Week ending 09 September 2018: worldwide jazz

Click the MixCloud tab to hear a varied selection of inspiring tunes from spiritual/modal jazz to free form, jazz infused music from Latin America. Cosmic Jazz this week – as ever – maintained its reputation for playing jazz and jazz-related music from the past as well as the present and from across many international borders.

The journey started in Japan, but with a connection to the USA as well as the UK where the record was released. We have consistently recommended the Spiritual Jazz releases on Jazzman Records and – over the years – have featured many tracks on the show. Volume 8 is a 2CD set of music from Japan. The selection this week was from guitarist Shungo Sawada and his band playing a warm, spiritual and modal interpretation of the Wayne Shorter classic Footprints. A wonderful way to start the show.

It was appropriate to follow this with something from Wayne Shorter himself who coincidentally celebrated his 85th birthday last week. We didn’t go for his original recording of Footprints but the selection did come from a compilation album with that title. There’s nothing to add here to these important contributions other than to say any jazz lover needs to explore his music. Shorter is one of the foremost composers in modern jazz and his own new 3CD release, Emanon, which comes with a graphic novel authored by Shorter, himself a longtime science fiction and comic book fan, will be released next week on 14 September. Expect to hear tracks on upcoming Cosmic Jazz shows.

Last week we played a Joe Harriott tune inspiring us to feature more this week. The context was different, with this time Les Condon on trumpet, Pat Smythe on piano, Coleridge Goode on bass and the great Phil Seaman on drums. Coleridge Goode, like Joe Harriott, was another Jamaican exile who arrived Britain in 1934 to study in Glasgow, in his case long before the Windrush generation. He lived to the age of 100. Joe Harriott uses the tune on the show as a pretext to explain free form to his audience.

On last week’s show Harriott  featured as part of Michael Garrick’s Quintet and so it seemed appropriate to include another tune from Garrick, this time from his excellent album Troppo. Here on CJ we’ve talked about and played some excellent music from the new generations of British jazz musicians – but it’s easy to forget what superb British jazz was around in the 1960s and 1970s – as exemplified by the likes of Harriott and Garrick. Troppo (released in 1973) is highly recommended, with original vinyl copies fetching serious money these days. The musicians on the album were among the best around; the same Coleridge Goode and another link to Joe Harriott with Norma Winstone on vocals, Don Rendell on sax and flute, Trevor Tomkins on drums and Dave Green on bass. Art Themen on flute and sax and Henry Lowther on trumpet are both still active on the UK jazz circuit today with Lowther releasing a new album in January this year. Check out Lowther’s website for more details.

Events in Latin America tend to reach the UK news only when there have been unfortunate tales to tell. So, last week was the disastrous fire at the National Museum of Brazil and the problems of the currency and the economies in Argentina and Venezuela. It was time to hear something positive. What better than through music? The sequence started with Berklee College of Music trained Brazilian sax player Victor Assis Brasil and the Jobim tune Wave. You can find this track on the newly re-released FarOut album Esperanto which includes on the CD release both that album and the Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim release which featured Wave. The music is much more jazz than bossa nova and – had Assis Brasil lived longer than his 35 years – he would not be the forgotten figure he is today. It’s again thanks to the UK FarOut label that this music is being made available once more.

There is and never will be any apology for playing yet another selection from Jane Bunnett’s Spirits of Havana, especially as the tune was Song From Argentina.  The album, now released as a double CD, is another of those we recommend highly. Jane Bunnett is a soprano sax/flute player who back in 1991 travelled with her trumpet-playing husband to Cuba. There they joined up with some of the finest local musicians to record some excellent music, several years before the Buena Vista Social Club and produced, in my opinion, music that was far more interesting. Give it a listen – but better still buy/download the CD.

There was a bright ending from Grupo Batuque with a tune to be found on a further UK compilation, Brazilian Love Affair 5 – the final release in another excellent FarOut series which incorporated both original new material from current FarOut releases and classic era tracks from the 1960s onwards.

  1. Shungo Sawada – Footprints from Spiritual Jazz 8
  2. Wayne Shorter – The Three Marias from Footprints; the Life and Music of Wayne Shorter
  3. Joe Harriott – Joe Explains Freeform from Genius
  4. Michael Garrick – Sons of Art from Troppo
  5. Victor Assis Brasil – Wave from Esperanto
  6. Jane Bunnett – Song from Argentina from Spirits of Havana
  7. Grupo Batuque – Ida E Volta from Brazilian Love Affair 5

Derek is listening to …..

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