THE THING about this album is that it tears up a notion of genre because the sound is so open and weirdly contemporary yet sort of retro as well particularly in some of the later tracks. There is no dumbing down. ‘Running’, the first track, sprung forward from the bass of Level Neville Malcolm provides a hustle and ignites with the energy of Anthony Marshall’s production that draws in the heat of R&B and yet chills it for a good few minutes in the jazz fridge. China Moses has a whole lot of style and is completely in control, poised and primed. ‘Put It On The Line,’ has a monster kick drum and bass-constructed groove roaring up at you from the wiry basement throb to the ease of reluctant horns simmering as Moses languidly reaches the chorus against the deliberately lazy backing blend of vocals peeking in. Luke Smith is on piano, Rhodes and organ; Sir Nev on bass playing a blinder; and Jerry Brown is on drums crafting the core of it all.
The big song? Well it has got to be the beautiful, ‘complicated,’ torch song ‘Ticking Boxes’ introduced lovingly by Smith on piano where China shows her emotions best of all on a song you could well hear Mary J. Blige hardly do more justice to but yes of course you’d like to hear Blige pile in with a version of her own. The lyrics are never trite in China’s hands, she has the ability of making you believe it all however make believe, the empowering chorus like an anthem of self-help and let it go. Ain’t about the past/ain’t about worrying ’bout tomorrow she solemnly relates,all neat and direct, an enveloping shadow conveyed in such a layered way, the drama of the song spun from the flimsiest of threads into the purest of silk and complete with an oblique ending. And the contemporary beats coming in here play their part after the main business of the song is done and the smoke of trumpet adds to the mood and yet is not too much of a pose. The songs were written by Moses and Marshall, and this is their most moving one for sure.
Overall China seems to have grown as an artist on this album and she has as ever formidable interpretative powers at her beck and call, the confessional resigned quasi-chanson-like asides of ‘Whatever’ one angle she can curl her voice around, and by contrast the sass and cheek provided by the flapper-like fun of ‘Watch Out’ part of the entertaining Caro Emerald-like mix and a boon for fans of a more vintage sound. The only weak spot is ‘Hungover’ towards the end but that’s also the most fun. I suppose China has learnt a good deal from her mother Dee Dee Bridgewater in shaping her voice and storytelling and how to project and pounce meaningfully on every little nuance; and China’s idol Dinah Washington’s influence is also surely fed into her overall approach but now so embedded you would scarcely notice as her own timbre and styling is so different. The main thing about this album is it is about now and not then. Its pithy elegance, sheer catchiness and joie de vivre also more than play their part. Groovy trumpeter Takuya Kuroda guests on the big ballad trumpet solo on ‘Lobby Call,’ the other stand-out song on the album and a number that contains a certain Strayhornian passion and architecture, while Kuroda’s fellow trumpeter Theo Croker adds dash to the little doo-wop retro Francophile craziness of ‘Blame Jerry.’ Released at the end of March. China Moses (above: photo Sylvain Norget) will be appearing as part of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project Love and Soul in Birmingham on 21 May. Tickets link
Kenny Clarke’s Klook’s Clique (Savoy, 1956) inspired a club venue, in existence from 1961-1970 in the Railway Hotel next door to the Decca studios in north London, the eponymous Clique becoming a “Kleek”. Clarke, aka Klook after his characteristic drum innovation (a rim shot on the snare followed directly by a bass drum accent) or in a kind of onomatopoeia approximation “Klook-mop” that fed into the core of the nascent bebop drum sound that he was in on the birth of via the Minton’s scene in Harlem with Bird, Monk, Charlie Christian and Diz a decade and a half earlier, Clarke, from Pittsburgh, was the original drummer of the Modern Jazz Quartet before the great Connie “Astral Weeks” Kay and later moved to live in France where he became popular in the Paris club scene and on tour. The late Mike Hennessey wrote Clarke’s evocative biography and compellingly told his fascinating mainly untold story with great insight, knowledge, understanding, and empathy in the lovingly entitled Klook. Tracks: Will Wail, Volcano, La Porta Thority, I Hear a Rhapsody, Yesterdays, and, Play Fiddle Play. Clarke of course on drums, with Donald Byrd, trumpet; John La Porta, alto sax; Ronnie Ball playing piano; and Wendell Marshall, bass. The album was recorded on 6 February 1956 in New York city.
It all begins by listening. To: The Poetry of Jazz.
It all begins by listening once again. To Nick Drake
Paul Brady to play the 2018 BBC Radio 2 folk awards
The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards are in Belfast on 4 April. The great singer-songwriter Paul Brady above singing ‘I Like How You Think’, with his band, the song written with Paul Muldoon, is to perform on the night at the Waterfront hall among an extraordinary firmament of a confirmed line-up.
It all begins by listening. To early Caravan.
Body and soul: saxophone... the Hawk still flies skywards
1 Sonny Rollins Simply the most admired, respected, and influential saxophonist on the planet drawing on Broadway, bebop and sounds of the Caribbean in one huge life-affirming sweep.
2 Wayne Shorter As a composer and saxophonist Shorter has few equals. Hear him on his most recent album Without a Net or delve back to the halcyon original Blue Note days or his tenure with Miles in the Second Great Quintet... Weather Report. Above, the song goes on, the river runs long and true, with, among others, Herbie Hancock and Anoushka Shankar.
3 Jan Garbarek The foremost European jazz saxophonist in the history of the music go straight to Afric Pepperbird and hear the Norwegian too within Keith Jarrett’s Belonging Band and on the groundbreaking Officium.
4 Charles Lloyd The progenitor of hippie jazz in recent years signed to Blue Note Forest Flower is the ultimate statement yet Lloyd’s much later ECM period illuminates hitherto unheard aspects of the Memphis great’s artistry. Go for Mirror first for a recent milestone recording.
5 Steve Coleman The MBASE innovator and genius whose influence on today’s scene is vast. Make Tao of Mad Phat your first port of call.
6 Chris Potter The natural successor to Michael Brecker, 2013 career peak The Sirens is the place to begin.
7 David Murray Big sound, huge presence, Flowers for Albert way back near the beginning of the Californian’s solo career is a must.
8 Ken Vandermark Avant adventure, intellectual ease, huge technique, it’s all there within reedist Vandermark’s remarkable artistic profile.
9 Kamasi Washington In a few crazy years post The Epic the US west coaster has reinvigorated interest in jazz saxophone and wide screen free form hybrids among hip hop fans be they from Gen X or millennials especially.
10 John Zorn Still shaking things up all these years on, relive the 90s Naked City magic as an introduction.
11 Joshua Redman Tender and poised, tonally pristine Redman is a natural born communicator on the tenor saxophone. Records to buy to listen to Redman at his best include Wish and Moodswing. Latest departure is his marvellous turn with The Bad Plus.
12 Peter Brötzmann Much admired and influential avant garde monster. Go straight to the revolutionary Machine Gun.
13 JD Allen Poised, contemplative, the big sound of JD Allen is winning admirers all the time. Start with I Am I Am.
14 John Surman Avant, English, and jazz traditions plugged in to the heart of the American post bop sound are all putty in the hands of the West Country reedist-composer. Head straight for Brewster’s Rooster for the best example of Surman’s most recent saxophonic oration.
15 Evan Parker In duo with Dave Holland recently. Listen to Evan’s classic of multiphonics, Monoceros, to begin your listening explorations.
16 Ingrid Laubrock The German avant saxophonist now living in the US is one of the most exciting younger names to look out for. Her Anti House album Roulette of the Cradle is as good a place to start as any as Laubrock hits her prime.
17 Henry Threadgill Recent records are on the Pi label.
18 Miguel Zenón Rocket science skill and taste Zenón shapes the folkloric sound of the Puerto Rican musical traditions to intense effect within the structure of his own compositions cutting it live over a decade with a stellar quartet.
19 Anthony Braxton Begin with For Alto.
20 Matana Roberts The future is in good hands. Check out the inventive underground on The Chicago Project and further Coin Coin explorations for part of the story so far.