OUT NOW! Dogwoof present NAS: ‘Time is ILLMATIC’

OUT NOW on DVD and on demand – ‘Time is ILLMATIC’

Twenty years after its release, ‘Illmatic’ has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit, and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America.

Nas_-_Time_Is_Illmatic_3D_DVD_grande‘Time is Illmatic’ tracks the musical legacy of the Jones family, handed down to Nas from his jazz musician father, Olu Dara. It also examines the social conditions and environmental influences that contributed to Nas’ worldview.

Along the way, ‘Time Is Illmatic’ shows how Nas – with the support of his Queensbridge neighbourhood crew, the loyalty of his younger brother Jabari “Jungle” Jones, and sacrifices of his mother, Ann Jones – overcame insurmountable odds to create the greatest work of music from hip-hop’s second golden era.

Nas Dogwoof_Documentar(l to r) Wiz, Nas, Jungle - 1993 Photography: _Danny_Clinch

(l to r) Wiz, Nas, Jungle – 1993 Photography: _Danny_Clinch

Nas Illmatic Lp

Following a fantastic theatrical run in UK cinemas last year – which I sadly missed! – documentary label Dogwoof is proud and delighted to bring the ultimate hip-hop doc to Steelbook, DVD and On Demand. Directed by One9, this is the quintessential companion piece to the 1994 album that changed the landscape of rap and became the benchmark for all rap artists to follow. In the mix: interviews with a host of players including Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, Q-Tip and Jabari ‘Jungle’ Jones.

Check it! http://shop.dogwoof.com/collections/new-releases/products/nas-time-is-illmatic-dvd-pre-order

Posted in Is That Jazz?, Urban runnings..., Words, Sound & Power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GARY CROSBY is 60: Groundation at The Cockpit

jazz in the round

GARY CROSBY – bassist and the driving force behind Tomorrow’s Warriors and Dune records – continues to celebrate the big Six-O with a session at Jez Nelson’s Jazz In The Round next Monday.

Together with new generation players Moses Boyd (drums), Nathaniel Facey (sax) and Shirley Tetteh (guitar) he introduces us to his latest small band – Groundation – a gathering, a coming together, synonymous with the Rastafari.

“It’s a kind of ‘group discussion’ between some of my musical friends and me. Each of us has a contribution to make to this discussion, to this creative conversation, and can choose to ‘say’ as much or as little as we feel.”

I’m vibin’ on that and wish The Man may more earth-days to come.

Joining Groundation at the Cockpit will be my good friend and eminent flautist Rowland Sutherland who promises to drop some ethereal solo flute inspired by a recent visit to Japan and his encounters with the shakuhachi masters.

Add to the mix the Sam Eagles Quartet, who apparently combine post pop sensibilities with Noir-ish atmospherics, and you have yet another eclectic night at Jazz In The Round.

Tickets are £12 in advance and FREE to all Supporters Of Sound

http://thecockpit.org.uk/show/jazz_in_the_round_0

Posted in Is That Jazz?, Just Runnings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SPIRITUAL JAZZ Vol 6: Jazzman’s Journey Continues

spiritual jazz coverart

Gerald the Jazzman continues on his Spiritual Jazz journey with this – his sixth volume. As ever, he delivers an extraordinary collection which this time round focuses on vocal offerings that reflect the spiritually charged politics of the multi-dimensional African diaspora. What we get are an array of cross genre performances that defy the definition of a song. These artists channel the spirit and while the selection includes well known tracks like Gary Bartz’s ‘Celestial Blues’ and Pharoah’s ‘Prince Of Peace’ there are a host of more obscure gems like Clifford Jordan’s ‘John Coltrane’. In the mix we get to experience the lyrical visions of Max Roach, Charles Mingus, Sadaka, Norman Riley, E W Wainright, Linda Theus, Dr Haki R. Madhubuti, Eddie Gale, Byron Morris and, finally, the Rahsaan Roland Kirk inspired Vibration Society.

Lovingly restored from the original master tapes ‘Spiritual Jazz 6: Vocals’ comes as double vinyl in a gatefold sleeve or as CD with 24-page color booklet with archetypal in-depth liner notes, previously unpublished photographs and original stories direct from the master musicians involved.

As we all know Jazzman “DIG DEEPER”. WORD SOUND & POWER.

Posted in Is That Jazz?, Words, Sound & Power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Alchemy and The Way of Dai Family Xin Yi

Xin Yi BookThe Alchemy of Dai family Xin Yi Wu Dao is Singing Dragon’s latest offering from the prolific modern day daoist Master Xongxian Wu. The publication of this modest 143 page book – which is accompanied by two DVDs – offers an illuminating and valuable source of information on a closely guarded martial arts system which originated over a thousand years ago in Qi County in the northern province of Shanxi. It also offers a rare and exciting opportunity to practice and develop the unusual foundation skills which this Daoist rooted system is famed for.

I first discovered Dai Family Xin Yi when researching the xing yi quan that I was learning from long time practitioner and author Marnix Wells. It was via http://www.chinafrominside.com/ – the excellent site of China based Jarek Symanski – that I came across Dai family Xin Yi which appeared to be the root of what I was learning. Of course, being a bit of an anorak and addicted to the art of cross referencing, I ordered a DVD. While it gave me access to pretty comprehensive visual overview of the forms the absence of English subtitles meant I had no real idea of what was going down so I just shelved it and went back to what I was practicing.

Dai Kui & Disciples - pic from http://daixinyi.blogspot.co.uk/

Grand Master Dai Kui & Disciples – pic from http://daixinyi.blogspot.co.uk/

XinYiWuXingDVDHowever, the arrival of Master Zhongxian Wu’s book and DVDs has once more stirred my curiosity. Dai family Xin Yi, originated with the China’s mystical Daoist hermits and was reputedly passed on to the legendary General Yue Fei before vanishing, only to resurface in the mid 17th century through one Master Dai Lonbang, It was his combination of martial skill and daoist internal alchemy cultivation which took the system to a new level. However, those skills and practices were kept within the Dai family and remained largely unknown until recent times.

Master Xongxian Wu has studied for many years with Grand Master Zhao ShouRong in the home Dai Family Xin Yi. More than impressed with his disciple’s intellectual and physical abilities Master Zhao ShouRong has given his disciple access to the knowledge gleaned from 65 years of daily practice and also urged him to make the teachings of Dai Family Xin Yi available to the world.

San Ti

San Ti

When I took up Xing Yi Quan – which roughly translates as Form and Will boxing I opted to focus on the San Ti / 3-in-1 static standing posture (check the pic) and the five elements (WuXing) fists. I decided I had enough on my plate with these skills without adding the 12 animal postures and I was right. Basically, the five fists – Pi, Beng, Zuan, Pao, Zuan, Heng – are aligned to traditional Chinese cosmology – metal, wood, water, fire, earth. Each element is capable of generating or destroying another element as shown in the diagram below. The lines forming the pentagon indicate generation while the dotted lines forming the star indicate destruction.

Xing Yi  5 elemnts 001

So, in the system I was learning Pi – metal – falls like an axe. However, upon reading Master Wu’s book I discovered that Pi in Dai family XinYi “is like an axe and classed as metal, but it is not an axe, its momentum is like scooping up and precious platter!” Similarly, beng “belongs to wood and looks like an arrow, but it is not an arrow! The momentum is of a sailboat rocking on the waves.” Awoahh… suddenly one is confronted with revising an ingrained mindset that’s built on a lot of practice and repetition. So, upon reading this book back it’s meant going back to the drawing board to focus on an alternative set of practices.

PiQuan Zuan

PiQuan Zuan

Master Zongxian Wu is the author of seven other Singing Dragon titles which are deep, explorations of esoteric traditional and shamanic qi gong/nei gong Daoist practices. The focus is on inner cultivation not martial arts. In this book he deals with WuDao – the way of martial arts – rather than WuShu – the technique of martial arts – and  sets himself the task of introducing to us, step by step, the essential training methods of Dai Family XinYi including the practice of Bagua XinJing which has never been available to the public – even in China. Throughout the book he carefully explains and interprets “the connections amongst Daoist numerology, internal alchemy, healing, and the spirit of classical Chinese martial arts” and it gives the practitioner a lot to think about.

Wuji Zhuang

Wuji Zhuang

Our journey – “a thousand mile journey begins as one step” – begins with LianJingHuaQi – the foundation practice of the entire system. Skip this and the rest means nothing. From the opening from the WuJi posture we progress to Hunyuan Zhang and DunMaoHou which literally means squatting cat-monkey! This stance in Dai family Xin Yi replaces the San Ti stance of contemporary Xing Yi Quan and, though I may be wrong about this, I’ve long understood that, traditionally, this posture had to be practiced for at least a couple years, along with the Chang San Bu (Trinity Long Step), before moving onto the WuXing QuanMu – The Mother form of XinYi.

Now, most people, especially in this modern world, would regard standing in one posture for a couple of years to be impossible…. crazy.  However, if you are interested in training in Dai family XinYi  I suggest you simply start and continue. You can gradually build up your standing time as the essential aim is to be relaxed, free of tension. DunMaoHou is a deceptively complex posture that initially feels physically offbeat and requires consistent inner reflection. It combines several distinct qualities by integrating the six spiritual animals- Rooster leg, Bear waist, Monkey back, Eagle shoulders,Tiger-Leopard head – and it’s this combined posture that incorporates the secrets of the Dragon body and allows the practitioner to build strong Qi in the Dan Tian area below the navel and learn how circulate the Qi.

Hunyuan Zhang

Hunyuan Zhang – DunMaoHou

Through my own limited practice I also took note of something I’d read in Jonathan Bluestein’s Research Of Martial Arts whereby “as the process repeats itself, the whole body expands(while becoming erect) and contracts (while squatting) and the Dan Tian rotates vertically – to the back with the anterior of the hip while squatting, and to the front with the posterior tilt of the hips the body is erected.”

Upon the foundation that is DunMaoHou you can then move onto the 5 fists – Wu Shing Quan Mu – and from there,  if you’re hooked, to the more advanced approach of the Liu He Xin Yi and Bagua Xin Jing. However, not far into the journey,  you will realise the book and the DVDs simply offer a springboard into the system and you will need to track down Master Zhongxian Wu or his senior students or simply head off to Shanxi and the home of Dai Family Xin Yi to get the tuition needed.

Myself, I know I will never be able to take on the whole system but I believe the foundation practices of Chen Taijiquan, Xing Yi Quan and Bagua Zhang all offer something different but are all essentially related. So, in relation to Dai Family Xin Yi I’ll keep it simple and just enjoy working with the Hunyuan Zhang /DunMaoHou and how being a “squatting cat-monkey” is transmitted and transformed into the practice of the five fists.

We have to give thanx for Master Zhongxian Wu and Singing Dragon for making this groundbreaking and philosophically rich volume available. I’ve only seen the first WuXing DVD – as that’s the one for a beginner – it’s essential viewing if you wish to gain entry into this art through the practicing of the various forms…. “ZuanQuan belongs to Water and looks like lightning, but it is not lightning. The momentum is that of landslide.”

XinYiBaGuaDVDYou can find Master Zhongxian Wu’s books here: https://www.singingdragon.com/

The two DVDs are available from http://www.masterwu.net/MasterWuDVDs.html

Another excellent resource for Dai Family Xin Yi is John Dyer’s http://daixinyi.blogspot.co.uk/

Please note: Quan translates as fist.

Posted in Deep stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DON’T SLEEP ON THIS! This Monday BBC JAZZ ON 3: ENLIGHTENMENT (In the Spirit of A Love Supreme by John Coltrane) – LIVE @ MELTDOWN

The Enlightenment Ensemble

The Enlightenment Ensemble

This coming Monday, February 2nd, Jez Nelson’s longstanding BBC Jazz On 3 show will broadcast the whole of the evening performance at Meltdown of Enlightenment – In the Spirit Of ‘A Love Supreme’.

It was the mid summer’s day and the final day of James Lavelle’s Meltdown at the Southbank Centre. While the Enlightenment Ensemble played a matinee performance in the QEH to a sold out and at times ecstatic audience there was a rave going on by the river. As the ensemble played a follow up sold out second house in the evening Detroit techno originator and don, Jeff Mills, was playing the RFH. It seemed fitting that this homage to John Coltrane’s’A Love Supreme’ had found a home, not in the jazz festival, but alongside a diverse array of artists that included Metalheadz, UNKLE, Jeff Mills, Josh Homme, Melanie De Biasio et al.

Listening back to a bootleg recording of the matinee set I was bowled over at how powerful the two middle sections were… there’s a genuine raw power at work – and while that was carried over into the evening it’s apparent, especially in the final part of the suite – ‘In Devotion’ – which is built around John Coltrane’ devotional poem, that it was altogether tighter.

‘Enlightenment’ is a work in progress. The Meltdown performance were very different from the initial performances in The Chapel at Kings College and the subsequent, magical, session at the Union Chapel on December 9th, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the recording of ‘A Love Supreme’, was different again. It’s the nature of this music. It’s the spirit of freedom implicit in the concept… ‘A Love Supreme’.

Tune in and check it out…. BBC Radio 3 Monday 2 Feb 2015 23:00

Here’s the Enlightenment Ensemble line up from Meltdown:
Rowland Sutherland – arranger, flutes
Orphy Robinson – musical director, xylosynth
Steve Williamson – tenor saxophone
Shabaka Hutchings – bass clarinet
Juwon Ogungbe – voice
Cleveland Watkiss – voice
Tunde Jegede – kora
Pat Thomas – keyboards
Nikki Yeoh – piano
Ansuman Biswas – tablas, santoor, waterphone
Adé Egun Crispin Robinson – bata drums
Dave Pattman – bata drums
Oli Nevill – bata drums
Neil Charles – bass
Mark Mondesir – drums

ALSO … big shout out to Jez Nelson for having the vision to broadcast ‘Enlightenment’ and to James Lavelle and Jane Beese for inviting us to perform at Meltdown

Posted in Is That Jazz?, Just Runnings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Steve Reid Foundation & Brownswood launch Emanative’s ‘The Light Years of Darkness’

The Album!

The Album!

The buzz on this project has bee building quietly and the Steve Reid Foundation and Brownswood are delighted to announce the release of Emanative’s album ‘The Light Years of Darkness’ featuring a host of talents from Earl Zinger, Idris Ackamore, Jessican Lauren, Rocketnumbernine, Collocotor, Finn Peters and many more. It’s limited edition release of 500 X Double 180G Vinyl available via the Steve Reid Foundation’s bandcamp.

In the words of Foundation’s Gilles Peterson, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Emanative’s ‘The Light Years Of The Darkness’ album be our first release for the Steve Reid Foundation. In keeping with Steve’s open ended approach and his musical history Nick Woodmansey has delivered a knock out Jazz and beyond album.”

Album producer / svengali - Emanative's Nick Woodmansey

Album producer: Emanative’s Nick Woodmansey

So, I decided to pop a few question to Nick about the journey involved in producing this album? Here we go….

When did you initiate the project?

After the “roaring success” (ha!) of our version of Steve Reid’s Lions Of Judah – which was the first contribution to the freshly formed Foundation and was our tribute to Steve, Gilles and Emily at Brownswood asked and suggested the idea of an album with proceeds going to the cause! It’s been a couple of years at least.

What is the inspiration behind the project?

It was half & half Steve Reid and all the various projects he worked with, and then my personal chance to explore some of my personal favourite pieces of music.
And the light and dark of both, whether that is the sad story of Steve himself versus the positive aspect of his work and legacy w/ the Foundation and all the good it does or the innate spiritual goodness of man and the darkness and entrapment of the mind or perhaps the physical and material world… this strange place where in order to live and sustain oneself something has to die …. even if you’re a vegetarian ha!

All worldly problems resolve easily when viewed from the perspective of a spirit. Rascism, Sex, any adopted Identity you care to mention… you may have been them any or all in a previous life?
Not talking about religion, more philosophical… The good and bad of mankind and let’s just say Karma for want of a better more explanatory term. The positive and the negative.
Sorry, you said “short” answers!

Well it is Spiritual Jazz after all, don’t take me too seriously here. Just hinting at the spiritual side of things because not many people do, it’s all materialistic, facebook and political correctness bollocks! Yawn!!

Is there a Steve Reid mindset? (And how much herb do you have to smoke to reach it?)

Well we got through two bottles of nice single malt during the session for Joe Henderson’s “Fire” alone!
For sure… and THIS did inspire me. I didn’t set out to do a tribute album as such, yet the mere fact that Steve had worked with Fela, James Brown, The Arkestra and Arthur Blythe to name a few did allow me to take on an African, funk, experimental and soulful approach!

How did you decide on the tracks you’d cover?

Always wanted to do ‘Hum Allah’ (and Gilles hinted at this at a Brownswood xmas party where at first I thought he’d said “Omelette Omelette Omelette…” Same with ‘Music Is The Healing Force’ – and I could envision Zinger on it!

I thought doing ‘Rocket Number Nine’ with Rocketnumbernine was a great idea and I was dying to do something with two drummers! Don Cherry & Ed Blackwell’s “Makondi” was Kieran’s suggestion and made a lot of sense with just thumb piano and drums & percussion. Needed something light and spiritual for an intro, Alice Coltrane chanelled by Jessica Lauren was the perfect idea! All tracks chosen seemed to make sense and integrate well.

Steve Reid  & Keiren Hebden / Fourtet

Steve Reid & Keiren Hebden / Four Tet

How was it all recorded… gives us idea of the process?

Recorded in many different studio’s over the time, but with a similar process; get to the studio early (at the crack of…10am), set up and get a sound, roughly explain an approach, arrangement and the rhythms and then do two or three takes… job done! (except for perhaps some over dubs here and there)
main work done for each track on the day!

Who is in the hardcore crew and are you gonna take it live?

Empress Jessica Lauren, Prince Ben Hadwen, Lady Tamar Collocutor, King Phillip Harper and myself the Captain.
Perhaps… let’s hope we can make the live thing happen!

What are the most memorable and mind blowing moments in the recording?

Recording two drum kits on Rocket Number Nine, Two upright bassists on Hum Allah, Drums on Makondi through Floating Points nice desk, and the whole session with the Collocutor tribe, Finn Peters, Woodpecker Wooliams on Harp and the Emanative elite (and those two bottles I mentioned) for ‘Fire’.

OK…. big thanx to Nick for his insights into the project. You can check out this first track a collaboration featuring Four Tet on Thumb Piano covering Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell’s hypnotic masterpeice, Makondi.

LISTEN & BUY HERE: https://stevereidfoundation.bandcamp.com
PLEASE SUPPORT! Here is some crucial info about the charity.
http://stevereidfoundation.org

ALSO: http://www.gillespetersonworldwide.com/emanative-the-light-years-of-the-darkness-makondi-feat-four-tet/

Posted in Deep stuff, Is That Jazz? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tam…Tam…Tam…! It SOLD OUT before Xmas but the vinyl is back!

Meicio Askanasy, José Prates, Ivan de Paula TAM…TAM…TAM!.. the vinyl is back!

It was Gilles Peterson who discovered this LP while digging in Rio between the Sonzeira recording sessions. Could he get a copy of his own, there and then? The answer is a resounding “No!” and the word went out to record collectors and dealers world wide. It was the most sought after record of the moment!

Tam-Tam-Tam-Sleeve_585

“Jesus Christ…still can’t find Jose Prates Tam Tam Tam… @DJNuts and @EdMotta and @FarOutRecs Joe Davis are the only ones who seem to have!”

Obviously, he finally secured a copy and thankfully, it’s been made available for us mere mortals via Jonny Trunk’s Trunk Records. Upon discovering it was out just before Xmas I hit the Trunk web site. It was available. I filled in the form, I was stoked, but by the time I’d retrieved my bank card from my coat pocket they’d sold out! Soul Jazz, Honest Jons, If… they’d all sold out. I didn’t want the CD… I really fancied the vinyl, especially after I’d read the back story to the LP and its reissue on the Trunk Records website.

“This little LP began in 1958. It was part of a global touring show called “Brasiliana” put together by Polish producer Miecio Askanasy. A couple of LPs were made by the cast members, and this is one of them.

“Musically it works on a number of levels – firstly as already mentioned, the solid blueprint of 1960s Brazilian music runs throughout it. For example, if you listen to Track Three Side One “Nana Imborô” you will hear “Mas-Que-Nada”. Secondly, the infectious rhythms, melodies and exotic sounds that emanate from this album are deep, raw and totally engaging.

“This rare reissue comes at a crucial time, when in our connected and information saturated world few important things have escaped attention and reappraisal. Finding anything new and genuinely incredible is a rare feat. This is a prime example of amazing, influential music that until now has remained hidden.

“It is a rare beast. So rare that even Gilles Peterson, a super fan off rare Brazilian music has not got one. So he put out a plea in Record Collector magazine for someone to issue it. It was a fascinating page of information, stating that this LP was a cornerstone of contemporary Brazilian sound. The music was written by a man called José Prates, a man who few people knew about, But whose influences should be studied.

José Prates ao lado de Gino Askanasy, filho de Miécio, durante viagem da Brasiliana

José Prates ao lado de Gino Askanasy, filho de Miécio, durante viagem da Brasiliana

“I read this and immediately got in contact with Ed Motta, a musician and collector in Brazil; he has a copy and I had met him before and talked about records a lot. He sent me a recording of the album (taken using his EMT deck) and we set about getting it ready for issue.

“The music was not in the best condition, the original 1950s vinyl was not pressed too well and has several musical inconsistencies. So, we spent an agonising time trying to reach a suitable balance in sound, trying to maintain the bright and driving original sound, without cleaning it up too much so as to destroy the life of the music. We decide that the vinyl will be pressed with some very slight surface noise – any more cleaning would interfere with the true wax sound. It sounds just like a rare 50s LP. However, as a contrast, the CD is pressed with more digital enhancement.”

And so I decided to wait… what’s a little residual sound and a few crackles compared to warmth of vinyl?

To order online: http://www.trunkrecords.com/

Posted in Deep stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments