After a break of several months with nowhere to record the show, finally we are back. Sorry it’s taken so long. The Cosmic Jazz site has remained active, thanks largely to some superb pieces from Neil – check his latest entry on spiritual jazz and three contemporary purveyors. We deeply thank the many who have continued to log into the site and hope you’ll carry on doing so – especially now that there will be even more music.
There are a few changes; the shows will mostly be longer than the one hour of the past and we’ll add in some new features too. You may also find some ads appearing, but this simply enables us to cut costs (as opposed to making money) in what is a show self-financed by two guys who put it together for the jazzheads out there.
This first new show on our return features some Cosmic Jazz essentials we’ve made reference to over the years along with a couple of new tunes. We are so pleased to be back!
Black Renaissance – Black Renaissance from Black Renaissance Body, Mind & Soul.
This just had to be our first comeback tune. Black Renaissance emerged from a session that keyboard player Harry Whitaker arranged on 15 January 1976 – Martin Luther King Day. Made in one take in a packed studio with a party vibe, Black Renaissance is cosmic, spiritual, free and improvised. There are African roots. It has rap early in the year when rap reportedly first began. Is it one of the first rap records? It’s certainly one of the first jazz record to incorporate rap. The musicians who turned up included Woody Shaw, Azar Lawrence, Buster Williams, Billy Hart and Mtume. Roberta Flack was in the studio too – Whitaker had been her musical director. There were subsequent stories of promised release never happening, of master tapes lost in a fire, but finally the music was found and released by the Ubiquity label in California. Let’s be thankful; the music is right up there. It’s a must-have record.
Soil & Pimp Sessions – Waltz for Goddess from Pimp Master
Soil & Pimp Sessions are included because they are favourites of the creator of this site, who birthed the Cosmic Jazz site over 20 years ago and whose expertise has enabled us to start recording again. Soil and Pimp are an outrageously wild and energetic Japanese jazz group who emerged from the Tokyo club scene in 2001. Their live performances are something else, as I have seen for myself at The Jazz Cafe. The tune Waltz for Goddess is one of their best known.
Rudolph Johnson – The Highest Pleasure from Theo Parrish’s Black Jazz Signature
This tune was released originally on Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Johnson’s album The Second Coming. I came across it via the compilation assembled by DJ and producer Theo Parrish – Black Jazz Signature Black Jazz Records 1971-1976. Black Jazz Records was a label founded in Oakland, California by pianist Gene Russell and percussionist Dick Schory, and created to promote the talents of young African American jazz musicians and singers. Just twenty albums were released between 1971 and 1975. Johnson was a sax player, seen by many as the heir apparent to Coltrane but who never produced enough records to fulfil this. On his second Black Jazz release, Johnson showed confidence in his direct, emotional approach to jazz. Staying true to his hard bop and Coltrane-inflected roots there are great contributions from bass player Kent Brinkley, drummer Doug Sides and pianist Kirk Lightsey – all musicians on the Los Angeles jazz scene of the time.
Gene Russell – Black Orchid from Gilles Peterson – Black Jazz Radio
There is more from Black Jazz Records and from another DJ compilation, this time courtesy of Gilles Peterson. Co-founder of the label, Russell was a keyboard player, both acoustic and Fender Rhodes. Black Orchid is probably one of his best-known tunes and a very beautiful one it is too. It was released originally in 1971 on the New Direction album which also features Russell’s takes on Listen Here and On Green Dolphin Street. Black Orchid is actually a Cal Tjader tune that features on a great Three Sounds album of the same name.
O.N.E. Quintet – Drozyna from One
We have long featured Polish and other East European and Scandinavian jazz on the programme. This is thanks to the assistance of a key source for this music – the always interesting Steve’sJazz Sounds, which regularly sources excellent new music for the show. An exciting recent arrival has been the debut album One by Polish group the O.N.E. Quintet. They includes violinist Dominika Rusinowska, whose arrangement of the traditional tune Drozyna was featured on the show. The album also includes a tune from the seminal Polish composer and pianist Krzysztof Komeda with the remainder being originals by pianist Paulina Almanska and sax player Monica Muc.
Wojciech Jachna Squad – Mystery from Elements
Next comes another recent debut album from Poland entitled Elements from the Wajciech Jachna Squad. The leader is a trumpet player who has been on the Polish scene for a decade or so and has played both mainstream and avant-garde jazz. The album has a prominent role for guitarist Malek Malinowski who contributes to making music that is full of dark mystery. The selection on this week’s show – Mystery – is an appropriate summary of their style.
Chanda Rule and The Sweet Emma Band – Motherless Child from Hold On
Chanda Rule and the Sweet Emma Band have been an interesting new discovery. Chanda is a singer and song writer raised in Chicago and rooted in gospel, soul and jazz. Her version of the traditional spiritual Motherless Child combines all three. Rule has collaborated with saxophonist Donny McCaslin and provided opening sets for Kamasi Washington and India Arie. For the album Hold On she is backed by a group of fine Austrian musicians – The Sweet Emma Band, named after the renowned singer and pianist from New Orleans and the early days of jazz. They feature Paul Zauner on trombone, Mario Rom on trumpet, Jan Korinek on Hammond organ, Christian Salfellner on drums and Osian Roberts on saxophones.
The Elder Statesman – Montreux Sunrise from 7″ single
Just as the new show began with a Cosmic Jazz favourite, it seemed appropriate for the return to the end with another one, this time a more recent release. Lord Echo is Mike August, multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer and DJ from New Zealand. He got together with two brothers from Wellington, Christopher (piano) and Daniel (double bass) Yeabsley to produce an excellent 7″ single released on the Brookyn-based Bastard Jazz label. The music is guided by Yeabsley’s ethereal piano playing to produce a wonderful, melodic, spiritual, gently-paced groove that floats away timelessly. On the other side is another gem, Trans Alpine Express. What a way to end our new show! More music soon come.