09 March 2016: from Sun Ra to Esperanza

Click the Mixcloud tab left to enjoy a varied programme of mainly newish jazz with some older jewels thrown in.

Do I apologise for playing again and starting the show with Kamasi Washington? Certainly not. Listening during the week to Re Run Home it just sounded such a great way to start the show that I couldn’t resist.

esperanza spaldingThere was a link across the next three tunes – Esperanza Spalding. She played acoustic bass on Jack de Johnette’s Indigo Dreamscapes, from the Sound Travels album which celebrated his 80th birthday. But on her new record Emily’s D + Evolution, Spalding is definitely into an electric bass sound as well as providing lead vocals. The album is probably not to the taste of every jazz lover: comments have ranged from the highest praise to pretension masquerading as art. She mentions Cream as an esperanza spalding D + evolutioninspiration and there are certainly rock elements (including shades of Prince) but the jazz roots are still there. Judge for yourself from the two tracks I played this week. I will play more. You can hear what D + Evolution sounds like live on NPR’s First Listen Live show.

The recent publication of the programme for the 2016 Norfolk & Norwich Festival – up the road from us here in Ipswich – provided a mammal handsgood reason to play Mammal Hands. This Norwich-based band play an original, entrancing and magical mix of jazz, classical, Indian, north African and electronic sounds. You need to hear their music. They will play at the festival on 27 May. Last week I mentioned that the Sun Ra Arkestra, directed by the 90 year old Marshall Allen, are due to play the Festival on 13 May. So this week I chose a Sun Ra tune recorded in 1958, the year Marshall Allen joined the Arkestra. What a sustained achievement! Its quirky sound prompted me to follow this with the equally uplifting and bouncy tune Ijo Soul from the wonderful Orlando Julius and the Modern Aces from Nigeria. Orlando Julius is one of the key figures in African music and his Modern Aces were at the forefront of African music development in the 1960s. Interestingly, Fela Kuti performsun ra arkestraed with the the Modern Aces (playing trumpet!) before he formed his own Koola Lobitos band and went on to develop afrobeat. But few artists have been more crucial to the invention, development, and popularization of Afro-pop than Orlando Julius Ekemode. Starting in the ’60s, Julius was fusing traditional African sounds and rhythms with those of American pop, soul, and R&B. In 1966, his album Super Afro Soul made him a celebrity in Nigeria and certainly influenced the the development of funk in the United States. Less well known is that he spent several years in the US working on collaborations with Hugh Masekela and the Crusaders. It’s Julius’s recording Ashiko that forms the basis of Lamont Dozier’s Going Back to My Roots – watch this great Strut Records video to find out more. In early 2014, the London-based Heliocentrics brought him orlando juliusto their all-analogue studio where they backed him on the album Jaiyede Afro, featuring vintage tunes that had never been recorded along with new compositions. Listen to In the Middle and check out that naggingly familiar James Brown riff!

The programme ended with journeys once more to Eastern Europe. The Confusion Project from Poland, who are a trio not a larger band as I said on the programme, have gathered much praise. They consist of drummer Adam Golicki, keyboard player Michal Cieselski and bass player Piotr Gierszewski. Their self titled album is strongly recommended. Finally came the AMC Trio from Slovakia, a trio that have played with a host of other jazz musicians, including Randy Brecker. The wealth of interesting releases from mainly young musicians in Eastern Europe continues apace.

  1. Kamasi Washington – Re Run Home from The Epic
  2. Jack de Johnette – Indigo Dreamscapes from Sound Travels
  3. Esperanza Spalding – Good Lava from Emily’s D + Evolution
  4. Esperanza Spalding – Funk The Fear from Emily’s D + Evolution
  5. Mammal Hands – Kandaiki from Animalia
  6. Sun Ra – Great Balls Of Fire originally from Saturn also on A Space Odyssey
  7. Orlando Julius and his Rhythm Aces – Ibo Soul from Future Funk II
  8. Confusion Project – Status Quo from Confusion Project
  9.  ANC Trio – Beauty Of The Coming Sun from Very Keen Attack

Derek is listening to:

Neil is listening to:

nana vasconcelos bush danceWith the recent announcement of the death of Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, I have been listening again to some of the many recordings on which he featured. Vasconcelos was one of the most in demand percussionists around and appeared on records by artists as diverse as Brian Eno, Pat Metheny, Talking Heads and Jan Garbarek. A mesmerising live performer, Vasconcelos was nominated as Best Percussionist of the Year for seven consecutive years by the influential DownBeat magazine.

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