Starting with the reissues, and another release that was on my Record Store Day list. Third Man have dusted off Griot Galaxy’s Kins. A privately-pressed rough Detroit diamond from the early 80s. Led by saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey, the quintet featured bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Tani Tabbal. Both of whom had enjoyed stints as part of Sun Ra`s Arkestra. Second reed man, David McMurray, went on to join Was (Not) Was. Anthony Holland providing sax number three. Together they bop through scales. The bass keeping time, while the drums tumble. Dropping to a hush. To abstract, ambient sections of bowed string breakdowns. Then barking like geese. Screaming free through higher registers. A flute spinning off centre, out of control. Marching to military snares. Cavorting to Caribbean carnival rhythms. Zenalog Aintro though is No Wave Funk. A Lester Bowie / August Darnell / ESG mutant on the lam from Ze or Celluloid Records.
From Detroit, to treasure from Chicago. Deeper Digging Jazzman released Infinite Spirit Music’s Live Without Fear a little while ago, but I`ve been waiting to collect enough quality stuff to go around it. The set was originally recorded in 1979, with a collective of seven singers and players. Three of whom were percussionists. All of them celebrating life in tribal, native, shouts, songs, and chants. Sun-worshipping drum circles giving praise and thanks, accompanied by dextrous, playful modal runs. Post-Bop filigree. A shake of Gospel`s Tambourine. A Cuban cowbell. A Batucada whistle. Like a musical microcosm of Afro-American history. The title track is an incredible, uplifting cacophony. Bustling, totally alive. A holistic audio massage. Moving your arse, so that your mind might follow. Jazzman have re-cut the record`s sixty minute message of love and spiritual unity across four sides of vinyl. Listing it as number 27 in their Holy Grail series. Of which I only own four. I`m still kicking myself for missing out on Ricardo Marrero`s A Taste, and Boris Gardiner`s Every Nigger Is A Star.
Far Out Recordings had a 45 of Azymuth demos out for Record Store Day. A kind of promo for two albums worth of material that`ll get a full release at the end of May. In the meantime the label have also reissued Eumir Deodato`s Os Catedraticos 73. A LP of brass-y, highly orchestrated Fusion, that utilized players from the house-band of American imprint, CTI. The label that had guided the Brazilian Deodato to US success. Deodato`s on piano, organ, and Fender Rhodes, and his virtuosity dominates everything. From cocktail lounge Bossa Nova, to swinging `60s themes. The ballads carrying a touch of Barry White`s opulent Soul. Arranha Ceu is a Jazz-Dance classic from the days of Talkin` Loud at Dingwalls.
Two more squeezes of classic Jazz Juice come care of a collaboration between Deep Jazz Reality and HMV Japan. Pressing Lorez Alexandria’s Send In The Clowns, and Dee Dee Bridgewater`s vocal take on Bobby Hutcherson`s Little B`s Poem, on to 45s. The former lifted from Alexandria`s 1977 LP From Broadway To Hollywood. The latter from Bridgewater`s 1974 debut, Afro Blue. Both, like these new 7s, were only available in Japan.
Another seminal, if a bit more Leftfield, dancer is Steve Reid`s Lions Of Judah. Soul Jazz recently repressed Reid`s 1976 long-player, Nova, on orange vinyl. Truth is, this more out there gear was my point of entry to Jazz. Coming out of a Techno black-hole of my own making in the mid-90s, I attempted to clean-up my act, and took out a subscription to The Wire. Aiming to get high on music alone. Cherry-picking my soundtrack from their esoteric reviews, and their article titled “100 Records That Set The World On Fire (While No One Was Listening)”. Giving me a Wants List that included artists like Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Yusef Lateef, Ornette Colmen, and The Art Ensemble Of Chicago. Luckily at almost exactly the same time Soul Jazz released their Universal Sounds Of America compilation. Containing Theme De Yo Yo, Space Is The Place, Byron Morris` Kitty Bey, and Lions Of Judah. This was my Jazz. Not Blue Note.
I`d also tune-in to Gilles Peterson on Kiss on a Sunday evening. Taking down names as avidly as I`d once done listening to John Peel. Songs I learned about here would make a whole separate piece. I mean i heard him spin everything from Led Zep`s Dazed And Confused to Phuture`s Acid Tracks. Possibly in the same show. Gilles would claim anything new was Jazz, and maybe he was right.
In keeping with that idea I`ve included People Plus` Third Space on Mood Hut. Which like most of the Canadian label`s output is kinda House, except it isn’t. The B-line`s big, and modal. A `Lectronic Love Supreme. The drums are live sounding, between the 4 / 4 thud. Building to showers of syncopation. Piano stabs and marimba-like percussion. Organ grind and flute. All held together by that low-end hum (Allah-Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah). Jungle Room`s a broken beat of upright bass and post-D`n`B. String melodies that sing of the stars. Distorted African Scream Contest keys. O.S.C. 1 is a swirling vapor of variations for cowbell, and popping machines. Carefully positioned guitar. Split by siren blasts. Gradually coalescing into a subtle stoned Bossa Nova.
Also blurring the boundary between modern dance music and “traditional” Jazz is Culross Close`s Forgotten Ones on Esencia. Keyboardist Kieron Ifill AKA K15`s tribute to the voices ignored by the money-grabbing politic of contemporary Britain.
More “traditional” sounding are the Abbey Road sessions that make up Ruby Rushton`s Ironside on 22a. The Tenderlonious-led collective driven by the thrill of honing their skills, and letting said skills speak for themselves.
Finally there’s Retainer, the first single from Alfa Mist`s Structuralism 2xLP set. Which arrives later this month on his own Sekito Records. Ahead of a tour in May. The album is concerned with rising above the constraints circumstance and society place on us. The track finds Mist`s Weldon Irvine / D`Angelo Rhodes complimented by Johnny Woodham`s mellow horn. There’s an orchestral string break, and a moment of dizzy, spinning La Ritournelle, solo piano. Then Jamie Leeming lets loose with some amazing guitar. Climbing as high as he can, before leaping off.
MAY 13 – Village Underground, London (Sold Out)
MAY 14 – Concorde 2, Brighton
MAY15 – Trinity Centre, Bristol
MAY16 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
MAY17 – Gorilla, Manchester
MAY18 – Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, Leeds
Kolida Babo – Kolida Serenity – MIC
People Plus – Ascension – Mood Hut
Griot Galaxy – Zenalog Aintro – Third Man
Ruby Rushton – Return Of The Hero – 22a
Eumir Deodato – Extremo Norte – Far Out Recordings
Infinite Spirit Music – Live Without Fear – Jazzman
Steve Reid – Lions Of Judah – Soul Jazz
Culross Close – The Tiniest Light Still Shines – Esencia
Lorez Alexandria – Send In The Clowns – HMV / Deep Jazz Reality
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Little B`s Poem – HMV / Deep Jazz Reality
Alfa Mist – Retainer – Sekito Records