It had to happen soon and it happened this week. The 23 minutes 43 seconds of Black Renaissance by pianist Harry Whitaker became our Cosmic Jazz Essential tune. It is simply one of my all-time favourite tunes, recorded in a free, party spirit in 1976 and very, very difficult to find until released by Ubiquity Records in 2002. It is soulful, spiritual, modal, unpredictable and highly charged. There are instruments and voices, poetry and, in effect, rap in the same year that rap supposedly started. The first rap record?
If you have not heard of Harry Whitaker you will know many of the people he played with. These included Roy Ayers (Harry played keys on We Live in Brooklyn), Roberta Flack (he became her music director) and Gwen Guthrie (he played piano on her classic Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent). Whitaker also played on recordings by – among others – Terumasa Hino, Norman Connors, Carmen Lundy, Phyllis Hyman, Gary Bartz and Mtume. His standing can be judged by the quality of the musicians he assembled for the Mind, Body and Spirit session – Woody Shaw, Azar Lawrence, Buster Williams, Billy Hart and Mtume. Here at Cosmic Jazz we think that you just HAVE to hear and own this record. It’s as essential (and influential) as Kind of Blue, A Love Supreme and Mingus Ah Um. Without it no jazz record collection would be complete.
Also on the show this week was new music from Oslo-based band Lucky Novak who have a new release entitled Up!Go! The band is the brainchild of British alto saxophonist Tim Lowerson and Norwegian bassist Ture Ringereide. They are always moving on and prepared to experiment and for this album they have dispensed with piano which is replaced by trombone but they draw upon an eclectic range of influences.The tune this week one has to presume is a tribute to one of those influences – Ornette Coleman.
There was another play for the David Patrick Octet, another band offering something different with their jazz take on Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The Jelle Van Giel Group are never far from our playlists these days and the show ended with Philip Cohran and his Artistic Heritage Ensemble. Cohran played with Sun Ra and is the father of the eight members of The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Enjoy below a video track of the band and then click the Mixcloud tab to hear this week’s programme.
- Lucky Novak – Ornette from Up!Go!
- David Patrick Octet – Introduction Act II – The Great Sacrifice from The Rite of Spring
- Jelle Van Giel Group – The Truth from Songs for Everyone
- Harry Whitaker – Black Renaissance from Body, Mind and Spirit
- Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble – Unity Live 1968 from On the Beach