Cosmic Jazz does jazz carnival, jazz raps and jazz for the spirit – 03/05/24

Cosmic Jazz this time is full of contrasts. Starting in Brazilian Carnival mood, it passes through afro-beats and raps to music for the spirit and contemplation to music of reminiscence.

1. Azymuth – Jazz Carnival from 12″

For those of us who have a considerable record collection, but not unlimited funds, there are always tunes/albums that we would like to add but either they are not available, or not available at a sensible price. For Derek, the Brazilian dancefloor classic Jazz Carnival by the trio Azymuth was such a record. UK Record Store Day 2024 came to the rescue when the British label Far Out Records, as label that specialises in Brazilian music, re-released the record as a 12” single in limited quantities for independent record stores. Record Store Day is the best-selling day of the year for these stores. Derek and Neil both believe that the experience of going into a store where you can see, touch and hear the music, get music ordered if need be and receive the advice of the record enthusiasts who run the place, is so much better than any online order – however ethical the online outlet may be. Buying locally contributes to keeping town and city streets alive, not to mention preventing the need for yet another delivery vehicle filling up your street. There will be an independent record store somewhere near you – just go there and enjoy. For Derek, the source of his records is Soundclash Records in Norwich. It’s been run by Paul for 33 years and always stocks nothing but the best. We featured Soundclash along with other local record stores in Suffolk and Singapore in this Covid-era feature.

2. Elza Soares & Roberto Ribeiro – O Que Vem De Baixo Nao Me Atinge from Sangue Suor e Raca/Blue Brazil 3

Our next show will celebrate 85 years of Blue Note Records, the essential label that was founded in 1939. Every tune will come from Blue Note. In the meantime, this show provides some tasters. One of these is chosen to follow nicely from Azymuth and is a tune from Elza Soares and Roberto Ribeiro released on Blue Note Brazil. The label has recorded far more than the great records that have almost been seen as stereotypical exemplars, for example, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Herbie Hancock etc. For example, Blue Note went to Brazil for three compilation albums titled Blue Brazil and all released in the late 1990s and early 20s – this tune coming from Blue Brazil 3 released in 2000.  Elza Soares was one of the great Brazilian vocalists who kept singing right up until her death in 2022 aged 91. She collaborated with fellow Brazilian singer and composer Roberto Ribeira (1940 – 1996) in 1972 for the album Sangue Suor e Raca from which this tune on the Blue Note compilation is taken.

3. Ezra Collective – Juan Pablo from Juan Pablo The Philosopher EP

Ezra Collective probably need little in the way of introduction here after their UK Mercury Music Prize winning album Where I’m Meant To Be. Probably less well known is their second EP Juan Pablo The Philosopher released in 2017. Juan Pablo is the percussionist on this record and one presumes this tune is named after him. He does not, however, appear on the later record. The tune Juan Pablo has an afro-beat feel and jazzy sound and charges along at a serious pace with pounding bass, rhythmic percussion and combinations of solo and collective brass. The whole record is recommended. It  provides a clear indication of the band’s influences and includes a version of Sun Ra’s Space Is The Place. Recording was at Abbey Road Studios, which provided the perfect atmospheric sound, with mixing by Matt Mysko and Floating Points.

4. Akua Naru – Sugar (Honeyice Tea) feat. Takuya Kuroda & Ensemble Resonanz from All About Love: New Visions

Akua Naru is a rapper from Connecticut USA, now based in Europe and currently touring  across a number of European countries, including recent appearances in the UK. She has been described as the Toni Morrison of hip-hop. Her music draws upon soul and jazz influences and the jazz highlight in the tune Sugar (Honeyice Tea) comes courtesy  of a blistering solo from the jazz trumpeter Tukoya Kuroda, born in Kobe, Japan but now resident in Brooklyn, New York and an artist we have played on Cosmic Jazz.  He contributes to two tunes on the album All About Love: New Visions. To demonstrate  further the eclectic nature of Akua Naru’s work, this tune and others on the album includes additional embellishment from the Hamburg-based Ensemble Resonanz, who rank among the world’s leading chamber orchestras.  All About Love: New Visions is both inspired by and is an ode to the late Black feminist icon bell hooks and her classic text All About Love which examines society and its ideals of love. The album sees Naru exploring various iterations of love and it celebrates the enduring power of unconditional love through the tenderness of motherhood.

5. Yusef Lateef – Love Theme From Spartacus from Eastern Sounds

There are many reasons to play Yusef Lateef and the wonderful tune Love Theme From Spartacus, but Derek decided to play it after receiving a video from someone he knows well, who had been playing the tune to his baby daughter as he moved around the room and rocked  her in his arms – she looked much comforted. That’s the power of music! Yet there should be no surprises in the power of this particular tune and this particular version (there is also an interesting one by Terry Callier with remixes). It’s a lovely melody and Yusef Lateef and his quartet deliver the tune in a way that is lilting, sweet and warm and rocks gently. It is a sound to comfort anyone. It was recorded in 1961 for the album Eastern Sounds, with the incomparable Rudy Van Gelder as recording engineer, when Yusef Lateef was exploring the relationship between North American and Near Eastern improvisational music and – significantly – before John and Alice Coltrane went on to explore such musical territories.

6. Charles Lloyd – Defiant, Reprise; Homeward Bound from The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow

The show has now moved from the carnival explosions of the opening to a meditative, spiritual mode via the new double album The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow from the legendary saxophone and flute player Charles Lloyd – a jazz legend much loved in these parts. The album was released by Blue Note Records on 15 March 2024, Lloyd’s 86th birthday. It’s his first new studio recording since 2017 and is an album of Lloyd originals – old, new and reimagined –  including, under the latter category, a version of Booker’s Garden which is much played by  CJ.  Common to both tunes is the pianist Jason Moran whose imaginative, intense and sensitive playing is a true joy. Larry Grenadier is on double bass and the in-demand Brian Blade is on drums – Defiant, Tender Warriors all (to quote the title of the opening tune on the album) and they remain defiant to the end as this tune title states – the final track on the album. Throughout it all is the clarity of sound, the beautiful , soulful and inspirational playing of Charles Lloyd himself – a genius, a master musician, and an essential  jazz artist.

7. Joshua Redman feat Gabrielle Cavassa – Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? from Where Are We

We end the show with reminiscence, nostalgia and longing for New Orleans – Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans (when that’s where you left your heart?). So sings the excellent Gabrielle Cavassa in an enticing voice full of expression. The tune ends with some trumpet playing from Nicholas Payton to echo the sounds of that city. This is all on the album Where Are We by saxophonist Joshua Redman and credited as  featuring Gabrielle Cavassa. It is the third tune on the show from a Blue Note album  and that is before our Blue Note feature show. The record was voted 2023 album of the year by  the writers of the UK Jazzwise magazine. Also on the album you can find  Brian Blade (again, see above) on drums, Aaron Parks on piano and Joe Sanders on bass. The record is a tour around places in the USA that have their name in song titles – in effect, a tour around the USA from north, south east and west. Some of the tunes are from the classic American Songbook and the record is a shining example of how past tunes can be covered, re-interpreted and presented in ways that are innovative and interesting.

Derek is listening to…

Neil is listening to…

Getting ready for our upcoming Blue Note special celebrating the 85th anniversary of the iconic jazz label, Neil is listening to some recent Blue Note Tone Poet and Blue Note Classic reissues he’s purchased – on vinyl of course! If you’ve not explored this series of exceptional all-analogue represses then head to your nearest independent record store and see what you can find. The Tone Poets come in beautifully laminated heavyweight gatefold sleeves while the Classic series usually feature regular sleeves with less lavish laminating. Importantly, both series are produced and curated by the Tone Poet Joe Harley and mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio on 180g audiophile quality vinyl – and, believe me, you really can hear the difference. Many of the albums feature stunning photography from the recording sessions by Blue Note founder Francis Wolff, so holding these sleeves in your hands and reading the sleeve notes while listening to these pristine recordings from the legendary Rudy van Gelder is what the vinyl experience is all about!

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