Music for a jazz party – 21/12/2023

It is time for our end of year jazz dance party and we invite you to groove along with us here at Cosmic Jazz. Dancing and jazz may not seem an obvious connection for some, but it was there in the origins of the music and the connections have never gone away.

1. Herbie Hancock – Thieves in the Temple from The New Standard

We began this festive show with a standout track from an album which finally appeared last month on vinyl for the first time. The New Standard is just that – Hancock is performing the same trick as his mentor Miles Davis was to do a few years later – reinventing pop and rock tunes as jazz standards. Here we have Prince in a jazz arrangement – and why not? Just take a listen to this all star band of Michael Brecker on saxes, John Scofield on guitar, Dave Holland on bass, Jack deJohnette on drums and Don Alias on percussion drive through this funky gem with real panache.

2. Walter Bishop – Soul Turnaround from Soul Village/Fusion With Attitude

Pianist Walter Bishop Jr. is probably best known for his Muse label records from the 1970s, particularly the excellent Soul Village – a record we have featured a number of times on Cosmic Jazz and which includes a reworking of Soul Turnaround which had initially appeared on Coral Keys, his first recording for Black Jazz Records. In his teens growing up in New York Bishop knew Sonny Rollins and Art Taylor – good friends to have around! On this session from 1977 Randy Brecker appears on trumpet and George Khan is on guitar with Bishop on Fender Rhodes, of course.

3. STR4TA – Kinshasa FC from Aspects

Neil greatly enjoyed the first album from Gilles Peterson and Bluey Maunick’s recreation of the heady days of Britfunk with STR4TA. Bluey is, of course, leader of the band Incognito and several other Britfunk groups including Light of the World and Freez. The music is straight out of the early 1980s – acid jazz at its best. Cheesy listening or easy listening? Either way, this is just a delight. And – if you like this – then check out their more recent 2023 release which includes Lazy Days, featuring Emma-Jean Thackray on trumpet and vocals. Like the previous choice, this is sunny summer music but this time with a British twist – the lyrics include the phrases “cotton sheets” and “pots of tea”!

4. Eddie Harris – Sham Time from The Electrifying Eddie Harris/The Eddie Harris Anthology Disc 1

If you want some percussive jazz, try Eddie Harris. This is one of tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris’ most famous and significant outings. He displays his mastery of the electronic Varitone saxophone on Charles Stepney’s excellent Theme in Search of a Movie and on the iconic take on Listen Here. On our choice of Sham Time there’s a horn section too, including David ‘Fathead’ Newman and King Curtis on tenor saxes. With Latin percussion from NuYorican Latin legend Ray Barreto and Joe Wohletz  and Melvin Jackson on bass this soul jazz classic should be in every jazz lover’s library. The tune Sham Time was released on the 1967 album The Electrifying Eddie Harris and can be found on the 1993  Anthology compilation released by Rhino Records.

5. Jazzanova – Creative Musicians (Henrik Schwarz Dub) from Creative Musicians (Wajeed & Henrik Schwarz remixes)

So how did the Berlin-based production collective Jazzanova find itself reimagining songs from the iconic, Detroit record label Strata? I couldn’t think of a more perfect band to do this work said DJ Amir about Jazzanova because they brought passion and love to the project, because they know the music and love the music. Amir Abdullah is the crate-digging, DJ and label-head for 180 Proof Records which began reissuing the groundbreaking Strata Records back catalogue . On The Sound of Detroit – Reimagined by Jazzanova, DJ Amir and Jazzanova rework eleven hand-picked tracks, including Lyman Woodard Organization’s Creative Musicians tune with inspired horn arrangements and a new drum track. Reimagined in Berlin fifty years later, DJ Amir and Jazzanova create something new that was then further enhanced by remixers Wajeed and Henrik Schwarz – and we love the Schwarz version.

6. Isis – In Essence from Like Una Presents E Soul Cultura Vol. 2

This superb jazzy house tune appears on a second É Soul Cultura compilation from Manchester-based DJ Luke Una on the Mr Bongo label. In May 2022, É Soul Cultura Vol.1 blended new, old, rare and under-discovered music from around the world with Piccadilly Records in Manchester making the album their top compilation of the year, and Rough Trade placing it as their number two. Vol. 1 featured the brilliant Eva from Robson Jorge and Lincoln Olivetti – a tune that Neil had on repeat play for months. A second volume released in May this year included the Isis track In Essence, You’re not likely to find a copy of this one (there are none available on Discogs) so this compilation will be your only chance to get your hands on this hypnotic house classic. Howard Mills is on saxophone but the vibes player is uncredited. When we played this track in June we quoted Luke Una who said it’s all about telling stories, sharing the music, and making life’s journey mean something. In the end, of course, it’s just a compilation of other people’s music, but hopefully it’s more than that, adding something back to the pot. Which is pretty much what we try and do here at Cosmic Jazz.

7. MONDO GROSSO – Life feat. Paula Lima from MG4

Probably in common with many music lovers Derek has records which he loves but has no idea how he came about them. One such record is MONDO GROSSO’s MG4 released in 2000. It is a must for a jazz party. Several tunes on the album could have been selected but Life is the choice for this show featuring Brazilian vocalist Paula Lima with backing vocals from Japanese/American singer/songwriter Monday Michiru, who is featured elsewhere on the album both as vocalist and composer. MONDO GROSSO (Italian: Big World) was instigated by the Japanese  Kyoto-based DJ, musician and producer Shinichi Osawa whose main roles on this album are as composer and producer. He has worked with a number of Japanese musicians and several feature on this album, but also artists from elsewhere. The Brazilian musicians Tania Maria and Ed Motta appear as does former vocalist with The Brand New Heavies N’Dea Davenport. How to classify this music? Try some – or all – of the following: jazz/ acid jazz/Brazilian/house/funk/dance.

8. Mo’ Horizons – Brazil from Come Touch The Sun

A similar broad array of musical categories could be used to describe the music of Mo’Horizons. The same words as above (DJ, musician, producer) are also appropriate to describe the German founders Mark Wertzler and Rald Droesemeyer and there’s a similar global approach drawing on Afro/Latin/Brazilian grooves – for this choice it’s a taste of Braziliana. This is jazzy club culture at its best – irresistible rhythms, piercing percussion, solid bass, horn interludes and warm, engaging  vocals from Brazil courtesy of Leila Pantel. Come Touch The Sun was Mo’Horizons’ first album released in 1999 and it’s still readily available on CD and download. Warning – vinyl will not come cheap.

9. Koop feat. Yukimi Nagano – Summer Sun ( Original Version) from Waltz for Koop/Saint-Germain-Des-Pres-Cafe, Vol. 2

This tune takes us back into more strictly jazz territory, although the Swedish band Koop (a shortened version of the Swedish word for co-operation) reached out beyond  jazz to hip-hop, dance, acid jazz, trip-hop and beyond. Koop was formed by the electronic jazz duo of Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson using that ‘bedroom sampling’ approach of putting together several song samples to produce vocal jazz. They worked with several vocalists with our choice of Summer Sun featuring Swedish singer Yukimi Nagano – a teenager when the record was made. It is a swinging, bouncy, infectious, vibrant  tune with vocals beautifully and enticingly delivered by Nagano. You can find this one on the 2001 album Waltz for Koop and a French compilation, Saint-Germain-Des-Pres-Cafe Vol. 2 on which fellow performers in this Cosmic Jazz show, Mo’ Horizons and Herbie Hancock, can also be found.

10. Kira Neris – Open Doors from Behind Closed Doors

Alsace DJ and sampler Kira Neris (aka Hervé Poudoulec) appeared on the show way back in 2015, so this was a great opportunity to revisit a favourite from his 2007 Behind Closed Doors album. We’ve always loved his music and imaginative sampling – this time from Jimmy McGriff’s The Worm and Mel Tormé’s take on the classic Moonlight in Vermont – and so this seemed like a fitting end to the show. The whole album is worth a look – mixing as it does jazz and deep house. As one reviewer noted, imagine Cinematic Orchestra meets Moodyman, which seems about right to us. You can still get hold of the DL right here on Bandcamp – check it out. We’ll be taking a seasonal break for the next few weeks but will be back with more Cosmic Jazz in 2024. Have a great end to your year wherever you are.

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