A FEW 2015 RELEASES THAT ARE STILL IN THE PLAY PILE!
AS WE’RE NOW IN 2016 I thought I’d stop prevaricating and just big up a few albums that were bought or sent to me in 2015 and have stayed the course.
I have to say that Kamasi Washington’s ‘The Epic’ still packs the punch it had the first time I heard it. There is definitely something deep going down on the West Coast, a musical undercurrent that demands we listen. Check out Kamasi’s contribution to Kendrick Lamar’s much discussed ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ – musically, there’s some seriously radical stuff going on that LP
Another album that Ninja sent me was the Romare album – a free flowing contemporary offering and a most pleasant surprise.
To coincide with moving his IF Music boutique record emporium from Fitzrovia back to D’arblay Street in Soho the man called Jean Claude has released via BBE a double album of rare jazz cuts – none of which I’d previously owned. Appropriately entitled, ‘You Need This! A Journey into Deep Jazz’ this diverse selection homes in on a set of obscure, but not supa-rare albums from players like John Stubblefield, James Clay, Stanton Davis and Max Roach, whose excellent MBOOM project kicks off this venture. I can’t recall how many times JC has insisted, “You need this!” and for once I’m not going to argue.
It was nice to spot World Circuit boss Nick Gold in a pic taken in the White House with President Obama and the surviving members of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club. Just as I’d thought Nick had packed it all in at World Circuit a CD by Mbongwana Star dropped through my door. Obviously, Nick was much taken by the wayward music on this disc and did us all a favour by putting it out there. Mbongwana Star are five Congolese musicians, two of whom used to be in Staff Benda Bilili, plus Paris based producer Dr. L . Their debut album ‘From Kinshasa’ is a punky mix of spacey electronics, surging rhythms and flashes of Congolese guitar. Unique and other worldly!
Staying with Africa but on a crate digging tip I’m nicely vibed on the ‘Amara Toure’ album compiled by Samy Ben Redjeb for his mighty Analog Africa Label. Like the companion release ‘Senegal 70’ these albums deliver vintage Senegalese music but, for me, it’s the super cool Latin flavas of Amara Toure that wins out!
2016 will see the Olympics in Brasil and to go with it a guaranteed explosion of music. Over the past year I became an avid listener and staunch fan of Jody Gillett‘s Brasil Music Exchange. Produced by Folded Wing in partnership with Brasil Música e Artes, these shows have been essential listening for anyone interested in sound of modern Brasil. One album that Jody turned me onto is Goma-Laca -‘ Afrobrasiliades’ – an innovative album that homes in on Afro-Brasilian classics from yesteryear and transports them in another millennia. Seek it out: GOMA-LAKA.COM. Check Jody’s shows on Mixcloud (https://www.mixcloud.com/Brazil/) – The girl digs deep!
One album that gathered a rake of 5 star reviews, which I also gave a deserved props to, was Xáos. Several years in the making the duo of Nick ‘Dubulah’ Page and Jimi Ahetas returned to their Greek roots by employing a host of ancient instruments and musical concepts. Add some futuristic micro-tonal musings and you might just get the picture. Xáos provided a deep and proud soundtrack to a Greek nation battered and bruised in the anti-austerity struggle.I need to hear the full Xáos ensemble live in somewhere like the Union Chapel. It would sound amazing. I can’t understand why a promoter hasn’t jumped at the opportunity.
On that UK NU-Jazz… Spiritual Jazz tip… four albums are holding tight…Baritone saxophonist and flautist Tamar Osborn can be seriously proud of the Collocutor album via On The Corner. As can Nick Woodmansey for his ‘The Light Years Of The Darkness'(Brownswood) – a set of colloborations done for the Steve Reid Foundations. The Light Years Of The Darkness’ has an all star cast feat. Tamar, Jessica Lauren, Kieran Hebden, The Pyramids, Finn Peters, Ahmed Abdullah, Kevin G Davy, Val Etienne, Philip Harper, Rob Gallagher, Liz Elensky et al. Seek it out. It was a bit of a shock to see ‘Dem Ones’ featuring drummer Moses Boyd and saxophonistBinker Golding notch up a MOBO! Recorded in Mark Ronson’s studio and then transmitted into the analog/audiophile set up of Gearbox Records next door, it’s been fascinating to hear two graduates of Gary Crosby’s Tomorrow’s Warriors pursuing a route that’s attuned to ‘Free Jazz’ world. Staying faithful to the Spiritual Jazz path is Mancunian trumpeter Matthew Halsall and his Gondwana Orchestra. The reflective compositions on the ‘Into Forever’ album build on the ensemble’s previous endeavour and the 1000+ audience that packed out the Union Chapel were clearly smitten!
Straight outta the UK comes another cutting edge, totally free, session feat. Black Top & saxophonist Evan Parker. Recorded live in The Vortex this is an intensely engaging set of boundary breaking music… it’s out on the Babel label… and I wrote the liner notes (so, it’s gotta be worth checkin’!)
On the US “jazz” front I have two LPs that are poles apart. For echoes of ‘Crescent’ era Coltrane look no further that Charles Lloyd‘s ‘Wild Man Dance’ (Blue Note) – it’s live album recorded in Poland in 2013. But if you’re a drawn to an alternative journey I’m still wrapping my head around Matana Roberts’ radical ‘Coin Coin River Capter3 River Run Thee’. Can’t believe I missed her playing at Oslo in Hackney!
Finally, though D’Angelo‘s ‘Black Messiah’ was released at the end of 2014 I didn’t invest in the vinyl until 2015 so I’m including it here. The production is killing! May the funk be with you!
PS: I’ve loved watching Dayme Arocena develop since I first saw her sing in St Pancras Church and her ‘Nueva Era’ album on Brownswood points towards great things. I’ve just noticed that globetrotting saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has a brand new Comet Is Coming 12″ and I’m excited. I’m also eagerly awaiting the arrival of some music via Universal Mind Systems. 2016 is looking good already!