From Bacharach to Edition Records to free jazz(?): 21 February 2023

This show is a diverse one. It goes almost from the smooth to the freaky via a feature on recent music from Edition Records. Be prepared for surprises and some good music.

1.    Dionne Warwicke – Wives and Lovers from The Essential Collection

Burt Bacharach died on 8 February 2013. He is known for the many great pop songs he composed with lyricist Hal David. Tunes that once you hear them it’s difficult to get them out of your head. So why is one of his compositions being featured on Cosmic Jazz? There is more about this in the entry below, but for a start much of his music has unusual chord progressions influenced by his background in jazz harmony. Tunes like Wives and Lovers have a jazzy vocal and instrumentation. You can imagine Dionne Warwicke, for whom so many of Bacharach’s hits were written,  singing this in a cool and intimate  jazz club setting, delivered in what Adam Mattera, in his February Echoes review of a recently released Dionne Warwick (then without a ‘e’) Warner Bros. compilation, calls her subtle restraint. The lyrics on Wives and Lovers may be both sexist and saccharin, but we cannot blame Bacharach for that, It’s that tune we’re focusing on – and it’s wonderful.

2.    Cecile McClorin Salvant – Wives and Lovers from For One to Love

There are several examples of Burt Bacharach’s music being covered by jazz artists. McCoy Tyner and Stan Getz released albums based on his tunes. In 2004 Blue Note Records released the compilation Blue Note Plays Burt Bacharach which featured 12 tracks recorded by Blue Note artists including Stanley Turrentine, Grant Green  and Earl Klugh, with a version of Wives and Lovers by Nancy Wilson. More recently in 2015, Cecile McClorin Salvant, currently one of the most in-demand jazz musicians around, recorded her interpretation of Wives and Lovers for her album For One To Love – and pretty good it is too. There is not the “subtle restraint” of Dionne Warwicke, but there is more forthright and varied expression in Salvant’s voice and a contrast in that the instrumentation is minimal, but it represents  another example of the appeal of the music of Burt Bacharach to significant top-class jazz artists.

3.    Fergus McCreadie – Forest Floor from Forest Floor

So often talk of British jazz is focused on London. Yet there is much going on in other parts of the UK and, in particular, jazz musicians from Scotland are  currently making a powerful contribution. The leading British monthly  jazz magazine  Jazzwise  in its March 2023 edition has an article devoted to the Scottish jazz scene  covering “the roots of its illustrious past and vibrant present.” Leading the way is pianist Fergus McCreadie and his trio, whose two albums Cairn and Forest Floor on the British independent record label Edition Records we have excitedly featured on Cosmic Jazz. In October 2022, McCreadie’s trio won the Scottish Album of the Year award and Forest Floor was nominated for the Mercury Prize. They’re are now filling large venues on a UK tour. The music is sensitive, deep and has echoes of traditional Scottish music and the countryside – and the title tune of the album is a perfect example of this infectious combination. The music is good for the soul and the spirit – Forest Floor is highly recommended.

Chris Potter.

4.    Chris Potter – Olha Maria from Got the Keys to the Kingdom: Live at the Village Vanguard

Also on Edition Records and from  the US is Chris Potter, one of the world’s leading saxophone players. This brand new album was recorded live at the iconic New York venue the Village Vanguard in February 2022. There is a very strong line-up with Craig Taborn on piano, Marcus Gilmore on drums and Scott Colley on bass. All the tunes are covers ranging from folk tunes to spirituals to uncommon jazz standards. The tune Olha Maria is from Brazil and was composed by no less than Antônio Carlos Jobim/Chico Barque/Vinicius De Moraes. What a place for a live recording and the sounds that emerge and the responses of the audience are a testament to the venue. This is as essential as Potter’s previous live album, Follow the Red Line – also recorded at the Village Vanguard in 2007.

5.    Sun-Mi Hong – Care Less from Third Page: Resonance

Our final contribution from Edition Records comes from Sun-Mi Hong, a Korean drummer now resident in Amsterdam. Sun-Mi Hong grew up in South Korea but did not find much support for her chosen path and faced pressure to follow a more traditional career, Ten years ago she took the bold step to move to Amsterdam to study and has now become one of the key members of the city’s jazz scene. This includes guiding jam sessions with young international and acclaimed talent at the Bimhuis jazz venue. Her reputation stretches beyond the Netherlands and she is now regarded as one of the leading up-and-coming talents on the European scene. Care Less is from her third album with her quintet First, Second and now Third Resonance). All of the music is arresting, free, demanding of attention and this tune starts with skilfully interweaving  of drum and bass before the rest of the quintet joins the party.

6.    Jaimie Branch – Nuevo Roquero Estereo from Fly or Die Live

“Free jazz is a real reflection of the times and everything that’s going on [   ] It puts beauty back into the world, it vibrates, I think it works on an anatomical level.” Quote from the late trumpeter Jaimie Branch to be found at Jaimie Branch Forever and Always – a site posted by the Jaimie Branch Foundation where you can find more of her comments together with tributes from musicians following her tragic death last year. It is difficult to know what to say except that if you have not come across her music that combined wild free jazz, humour and political commentary you need to hear it and Fly Or Die Live, recorded in 2020 at Moods, Zurich, Switzerland, is strongly recommended. The tune Nuevo Roquero Estereo has fiery interplay between Jaimie Branch on trumpet and Chad Taylor, a founding member of the Chicago Underground on drums.

7.    Don Cherry – Karmapa Chenno from Hear & Now

Trumpeter Don Cherry’s 1977 album Hear and Now has been re-released on Real Gone Music. Hear and Now was Don Cherry’s only solo release for Atlantic Records and the album featured an impressive line-up of musicians  including Michael Brecker, Marcus Miller and Tony Williams. It was produced by Narada Michael Walden, an artist who worked with many important jazz artists but soul and R’n’B ones too. He’s best known in the UK for his disco-infused  hit tune  I Shoulda Loved Ya. Typically, Cherry’s music here combines jazz, fusion  and global influences, particularly from India and West Africa and there’s a strong percussive element as on our choice Karmapa Chenno. Don Cherry is a Cosmic Jazz favourite and this album will not disappoint.

8.    Monika Roscher Big Band – 8 Prinzessinen single

We can thank Gary at Red Sand PR for this one – and it’s quite an out of the box number. Certainly it hits the spot as far as out now regular genre-crossing feature to end the show. Somewhere between math-rock, prog-jazz, avant-pop and experimental electronics is Gary’s description – and he’s not wrong! The band comprises 18 musicians with Monika Roscher as the founder, singer, guitarist and conductor. They are from Germany where their first two albums were greeted with acclaim and Jazz Echo proclaimed them ‘Newcomer of the Year.’ The US magazine Downbeat described them as ‘rising stars.’  The tune 8 Prinzessinen is a single from their forthcoming album Witchy Activities & the Maple Death to be released in May 2023. The tune is epic, dramatic and loud. It may be difficult to find much jazz in the opening bars but stay with it, there is plenty of wild and free jazz blowing to come later. If you’re not sure on first listening, try it again – the music will grow on you. More from Cosmic Jazz soon.

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