Talkin’ All That Jazz: Millions of sounds to keep you up when you’re down….
Musically, the summer of 2017 is looking good. Very good! Especially when it comes down to the emergence of an inspiring new generation of powerful young women players. It was impossible not to feel inspired following the most recent sold-out Church Of Sound session. Sadly, I missed most of the first set where Collocutor paid tribute to the works of Yusef Lateef but the second set, which took us through the whole of their forthcoming album, ‘The Search’, took us on a memorable and mesmerising journey. Led by baritone saxophonist/flautist Tamar Osborn the Collocutor ensemble featured two horns, trumpet, two percussionists, contra-bass and electric guitar and the combinations morphed and changed in a wonderfully democratic fashion as the set evolved. The rapt attention of the fresh, young audience encircling the ensemble was punctuated only by the odd, spontaneous, burst of mid-solo appreciation. According to Pete from On The Corner ‘The Search’ is set to drop in the next couple of days and it will hopefully pave the way for a whole series of live sessions.
Talking about LIVE sessions – following on from Shabaka & The Ancestors bustin’ loose at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge in January, London’s nu-jazz generation are currently poised to dent this year’s SXSW Music Festival in Texas – one of the largest and most influential global music industry events of the year. After 18 months of hard work and endless meetings Adam Moses and Justin McKenzie have just announced that Jazz:refreshed is curating and organising the official British Underground Jazz Re:freshed Showcase at SXSW and it will feature Moses Boyd’s Exodus, Yussef Kamaal, Shabaka Hutchings, United Vibrations and Native Dancer. Add to that crew special guests Go Go Penguin and Sarathy Korwar (thoroughly enjoying his evocative and multi-layered album on Ninja Tune) and we have a boundary breakin’ line-up that is guaranteed to create a rumpus.
Following on from Shabaka’s appearance at SXSW the saxophonist and his South African brethren hit the road in March. Along with a hugely anticipated Jazz Cafe/London performance they will be traversing the whole of Europe. Personally, I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from the Shabaka & The Ancestors playback and Q&A (thanx Teju) – way back when – when Shabaka told the story of how he’d excluded the piano player from the rehearsals and also put him in a separate booth during the recordings in order to get him to respond in totally spontaneous way to the music he was hearing. Deep stuff. Powerful album!
Another live session I was fortunate to check was Nérija at the Total Refreshment Centre. Following on from a discussion between the band members and journo/broadcaster Erica McCoy the ensemble – which consists of mostly women musicians – took the floor to deliver a tight, energised set that was built around the self penned compositions on their brand new 5 Kickstarter funded track CD. Packed to capacity the standing only crowd surrounded band in a tight semi-circle and were fully engaged with an feiry front line of Sheila Maurice-Grey on trumpet, Cassie Kinoshi on Alto, Nubya Garcia on tenor and Rose Turton on trombone. Shirley Tete bubbled away on guitar and drummer Lizzy Exell had feet shufflin’ and heads noddin’. How could you not buy the EP after that?
The female-led 7 piece Afrobeat ensemble Kokoroko – “be strong” in Urhobo – is another crew to watch out for. They join Yaaba Funk at the Jazz Cafe’s tribute to William Onyeabor – Atomic Bomb – on the 3rd March!
On a slightly, different tip, though staying live I suggest you put Freedom!The Art Of Improvisation in your diary for the 13th March. It’s hosted by Orphy Robinson, Cleveland Watkiss and Tori Handsley – I play the tunes between sets – and its at the Vortex in Dalston. Basically, it’s pure improvisation…no standards…and it consist of varied combinations of amazing musicians who happen to be in the house and up for the journey. Sadly, the next session collides with the Ezra Collective’s tribute to Dave Brubeck at the Jazz Cafe – but hey, different strokes for different folks!
Watch out for a forthcoming album from the “Freedom!” session’s resident space cadet and harpist (pedal & electric) /pianist Tori Handsley. Her “trio” includes the mighty Moses Boyd on drums, electric bassist Ruth Goller and vocalist Sahra Gure .. it’s recorded… so, next up… the mix!
WHOOPS… nearly forgot an amazing project I’ve been involved with since day one with Colm Carty!… Orphy Robinson’s wikkid Third Eye Ensemble who take on the quest – the serious challenge – of interpreting Van Morrison’s classic, majestic ‘Astral Weeks’. This is an essential session taking place in the shadow of St Patick’s day – don’t let it get lost amid all the album cover sessions that are dropping at the moment. The Ensemble is … Orphy Robinson – Vibes-Marimba / John Etheridge – Guitar / Rowland Sutherland – Flute / Justina Curtis – Keys / Dudley Philips – Bass / Mark Mondesir – Drums / Kate Shortt – Cello / Joe Cang + Sahra Gure – Vocals. NICE!
“If I ventured in the slipstream between the viaducts of your dreams…”