It Again. Saisse can always elevate his cocktail piano style into something rather more interesting: here he is doing the same kind of thing with Earth Wind and Fire’s September.  We ended this week’s session with more latin-inflected jazz: the first from Tania Mariatania maria come with me‘s Come With Me album from 1982 and the last a British remix of Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca that appears on one of the Verve labels’s remix projects – sometimes patchy but always interesting. For more of the same, try this updating of Billie Holiday’s Speak Low.

  1. Santana – Eternal Caravan of Reincarnation from Caravanserai
  2. Nat Adderley Quintet – Make Your Own Temple from Soul of the Bible
  3. Donny Hathaway – Voices Inside (Everything is Everything) from Live
  4. Lonnie Smith – Mama Wailer from Mama Wailer
  5. Jackie McLean – On the Nile from Jacknife
  6. Fat Freddy’s Drop – Wheels from Bays
  7. Pharoah Sanders – Upper Egypt Lower Egypt from Tauhid
  8. GoGo Penguin – Al Res from Man Made Object
  9. Ned Doheny – Get It Up For Love (demo) from Separate Oceans
  10. Gretchen Parlato – Holding Back the Years from Live in NYC
  11. Philippe Saisse Trio – Do It Again from The Body and Soul Sessions
  12. Tania Maria – Sementes, Graines and Seeds from Come With Me
  13. Dizzy Gillespie – Manteca (Funky Lowlives Mix) from Verve Remixed 2

Neil is listening to:

 

 

Playlist – 27 June 2013

The trouble with broadcasting on a small community radio station is that facilities are limited. This week I had to pre-record the show because at the broadcast time the studio was required for training. I went to ICR earlier in the day to pre-record, had produced an hour of the show and was then told the studio was needed by others.. As I could not return later the last half hour of the show was added by the ICR station manager, thankfully a jazz fan.

I decided to make this an hour of contemporary jazz, largely from the UK, except for Goran Kajfes from Sweden and Ambrose Akinmusire from the USA. There were two tracks from the new Kairos 4-Tet Album Everything We Hold – one instrumental and the other with  vocals. It’s a very varied album and the vocal are ambitious in their scope. Personally I prefer the instrumental tunes.

Neil adds: I think the vocal tracks on the new Kairos album are part of an interesting development in new British jazz. Kairos are fronted by saxophonist and composer Adam Waldmann, and are spearheading this mix of improvisation and songwriting, trying to balance powerful instrumental solos with the roundedness of the more traditional English songform. Waldmann began with Kairos Moment, an album that marked him out as a powerful new voice in British jazz (BBC), and as a precociously talented composer and player (All About Jazz). In 2011, their second releasekairos everything, Statement of Intent, led to the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act and now in Everything We Hold Waldmann explores the art of song in more depth and with greater variety. Vocals come courtesy of Swedish singer Emilia Mårtensson, British neo-soul icon Omar, and emerging Irish singer-songwriter Marc O’Reilly. In places the music is reminiscent of John Martyn and Nick Drake – themselves no strangers to jazz tunings and inflections. Even the song titles themselves are reminiscent of this folk-jazz blend – Narrow Boat Man is not a million miles away from Drake’s River Man, itself a track covered by Brad Mehldau and others. Watch for more developments in this area. I really like Omar’s vocals on the track Song for the Open Road – and check out his own return to form on his excellent new album The Man.

The show ended with an extended track from Pharoah Sanders (from the 1974 Love in Us All album) and a taste of Marcos Valle from a recent release – 2010’s excellent Estatcia.

  1. Kairos 4-Tet (feat. Emilia Martensson & Marc O’Reilly) – Narrow Boat Man from Everything We Hold
  2. Ambrose Akinmusire – Confessions to my Unborn Daughter – from When the Heart Emerges Glistening
  3. Goran Kajfes – Sarasvati from Album X
  4. Roller Trio – Deep Heat from Roller Trio
  5. Trish Clowes – Tangent from Tangent
  6. Kairos 4-Tet – Reunion from Everything We Hold
  7. Matthew Halsall – Cherry Blossom from Fletcher Moss Park
  8. Larry ‘Stonephace’ Stabbins – Africa from Transcendental
  9. Pharoah Sanders – Love is Everywhere from Love In Us All
  10. Marcos Valle – Prefixo from Estatcia

Video this week comes from Goran Kajfes seen here last year leading his Subtropic Arkestra at the Nordic Jazz Festival on the roof of the House of Sweden in Washington D.C:

 

Playlist – 23 May 2013

Tonight’s show included Take Three, a new feature where I play three tracks from a inner urge coverfeatured jazz artist. We started with one of the top Cosmic Jazz favourites – the wonderful Joe Henderson. From 1963 to 1968, Henderson appeared on nearly thirty albums for Blue Note, including five released under his name. Landmark albums he appeared on for the label include Horace Silver’s swinging and soulful Song for My Father, Herbie Hancock’s dark and densely orchestrated The Prisoner, Lee Morgan’s hit album The Sidewinder and tougher, more ‘out there’ albums with pianist Andrew Hill and drummer Pete La Roca. El Barrio is one of the best cuts from Inner Urge, one of Henderson’s best Blue Note albums – and the picture here is of an original 1965 LP cover (in mono too!). This is dark and intense music and yet much of it (including our choice) is accessible. The All Music guide review concluded perhaps the best Henderson recorded in his long and illustrious career, and stands easily alongside the best records of the era. The review site All about Jazz goes further: I consider it not only one of the best dozen Blue Note sessions ever released, I hear it as one of the major statements of jazz in the ’60s, actually recreating the political, economic, and social realities of the turbulent times more precisely than most recorded music of the ’60s in any style. An absolutely essential listen and a major masterpiece. So, at CJ we simply recommend that you go out and buy the album – we guarantee you will not be disappointed.

There was also a track in tribute to Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks who died at the beginning of May. Neil notes: Brooks was a Jamaican saxophonist and flautist whose jazz-influenced style graced many Studio One albums. Brooks was an old boy of the Alpha School in Kingston, Jamaica, alongside alumni like Don Drummond, Johnny Moore and Tommy McCook of The Cedric Im BrooksSkatalites and jazzmen Joe Harriott and Harold McNair, His own musical horizons – especially as far as jazz was concerned – were increasingly distant from restrictive commercial contexts and he eagerly accepted an invitation to visit a friend in the U.S. In Philadelphia, Brooks was awe-struck by the music and vibes of Sun Ra’s Arkestra. He was on the point of joining the commune when the birth of his second daughter necessitated his return to Jamaica. Though rocksteady the sound of the moment on the island, Brooks took up Ra’s challenge by starting The Mystics, to experiment with free jazz and poetry, African robes and dancers. During this period, Brooks’ long association with Studio One produced several hit singles before he set up The Light of Saba, a group that would go deep into aspects of African drumming. Taking leads from Hugh Masekela and Fela Kuti, the recordings of Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks and The Light of Saba delineated world music way ahead of its time. The band showcased a blend of African and US, Cuban and other West Indian influences – calypso and funk, rumba and bebop, nyabinghi and disco – all filtered through a reggae grounding. The 2009 Honest Jon compilation The Magical Light of Saba is the best place to start.

CJ followed this with two tracks by artists who were undoubtedly influences on Brooks – the aforementioned Sun Ra and another CJ favourite, Pharoah Sanders’ classic Astral Travelling.

  1. Byron Morris and Unity – Sun Shower from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection
  2. V.S. Quartet – A Pou Zot from Freedom Jazz France
  3. Cedric Brooks – Ethiopia from Studio One Rockers
  4. Sun Ra – Ancient Aiethiopia from Sun Ra: A Space Odyssey
  5. Pharaoh Sanders – Astral Travelling from Thembi
  6. Joe Henderson – El Barrio from Inner Urge
  7. Joe Henderson – Canyon Lady from Canyon Lady
  8. Joe Henderson – Johnny Come Lately from Lush Life
  9. Jorge Ben – Lalari from Gilles Peterson Back In Brazil
  10. Jorge Ben and Toqinho – Carolina Carol Bela from Brazilian Beats 1
  11. Coherence Quartet – 530 from Coherence
  12. Fredrik Kronkvist Sextet – Close Race from Improvised Action

Video this week comes from the one and only Pharoah Sanders, here performing live at The Jazz Cafe in London in 2011.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71BbVGn7YSs

 

Playlist – 04 April 2013

The show is back live and tonight features the new Jose James release No Beginning No End, the Gilles Peterson compilation Black Jazz Radio and the promised live version of Freddie Hubbard’s First Light. 

  1. Freddie Hubbard – First Light (live)
  2. Jose James feat. Hindi Zahra – Sword + Gun
  3. War – Junk Yard
  4. Doug Carn – Higher Ground
  5. Pharaoh Sanders – Thembi
  6. Tadeusz Borczyk – 5/4
  7. Jose James – Vanguard
  8. Gene Russell – Black Orchid
  9. Wayne Gorbea & Salsa Picante – Sabor Sabor
  10. Alice Coltrane – Turiya and Ramakrishna
  11. The Modern Jazz Quartet – Tears From The Children
  12. Jose James – Do You Feel