Tag Archives: John Coltrane

Playlist – 28 April 2011

A solo show from Derek of old jazz favourites.

  1. Charles Mingus – Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting
  2. Gary Bartz – I’ve Known Rivers
  3. Art Blakey – Moanin’
  4. Miles Davis – Mademoiselle Mabry ( Miss Mabry)
  5. Frank Morgan – Footprints
  6. Cassandra Wilson – You Don’t Know What Love Is
  7. Henry Butler – Fivin’ Around
  8. Keith Jarrett – The Rich (and the Poor)
  9. Jackie McLean – Appointment in Ghana
  10. John Coltrane – Dahomey Dance

Cosmic Jazz Countdown – No. 1

Derek: My No. 1 Cosmic Jazz tune is Black Renaissance – both a track name and a collective of people brought together by the pianist Harry Whitaker to celebrate Martin Luther King Day on 15 January 1976.

Friends gathered in the studio, a current and ex-wife of Whittaker’s were both there and recited poetry on the record and Roberta Flack, with whom Whitaker was recording commercially successful work at the time, passed by.

The recording was released by the Japanese Baystate label without Harry Whitaker knowing, nor did he receive royalties as Baystate folded and most copies of the record vanished.  The masters of the recording were lost in a house fire at a friend of Whitaker’s and it was not widely available until the Californian label Ubiquity released the album Body Mind & Spirit in 2002 with two tracks: Black Renaissance which is 23:40 long and Magic Ritual).

Black Renaissance is a party on record, a fusion of jazz and rap before such fusions were known. It is music for the body, music for the mind and certainly music for the spirit. It was recorded in one take; it feels spontaneous and improvised, joyous but contemplative, highly innovative and always unpredictable. It alternates between wild blow-outs, moments of still with momentary pauses and affirmative rap and poetry.

The strong line-up includes Azar Lawrence on sax, Buster Williams on bass, Billy Hart drums, Mtume percussion and the highly impressive Woody Shaw whose trumpet solos demand your attention for their beauty and strength, as well as a cast of singing and speaking voices in the studio cascading over each other. Whitaker’s piano thumps away behind it all and provides flowing swirls to link the various segments of the record.

Gilles Peterson on the sleeve notes to the Ubiquity records release describes Black Renaissance as “one of my all time favourite tunes, up there with Sun Ra’s Sleeping Beauty and Coltrane’s A Love Supreme”. It is my Cosmic Jazz No. 1 and as a singing/speaking /rapping voices says on the record “Can you DIG it”? Dig it you must – get that Ubiquity order in now.

As a sad footnote I should add that Harry Whitaker died in November 2010.

Neil: Charles Lloyd has turned it all around. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Lloyd was a boho trailblazer in the 1960s with his kaftans and his threads but lost it all in the 1970s. Then he was persuaded to join pianist Michel Petrucciani before making it all come good when he signed with ECM records in 1989 and releasing a string of albums showing a new maturity of tone.

Lloyd is no innovator – his style on tenor is unmistakably derived from Coltrane – but his recent body of work with ECM shows his concentrated musical wisdom generously shared with a new generation of inspirational jazzers. And there’s no better place to start than the live album Rabo de Nube.

Released in 2008 when Lloyd was 70, Rabo de Nube features seven long tracks, of which Booker’s Garden is – for me – the stand out. Like many of Lloyd’s compositions it begins with an understated wispy melody with Lloyd on alto flute. But the real magic begins when pianist Jason Moran makes his entrance. Moran has a percussive, contemporary style but his twists and turns on a dazzling solo inspire Lloyd to create a new groove that locks down the music with a new intensity before the piece ends as it began with a return to meditation.

Lloyd live is a magical experience. His shamanic role with a generation of musicians half his age is not remote like Miles Davis, but instead generous and accommodating. Lloyd knows the qualities of his fellow performers and has no need to grandstand or challenge. The result is genuine group music with Lloyd at the centre but never dominating. There’s a tenderness here that also recalls the spirituality of Impulse-era Coltrane but tempered by a searching, yearning delicacy that is uniquely Lloyd’s. I love this music and return to it frequently. It is honest: never simplistic, always interesting and throughout the CD’s 75 minutes intensely rewarding.

In an unexpected way, it was easy to have Lloyd fill the top spot in my Cosmic Jazz list. His music has been getting closer and closer to where I want to be with jazz over the last few years. The liner notes for Rabo de Nube feature a poem for Lloyd by Serbian-born Charles Simic. A few lines seem to sum it up:

Voice of solitude. Voice of insomnia. Call of a night bird. Continous prayer.

Cosmic Jazz Countdown – No. 2


Derek: Carmen Lundy is a jazz singer, actress and painter. She has been singing over three decades performing largely self-penned material and has released a total of 11 recordings on which she has worked with an impressive range of jazz musicians. Yet is she as well known or celebrated in the UK as she should be? Her last performance in the UK was in 2007 and although she has been to Europe each year, since there have been no performances in the UK and none are scheduled so far for 2011.

For listeners to Cosmic Jazz, however, Carmen Lundy is no stranger. The Old Devil Moon album and, in particular, the song You’re Not in Love, has been played several times. It is simply a great tune, a melody which leaves you wanting to play just it again and then sing it to yourself once it is finished. The lyrics are a strong put down of a man. Carmen Lundy’s vocals make these emotions clear but in a way that you know she is in control, her voice is firm, definite but still enticing.

The musicians are pretty fine too. UK drummer Winston Clifford is a good choice but special mention should go to Randy Brecker on flugelhorn and – interestingly – there’s a musician who will feature strongly in my No. 1 choice next week…

Neil: Just what is there to say about A Love Supreme that is new and different? This is a canonical work in the relative short history of jazz but there can be no doubt that in 200 or more years time it will still be revered, analysed and simply enjoyed as one of the most complete pieces of music every recorded – in any genre.

The first part, Acknowledgement, is the most well known. It opens with drummer Elvin Jones striking a Chinese gong before Coltrane enters with an invocation Alice Coltrane described as like the doors opening on a beautiful city. And then it’s the bit that everyone knows – that insidious blues-based bass riff. Along with the four note phrase itself, this is the touchstone of A Love Supreme – the core of its being. The mantra ‘A love supreme’ is a return to the gospel source of ‘trane’s music, a way of rooting the music in a universal spirituality. In an interview with Ashley Khan, Wayne Shorter got it right: “I think he was going back to square one where the voice is the first announcement of your humanity – your humanity is your instrument.”

Khan’s book exploring the genesis and context of A Love Supreme is a revelation. He discusses writer Lewis Porter’s theory (but one known and understood by the jazz cogniscenti) that Coltrane’s lyrical solo on the final part of the music (Psalm) is entirely derived from a syllabic reading of his liner note poem.

Listen to this music while reading Coltrane’s heartfelt prayer and you’ll get closer to understanding why Coltrane is the only musician – jazz or otherwise – to have a Christian sect who worship him. The St John Coltrane African Orthodox Church (http://www.coltranechurch.org/) was founded by Archbishop Franzo King who heard A Love Supreme and experienced what he called “a sound baptism.” Sounds fair enough to me.

Playlist – 31 March 2011

New music this week from Joe Lovano and Kurt Elling and some more Matthew Halsall after his highly successful show at The Cut in Halesworth. We’re at No 2 in our 5 x 2 top ten countdown – and a feature about both tracks will appear within the week. Neil chose John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme Pt. 1 Acknowledgement and Derek could equally have chosen John Coltrane but went for a long-established Cosmic Jazz favourite, Carmen Lundy’s You’re Not in Love.

Although it wasn’t planned, the show settled into a deeply spiritual vibe early on – signals included McCoy Tyner and Sun Ra with the first movement of John Coltrane’s immortal A Love Supreme sealing the sound. Impressed with Matt Halsall’s covers of Alice Coltrane’s Journey to Satchidananda and Clifford Jordan’s heartfelt John Coltrane we ended the show with these tracks.

In between were Nat Birchall and Bheli Mseluku – see last week’s comments for details of why. If you’ve got some thoughts on the music, use our comments facility below.

  1. Joe Lovano – Passport
  2. Gregory Porter – Magic Cup
  3. McCoy Tyner – Mes Trois Fils
  4. Kurt Elling – Matte Kudasai
  5. Sun Ra – Where Pathways Meet
  6. Sean Hutchinson’s Still Life – Treat Me Like Train Tracks
  7. Carmen Lundy – You’re Not in Love
  8. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (Acknowledgement)
  9. Matthew Halsall – Colour Yes
  10. Nat Birchall – Open Up the Gates
  11. Bheki Mseleku – Celebration
  12. Pharoah Sanders – Black Unity
  13. Clifford Jordan Quartet – John Coltrane

Playlist – 27 January 2011

Welcome to another week of inspirational music.  More from Jason Moran’s poll-winning 10, great Sun Ra from the reissued Heliocentric Worlds and – to celebrate the the newly announced concert double bill of Wayne Shorter with Phronesis in October – tracks from both artists.

Also on the show tonight – new Japanese jazz thanks to Jacob, our man in Tokyo (spiritually, anyway), a bunch of Blue Notes, Coltrane on Atlantic along with a Coltrane tribute from LA’s finest – and British flautist Finn Peters in gamelan mode.

What else could it be other than the always eclectic sound of CJ – enjoy!

  1. Sun Ra – Heliocentric
  2. Michael White – Fiesta Dominica
  3. Jason Moran – Big Stuff
  4. Masa Sextet – The Hard Blues
  5. Wayne Shorter – Super Nova
  6. Phronesis – Eight Hours
  7. Our Cry for Peace feat. The Voice of Dwight Trible and members of Build an Ark – John Coltrane
  8. Elvin Jones – Pollen
  9. Hank Mobley – Straight Ahead
  10. Finn Peters – Butterflies
  11. Kenny Barron – Mythology
  12. John Coltrane – Dahomey Dance
  13. Wynton Marsalis – Doin’ (Y)our Thing
  14. Jay Dee – Rico Suave Bossa Nova

This week’s video has to be saxophone legend Wayne Shorter, here performing Masquelero with a recent quartet, including the sensational Brian Blades on drums.  Apologies for the ‘watery’ sound quality on this one: