Black Art Jazz Collective, Black Heart, HighNote ****1/2

Textbook and a canonical vision: Co-founded by saxophonist Wayne Escoffery [front row, left, in the photo] with Jeremy Pelt [front row, centre] and later Blue Note star leader Johnathan Blake [front row, right], the Black Art Jazz Collective …

Published: 20 Feb 2024. Updated: 2 months.

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Textbook and a canonical vision: Co-founded by saxophonist Wayne Escoffery [front row, left, in the photo] with Jeremy Pelt [front row, centre] and later Blue Note star leader Johnathan Blake [front row, right], the Black Art Jazz Collective (BAJC)’s first gig was at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, New York City, in April 2013 with lost leader Dwayne Burno who left us far too soon in the band.

Escoffery, heard live in the Mingus Big Band and a few times down the years, most memorably at Ronnie Scott's in 2016 up front in the sax line alongside altoist Mark Gross that distant Wednesday night, was noteworthy for his sheer tone, command and ease on the bandstand. Then and now - no matter. The same applies.

Blake shares drum duties with Mark Whitfield Jr, the bassist Rashaan Carter - heard by marlbank in Ravi Coltrane's Quartet live at London's Barbican in 2022 depping for Dezron Douglas and shares bass duties with the Glasperian Vicente Archer. Recall Archer from the Robert Glasper 2007 classic In My Element.

Such an excellent album, this - even better than the BAJC's 2020 release Ascension - includes a beautiful tribute written by Pelt called 'Soliloquy' to the globally adored Guess Who's Coming to Dinner actor Sidney Poitier who died in 2022. We also most liked trombonist and composer James Burton III's 'Coming of Age.' So, a cultural, collective creation that is all about black pride and consummate musicianship and a shared aesthetic vision that ripples across all the writing and all the soloing.

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Amen to Awen: Ionawr - from the Ensemble - is track of the week

New in track of the week represents the first stirrings from the debut album of Awen Ensemble's Cadair Idris out in April. Leeds based, as previously mentioned, self-described as an ''alternative folk jazz collective'' the word ''Awen'' in their …

Published: 19 Feb 2024. Updated: 43 days.

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New in track of the week represents the first stirrings from the debut album of Awen Ensemble's Cadair Idris out in April. Leeds based, as previously mentioned, self-described as an ''alternative folk jazz collective'' the word ''Awen'' in their name means ''poetic inspiration'' in Welsh. Amy Clark's vocals on the initial track above lands somewhere between the sound of early period Christine Tobin particularly a song like 'Those Who Love the Lord' on Aililiu (Babel, 2001) and Lauren Kinsella in Snowpoet guise as on Thought You Knew (Edition, 2018) with Chris Hyson et al. Also in the band are Emyr Penry Dance on trumpet, Saul Duff on tenor sax, Samantha Binotti vibes, Ruari Graham on guitar, Glen Leach on Fender Rhodes, Joe Wilkes on bass and Eddie Bowes on drums and bodhran. Their album is to be issued on the New Soil label and takes its name from a mythology rich peak of Snowdonia. Dates coming up include Meadowbrook Community Centre, Shinner's Bridge in Devon on 20 April and Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on 28 April.