In recent weeks, Cosmic Jazz has featured several examples of music which includes jazz among their elements and is performed by jazz musicians – yet is not entirely jazz and draws upon other musical traditions. Bugge Wesseltoft (right) is one example – more of him later. Listen to the show on MixCloud this week for music from Dhafer Youssef that also surely fits this description.
Youssef is a Tunisian oud player with a new release entitled Diwan of Beauty and Odd. Dhafer Youssef has appeared on Cosmic Jazz before through his work on the Jazzland label of Norwegian keyboard player and record label owner Bugge Wesseltoft. This time he is on one of the Sony labels and is recorded here with some top-notch New York jazz musicians – Aaron Banks on piano, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Ben Williams on double bass and Mark Guillana on drums. The album has a spiritual, becalming and meditative feel as jazz and North African sounds merge into a trance-like whole. On the tune Al-Akhlal Rhapsody Part 1, check how the gentle flow of Ambrose Akinmusire’s trumpet supports the clear, acoustic feel of Dhafer Youssef’s oud playing. It is a lovely album and one for more contemplative moments.
The show opened with a track from French pianist Florian Pellisier, but not from his most recent album – that’s next week. This one was from his previous release Biches Bleues. Next came a re-visit to a favourite album from 2016, Perpetual Gateways by Brazilian keyboard player Ed Motta. It is an album of two halves, firstly soul and then jazz. There are some impressive guesta among the musicians including Hubert Laws, Marvin ‘Smitty’ Smith and the wonderful Patrice Rushen who plays Rhodes piano on Overblown, Overweight, the tune featured this week.
This was followed neatly by a trio that includes a Rhodes piano led by drummer Thomas Grimmonprez from the album Kaleidoscope. Neil singled out the trio from last week’s show: they have a sound that is fresh, upbeat and different from most of the many trios of young jazz musicians around at the moment. Thanks to Steve’s Jazz Sounds for putting us in touch with this uplifting album. The trio have dates in France but there do not appear to be any forthcoming UK shows.
I still cannot resist playing more of the recent releases which merge Cuban music and jazz. I have commented already on the wonderful 25th anniversary re-release of Jane Bunnett’s Spirits of Havana, a record that was released long before and is far more spontaneous, improvised and jazzy than the better known Buena Vista Social Club release from Ry Cooder. The tune from Dayme Arocena this week was a Cuban descarga jam of a Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition. It is long, percussive and sounds like it was great fun to record.
Finally, we closed the show with the above-mentioned Bugge Wesseltoft, playing another track from his new 2CD 20 track compilation album, Somwhere in Between. For an introduction to Wesseltoft’s music, this is a great place to start.
- Florian Pellisier – J’ai du rever from Biches Bleues
- Ed Motta – Overblown, Overweight from Perpetual Gateway
- Thomas Grimmonprez – Spicy Chocolate from Kaleidoscope
- Dhafer Youssef – 17th Flyways from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
- Dhafer Youssef – Al-Aklal Rhapsody Part 1 – from Diwan of Beauty and Odd
- Dayme Arocena – Muy Cerquita De Ti (Closer To You) from One Takes
- Jane Bunnett – Coco from Spirits of Havana (Disc 2 Chamalongo)
- Bugge Wesseltoft – Existence from Somewhere in Between