Week ending 01 February 2020: extended epics!

Cosmic Jazz is very much our show – there are no restrictions or limitations on what we can play and so – sometimes – it’s good to indulge our taste for standout long tracks. Tonight’s show is one of those with just three lengthy outings from great musicians. But we begin with some classic latin from 1968: Charlie Palmieri and a brilliant mambo from the Latin Bugalu album. Palmieri began his career with the great Tito Puente but he went on to have huge success with his own recordings, including this album on Atlantic Records. A mix of the then very fashionable bugalo (or boogaloo) and mambo tracks, the record featured Louis Ramirez on timbales, Julian Priester on trombone and Palmieri on keyboards.

The second choice is a version of Desert Fairy Princess from the Leimart Park: Roots and Branches of Los Angeles Jazz album which features the cream of the Los Angeles jazz scene at the time, including many jazz artists who would go on to achieve individual fame years later – include Kamasi Washington Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Dwight Trible. Collectively called The Gathering, this is the only recording of the full collective and if you can find the album it’s well worth getting hold of. Vocals on this version are by Dwight Trible – check out his most recent release Mothership on UK’s Gearbox Records where you’ll find yet another take on Desert Fairy Princess. The first version  is probably from the singer who provide the lyrics, Adele Sebastian. Here she is with her version of the tune from her only album as a leader.

It seemed natural to follow this track with an artist that appeared on the Roots and Branches album and went on to become something of a figurehead for the current spiritual jazz movement. Now, it may appear that any one with a tenor saxophone wearing a dashiki can be a spiritual jazz artist – but Washington is the real deal. His music may not be particularly original but he know how to write a real melody and his intensity is infectious. More than this, his ambition (releasing a 3CD album for his first record as a leader and packing it with strings and choir) is undeniable. The result – amazingly – was that The Epic album was, indeed, just that. We played the excellent Re-Run Home.

Another artist never afraid to compromise was afrobeat hero, Fela Anikulapo Kuti – or usually just Fela. Roforofo Fight appears on the album of the same name and is a typically lengthy Fela workout. It’s one of the best though, along with No Agreement and Zombie. The latter is, of course, one of Fela’s most famous and memorable tunes. In 1977, Fela and the Afrika ’70 released the album released the album Zombie – a scathing attack on the Nigerian military. The album was a real success but this infuriated the Nigerian government, who sent a large group of soldiers to attack Fela’s Kalakuta Republic compound. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Republic was burned down, and Fela’s studio, instruments, and many master tapes were destroyed. Fela’s response to the attack was to deliver his mother’s coffin to military barracks in Lagos and write Coffin for Head of State and Unknown Soldier (in response to the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier). Check out Zombie right here.

  1. Charlie Palmieri – Mambo Show from Latin Bugalu
  2. The Gathering – Desert Fairy Princess from Leimart Park: Roots and Branches of Los Angeles Jazz
  3. Kamasi Washington – ReRun Home from The Epic Disc 3
  4. Fela Kuti & Africa 70 – Roforofo Fight from Roforofo Fight

Neil is listening to…

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