Week ending 25 August 2018 – catching up

In a show that lasts for an hour it will almost inevitably be difficult to include all the tunes you want, especially as here at CJ we like to draw upon jazz that is not only recent but from previous decades as well. This week was an attempt to catch up with some new music (with one exception) – and particularly tunes selected by my colleague Neil, thousands of miles away in Singapore.

The show began with yet another example of Polish jazz artists recording with a musician from another country. The band led by pianist Leszek Kulakowski, which includes US sax player Andy Middleton, includes trumpeter Jerzy Malek whom we have met before on Cosmic Jazz. The tune XX Century Memories is a long one that builds in intensity and excitement. It comes from the album Copy & Insert recorded in Gdansk at the XXIII Komeda Jazz Festival – an event which pays homage to one of Poland’s greatest jazz musicians, Krystof Komeda. The album is highly recommended and you can check it out at the excellent Steve’s Jazz Sounds.

We played another tune from the excellent album of Brazilian-infused jazz Palmares Fantasy from British saxophonist Sean Khan. He uses a number of musicians from Europe and Brazil, including the eccentric Hermeto Pascoal. This week’s selection was Your Way Not My Way, featuring European musicians – the legendary guitarist Jim Mullen from Scotland, the Italian born/London based double bass player Dario de Lecce and superb London based vocalist Heidi Vogel whose delivery on this tune is perfect.

It was then down to catching up on some of the selections chosen by Neil. There was the World Saxophone Quartet, whose Little Samba was a tenuous link to Sean Khan and then French outfit Palm Unit whose album pays tribute to France pianist, composer and arranger Jef Gilson, whom they feel deserves wider recognition. We agree – check out his albums. Gilson, who died in 2012 was a French pianist, composer, arranger and record label owner who notably in 1965 during the Antibes/Juan Les Pins festival opened for Coltrane and advised him backstage to perform the full suite of A Love Supreme. It was the only time Coltrane would play it onstage with his original quartet.

When Neil sent me notes for some of these tunes back in February 2018, he was very enthusiastic (and rightly so) about Makaya McCraven whom he described as “the drummer of the moment”. Well, has that moment now passed? You can judge. Neil also suggested that he could be called a “beat architect” – interesting. McCraven’s album In the Moment is a two CD set recorded live and then treated in the studio. I notice in the September edition of Jazzwise Magazine that he will be appearing at this year’s London Jazz Festival on Saturday 24 November, along with Cosmic Jazz favourite from the UK, sax player Nubya Garcia.

It was long overdue to play more from Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah and his album DiasporaScott is another of the current crop of artists from the younger generations who make important historical/political references in their music. The tune Completely features Elena Pinderhughes on flute and its distinctly contemporary sound is enhanced by a hip-hop feel to the drums.

From there it was a case of stretching the jazz boundaries – something we love to do here on Cosmic Jazz. Neil is a great champion of Emanative aka drummer Nick Woodmansey. He’s part of a London jazz scene that has experimented and expanded the territory to incorporate sounds beyond  instantly recognisable jazz. His new record Earth is ambitiously eclectic and includes support from pianist/keyboard player Jessica Lauren, whose music we have featured. Following this came XOA out of Brazil. Stay with this one: the tune begins with some electronica that may not be too acceptable to jazz listeners but it develops into an exciting Afrobeat (as opposed to the current Afrobeats) and jazz inspired workout.

One tune from the past ended our show this week. Travellin’ Man is a brief solo piano and kalimba piece from pianist Stanley Cowell – a co-founder of the wonderful  Strata East Records. The label recorded over fifty albums in the 1970s, including Gil Scott Heron’s classic Winter in America. If you have not yet discovered work on this label, you are missing out.

  1. Leszek Kulakowski – XX Century Memories from Copy & Insert
  2. Sean Khan feat. Heidi Vogel – Your Way Not My Way from Palmares Fantasy
  3. World Saxophone Quartet – Little Samba from Revue
  4. Palm Unit – San Remo from Hommage a Jef Gilson
  5. Makaya McCraven – In the Moment from In the Moment
  6. Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah feat Elena Pinderhughes – Completely from Diaspora
  7. Emanative – Heaven’s Mirror from Earth
  8. XOA – Mass from Mass/Mon Ecole
  9. Stanley Cowell – Travellin’ Man from Musa: Ancient Streams

Derek is listening to….

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