Week ending 13 April 2019: that spiritual jazz groove

The show has been in a restrained and spiritual mood of late. This is just the groove into which it has gone rather than any preconceived plan and it’s provided some moving and uplifting music. There’s more of the same this week and this time you can download this show right here.

Recently, I heard Yusef Lateef’s Morning on another jazz show and although we have played it before on Cosmic Jazz I needed to play it again. It provided such a powerful opening to the show. A truly spiritual, cosmic and poetic experience with Lateef playing the customary range of interesting instruments – saxophone, flute, arghul (a traditional instrument used in Egypt and Palestine) and scraper – and recorded as long ago as 1957 Truly a world music pioneer.

The mood continued with another musician who uses an instrument from the Islamic tradition. Dhafer Youssef was born in Tunisia, found jazz at an early age and left his homeland for Europe. His 2016 album Diwan of beauty and odd recorded in Paris in 2016 is highly recommended and has been well reviewed. It includes some interesting US musicians well known to Cosmic Jazz including Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Mark Guillana on drums and Aaron Parks on piano.

There have been several examples of restrained and gentle trumpet playing on the show recently. Erik Truffaz is a trumpeter who often sounds understated but, nevertheless, manages to make considerable impact. His Blue Note album Bending New Corners was an introduction to his music for many outside France and Belgium. It was one of those albums where a standout track – in this case, Siegfried – could hide the rest of the music on the album. Minaret, which continued the show’s Islamic references, shows why the whole album deserves full attention.

The saxophonist Nat Birchall, who was born and remains based in the North-West of England, would appear to share similar tastes to those of us on Cosmic Jazz. He loves jazz, he has clearly listened to modal and spiritual jazz, but he also loves reggae. So do we. Sounds Almighty is his acknowledgement of this love and provides some authentic dub sounds. The album includes legendary Jamaican  trombonist Vin Gordon and was recorded on analogue equipment in Manchester.

Shabaka Hutchings  is one of the London-based musicians who has emerged so strongly in recent years that he is now almost a ubiquitous feature of the jazz scene in the UK and beyond. The music he makes is different, unique and challenging but it is not one sound or approach. Shabaka is involved with (at least) three groups, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming – all providing different outlets for his music. Moreover, all his groups are now signed to the essential and historic jazz label Impulse! This week we wanted to feature the exciting new album from The Comet is Coming, perhaps the most radical sounding of the three groups.

But that was not the last appearance of Hutchings on the show. He is also the featured soloist on DJ Khalab’s Black Noise 2084, an EP which includes drummer Moses Boyd on another track – a musician well known to this show. Khalab is actually Raffaele Costantino, one of Italy’s most renowned radio hosts, DJs and producers. His first album was made with Malian percussionist Baba Sissoko but last year he released Black Noise 2084, a six track EP.  Both of these tracks were selections from Neil and previously unknown to me, but very, very interesting.

Between these two tunes was a powerful interlude. The trumpeter Keyon Harrold released his album The Mugician in 2018. It is a strong album. He is from Ferguson, Missouri in the USA and it was in this town that an 18-year-old African American Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014. M B Lament is Keyon Harrold’s comment and tribute. There is some moving trumpet playing and interaction between drummer and bass player right to the final notes at the end of the tune.

Shayna Steele is a singer who has featured with many other well-known musicians – the most interesting to jazz lovers would be her work with Snarky Puppy. Her own music crosses jazz, soul and funk territory. The Art Blakey tune appears on a 2018 UK compilation put together by UK DJ Eddie Piller and actor Martin Freeman in 2018. In 1987 – along with fellow DJ Gilles Peterson – Piller founded Acid Jazz Records, releasing many of the UK artists on the jazz scne at that time – the James Taylor Quartet, Brand New Heavies, Galliano and Jamiroquai. This new compilation reflects the influences of that scene and a second compilation is due shortly. We ended this week’s show with one of our favourite vocalists, Carmen Lundy, and a track from her excellent Soul to Soul album.

  1. Yusef Lateef – Morning from Jazz Mood
  2. Dhafer Youssef – Of Beauty & Odd from Diwan of beauty & odd
  3. Erik Truffaz – Minaret from Bending New Corners
  4. Nat Birchall – Wisdom Dub from Sounds Almighty
  5. The Comet is Coming – Astral Flying from Trust in the Life Force of the Deep Mystery
  6. Keyon Harrold – M B Lament from The Mugician
  7. D J Khalab (feat Shabaka Hutchings & Tommaso Cappellato) – Dense from Black Noise 2084
  8. Shayna Steele – Be from Watch Me Fly
  9. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Kozo’s Waltz from A Night in Tunisia/Jazz on the Corner
  10. Carmen Lundy – Daybreak from Soul to Soul

Derek is listening to …

Neil is listening to…

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