All That Jazz / July 2020

There`s been a ton of new jazz released recently – there are 3 things out or lined-up from the 22a camp alone. Ruby Rushton have a 7 in shop – from which. Sun Khosi is named after Nepal’s “river of gold”, and finds Nick Walter`s horn and Tenderlonious` alto flute tied in tight harmony. Punching out short repeats over cool, careful electric keys and nu yorican jive – before breaking out on individual flights. 

Ruby Rushton - Sun Chosi

Tenderlonious also teamed up with Pakistani quartet, Jaubi. Traveling from Peckham, against embassy advice, to Lahore to participate in sessions, three tracks from which have surfaced on a horribly limited 10”. Drawing inspiration from North Indian classical bansuri-master Ronu Majumdar, Impressions is a near 9 minute improvised raga, that hurtles along at a breakneck pace. Powered by tabla, the percolating percussive virtuosity of Kashif Ali Dhani. Tender`s circular breathing competing with the bowed strings of Zohaib Hassan Khan`s sarangi. On the comparatively short, Kirwani, Dhani`s prowess is allowed to come to the fore, while Shalamar Gardens is a fourth world landscape of chants, drones, and dub. 

Plus there`s a teaser from Tenderlonious` new solo long-player – the title track, Quarantena, lifted as a single. Synths swirling around and throughout a slice of slow seductive electro-soul. Driven by “Mtume” Linn drum click and pop. Flute countered by bell-like marimba, as a trumpet sounds, triumphant, in a reveille for creativity, as it rises out of and above the current adversity. 

Fellow flautist Chip Wickham also has a new album out, Blue To Red, on Love Monk. The record opens and closes with tracks that seem to reference 50s exotica – largely due to Amanda Whiting`s wonderful harp. Summoning tropical islands, bongo beaches, seabirds skirting the horizon, Dorothy Ashby`s Cafe del Mar classics, Little Sunflower and Soul Vibrations. But if there are waves breaking then they might well be the last, since the collection`s title refers to the Earth’s current man-made trajectory to a more Mars-like state. Three of the tunes directly tie into this astrology theme – Interstellar, Cosmos – while a fourth, Double Cross might be named after our role in this planet`s fate. Chip`s formidable chops and breathing technique are evident on extraordinary extended solos. His flute in places treated, to fusion effect. When he’s catching some air Dan Goldman`s quick keys fill in. Behind them Jon Scott’s battery swings, sometimes broken into a less traditional funk. There are spiritual moments, epic aural epiphanies, that cite Alice Coltrane, and that share the same astral plain as those of Chip`s friend and collaborator, Matthew Halsall – his Gondwana Orchestra. But there are also Rahsaan Roland Kirk-esque festivals and howlin` Jeremy Steig hoe-downs. Ripe for filling floors with fancy footwork. 

Chip plans to tour Blue To Red, once the world is out of lockdown, and joining as part of his band will be Greg Foat – who had his superlative Symphonie Pacifique released by Strut last week. 

From the Pacifique to the Atlantic Ocean we go, to Lagos, and Etuk Ubong`s fevered, frantic assessments of Africa Today. A jazz riding traditional Ekombi rhythms for Haarlem’s Night Dreamer – where congas charge at the clip of Jeff Mills techno track. Led into battle by Ubong`s trumpet, his political slogans and chants. Calling out Mass Corruption to stuttered, staccato organ keys. Detailing injustice with his impassioned vocals. Backwards and forwards with this singers and players. Attempting through music, dance, ritual – like an African Arkestra – to will into being a positive force, a Spiritual Change. 

Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson set out to achieve exactly the same, in a much more serene, shimmering, new age, holistic healing way on Chicago Waves – an impromptu performance captured at The Co-Prosperity Sphere, International Anthem`s HQ.

More spiritual stirrings can be heard on Oiro Pena`s 2. Four missives of modal, organic blurrings of Finnish folk and Coltrane, Sanders-like freedom, issued by Jazzagression. Zithers, and woodwinds in with the reeds. One-man-band, Antti Vauhkonen balancing balalaika and sax, and joined on piano and guitar by Joona Hulmi and Keijo Koskenharju, respectively. 

While we’re on “Free”, New Grass, reissued by Third Man, sees Albert Ayler`s aspirational, inspirational, often atonal, fire music, tethered, and tamed a little, by gospel and r&b settings. This might have been more at the suggestion of producer, Bob Thiele, and label, Impulse!, but the album serves to make Albert accessible, and help get his message across. 

There`s more r&b available on Gilles Peterson`s Arc Records, who licensed George Semper`s 1973 “various artists” Inner City Review. Originally privately-pressed in a run of 100 (?!) the record is a showcase for the songwriting and playing of Semper and his San Diego-based circle of musicians. The 9 tracks are all segued by field recordings that begin with a doorbell ringing and end with the calls of a real, rather than an urban, jungle. In between you get thunderstorms, traffic, car horns, and ignitions, fresh water streams, dogs barking and fights breaking out. Jackson Five-esque pop, full of false stops and starts. Broken-hearted blues by Al Green sound-a-likes. The Isleys in the high notes. The Impressions in the harmonies. Arrangements of brass, strings and wah-wah, that may have been modeled after Curtis Mayfield`s Superfly. Modern soul swoons. Clipped Stax funk. A country-licked civil rights strut. Echoed Eddie Hazel-esque freakouts. Age Of Aquarius anthems. 50s doo-wop revisited. A Stylistics falsetto-fueled kinda ambient flight. All of them anchored around by Semper`s Hammond B-3.

Arc have also rescued another lost work of B-3 bullion, in the shape of “Little Miss Short Steps”, Shirley Scott’s One For Me. Originally released on Strata-East in January 1975, the record represented a larger leap out of the session shadows and into the centre stage spotlight for the organist – renowned for her use of semi-tones – who featured on countless sides for Prestige.

Joe Davis` Far Out Recordings have a further privately-pressed prize, a piece of precious Brazilian fusion from keyboardist Manfredo Fest. Recorded in 1976, Brazilian Dorian Dream sounds like Manfredo had a lot of fun making it. Working through, finding out what his machines were capable of. Putting Arp, clavinet, Fender Rhodes and Moog through spiraling solos. Fusing bright bossa rhythms with big, boisterous, modular bass. Occasionally letting off proto-rave sirens and tumbling through Tic-Splasch patterns. Hitting Mandre-esque solar heights. For all this experimentation, the record is characterized by Roberta Davis` incredible scat vocals. 

And finally, On The Corner, have done the damn decent thing and repressed Collocutor`s Instead. Back in 2014, here’s what I originally said…..”the vibe of Tom Waits running with Rain Dogs and Beats through Sondheim and Bernstein`s gangland Westside. Of Nelson Algren and Hubert Selby Jr.`s NYC. Junk and Tra La La. Late night rapping with Kerouac and Cassady, high on Benzedrine and Tea. Poetry and all that Jazz.”

There`s a “segue” over on Mixcloud. 

Track-list

Carlos Nino & Miguel Ferguson Atwood – Chicago Waves Part IV – International Anthem 

Albert Ayler – Message From Albert – Third Man

Etuk Ubong – Ekpo Mmommom – Night Dreamer

Chip Wickham – Route One – Love Monk

Manfredo Fest – That’s What She Says – Far Out Recordings

Shirley Scott – Keep On Moving On – Arc Recordings

Ruby Rushton – Sun Khosi – 22a

Oiro Pena – Lof – Jazzagression

Tenderlonious – Quarantena – 22a

The George Semper Orchestra – Cosmic Funk – Arc Recordings

Greg Foat – Man Vs Machine – Strut

Tenderlonoius – Kirwani – 22a

Collocutor – Agama – On The Corner

Greg Foat – Symphonie Pacifique – Strut

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