Chocolate Milk And Brandy / April 2021 / Jazz

Attempting to recreate the golden yesterdays of Jose Padilla`s White Isle sunsets with the tunes of today. 

There are 4 hits of Chocolate Milk & Brandy “mixed”, shaken, stirred, and ready to be (sun) downed in April – the first of which is undoubtedly “jazz”. I’m gonna blame the backlog and hold up on the pandemic post. The new Pharoah Sanders / Floating Points / London Philharmonic, for example, might be conspicuous by its absence. As far as I know all analogue copies heading for Japan are still in transit, in a ship’s hold somewhere…

Amanico D`Silva`s Konkan Dance is a previously unreleased set, recorded in London in 1972. The Goan guitarist is joined by British jazz luminaries Alan Branscombe – on piano, and saxophonist, Don Rendell, plus the sitar of Clem Alford and the twin tabla of Keshav Sathe and Mick Ripshar. The album appears on vinyl for the first time care of Australian imprint, Theroundtable. Consisting of 4 fairly long tracks – all of which are great. In the context of sipping a sunset cocktail, however, the standout is perhaps the opening, A Street In Bombay. Driven by Tony Campo`s deep, electric, bass notes, it cinematically describes that street slowly waking to the day`s dust and heat haze, with D`Silva`s 6-strings moving from raga, to clipped funk, to a Santana-esque soar. Rendell`s sax blowing smoky and sultry. Branscombe`s keys all the while rolling, rooting, the considerable building groove. 

Jazzman have repressed Greg Foat`s dynamite debut, Dark Is The Sun. Received as an unsolicited demo in 2001, the album is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Exquisite and essential, back then it seemed to come out of nowhere. There was no “overground” vogue for library music – a passion for KPM, de Wolfe, etc., was still confined to deep diggers and committed top tier beat makers. A homage to the sort of jazz / chanson that inspired the best of Stereolab, the record`s harpsichord and 15-piece harmonies are a mix of Jef Gilson meets David Axelrod. Despite its title, the titular tune is actually a blue-skied, couples hand-in-hand, skip beside an idealized Seine – accompanied by a cool whistle and accordion reprise. Time Piece 1 pays its respects to Roy Budd`s classic Get Carter score, and John Barry`s The Persuaders TV theme. Its carefully calculated calm making way for a funky funky drummer. 

Also on Jazzman is the celestial zing of the strings of Amanda Whiting`s heavenly harp. Amanda`s LP, After Dark, was released on Friday. Do you self a favour and also pick up her 10” E.P. of covers, Little Sunflower, from late last year. The mastering and pressing on both is amazing.  

I have a teaser, the single, Pleasewakeupalittlefaster Please…, from Carlos Niños & Friends` forthcoming album for International Anthem, More Energy Field, Current. It`s a characteristic shimmering tide, spiritual shore, of shaken and rattled percussion. The assembled, synergising, cymbals and gongs a definitive demonstration of unity. Synth progressions and string orchestration echoing the soft sax shapes, before the whole shebang finally fades into field recorded West Coast waves and surf. 

The first of three 45s is a repro of Doug Hammond & David Durrah`s Venus Fly Trap. Dating from 1974 sessions held at Detroit`s Different Fur Studios – recordings that also spawned the duo’s highly sought after (and soon to be reissued) LP, Reflections In The Sea Of Nurnen. The A-side is a mad piece of abstract funk. Durrah`s churning, synthesizer riff rivaling Steve Reid`s Lions Of Judah. Everything wah-wah-ed like `70s Miles. It`s partnered by the far calmer, Kai – where David’s Fender Rhodes dances and dives in gentle flights, as if riding on warm solar swells. Originally released by Tribe in 1975, London’s Clap City have done the decent thing after finding a copy in San Francisco`s famous Groove Merchant store. 

Another classic on a new-ish 45 is Yusef Lateef`s take on Alex North`s Oscar-nominated Love Theme From Spartacus. The genius reedman turning the string-soaked romantic masterpiece into a seminal, slow, modal, dance. One of the tracks on the landmark LP, Eastern Sounds, on Prestige off-shoot, Moodsville, in 1961, here it`s flipped by Cannonball Adderley`s cover of Lateef`s Brother John. 

An AA-sided 7” reissued by the Fraternity Music Group – one of the oldest labels in the US – rescues two cuts from Canadian pianist Galt MacDermot. Coffee Cold is a slow, moody, piano blues – taken from the 1966 long-player, Shapes Of Rhythm, and which should sound familiar since it was sampled throughout the 2000s. The more spritely Space is lifted from his score for the 1969 flick, Woman Is Sweeter. Busta Rhymes, Faith Evans and Snoop Dogg all at some point borrowed its beats, while Stones Throw`s Breakestra once recorded a cover. 

Pitched more towards classical than jazz, Pat Metheny`s new project finds his compositions played by Jason Vieaux and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Vieaux performs a suite called Four Paths of Light, while the quartet tackle Road To The Sun. In closing Pat himself rearranges Arvo Part`s Fur Alina for solo 42 (!) string guitar. The pieces, to my ears, recall ECM / Cafe del Mar / Jose Padilla cornerstones such as Au Lait and Sueno Con Mexico. Flamenco flourishes – including rhythmic taps to the instruments` wooden bodies – punctuating the themes and variations captured in cascades of sun-kissed chords. 

Saxophonist Tony Burkill and bassist, Neil Innes, lead 10 piece Leeds-based collective, Work Money Death, though 2 side-long compositions / improvisations on The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknown Resides Can be The Place From Which Creation Arises – available to order on ATA Records. RIYL Pharoah Sanders or the marvelous output of Mancunian Matthew Halsall. These are sublime, soothing, modal mediations. Balm for the soul, with a Sun Ra Arkestra swing. Providing a boost that I for one need right now. A psychic cleanser, removing paranoia and replacing it with some kind of peace. Allowing me to see my fellow man with fresh eyes. Find forgiveness. Forget betrayal, back-stabbing, and hate. Musical medicine that should be on prescription – its fibre part of everyones breakfast, or that cocktail before bed. Dusk contains a little more skronk! – a joyful cacophony – while Dawn closes with an uplifting coda – a group chant, a mindful mantra – “Love is all I bring to you”. Let that be my message for the day. A huge thank you to Chris Galloway for the tip. 

Track-list
Amanico D`Silva – A Street In Bombay – The Roundtable
Amanda Whiting – In A Sentimental Mood – Jazzman
Carlos Niños & Friends – Pleasewakeupalittlefaster
David Durrah – Kai – Clap City
Galt MacDermot – Coffee Cold – Fraternity Music Group
Yusef Lateef – Love Theme From Spartacus – Prestige
Greg Foat – Time Piece 1 – Jazzman
Pat Metheny – Road To The Sun Part 2 – Modern Recordings
Work Money Death – Dawn – ATA Records
Amanda Whiting – Libertango – Jazzman

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