Click the MixCloud tab this week and listen to great music by artists that may not be household names even to many jazz fans reading this blog. The show features jazz from Poland and Finland – all available at stevesjazzsounds.co.uk. The quality of the music you’ll hear proves what we have long said on Cosmic Jazz – we need to look beyond music from the USA and the UK because there is so much exciting music out there.
But this week’s CJ began with an acknowledgement to two bands that represent the new wave of young or youngish British jazz musicians that I have seen recently. Firstly, at Sheffield Jazz I saw Kairos 4 Tet, a band led by quirky and interesting saxophonist Adam Waldeman, supported by the hard, driving drums of Jon Scott. Their album Everything We Hold from which the tune The 99 Pt 2 was taken on the show also features Phronesis members Ivo Neame on piano and Jasper Hoiby on bass. They were not there in Sheffield but there were excellent replacements.
This week I saw live for the first time the band Mammal Hands. We’ve featured the band before on CJ and if you get a chance to see them take this opportunity. How wonderful it is to go to a local jazz club, in this case The Fludyers Arms in Felixstowe, to watch young musicians play with energy and inventiveness original music that still acknowledges many influences, including the sounds of North Africa and India. Mammal Hands have an unusual line-up of drums, sax and keyboards and they play hard and tough. You can see them at The Lescar in Sheffield on 13 May, at Norwich Arts Centre on 15 May or Mugdock Country Park in Glasgow on 7 and 8 August.
The rest of the show comprised jazz either from Poland or Finland – music I loved and which was wide-ranging in sound and texture.
I began with another trio with an unusual combination of instruments. The Oles Brothers and Christopher Dell use double bass, drums and vibraphone to produce a sound that is reflective, peaceful and satisfying and at times reminded me of the sound produced by the oud, a Middle Eastern lute. Litania, the tune I selected is a good representation of the album Komeda Ahead – clearly a tribute to the great Polish jazz composer Krzysztof Komeda, the great Polish film music composer and jazz pianist who was the creator of a specific European aesthetic in jazz.
By contrast, trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik and Old Land, the title tune from his album, was a big, bold and full sound – totally uplifting as you will see from the video below. The album is highly recommended. It has a soul jazz feel to it, reminiscent of 1970s spiritual jazz – rather like the recently reissued Carlos Garnett. Piotr Wotasik is a musician and teacher in Poland, who in 2008 won the Fredryk Award, which is the county’s most important musical award. He has played with a number of musicians from outside Poland including Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman and Reggie Workman.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_01V8jg2dDg
The rest of the show could almost be described as the Jussi Fredriksson spectacle. Perhaps this is unfair to the other musicians, but the Finnish mainly piano/Rhodes/keyboard player but sometime drummer featured in all the remaining tunes. Born In Turku, resident in Helsinki and active in the musical life of both cities, he plays a leading part in the Finnish jazz scene, playing with and encouraging many musicians in a range of jazz styles. He is both a leader, as on the Jazz Wars album and in the Koko Jazz Orchestra, in this case with drummer Jussi Lehtonen or a member of the band as with Aura Flow, where he plays drums and with the excellent jazz-funk band Nassaun Fassani, who provided an up-tempo and rousing end to the show. The video below features his band on Jazz Wars.
- Mammal Hands – Mansions of Millions of Years from Animalia
- Kairos 4 Tet – The 99 Pt2 from Everything We Hold
- Oles Brothers and Christopher Dell – Litania from Komeda Ahead
- Piotr Wojtasik – Old Land from Old Land
- Jussi Fredriksson – Jazz Wars II Part 4 – Freedom from Jazz Wars
- Aura Flow – House the Beach from You’ll Hear From Me
- Koko Jazz Orchestra – The Opening from Presenting the Music of Jussi Lehtonen and Jussi Fredriksson
- Nasssaun Fassani – The Return of Fassani Nassau from The Return