Week ending 15 September: stretching jazz boundaries

This week, when you click our Mixcloud tab (left) you will find a Cosmic Jazz with more than its normal share of genre-stretching music. Although forced by tunes not arriving on the screen as planned, this nonetheless made for an interesting challenge and certainly some intriguing music.

We began with a piece from the Santuri Mugwisa International  Xylophone Group from Uganda on a Sam Jones Construct – which presumably means ‘remix’ – and released through the London label On the Corner. It is a fascinating and enticing sound that draws you into its rhythms. It was followed by Mr. Fingers a.k.a. house producer/DJ Larry Heard whose warm and lilting tune Tiger Lounge comes from an album with the cosmic-sounding title Cerebral HemispheresOur trio of what we might call alternative sounds for Cosmic Jazz was completed by Bitchin Bajas’ unusual interpretation of the Sun Ra tune Angels and Demons At Play with very long loops creating a hypnotic feel. Whilst this music is more closely linked to the work of minimalist pioneers like Terry Rile, the improvisational element is never far away. It’s further evidence that jazz continues to draw on inspiration from other contemporary musical sources. Check out this longform collaboration between Riley and world music trumpet visionary Don Cherry recorded live in 1975.

More contemporary music followed, this time from the UK. It was long overdue that I played Manchester’s GoGo Penguin, now on Blue Note records, with a selection from their latest album A Humdrum Star, titled after Carl Sagan’s reference to planet Earth on his celebrated TV series Cosmos. Appropriate again…GoGo Penguin are interesting, innovative and mesmerising – and what a bass line from Nick Blacka anchoring the track Strid, our selection for this week.

Piano/keyboard (or in this case Wurlitzer) player Joe Armon-Jones fitted in perfectly with the sounds so far. Jazz, yet not quite jazz for some listeners. His new album Starting Today includes many of the now well-known young UK players familiar to CJ listeners. They play on his record and he plays on theirs. Ragify features drummer Moses Boyd, guitarist, Oscar Jerome, saxophonists James Mollison and Nubya Garcia and trumpeter Dylan Howe.

Our last two tunes this week may have been more conventional, but there was nothing wrong with that – especially when the music included the beautiful and becalming playing of the Jamie Saft Quartet from their new release Blue Dream. We ended the show with another track from the excellent Familia disc which featured three generations of the O’Farrill and Valdes families – truly latin royalty.

  1. Mogwisa International Xylophone Group – Jinja Pearls from Santuri’s Embaire Umene EP
  2. Mr. Fingers – Tiger Lounge from Cerebral Hemispheres
  3. Bitchin Bajas – Angels and Demons at Play from Bajas Fresh
  4. GoGo Penguin – Strid from A Humdrum Star
  5. Joe Armon-Jones – Ragify from Starting Today
  6. Jamie Saft Quartet – There’s a Lull in My Life from Blue Dream
  7. Arturo O’Farrill and Chucho Valdes – Father, mothers, sons, daughters from Familia Disc I

Neil is listening to…

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