This week’s Cosmic Jazz features jazz related music from around the world. To listen, just look left and click on the CJ arrow.
We started with veteran Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and the title track from his recent Polin album and followed this with Sweden’s EST, probably the most influential jazz piano trio of the last twenty years. From 1993 to 2008, founder Esbjorn Svensson led a trio that broke jazz boundaries, playing to packed audiences around the world. When Svensson died in a scuba diving accident, the trio decided not to continue without him. The result is a recorded legacy that continues to inspire piano trios around the world – many of whom we have featured here on CJ.
So what made EST special? Well, all three elements were important but, at the heart of the trio was pianist Svensson. From northern European roots, they drew on three elements that seem to inspire so many Scandinavian artists from Jean Sibelius to Jan Garbarek. The first is an elegiac quality to the music – a yearning tone that draws in the listener and begins to conjure up a world of snow, ice and fire. The second is a minor key melancholia that is reminiscent of long Nordic nights and the telling of centuries old stories. The third is that folkloric quality in which strong, simple melodies melt even the most resistant listener. The trio of Svensson, Ostrom and Magnusen conjured up all of this – but then with an unerring sense of atmospherics and a few effects pedals took it all to another level that thrilled audiences around the world. Have a look at their performance at the Marciac Festival in 2007 for a taste of the electrifying power of EST live.
We travelled next to France, and a track from the excellent Freedom Jazz France album, before heading to Japan and flamboyant pianist Hiromi. Rosa Passos’ classic album Amorosa was first released in 1988 but gained wider acclaim on its re-release in 2004. We featured an equally classic Jobim tune – the beautiful Voce Vai Ver. Gisella (Lion Rock) is a wonderful spiritual jazz tune featuring big toned Jamaican tenor player Fitz Gore. We think Nat Birchall would approve. Ethiopian pioneer Mulatu Astatke in collaboration with Malcolm Catto’s Heliocentrics was next. Not all the Inspiration Information pairings work, but this one and the Heliocentrics excellent collaboration with Lloyd Miller are both well worth exploring. Staying in Africa for the last two tunes, we continued with the veteran group the African Jazz Pioneers and their groundbreaking fusion of big band jazz and township marabi music before ending with the enigma that was Fela. Much like Miles or Dilla only one name is needed to signify who we mean – and this is some measure of the influence that these artists have over their peers. Fela was a musical magician who was a pivotal figure who (along with drummer Tony Allen) created the genre called afrobeat. The infectious endless groove starts with a base rhythm of drums, shekere and West African-style guitar and builds with interlocking layers of music. Capture some of the importance of Fela’s music by watching the 2014 Finding Fela documentary from film-maker Alex Gibney. It’s focused too much on the creation of the Broadway musical Fela! but there’s some memorable footage and interviews. We played the title track from the 1972 album Roforofo Fight and it’s something of a Fela classic. It’s also been covered several times – check out the version by Gilles Peterson’s Havana Cultura Band (in a remix by Joey Negro) – latin house and afrobeat working together.
- Tomasz Stanko – Polin from Polin
- EST – Seven Days of Falling from Seven Days of Falling
- Octet de Deux – Doorstep from Freedom Jazz France
- Hiromi – Desert On the Moon from Brain
- Rosa Passos – Voce Vai Ver from Amorosa
- Fitz Gore and the Talismen – Gisella (Lion Rock) from Spiritual Jazz
- Mulatu Astatke and the Heliocentrics – Chik Chikka from Inspiration Information
- African Jazz Pioneers – Mbombela from African Jazz Pioneers
- Fela Kuti – Roforofo Fight from Roforofo Fight
Derek is currently listening to:
- Geraldine Hunt – Can’t Fake the Feeling
- Francois Tusques – Le Musichien
- John Coltrane – Blue Train
- Common – It’s Your World
- Collie Buddz – Mamacita
After being introduced to Can’t Fake the Feeling, (thanks Derek!) I thought listeners might like this new Butterfunk edit on Soundcloud – it works! And Geraldine Hunt’s classmate and best friend at school in Detroit was singer Minnie Riperton…
Neil is currently listening to: