The usual Cosmic Jazz mix this week but including a tribute to Dave Brubeck, who died on 5 December 2012 aqed 91, with Val Bennett proving that Brubeck’s influence extended to Jamaica.
After some rather introspective, modal and spiritual jazz in recent weeks this week’s show began in up-tempo jazz-dance mode with Eddie Harris and Charles Earland followed by two other Cosmic Jazz favourites Freddie Hubbard and Art Blakey.
There had to be more from the EST 301 release and this week we chose the ballad The Childhood Tree which closes the album. Any Cosmic Jazz listener should add this profound and serious work to their Christmas wishlist. Esperanza Spalding got another play from her Radio Music Society which has been deservedly nominated for a Grammy award. The record is an impressive and complete work, working successfully on many different levels. Pop Matters got it right in their end of year review when they noted that It may have ripping hooks and huge bed of soulful grooves, but Spalding, at her core, remains a jazz musician. So, the opener, Radio Song, may be built around an irresistible chorus and a very hip two-note vocal hook at the start, but then there’s the long middle section with a charging brass figure that sets up a vocalese break followed by a swinging tenor sax solo. Tack on a long, modern-jazz piano solo on the end for good and you’ve got… not a kind of radio hit at all. But, of course, that’s why Spalding is terrific. She’s not Adele or even Macy Gray. She has made an ambitious jazz record that creatively uses soul forms to grab our ears. You can call it whatever you want, but you’ll want to listen. Yes, it all fits together perfectly. We’d add that the neglected Wayne Shorter tune Endangered Species is given lyrics by Spalding that Shorter would surely love, and it comes on sounding like vintage mid-period Weather Report.This is another album for your Christmas list.
Cosmic Jazz found Gregory Porter’s 2012 release Be Good a little disappointing after the promise of his amazing debut Water but we are slowly coming to terms with it and it is creeping back onto the playlist. Like Esperanza Spalding too, Porter’s arrangements always find space for interesting solos that are both carved out of the song and yet edgily expand it. Porter isn’t a vocalist with jazzy extras – this is simply a good vocalist stretching out with some interesting original material among the standards. Ambrose Akemusire will always be on our playlist and his sophomore 2011 release When the Heart Emerges Glistening is another slow burning CJ favourite.
- Eddie Harris – Freedom Jazz Dance
- Charles Earland – Black Talk
- Freddie Hubbard – Liquid Love
- Art Blakey – Andthenagin
- Wayne Shorter – Footprints
- Dave Brubeck – Take Five
- Val Bennett – Take Five (AKA The Russians Are Coming)
- Esperanza Spalding – Cinnamon Tree
- EST – The Childhood Dream
- Gregory Porter – On My Way To Harlem
- Ambrose Akemusire – Confessions To My Unborn Daughter