Tonight’s show included Take Three, a new feature where I play three tracks from a featured 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 Skatalites 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.
- Byron Morris and Unity – Sun Shower from Kev Beadle presents Private Collection
- V.S. Quartet – A Pou Zot from Freedom Jazz France
- Cedric Brooks – Ethiopia from Studio One Rockers
- Sun Ra – Ancient Aiethiopia from Sun Ra: A Space Odyssey
- Pharaoh Sanders – Astral Travelling from Thembi
- Joe Henderson – El Barrio from Inner Urge
- Joe Henderson – Canyon Lady from Canyon Lady
- Joe Henderson – Johnny Come Lately from Lush Life
- Jorge Ben – Lalari from Gilles Peterson Back In Brazil
- Jorge Ben and Toqinho – Carolina Carol Bela from Brazilian Beats 1
- Coherence Quartet – 530 from Coherence
- 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