Ban Ban Ton Ton`s Jazz That Jumped in 2019

Leaping in like Lester (Young), again beginning with music from the land of the rising sun, BBE issued their second heavyweight 3XLP edition in the series J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan. Amazing selections, amazing sleeve notes. There has to be a book and a doc in the making. 

For Record Store Day, Get On Down reissued Herbie Hancock`s Dedication. A set originally recorded, and only available, in Japan. Capturing a 1974 solo concert at Tokyo`s Koseinenkin Hall, it finds Herbie putting his new synths through their paces – Arp Pro Soloist, Arp Odyssey, Arp 3604, Arp 2600, Arp Pe-iv String Ensemble – and in the process inventing techno. 

Another favourite musical destination of mine is Brazil. The experts at Far Out Recordings reissued a whole host of Brazilian stuff – Azymuth, Dila, Ana Mazzotti – but with jazz in mind, Eumir Deodato`s Os Catedraticos 73, featuring jazz dance classic Arranha Ceu was the one. Other veteran London floor fillers were reanimated by Soul Jazz and Dynamite Cuts. Reactivating Samba De Flora, Airto`s carnivalesque dedication to, celebration of, his wife, and Tania Maria`s cover of Jorge Ben`s Fio Maravilha, respectively.  In amongst its organic ambience, John Gomez` Outro Tempo II, on Music From Memory, harboured the sought-after fusion of Jorge Degas & Marcelo Salazar`s Ilha Grande. 

Soul Jazz also repressed two essential Steve Reid LPs, Nova and Rhythmatism. The latter on white vinyl, the former on orange. Together containing the more left-field must-have dancers, Lions Of Judah and Center Of The Earth. 

Gerald Jazzman continued to share his Holy Grails. Expanding Infinite Spirit Music’s Live Without Fear across 4 sides of plastic. 60 minutes of percussive sun-worshipping gospels recorded in Chicago in 1979. A deal with Texan label, Fable, brought in bespoke represses of Steamheat, Starcrost, and Forty Seven Times Its Own Weight. Jazzman also unearthed 2 cuts from Jai Ho`s 1996 sessions for tabla, drums, and trumpet. 

Something I first picked up on a Jazzman 45 was Mary Lou Williams` Ain`t Necessarily So. The Georgia, Atlanta-born pianist`s self-tiled album – sometimes alternatively titled Black Christ Of The Andes – from 1964, was reissued in its entirety by Smithsonian Folkways. 

Funkier jazz came from Azwon, care of Pressure Makes Diamonds. The privately-pressed 45, Paradise Island, from 1981, stretched out over a 12 by the new label. Poetry took the shape of Alfred Panou`s Je Suis Un Sauvage. A late `60s Parisian recording, with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago providing Alfred’s musical accompaniment – reproduced on a desirable 7 by SouffleContinu. 

Tenderlonious` 22a, for me, stole the show as far as new music was concerned. Firstly with Ruby Rushton`s Ironside long-player. The record centered around the moving, Prayer For Grenfell. The production throughout breathed brilliantly as if in the moment with both solo anger, and collective dexterity and joy. Then there was the label-founder / band-leader`s solo Detroit and Chicago house-inspired E.P. Think Twice – which had me putting Coltrane, Roland Kirk, Mayday and Larry Heard all into one sentence. Falling somewhere between these two releases is Ruby Rushton`s forthcoming Yardley Suite. 

Another E.P. that mixed jazz with dance floor electronics was People Plus` Third Space on Mood Hut. Massive, with machine-made, modal b-lines, and syncopated live drum fills shaking it down between the big room 4 / 4 kick. While Kieron Ifill`s Culross Close focused on themes raised by Ruby Rushton`s Prayer For Grenfell – with Forgotten Ones, via Esencia Records, celebrating Britain’s austerity-generated “underclass”.

The last of my “jazz favourites” from 2019 came from Jaimie Branch and her FLY or DIE quartet, who constructed their Bird Dogs Of Paradise long-player from a musical language collaged from free jazz and hardcore punk. “Shouting, hollering, howling, with a furious art at its heart”, it was pissed-off and A Prayer For AmeriKKKa left you in no doubt as to who with. Their screaming missives recorded in part live and at Dalston`s The Total Refreshment Centre. For an insight into how important this London venue was / is, do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Emma Warren`s inspiring book, Make Some Space – published by Sweet Machine. 

Track-list

Jorge Degas & Marcelo Salazar  – Ilha Grande – Music From Memory

Culross Close – The Tiniest Light Still Shines – Esencia

Herbie Hancock – Nobu – Get On Down

Jai Ho – Short Story For Tabla, Drums, and Trumpet – Jazzman

Ruby Rushton – Yardley Suite – 22a

Tenderlonious – Tru Blu – 22a

Airto – Samba De Flora – Soul Jazz

Hideto Sazaki Toshiyuki Sekine Quartet – Stop Over – BBE

Tania Maria – Fio Maravilha – Dynamite Cuts

Mary Lou Williams – A Grand Night For Swinging – Smithsonian Folkways

Alfred Panou – Je Suis Un Sauvage – SouffleContinu

Steve Reid – Centre Of The Earth – Soul Jazz

Jaimie Branch – Nuevo Roquero Estereo – International Anthem Recording Company

Infinite Spirit Music – Live Without Fear – Jazzman

Azwon – Paradise Island – Pressure Makes Diamonds

Dennis Young – Primitive Substance – Athens Of The North

Ruby Rushton – Return Of The Hero – 22a

Eumir Deodato – Arranha Ceu (Skyscrapers) – Far Out Recordings

People Plus – Ascension – Mood Hut

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