Deep jazz, Latin with jazz and memories of Marlena Shaw – 09/02/24

We began the show with music to remember Marlena Shaw and then added in ‘that’ sample, before checking out deep contemporary jazz from Europe and some explorations of the links between jazz, Latin and Caribbean music.

1. Marlena Shaw – Yu-Ma/Go Away Little Boy from 12″ single

Derek begins with the tune he most associates with Marlena Shaw, who died on 19 January 2024 (b. 22/09/42). It was not until he looked closely at the sleeve of his 12″ single last week that he realised it was written by pop hit duo Gerry Goffin and Carole King (as Go Away Little Girl) and first released in 1963 by Bobby Vee with The Johnny Mann Singers. While Derek does not wish to upset all the Bobby Vee fans out there, he would like to bet that the Marlena Shaw interpretation, released on the Mercy, Mercy, Mercy album in 1967, is definitely the one to hear. Marlena with brilliant panache changes from mood to mood, from the joy of the perfect man and Black is beautiful, to  ordering the jobless man to Go Away Little Boy, to second thoughts and  reconciliation and you might as well stay/don’t go away as the ear lobes are caressed and all is good again; at least for the time being. Inevitably, you wonder what happened next… It is all delivered with such cool intimacy  yet with heightened and dramatic expression, while the band gently rocks away in the background to some repeated  rhythms. It is a classic – and a CJ essential.

2. Marlena Shaw – Women of the Ghetto (Live) from Live at Montreux

Marlena Shaw appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973 with highlights from the concert appearing in the Cookin’ With Blue Note series. Famously sampled by many artists over the years (see below), Shaw’s spoken introduction to Woman of the Ghetto was one of several great improvised moments on this record, and includes elements of the songs Remember Me and Boyfriend. Shaw scats, hums, and preaches in equal measure on this track which ended her live performance and includes interpretations of Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine Of My Life and Marvin Gaye’s Save The Children. Her backing trio are George Gaffney on piano and Fender Rhodes, Ed Boyer on bass and Harold Jones on drums.

3. St. Germain – Rose Rouge from Tourist

Perhaps the most famous of those samples from Woman of the Ghetto is this – from the St. German project, led by Ludovic Navarre who released the album Tourist in 2000. A million seller, Tourist also sampled Miles Davis (with John Lee Hooker) and Rahsaan Roland Kirk, but also featured Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin on Montego Bay Spleen.  Sharp-eared listeners may also spot a drum and bass loop from Dave Brubeck’s Take Five… We have previously enjoyed and featured Navarre’s eponymously titled St. Germain album which travels in a very different direction, combining house rhythms with west African kora and n’goni, and which appeared some fifteen years later in 2015.

4. Daniel Herskedal – Your Inner Shadow from A Single Sunbeam

Herskedal has been a presence on Edition Records for several years now with A Single Sunbeam being his latest release for the label. Since his emergence in 2015, Herskedal has built a formidable reputation as that rare thing – an expert on both the bass trumpet and the tuba. This album stands out as Herskedal’s most meditative and ambient work to date and, with the addition of Norwegian folk-inspired vocals, subtle string programming and unusual percussion, we have music that is sounds both fragile and intense. Herskedal’s music has always been inspired by the atmospheres and landscapes around him and this new record further develops that unique sound.

5. Verneri Pojola – Of Our Children from Monkey Mind

This is another recent Edition Records release from November 2023 and continues the quieter phase of the show, a time to rest from the dance moves and to hear deep, intense and moving jazz. Verneri Pojola is a Finnish trumpet player already established as a leading artist on the Europena jazz scene. For Monkey Mind he has assembled some notable and important musicians: Kit Downes on piano, Jasper Holby on bass and Olavi Ouhivuori on drums. Pohjola plays with an innovative style to create a  distinct sound  and manages to merge traditional elements into what sounds like something very contemporary.  Of Our Children feels minimalist and spacey, with a cool isolation – and yet it’s a profound piece that reaches deep into the soul.

6. Fredrik Kronkvist – Eternal Light from Afro-Cuban Supreme

Swedish alto-saxophonist Fredrik Kronkvist is an experienced and award-winning musician who has played with a number of musicians both from Europe and the Americas. His work has ranged from acknowledgement of his homeland in The Swedish Songbook, to respecting New York Elements, to summarising his experiences via On The Move, to Afro-Cuban Supreme in 2017. The latter has Coltrane and Gillespie standards with Afro-Cuban interpretations, shades of Pharaoh Sanders and also spiritual dimensions. There are compositions from the band, including this number Eternal Light, written by Kronkvist and vocalist Mariam Aida, which definitely reaches spiritual heights. The band is first class and also includes Martin Sjostedt on piano, Johnny Ahman on bass, Eliel Lazo in percussion and Jason Marsalis on percussion. We have to thank Steve’s Jazz Sounds for introducing us to Fredrik Kronkvist and his excellent music and it is to Steve you need to go if you want to get music by him and other continental European jazz artists and more.

7.   Bugge Wesseltoft – Clauss it from Bugge & Friends

We stay with a Scandinavian connection, this time to Norway via Bugge Wesseltoft – pianist, composer producer and record label owner (Jazzland).  He is another much-travelled Scandinavian artist who has listened to, absorbed and been influenced by a range of musical styles stretching out from jazz. He has recorded with other Scandinavian musicians – for example, Arild Andersen, Terje Rypdal, Jan Garbarek – and as a member of the band Rymden, but he has also worked with Billy Cobham, Joyce  and Banda Maluca. His musical listening has taken him to club DJs, techno and dance music scenes and the album Bugge and Friends is the perfect exemplar – not only from the sounds of the music, but also through the inclusion of one of the top New York club DJs on the album and reference to him in the title of this number Clauss it. The jazz tenor saxophone of Ilhan Ersahin and the jazz trumpet of Erik Truffaz soar above the Fender Rhodes and programming of Wesseltoft and added in are the effects and programming of that most notable  DJ – no less than Joaquin ‘Joe’ Claussell. Conventional rhythm duties are provided by the electric bass of Marius Reksje and the percussion of Eril Holm. The overall effect is quite a soundclash.

8.   Sierre Maestra – Dundunbanza from Dundunbanza

The links between Latin salsa/son and jazz are not that hard to find. They share examples of superb musicianship and deep improvisation – and the roots of both lie down on the dancefloor. As if to prove the point,  the February 2024 edition of Jazzwise magazine has an article on the Story of the roots of Afro-Cuban jazz. My evidence begins with Sierra Maestra, a band from Cuba that started in 1976. Sierra Maestra are a large band playing with an acoustic feel that revives the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s classic son found in the Sierra Maestra Mountain range from eastern Cuba. All the required instruments are there – tres, guitar, trumpet, bongos, guiro, maracas, clave and vocals. Dundunbanza is the title track of the album released in 1976 on the UK label World Circuit and was composed by one of Cuba’s greats, Arsenio Rodriguez in the 1940s. It is a stunning tune, with a beautiful, sweet and tuneful sound. It is classified as a son-montuno, a sound unique to Cuba. Dundunbanza is apparently, an evil spirit in Afro-Cuban mythology sent to the singer who warns that he too can do magic. Does it meet my jazz link criteria above? Definitely. Montuno, say the album sleeve notes, is typified by a short lyrical refrain over musical improvisation. The urge to dance and move is there from the first bar. As for musicianship, just check the soaring trumpet towards the end of the tune from Jesus Alemany who later started his own group Cubanismo.

9. Fruko Y Sus Tesos – Salsa Brava from Tidi Bailan Salsa

The second piece of evidence laid before you (and it is for you to judge) comes from Colombian artist Fruko. Incidentally, where is he playing on 19 April, 2024? The Jazz Café in London. The tune Salsa Brava takes Derek back to the days when he was DJing at salsa nights and this was a number definitely guaranteed to fill the dance floor. Fruko is a multi-instrumentalist – certainly guitar, piano and bass and probably more. He was discovered at the age of 13 (born 1951) by the founder of Colombia’s leading record label Discos Fuentes. After a trip to New York in 1971, he was inspired by New York salsa and – merging these this with the sweeter Colombian sounds along with Cuban rhythms – he formed the band Fruko Y Sos Tesos. Ever since, he has been a musical leader in Colombia and gained international recognition, releasing over 800 albums. Quality production and infectiously catchy melodies, claim the sleeve notes. On this evidence who could disagree?

10. Bob Marley and The Wailers – Concrete Jungle from Catch A Fire (Deluxe Edition, Disc 1)

We ended this show with some classic reggae as a tribute to Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, who died earlier this month. Along with his drummer brother Carlton Barrett, he was the engine room of the Wailers provided a bass line that anchored his brother’s ‘one drop’ rhythms. Before working with Bob Marley, Barrett had already achieved notable success with the studio band the Upsetters and he went on to record Pick a Dub (1974) with Keith Hudson, one of the first ever dub albums. We’ve chosen Concrete Jungle from the album Catch a Fire (1973) – but in its original Jamaican version which was not released until 2002.

Neil is listening to…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *