On this show we have a Carlos Garnett tribute, new music from the USA, a Japanese classic and more. All in your latest Cosmic Jazz.
1. Carlos Garnett – Mother of the Future from Black Love
Panamanian-born saxophone player Carlos Garnett died on 3 March, 2023. His music is much enjoyed at Cosmic Jazz and so an appreciation was much needed. Black Love, released on Muse Records in 1974, was his first album as leader but before then Garnett had played with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Gary Bartz, Miles Davis, Pharaoh Sanders and Norman Connors, who played onBlack Love and released his own version of Mother of the Future with Jean Carn(e) on vocals. The tune was composed by Carlos Garnett and for his album version Ayodele Jenkins and Dee Dee Bridgewater are on vocals. Other musicians include Mtume, Billy Hart, Buster Williams, Guilherme Franco, Reggie Lucas and Carlos Chambers who provided yodelling! Mother of the Future is just a great tune, with intense blowing from Garnett, soaring vocals and deep and immersive percussion. It is spiritual jazz , but is also music that has been loved in clubs by jazz dancers and should continue to be danced to.
2. Carlos Garnett – Love Flower from Journey to Enlightenment
Later in September 1974, eight months after Black Love, Carlos Garnett recorded another album for Muse Records – Journey to Enlightenment. The only two musicians retained from Black Love were Reggie Lucas on guitar and vocalist Ayodele Jenkins. Both feature strongly on the tune Love Flower – Reggie Lucas with a guitar solo and Ayodele Jenkins with a powerful and impressive vocal. Among the additional musicians were long time associates Hubert Eaves (from Gary Bartz) on piano and Howard King on drums. The album continues the duality of the first album combining spiritual music, sentiments and emotions with danceable rhythms: the tune on this show, Love Flower, is, in fact, pretty funky with a driving beat, strong percussion but also with lyrics rooted in spirituality – almost in West Coast underground terms. It is interesting that Derek could not find Carlos Garnett mentioned in any of his classic jazz guide books: has probably over the years been under-appreciated. Luckily for us all, interest was boosted – like a number of jazz and Brazilian artists – by having their music re-released by a British record label – in this case by Soul Brother in 2014, who re-released five of his albums. Look out for them.
3. Art Blakey – Free For All from Free For All/The Best of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers
This tune links with another sad death that we acknowledged in our last show, that of the defining sax player and composer Wayne Shorter. He was thirty years old when his tune Free For All was recorded as the title track of an Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers album for Blue Note Records in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on 10 February 1964. A first pressing will set you back a lot of money (here’s a couple on Discogs!) but Derek has the tune on a 1989 Blue Note CD compilation The Blue Note Years: The Best of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, which includes another great Shorter composition – Lester Left Town. Art Blakey was known for his ability to spot young talent and provide an outlet and important stage for them. This record was no exception. Besides Wayne Shorter, who provides a lengthy and highly-charged solo, there is intensity from Curtis Fuller’s trombone, fire from Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet, Cedar Walton on piano, Reggie Workman on bass and Art Blakey with crashing drums throughout. The sleeve notes to the CD compilation put it perfectly: This was a band of virtuosi tackling state-of-the-art works and making them swing like crazy. “Free For All” swings with such ferocious abandon that everyone builds and builds and it seems as if they will explode.
4. Lakecia Benjamin – Jubilation from Phoenix
One of the wonderful things about jazz is that musicians from different generations can and do play together. This is illustrated perfectly by the latest album from charismatic alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. Although she has been around for some time – for example, she played at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 – she is considerably younger than Dianne Reeves, the late Wayne Shorter, Angela Davis and Patrice Rushen who all appear as special guests on the album Phoenix released by the British label Whirlwind Records. I’m trying to highlight people she said in a Guardian interview published on 31 January 2023 so they get their flowers while they’re still alive. We are pleased to see that Cosmic Jazz favourite, the pianist and composer Patrice Rushen was included. Most people may know her from her 1982 hit single Forget Me Nots, but before that she had released two great jazz albums for Prestige Records – Prelusion and Before the Dawn. The tune Jubilation appeared on the latter and is a Patrice Rushen composition. Lakecia Benjamin leads the way on her version with a clear and sharp tone throughout and there is an excellent, intricate, funky solo, from Patrice Rushen – we just wish it were longer. The album brings some surprises: Wayne Shorter, for example, provides spoken word rather than saxophone. Expect the unexpected and enjoy.
5. Mary Halvorson – Night Shift from Amaryllis
If you happen to be in Amsterdam check out the Bimhaus, a striking black box straddling across the water, part of the Muziekgebouw complex and home to a jazz club for many nights of the week, with excellent acoustics, a large enough auditorium to attract major artists, but intimate enough to retain the feeling of a club. Recently, Derek was there and heard the US guitarist Mary Halvorson and her sextet, playing tunes from her Amaryllisalbum but also new material played in public for the first time that night. It was quite an experience. Make no mistake, this is not music for the faint-hearted – it’s not an easy listen, demanding your attention and drawing you in – our choice of Night Shift is a great example. At times, the players sound as if they are firing away in different directions but there is a cohesive whole. The group is a sextet of master improvisers with Patricia Brennan on vibraphone and Jacob Garchik on trombone featuring on this tune but the strength of everyone is readily apparent.
6. Sun Mi-Hong – Home from Third Page: Resonance
Also if you happen to be in Amsterdam, you may catch the South Korean drummer Sun Mi-Hong who lives in the city and who had just led an improvised workshop of international musicians at the Bimhaus a few days before Derek arrived. Again, we must note the importance to jazz of British record labels – Sun Mi-Hong is signed to Edition Records. Her music, like that of Mary Halvorson, does not come as an easy listen. It is intense, personal and haunting. The tune Home slowly builds and builds to include horns and then winds down to leave you with the reverberation of acoustic bass and screeching accompaniment. It is unique and important music from someone who has abandoned the expectations and norms of her country of birth to leave home and make a considerable and growing name for herself on the European jazz scene.
7. Takeo Moriyama – Watarase from Live at LOVELY on Watarase Fumio Itabashi
Watarase – once heard, never forgotten. There are many versions of this traditional Japanese folk tune but the most famous jazz interpretations are by pianist Fumio Itabashi. Discogs still has available the Itabashi double CD with eight versions – all remarkably different. Probably the one that has received the most attention outside Japan is the Symphonic Poem, recorded with the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra – it’s an over the top orchestral tour de force with Yma Sumac-style vocals from We have played this version on previous Cosmic Jazz shows and still love it, but after hearing Japanese jazz collector Tony Higgins select excellent another version when interviewed recently Derek wanted to choose this version. The record is attributed to drummer Takeo Moriyama but Fumio Itabashi is on piano, leading the opening notes and later taking a solo after a warm and embracing lead from tenor saxophonist Toshihiko Inoue. This version, like the symphonic poem, is wonderful: dramatic, emotional, full of unforgettable melodies and has to be heard. It was recorded live at the Jazz Inn Lovely in Nagoya in December 1990.
8. Dwight Trible – My Stomping Ground from Ancient Future
Vocalist and composer Dwight Trible has been an important figure in the Los Angeles jazz scene for many years. He’s collaborated with many well-known artists based there but also with our own Matthew Halsall on the 2017 album Inspirations. Some of those LA collaborators can be found on his most recent release Ancient Future, out last month on the UK-based Gearbox Records. Trible has renewed his collaboration with Kamasi Washington, but there is also multi-instrumentalist Georgia Anne Muldrow, one-time Miles Davis pianist/arranger, John Beasley, long-time Prince collaborator, André Gouche and more. There’s a funky, electronically inflected sound and it’s a passionate, socially conscious record inspired by the local LA community in which he lives – no more so than the tune on the tune My Stomping Ground in the city of angels as Dwight guides you round some crucial eating places, the people who run them and how to reach them.
More from Cosmic Jazz soon.