FRESH! Some new music to check out that’s found a home in my current listening pile.
First up, a bold 4 track trio EP, from electric harpist Tori Handsley. I know Tori from the Freedom pure-improv jams where she turned up with her harp and proceeded to engage with whatever maelstrom was being generated around her. Together with contra bassist Misha Mulloy-Abbado and drummer Harry Pope, Tori has conjured up an engaging four track offering that simply grows with each listening. There are the inevitable rhythmic subtleties and reflective moments born out of the instrument itself but that doesn’t mean Tori’s scared of riding a rising tide of raw drumbeats and crashing symbols. The addition of guest vocalist Chantelle Nandi Musuku on two tracks adds a spacious and lyrical dimension to compositions that have titles like ‘Mistake Of Thinking’ and ‘Kestrel’. A taste of things to come – you can hear Tori live at the forthcoming Jazz Warriors Int. /Nexus – One World session at St George’s Bloomsbury alongside Shabaka Hutchings and Chantelle Nandi on Thursday 6th March 7.00pm. Tickets: £10 at the door, £8 advance booking, £6 concession.
Zara Macfarlane’s latest album – ‘If You Knew Her’ – for Brownswood illuminates exactly why this singer-songwriter’s profile within the jazz community has reached an impressive new level. She’s done support slots for high profile US singers Dianne Reeves and Gregory Porter and there’s a refreshing confidence about her current work. She’s come a long way in a relatively short period of time and I get the feeling that label boss, Gilles Peterson, has stamped his mark on the production of this LP. ‘Open Heart’ sets the scenario and features bass and Manu Delago on hang; ‘You’ll Get Me In Trouble’ has Zara accompanying herself beautifully on acoustic guitar and ‘Plain Gold Ring’ – which is based on ‘Simone’ by Earl S. Burroughs – weaves together voices, bass and a touch of percussion. Overall the album is rooted in warm, spacey, unpredictable and minimal trio settings and Zara clearly enjoys a solid rapport with all her musicians, especially pianist Pete Edwards. On reggae tip they have deftly craft a new settings for Junior Murvin’s anthemic ‘Police & Thieves’ and Nora Dean’s deep and wayward ‘Ay Ay Ay – Angie La La’. The latter features the rich baritone of Leron Thomas – a voice we need to listen out for in the future. The modal Coltranesque vibe of ‘Woman in The Olive Grove’ simply left this listener wanting more and overall, this album leaves me to believe that Zara Macfarlane can transcend the confines of the UK jazz community to find a global audience.
Staying with the nu-skool, I have to say that I’m still absorbing the sophomore LP – ‘v2.0’ from Manchester’s Go Go Penguin. This is another trio of musicians intent of creating their own sonic world, and believe me they’re doing it in style. There’s an incredible confidence at work in these compositions and Chris Illingworth’s classically tinged melodies combined with Nick Black’s terrific bass patterns and Rob Turner’s the drum’n’space rhythms make for compelling listening. You can call this music jazz but, for me, this music has all the hall marks of 21st century Britain, an island afloat on an ever shifting sea of underground beats and ridims. Go Go Penguin provide a unique echo to the world we occupy and it’s definitely been assisted by the excellent efforts of their live and studio engineers, Joe Reisner and Brendan Williams. There’s a message, a spirituality – dark and light, in the grooves of this record that flies in the face of conservative cultural mediocrity and we have to give thanks to trumpeter Matt Halsall’s Gondwana Records for investing in and relaesing Go Go Penguin’s ‘v2.0’ out.
While we’re on the subject dark and light, a quick mention of the latest 12″ single from Burial. I’ve definitely got a soft spot for this man and if someone asked me for a fave late night/early morning CD for driving across this city, I’d have to proffer Burial. While his most recent, 28 minute long, 12″ EP – Rival Dealer- delivers a dose of fresh rhythmic dynamics that mesh with his trademark, gritty but elusive, urban meets ethereal sound. With Burial you consistently get a feeling that he’s chipping away at your consciousness. In a murderous 21st century world, fuelled by religious hysteria, being openly gay or transgender remains a dangerous business and Burial’s choice of including the Lana Wachowski speech, given after she received the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award last year, is indeed radical and most welcome. Give thanks for music with heart!
Spirituality and religious dogma are two different things. I’ve already given thanx for the latest recording of Alabama based outsider artist Lonnie Holley on the Dust To Digital imprint so I might as well big up another LP on the label – ‘Sorrow Come Pass Me Around – A Survey Of Rural Black Religious Music’. Like Lonnie’s album this is another labour of love but this time round it focuses on an array of singers and musicians from the deep south and it connects the blues with the religious in variety of raw musical settings. As the title says, “Sorrow Come Pass Me Around”.
During the recent Stereophonic-Supply exhibition at If Music I inevitably purchased a couple of vinyl albums from Jean Claude, one of which was ‘Gone: The Promises of Yesterday‘ by the legendary, youthful Cincinnati based soul/funk crew 24-Carat Black. Apparently, this collection of unreleased tracks LP was released in 2009 (just to let you know how out of touch I am!) after sitting in the vaults for over 30 years and it’s a welcome addition to their classic 1973 concept album ‘Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth’ – an LP that’s been aptly described as “a deep and musically astounding meditation on the black experience in the Seventies”. Seek out 24 Carat Black and and have a listen.
Ok… ’nuff for now…Part 2 … sounds of Brasil & beyond… soon come!
PS: TO BUY THE TORI HANDSLEY TRIO CD:http://www.torihandsleytrio.com