Week ending 06 October 2018: different styles and more Randy Weston

Jazz covers a wide-ranging spectrum of music and we like to reach into all corners here on Cosmic Jazz, sometimes heading well outside the boundaries – as this week. Check out the music for yourself by clicking the MixCloud tab (left) and giving a listen.

Maisha are an exciting band of young UK jazz musicians led by drummer Jake Long. Live  – and certainly when I saw them – they have included our pianist of the moment, Sara Tandy, and the much feted saxophonist Nubya Garcia. There is also guitar, percussion and bass. The music has been described as  spiritual jazz and Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders are definite influences along with West African percussive sounds. Maisha have an album due for release titled There Is a Place in early November on Brownswood Recordings and the tune Osiris will be on it. We shall play more.

There are many, almost an extraordinary number, of excellent young bands in Poland. Very good many of them are too and it must be a very lively jazz scene. This week we featured EABS whose album Repetitions: Letters to Krzystof Komeda is one of many ways in which the Polish jazz scene pays tribute to one of its greats. EABS are ostensibly a jazz septet but featuring a turntablist marks them out as among the more unconventional new Polish bands and, as such, they are attracting a new audience to the music.

Swedish sax player/composer Jonas Kulhammer was included because, as happens frequently, this tune appeared on my shuffle songs and I had to play it. Presumably Homage to George Braith is dedicated to the New York sax player who, like Roland Kirk, could play multiple horns at once. Kulhammer has played in some distinguished company – for example, Carlos Garnett, Goran Kafjes, Mulatu Astatke (who we included in last week’s programme), Jason Moran and Chick Corea.

There was a further tribute to Randy Weston to follow on from another feature that was included last week. Neil’s choice came from the 1991 2CD release Spirits of Our Ancestors, and mine from another album, Tanjah, originally released in 1973.  The reverse of the 1995 CD re-release of Tanjah sums up Randy Weston’s approach in both these tunes and in much of his work when it describes him as the “original pan-Africanist and pan-Arabist in jazz”. In the interview with him transcribed in the accompanying booklet, Randy Weston states how “In the late fifties and early Sixties, it was all in the air: the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King… We had that kind of energy, and it inspired me to compose what was in the air”. Weston was a pioneering and important musician with a deep jazz legacy. Find out more about his black heritage explorations in this extract from All That Is, a portrait of Weston by French director Jacques Goldstein.

To end the show we featured an artist who’s a new discovery for us. Neil and I don’t know quite why it has taken us to find out about hip hop artist Akua Naru. I came across her when the aforementioned pianist Sara Tandy played a tune on a BBC radio show, commenting that she had played with Naru on tour. It is interesting to note that jazz trumpeter Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah appears on one of her albums. The presence of both these musicians suggests a jazz sensibility at the very least. Is Nag Champa Gold jazz? Probably not but we love it.

  1. Maisha – Osiris from There is a Place
  2. EABS – Pinguin VI from Repetitions: Letters to Krzystof Komeda
  3. Jonas Kulhammer – Homage to George Braith from Gentlemen
  4. Randy Weston – Blue Moses from Spirits of Our Ancestors
  5. Randy Weston – Tanjah from Tanjah
  6. Akua Naru – Nag Champa Gold from Live & Aflame Sessions

Derek is listening to…..

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