Things do not always go to plan on Cosmic Jazz. You are supposed to walk into the studio and find on the screen in front of you a computer wall with bricks that contain the tunes sent in for upload. The wall was there, the bricks were there – but none of the tunes that I sent in… So the plans (which included some new Polish jazz, a touch of Brazil and more Sarah Tandy) had to be abandoned for a more spontaneous show. Luckily, the tracks that were left enabled me include the latter two. The new Polish music will feature in next week’s show.
It had to be a show planned in the moment. I saw that tunes from Sarah Tandy’s excellent album Infection in the Sentence were available and I needed little excuse to play them again. It has been encouraging to note the praise she has been receiving on Twitter, in reviews and on radio. All thoroughly deserved – there is not a weak track on this album and there is plenty of scope to catch her dexterous and inventive piano/keyboard playing, but she leaves plenty of scope for the other musicians too. Snake in the Grass is a twisting, curving tune with a fitting title, Nursery Rhyme is a beautiful and gentle piece and Bradbury Street is inspired by the location for Sarah’s first jazz residency after leaving Cambridge University and returning to London.
Akua Naru may not be a jazz artist but she has a jazz sensibility and plays with jazz musicians. We first came across her because we heard Sarah Tandy say in a radio interview that she had supported her. On her album The Miner’s Canary no less a jazz artist than Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah makes a guest appearance, as well as Cody Chestnutt. Besides, we love her music, so no more excuses required.
There was another play for one of my tunes of the moment, Krewe by US six-piece Lettuce. They were formed in 1992 by Berklee students. The publicity for their new album Elevate describes them as crossing funk/jazz/soul/psych/hip hop/art rock/ambient/avant-garde/experimental – something for everyone you might say! They run the band on democratic principles with no leaders. Lettuce sound a lot of fun and must be great live.
The Brazilian touches started with Sabrina Malheiros from her album Clareia, another excellent release on the UK label Far Out. The album includes support on bass from her father Alex of the legendary Azymuth and is produced by Daniel Maunick from London.
Also from London and in touch with Brazilian sounds is keyboard player Jessica Lauren. Her 2018 album Almeria is recommended and among several strong tunes Simba Jike is a stand out. Listen for the marimba playing from Mally Harpaz, the percussion from Phillip Harper and the bass of ‘Level’ Neville Malcolm. This tune is a solid and uplifting groove – do not be fooled by the quiet start.
Light as a Feather was the second album from Chick Corea’s Return to Forever group. Recorded in London in 1972, but with musicians from the US and Brazil, the album consolidated the debut record on ECM from the previous year and is a highlight of Corea’s extensive canon. The line up is impressive – Flora Purim provided the lovely (often wordless) vocals and husband Airto Moreira the percussion. They are both still going strong and due in London soon. From the US (with Cuban heritage) the always underrated Joe Farrell provided tenor sax. Most listeners will recall the tenor sax on The Average White Band’s iconic Pick up the Pieces – that’s Joe Farrell. This incarnation of the RTF band also features the bass playing of Stanley Clarke, who was to stick with Corea’s band through all its many variations.
Rachelle Ferrell featured a few weeks back and I wondered what she was up to now. I learn from the June 2019 edition of the UK Black music mag Echoes that she will appear on the forthcoming album by nu-soul singer Rahsaan Patterson. Probably not jazz, but that voice is worth the listen any time.
- Sarah Tandy – Snake in the Grass from Infection in the Sentence
- Sarah Tandy – Nursery Rhyme from Infection in the Sentence
- Sarah Tandy Bradbury Street from Infection in the Sentence
- Akua Naru – Nag Champa from Live & Aflame Sessions
- Lettuce – Krewe from Elevate
- Sabrina Malheiros – Renascera from Clareia
- Jessica Lauren – Simba Jike from Almeria
- Chick Corea – You’re Everything from Light as a Feather
- Rachelle Ferrell – Autumn Leaves from First Instrument
Derek is listening to….
- RGG – Epilogue 1
- Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo Vice Versa – Danca do paje
- Piotr Schmidt Quartet – Ale Jazz w Lodzi
- Janczarski & McCraven Quintet – Intertwining Spirits
- Mr. Killa – Run Wid It
Neil is listening to…