#deep jazz, #vocal jazz and #jazz on vinyl – 03/07/2024

New music galore on this show: check out more from Kamasi Washington’s latest, UK drummer Jake Long’s new EP, brand new reissues from Louis Moholo-Moholo and Ernest Ranglin and a stunning reworking of a tune by DJ Yellowtail (aka Hiro Awanohara) and vocalist Mark Murphy (below) that’s now out on vinyl.

1. Kamasi Washington – The Garden Path from Fearless Movement

Here at Cosmic Jazz we’re not quite as taken with the long awaited new release from Kamasi Washington as with his previous records, but Neil is really enjoying this track. The Garden Path has all the familiar Washington hallmarks – strings, a choir and multiple percussionists – but Brandon Coleman’s organ neatly squares up to Dontae Winslow’s trumpet on this one and the result is a genuine groove. The tune has also got one of the best melodies on the album – and it works best when the melody comes back together after some soaring solo work from Coleman and Winslow. This is Washington at his best and we’ll keep exploring this new record for more Cosmic Jazz grooves.

2. Jake Long – Ideological Rubble from City Swamp

Drummer, composer and producer Jake Long has been part of the Cosmic Jazz landscape for a few years now – mostly as the leader of Maisha who debuted with There Is a Place on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label. There are links to other recent projects though, including the London Brew record we featured on its release last year. Both take their jumping-off points from Miles Davis’ electric bands of the 1970s – and indeed the bass groove you hear on Ideological Rubble is a close cousin of the one that locks in It’s About That Time from In a Silent Way. For comparison have a listen to this version from Miles’ live date at Tanglewood in 1970. Both these more recent albums were created using extended studio jams followed by radical cut-up and reconstruction surgery – the very process pioneered by Davis’ famed producer Teo Macero. Present on City Swamp are tenor saxophonist and flautist Nubya Garcia, guitarist Shirley Tetteh, keyboardist Amané Suganami, bassist Twn Dylan and percussionist Tim Doyle. There are also appearances by Binker Golding and Tamar Osborn – so it’s an allstar contemporary BritJazz cast! Neil loves this new EP and so it’s highly recommended.

3. Sacha Berliner –  Jade from Onyx

This one is new to us although it was actually released in 2022. After an impressive debut album, Azalea (2019), in-demand vibraphonist Sasha Berliner presented the follow up Onyx which finds the San Francisco-born composer being produced by Jimmy Fallon and The Roots producer Steven Mandel to create a really impressive album that has a pretty much all-star cast: Marcus Gilmore on drums, Burniss Travis II on upright and electric bass and James Francies on piano and Fender Rhodes. Special guests include Jaleel Shaw on alto saxophone, Julius Rodriguez on analog synths and vocalist Thana Alexa. The album is complex, mature and a delight from beginning to end. Our choice, Jade, just burns!

4. Phil Bancroft Quartet – Golden Section from Headlong

More from Phil Bancroft who we featured on CJ in May in a duo with tabla player Gyan Singh. His quartet is surprisingly starry – Mike Walker (from The Impossible Gentlemen) on guitar, Reid Anderson (from The Bad Plus) on bass and Thomas Strønen (who has featured on a number of superb ECM records) on drums. But when you hear the quality of Bancroft’s tenor sax playing it’s, of course, not surprising at all. Headlong was originally released on the Scottish jazz label Caber, and had been unavailable for a while now. Its re-release on Bancroft’s own label Myriad Streams is very welcome because this (and the duo album with Singh) is ambitious and confident quartet music. There’s a lot of freedom in places (like the track Double Trouble but the album opener Golden Section is a real clue to the controlled improvisatory strength of these excellent musicians. You can find both this album and the duo release Birth & Death here on Myriad Streams.

5. Zara McFarlane – Inner City Blues from Sweet Whispers

This new release from Zara McFarlane is a real surprise. Sweet Whispers is a dedication to the divine Miss Sarah Vaughan but, of course, McFarlane isn’t in the same league as Vaughan when it comes to vocals. But that’s not the point of this really good new record. Here it’s all about the arrangements and the way they reinterpret each of the chosen songs. Much of this is thanks to producer, clarinettist and saxman, Giacomo Smith who delivers some really stunning arrangements of both familiar and less well known songs from the Vaughan canon. Alongside him are Joe Webb on piano, Ferg Ireland on double bass, Jas Kayser on drums, Marlon Hibbert on steel pan and Gabriella Swallow on cello. And, yes, Sarah Vaughan really did sing Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues – you can find it on her Mainstream label release A Time in My Life from 1972. Have a listen to her take on this essential tune – it’s rather good.

6. Louis Moholo-Moholo – Joyful Noises from Viva-La-Black

This is exciting news: it looks like there’s going to be a reissue programme of releases from the much-loved UK label Ogun Records, home to many emigre South African musicians in London from the 60s to the end of apartheid. The label celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and we should expect some celebratory gigs, reissues and maybe even a movie about this important aspect of the British jazz scene. Thanks to Mike from Ogun for this info – and expect more in coming months. Drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo played on so many records from the South African and Black London diaspora, upholding the legacy of his SA Blue Notes group. On this 1978 record, he introduced young talent into his groups including jazz warrior Steve Williamson (a full two years before the release of his breakthrough album A Waltz For Grace), the dynamic trumpet and flugelhorn talent of Cape Town’s Claude Deppa and from Durban and the Netherlands the underrated tenor player Sean Bergin. Add into this mix the bass work of newly-arrived-in-London Italian Roberto Bellatalla and another exiled South African, Thebe Lipere on percussion.  This set is now issued on CD for the first time and it’s a treat to listen to. Another recommendation from Cosmic Jazz.

7. Ernest Ranglin – In The Rain from Be What You Want To B

This great music has been reissued for the first time on the Emotional Rescue label and is a meeting of the legendary Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin with fellow Jamaican King Sporty (aka Noel Williams) who had moved to Miami in the 1970s and become deeply involved in producing for Miami’s booming disco boogie scene. The result was this highly sought after 6 track EP. Ranglin has been closely involved with the development of Jamaican music from the days of mento through to ska and into the growth of reggae, playing on early recordings like My Boy Lollipop and working with the Skatalies, Prince Buster, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. He moved to Florida in 1982, and teamed up with Williams to create this superb EP, featuring a roll call of musicians integral to the Miami scene – Bobby Caldwell, Timmy Thomas, Betty Wright and Williams himself. The music includes this superb take on the Dramatics’ soul classic, In The Rain from 1972 – you can listen to the original right here (complete with rain sound effects!).

8. Bobbyy – I Was At The Fence (feat. Rachel Lime) from Buckets

Ok, so this isn’t what we’d call jazz – but it is a great bit of music from a newly released album by a musician we have featured many times here on Cosmic Jazz. Bobbyy (yes, there are two ‘y’s) is part of the acclaimed US West Coast experimental jazz collective High Pulp, as well as the duo sunking, 2024 sees him stepping out as a solo artist. His debut album Buckets incorporates elements of Chicago House a la Larry Heard, alongside raw, sample-based production reminiscent of Madlib or Daedelus. A first single I Was At The Fence shows that Bobbyy can do  R&B too, and includes a hushed vocal by Rachel Lime.

9. Yellowtail feat. Mark Murphy – Seasons In My Mind (Emanative rework feat. Jessica Lauren) from 

Now, this new 12in single (or really EP) from Milan’s Right Tempo label is a delight from start to finish. A version of this tune first appeared on the label’s compilation album The Congregation – Jazz  Alliance International with Mark Murphy on vocals in an ‘unreleased’ Patchworks remix. You can still find that here on Bandcamp and thankfully this version of the tune is also included along with six others in a limited edition 12in EP that emerged a few months ago. It’s also on Bandcamp right here. Neil’s favourite version features Jessica Lauren and emanative playing live over some brilliant beats but (unusually) all versions here are just great. Highly recommended and a great way to end the show.
Neil is listening to…

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