24 May 2017: Brazil and beyond

So often my playlist is influenced by what I have seen or heard since the previous show. During the last week I saw live performances in Norwich from two artists that have featured on Cosmic Jazz so it was to them that I turned to open the show.

There is, however, a major difference from what I played first and what I saw live. For one thing, The Loud Minority on which Dee Dee Bridgewater passionately bawls out and proclaims the rights of the oppressed, was recorded a long time ago – 1972 to be precise. Secondly, what she is doing now is, in her words, not what many in the audience who knew her as a jazz performer might have expected. She is currently showcasing, in advance of an autumn release, a new album entitled MemphisShe has returned to the place of her birth and is re-interpreting the great soul and blues sounds of Memphis, Tennessee. With the support of a tight band and two young sisters as backing vocalists who really looked as if they were having a great time, she gave a belting, raucous and sprightly vocal performance – and that at the age of 67 and with a leg in plaster. Not surprisingly, the audience loved her. If you’re checking out a date on her short European tour, just don’t expect to hear jazz.

Brad Meldhau, who performed in the spiritual setting of St. Andrew’s Hall Norwich, the site of a former monastery, was a different proposition. Surprisingly, there were spare seats for this festival performance, disappointing but there were enough people to give a warm reception to this great piano improviser, There was music from the recent album Blues and Ballads but good to hear there was more besides, including new work. At times, the trio, with Jeff Ballard on drums (very cool and impressive) and Larry Grenadier on bass, were soulful and bluesy too but in a different, much more understated way. They certainly meld together as a whole. There were solos – including a long and intricate one from Meldhau – but this concert wasn’t just about him as a soloist – the trio (who in this incarnation have been together since 2005) are a strongly cohesive unit.








The Aga Derlak Trio from Poland has a much more strident approach which you can hear on Troublesome, the tune featured this week’s show. They are a young group who made a huge impact in Poland when they appeared on the scene and are now reaching a wider stage, for example, the Edinburgh International Festival. They are led by pianist Agnieska Derlak and you know clearly when she is taking the lead, with bold and very definite playing. She is there to be heard. The tune this week was from her 2014 album First Thought and there is more music available. Check Steve’s Jazz Sounds to track down her music.

Jelle Van Giel, a drummer based in Antwerp Belgium, is someone we like on Cosmic Jazz. He leads a septet which sounds like a melodic, almost modal big band. They have a new album, The Journeyreleased in 2017 from which this week’s tune was taken.

It just felt time to return to Brazil: perhaps it was the weather, but more likely the need for the sort of feel-good uplift that so much Brazilian music can bring. First from Sergio Mendes, and a track from an album that was much praised as a return to form on its release, then Paula Sentoro with a tune well known to any devotee of classic Brazilian tunes and finally The Tamba Trio explaining the influence of jazz provided three short, but perfectly formed tunes.

To end the show, the late Arthur Blythe from last year’s two CD release of four original vinyls showed us how a traditional tune can be transformed and enhanced by a great performer – much like Dee Dee Bridgewater is now doing with traditional soul and blues.

  1. Frank Foster – The Loud Minority from The Loud Minority
  2. Brad Mehldau Trio – My Valentine from Blues and Ballads
  3. Aga Derlak Trio – Troublesome from First Thoughts
  4. Jelle van Giel – Just A Little Waltz from The Journey
  5. Sergio Mendes – Senoras Do Amazonias from Brasiliero
  6. Paula Sentoro – Corcovado from Bossa Nova Baby
  7. The Tamba Trio – Influencia Do Jazz from Tamba Trio Classics
  8. Arthur Blythe – Just A Closer Walk With Thee from Blythe Spirit


Neil is listening to…

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