Week ending 09 February 2019: American favourites and local stars

Just six tunes in this week’s Cosmic Jazz, but what power they present! Cosmic Jazz often focuses on new European jazz – including recent releases from Poland and the UK jazz scene – but this week is a mostly American show, beginning with an Art Blakey stormer from 1973, featuring Woody Shaw on trumpet and Cedar Walton on piano.

Like many jazz artists in the 1970s, saxophonist Harold Land updated his sound to include more funky elements like the Fender Rhodes electric piano – but his music never suffered as a result. Black Caucus is tough, driving music – all enhanced by powerful playing from Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and marimba and Harold Land Jnr. on keyboards.

In contrast, Keith Jarrett was noted for something of a crusade against electricity, starting with his wonderful ECM solo piano recordings and continuing with his Standards Trio. Together for 35 years, Jarrett, Peacock and deJohnette recorded Autumn Leaves several times, both live and in the studio. Many of the stand-out versions include an extended Jarrett vamp as a coda – and this take is no exception. Recorded live in 1998 after Jarrett was recovering from a two year silence as result of chronic fatigue syndrome (hence the antediluvian album title) the music is as gloriously invigorating as you could expect. Jarrett is newly energised – and  nowhere morethan on this 13 minute version of the Kosma and Mercer classic. If you like this, then search out either of the two other epic versions recorded by Jarrett – the first monster 26 minute version on the 6CD Live at the Blue Note set and the second on the Trio’s Up For It (recorded live at Juan les Pins). For fun, watch this visual transcription as the Trio plays Japan in 1996.

Stanley Cowell’s Trying To Find a Way from 1978’s New World album has a bit of an all star line up – Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Pat Patrick (long time member of Sun Ra’s Arkestra) on reeds, Cecil McBee on bass and the great Roy Haynes on drums. The whole set is a delight and the album includes a beautiful take on Duke Ellington’s Come Sunday.

Saxophonist John Stubblefield doesn’t have a very high profile in jazz and there are few records under his own name. This one (Confessin’) for the Italian Soul Note label is certainly worth exploring, especially as it includes fine piano from Mulgrew Miller. If you can find it, check out the whole album or treat yourself to this excellent compilation of Black Saint and Soul Note tracks from the If… label, compiled by the always reliable Jean Claude.

We ended this week’s CJ with music from young British lions (and a lioness). The Ezra Collective has been at the forefront of the contemporary jazz scene in the UK and their take on I Have a God with Zara McFarlane on vocals was a great way to close the show. After two excellent EPs, their first full length album You Can’t Steal My Joy releases on 26 April. Watch this space!

  1. Art Blakey – Anthenagin from Anthenagin
  2. Harold Land – Black Caucus from Choma (Burn)
  3. Keith Jarrett Trio – Autumn Leaves from After the Fall
  4. Stanley Cowell – Trying to Find a Way from New World
  5. John Stubblefield – Confessin’ from Confessin’/You Need This!: Black Saint and Soul Note (1975-1985)
  6. Ezra Collective feat. Zara McFarlane – I Have a God from Chapter 7

Neil is listening to…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.