YES MI SELEKTAH: SOUNDS OF FREEDOM! @ The Vortex …Finally, after ’nuff requests here are are a few tunes that I have had the privilege of playing between the live sets at Freedom! The Art Of Improvisation – the monthly Warrior Int. sessions @ The Vortex.
FREEDOM! has allowed me to dig deeper into the vinyl and explore albums (and the odd CD) that one would never have expected to be able to play out! But that’s FREEDOM! for you. Apart from you having to listen to those you might be sharing the stage with, the ground rule at FREEDOM! is there are no rules. The tunes I play between sets are not background music to chat over between one combination leaving the stage and another appearing. It’s about maintaining and testing the vibe, it’s about messin’ with both players and punters. It’s about wikkid music.
As I do get a portion of people going, “WHAT was that?” So, here’s a few tunes that that have graced the turntable. It’s mostly vinyl but there’s a few CD bit that deserve a shot. On the night, it’s as the spirit takes me and that’s the case below… so, there’s no No.1 to whatever…. just a few memories.
Eddie Gale’s ‘Ghetto Music’ – ‘The Rain’ (Blue Note) I think I blew journo/novelist Jane Cornwell away with this one. Love it when the massed voices come sweeping in!
Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre – ‘Jays’ … this a trio gig from Sam River’s Wildflowers No 1 and it rocks the late great Kalaprusha on tenor, Jumma Santos on drums and Chris White on both electric and acoustic bass. This one builds and had veteran free-drummer Terry Day seeking some enlightenment as who was delivering such an intense left of centre groove. The Unknown Story of Kalaparusha’ was one the first pieces I posted on Ancient To Future… check Danilo’s film. https://ancienttofuture.com/2011/06/22/danilo-parra-tells-the-unknown-story-of-kalaparusha
Joe McFee’s ‘Shakey Jake’ – a 1971 recording I have on a Ubiqity Records comp – remains for me a solid FREEDOM! fave. Joe is a Cafe Oto regular these days so you can still check him out. This cut is one deep fried funk monster with chugging Hammond B3, riffing guitar, tambourine and traps and some heavy horns. Originally released on an LP called ‘Nation Time’.
Gato Barbieri – ‘El Parana’ from the Flying Dutchman label – Scorcher! The sticker on the LP says £1.40… that’s what it cost me back in ’73. This opening track builds furiously over 9 glorious minutes… Argentinian tenor-man Gato trades licks with guitarist John Abercrombie… Mtume is on congas and Airto on percussion… amazing… STANLEY CLARKE on BASS!.. Lonnie Liston Smith on keys and a masterful Roy Haynes on drums. Nuff said.
Chico Freeman’s ‘Kings Of Mali’ is another masterpiece from the India Navigation label. The killer moment has to be when Cecil McBee’s bass drops in… has to played loud! Chico on tenor and balafon, Jay Hoggard on Vibes, AEOC’s Famoudou Don Moye on drums and percussion. Recorded in 1978. Mind blowing!
Charlie Haden Duets… released on A&M in ’76 I’ve dipped most of the tracks on this LP and had numerous queries about Keith Jarrett’s ‘Ellen David’ and Alice Coltrane’s ‘For Turiya’ – which is devoted to pure consciousness. . Bassist Charlie Haden is outstanding throughout and it’s a joy to hear him and Ornette together on ‘O.C.’
Codona… Don Cherry, Colin Walcott and Nana Vasconcelos… a magical trio which I once had the pleasure of hearing at the Old Vic … Don was a little late for the gig due the Magic Bus from Amsterdam being delayed. I seem to recall he carried his instruments in a duffle bag. Anyway, the two LPs they recorded for ECM are both masterpieces and have provided some magic moments at FREEDOM!
‘Bush Baby’ by Black Arthur Blythe is one of a selection of early Blythe that has that deep head nod factor… tuba, guitar + Black Arthur= The Phunk. The original trio cut of ‘Bush Baby’ is deep but below is a next version feat. James Blood Ulmer, Abdul Wadud, Bob Stewart. Bobby Battle and Fred Hopkins… killer band!
Ephat Mujura Ensemble ‘Spirit Of The People’ LP…. I don’t think I’ve progressed beyond playing the opening cuts of ‘Chipembere’ and ‘Marenje’… it was splendid seeing one of the FREEDOM! ensembles suddenly start dancing in unison to the deep “Mbira music of Zimbabwe” while setting up their kit!
Just finished reading Neneh Cherry‘s memories of Ornette Coleman, who passed earlier this year, and that conjured up memories of a theatre in Victoria where Neneh and crew were dancing wildly in the aisle to his harmolodic onslaught. Good times. ‘Ornette’ by Bright Moments is a sparse bass driven cut from ‘The Return Of The Lost Tribe’ Cd on Delmark. Straight outta Chicago this wonderful ensemble features Kahil El Zabar, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors, Kalaparusha and Adegoke Steve Colson. ‘Kudus’ is another Don Cherry flavoured FREEDOM! fave.
Collocutor – 1st track on this white label of their debut LP from On The Corner records… a supa-dupa & tuff homage to Ethio-jazz-don Mulatu Astatke from baritone saxophonist/flautist Tamar Osbourne and posse. Always sounds great!
Another woman player who often makes the mix is Amina Claudine Myers – former first organist at the Mahalia Jackson Church in Chicago and collaborator of Lester Bowie – It’s gotta be ‘Have Mercy Upon Us / Chant’ from ‘song For Mother E’. Piano or Hammond B3 or voice… take your choice.
Mahmoud Ghenya… sadly, this Moroccan master Master musician passed away earlier this year… I usually play the first or second track on a CD that I got from visual artist & idren, Hassan Hajjaj. Dunno what it’s called ’cause it’s written in Arabic. Basically, it’s a deep Gnawa offering from Essaouira which features some mighty gimbri. Pure spiritual elevation.
Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett/Rebel Arms – Distant Drums (Fams 7″). Easy now…. Reggae in The Vortex… yes, indeed, after all we are in Dalston. Heavy bass and percussion riddim track/version of a Yabby You/Prophets classic. This tune brought back some youth-man sound system memories for Hackney born & bred Cleveland Watkiss! Who feels it know it!
Stayin’ on a JA vibe…. FREEDOM! themes in the bag… Legendary vocalist Joe Higgs joins trombonist Karl Masters on ‘Freedom Journey’ (Elevation 7″) + ‘Freedom Dub’ – Burning Spear/Baba Leslie (City Line 7″ – “I’m not convinced Spear is on this record but it’s still tuff) + ‘Free Man Free’ – Mutabaruka/Larry McDonald (‘Drumquestra’ MCPR CD) – Orphy Robinson turned me onto this.
Sadly, I haven’t as yet had the opportunity to rinse out Kamasi Washington‘s ‘The Epic’ at FREEDOM! but I will… ‘Changing Of The Guard’, ‘Re Run Home’ etc. Positive vibes and pure energy equals a future FREEDOM! classic.
Another FREEDOM! classic comes via West Coast label Luv’n’Haight & is by trumpet player Longineu Parson‘s. This double LP features ‘The Gathering’ – a deep, 7 minute percussive composition that also showcases Sam Rivers. ‘The Gathering’ always provides an uplifting and unifying moment in the session.
I could go on… McCoy Tyner’s Milestone releases, John Gilmore playing ‘My Favourite Things’, Leon Thomas with Nucleus, Philip Cohran celebrating Malcolm X, Joe Bowie with the Human Arts Ensemble, Julius Hemphill (Dogon AD), Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Art Blakey, Dudu Pukwana & Mongezi Feza, Billy Bang, Guelewar Band de Banjul, Glenmore Brown, Lever Brothers Gay Flamingoes & a few Sun Ra cuts amongst many other things.
The next FREEDOM! @ The VORTEX is on the second Monday of January 2016… January 11th 2016… from 8.30pm