Week ending 29 June 2019: the jazz diaspora

On 22 June 1948 the Empire Windrush ship, carrying some 500 settlers from Jamaica, docked at Tilbury, near London.  It was the first of several boats and planes to arrive in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s bringing settlers to the UK from Caribbean islands. During the weekend before CJ this this week there were commemorations across the UK for and by what became known as ‘the Windrush generation’. There there were wider expressions of support for the survivors but also much justified anger anger at the way in which that generation have been treated recently as a result of the UK Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy. It seemed appropriate, therefore, to start the show with a tune from Anthony Joseph – a Caribbean wordsmith – from an album he recorded in Trinidad, with arrangements by UK sax player Jason Yarde, whose family also came from the Caribbean.

I am always one to be struck by tunes or albums with titles that provoke, amuse, make you think or conjure up specific images. The latter certainly applies to the title of an album from a septet led by Polish trombone/flugelhorn player Szymon Klekowicki. A Day in the Bus conjures up images of musicians travelling together to their next show and then travelling back afterwards. No doubt sometimes it’s fun and sometimes not – the music, though, sounds pretty joyful. Klekowichi is a graduate from the Katowice School of  Music, one of several that we have encountered on the show. He has collaborated with US pianist Jason Moran and UK pianist Jamie Cullum. His tune was followed by another Polish group – HotS – an interesting name and way of spelling with a live album that has titles based on numbers.

The surprise/discovery/uplift of the week came from a tune sent in by Neil. The Polyversal Souls are Berlin-based but they have collaborated with the Bolga All-Stars  who come from a town with over 66,000 residents in the Upper East Region of Ghana. This is Bolga Parts I & II is released as a 7″ single and download. It is a delight. The tune offers praise to the musicians coming out of Bolgatanga and combines musicians and singers from Bolgatanga with musicians from The Polyversal Souls – Berlin to Bolgatanga or Bolgatanga to Berlin?  Whatever, this is also the jazz diaspora at work. The track is a must-listen and a must-buy – check it out on Bandcamp right here.

The July 2019 edition of Jazzwise is now available with a sample CD from the excellent Rare Noise Records. There is also a July 2019 edition available of  Echoes, the other music magazine that I consult. Jazz writer and broadcaster Kevin le Gendre can be found in both as deputy editor and jazz specialist for Echoes and as columnist and reviewer for Jazzwise. The latest edition of Echoes has found a new record of the month category, namely Non-Genre Specific Album of the Month. Moreover, the reviewer – not Kevin le Gendre – has awarded it the rare accolade of a five-star rating. The album in question is by Esperanza Spalding and from the tune on the show, the Echoes categorisation seems an appropriate one. Not sure about the five-star rating but it certainly grows on you. Spalding says this about the genesis of this new project: “First, an idea struck: 12 Little Spells… I wanted to release one more song-ey album/tour project to tide us over before I disappear into the belly of developing the next full thing… Then, all the sudden, this 12 Little Spells idea just started taking shape in my imagination all quick-like… And made various parts of my body tingle: hands, legs, solar-plexus, ears, feet, arms…” The album is available only on from Esperanza Spalding’s website here.

There was more from multi-talented composer/musician/DJ/producer Mark de Clive-Lowe. There were two tunes to reflect the different sides of his work. Firstly, a new tune from his excellent album Heritage I, which integrates his Japanese ancestry with his DJ skills in an essentially live recording – the new jazz diaspora? We followed this with an impressive remix he did of a 1960s tune by US drummer Chico Hamilton. Both Heritage I and II albums are highly recommended and we shall continue to play selections from both in upcoming shows.

Finally, it was back to a track recorded in 1969 by flautist Herbie Mann, supported by vibes player Roy Ayers, from his days as  a jazz man as opposed to a soul/fusion player. The always under-rated Sonny Sharrock featured on guitar along with undoubtedly the most recorded bass player in jazz, Ron Carter on bass. The guitarist is relatively restrained here but for a more immersive Sharrock experience, listeners would do well to check out an album that has recently emerged once more on vinyl – the powerful Ask the Ages. The record features Pharoah Sanders on sax, Charnett Moffett on bass and Elvin Jones on drums and was the last album recorded before Sharrock’s death at the age of 53. The track Many Mansions will give some idea of the ferocity of Sharrock’s style – the spiritual jazz style waltz suggesting that this is truly a fuzztone guitar version of Coltrane’s late style (and the presence of Pharoah Sanders only accentuates this).

  1. Anthony Joseph – People of the Sun from People of the Sun
  2. Szymon Klecowicki Septet – Time Dilation from A Day in the Bus
  3. HotS – 30 from Live in Troika
  4. The Polyversal Souls feat. The Bolga All-Stars – This is Bolga Parts 1 & 2 from single
  5. Esperanza Spalding – Dancing the Animal (Mind) from 12 Little Spells
  6. Mark de Clive-Lowe – Memories of Nanzanji from Heritage I
  7. Chico Hamilton (Mark de Clive-Lowe remix) – El Toro from Impulsive! Revolutionary Jazz Reworked
  8. Herbie Mann – In Tangier/Paradise Beach from Stone Flute

Neil is listening to…

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