Week ending 27 October 2018: contemporary British jazz

The show on the Mix Cloud tab this week is an all-British affair featuring some of the exciting music coming from the wealth of talent now playing jazz and jazz-related music in the UK. It was also a chance to re-visit some of the artists and tunes we have been featuring on Cosmic Jazz this year. They need to be played – and often.

UK sax player Sean Khan has produced an interesting album that is essentially jazz but with strong Brazilian influences. Who better from Brazil to combine these two genres than Hermeto Pascoal – and Sean Khan managed to secure his services for four of the nine tracks on his album Palmares Fantasy. On this week’s tune Montreux, Hermeto is credited with flute, vocals and glass of water! That’s him making some interesting sounds at the end of the tune.

We have played and talked much about the young/youngish jazz scene in the UK and representatives are well to the fore in this week’s show. I was so pleased to see Maisha, the band led by drummer Jake Long, perform this year. They cook up quite a storm and their infectious enthusiasm for playing together in quite a large group comes across strongly. In pianist Sara Tandy they have an exciting, unpredictable and innovative musician whose playing  and obvious joy in playing is a delight. I have seen her also playing with Camilla George. Guitarist Shirley Tetteh and sax player Nubya Garcia are also members of the band whose reputation and renown seems to grow by the day. Maisha have an album due for release on Brownswood Records on 09 November and Sara Tandy is also due to release her debut album soon.

One of the features of these groups is that the musicians work with each other on different projects. For example, Nubya Garcia  plays with Maisha and is also on the title tune of Joe Armon-Jones’ first release and in her own right on the EP When We Are.  Another feature, illustrated most clearly with the Joe Armon-Jones and Sons of Kemet tunes, is that the boundaries of jazz are stretched. We love this on Cosmic Jazz. There is experimentation, there are challenging sounds and even instruments you may not have heard on in jazz before – such as Theon Cross and his tuba with Sons of Kemet. Ezra Collective’s excellent tune I Have a God we have played before, but are only too pleased to play again. There are some lovely vocals by Zara McFarlane which illustrate when she is at her best that she can  combine power and sensitivity as a vocalist.

The final tune came from someone at the other end of the age spectrum and the other end of England from most of the above. Tony Burkill is a tenor saxophonist from Leeds who I can only presume has been active on the scene there for a number of years. He has put out an album Work Money Death comprising tunes written by himself and bass player Neil Innes. The album can even boast contributions from the Headingley Handclap Choir.  I like it. Third of All Numbers provided an uplifting and positive way to end the show.

  1. Sean Khan – Montreux from Palmares Fantasy
  2. Maisha – Osiris from There is a Place
  3. Joe Armon-Jones – Starting Today from Starting Today
  4. Sons of Kemet – My Queen is Ada Eastman from Your Queen is a Reptile
  5. Nubya Garcia – When We Are from When We Are
  6. Ezra Collective feat Zara McFarlane – I Have a God from Chapter 7
  7. Tony Burkill – Third of All Numbers from Work Money Death

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

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