May 29, 2011

RIP Gil Scott Heron

Sad news indeed.

Of all the numbers that Gil wrote, this is the one that has been doing it for me today. But most especially this version, very late period Gil, recorded last summer in Austria. It's so topical for all of us over here — but also for all of us everywhere.

How can we get over losing our minds?

If you haven't already, go check out Ish's appreciation of GSH, weaving together the poetry of the man's own words...

More reference points:
Adam Mansbach's personal reflections on newblackman.blogspot

And don't forget to check out Simon's essential cache of GSH boots at the mighty neverenoughrhodes...

[image at top from a good (old) piece in The Guardian]

May 22, 2011

sleep walker - the voyage

barabara sounds sez:
There was one more track that Pharoah Sanders laid down on that same 2003 visit to Tokyo when he recorded The Creator Has A Master Plan. He sat in as a guest with the hot club-jazz combo Sleep Walker. It came out as a single in 2004, and later became the title track of their next album, The Voyage (not released till 2006). Anyway, that's my inspiration for posting it here and now
but it's certainly not the only reason. The whole album grooves and soars just beautifully, with track 6, Kaze (= 'Wind') another stand-out. Don't believe me, ask Dusty...

Brilliant brilliant work by Sleep Walker – a soaring, soulful album of spiritual jazz – one that we'd rank right up there with our favorites from the era of John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders on Impulse Records! The vibe here is incredible – jazz played live on tenor, soprano sax, piano, bass, and drums – spinning out in modal lines that groove tremendously, but not with any tricks or gimmicks that get in the way of genuine jazz expression. Sleep Walker are easily one of the deepest and most talented combos of the current club jazz scene – and their music never resorts to fake samples or heavy-handed rhythms to move the tunes along – just glows in the genius of its own bright light, spreading forth in waves of soul and sound that are tremendous from the first note of the album to the last!

中村 雅人
吉澤 はじめ Yoshizawa Hajime piano; 杉本 智和 Sugimoto Tomokazu bass; 藤井 伸昭 Fujii Nobuaki d

Ai-No-Tabi; Into The Sun; The Southern Cross; Afloat; Lost in Blue; Kaze; Reminiscence; The Voyage

• As UK friends may know, Sleepwalker played alongside Pharoah at the Jazz Cafe in London in late 2003. He came back to Japan again in 2006 and played with them at the outdoor Metamorphose festival.

• There's an interesting fragment of a beyondjazz interview with Okino Shinya (Kyoto Jazz Massive; produced Sleepwalker) on angelfire's Pharoah discography:
When we knew Pharoah was coming to Japan, we offered this recording to his management. But we got the answer (ok) 4 days before the day for recording. Sleep Walker made a song for this recording during this 4 days. Every member stayed at Hajime's house. When recording, Pharoah asked us the image of this song. Hajime answered that this image is the feeling from father and children met again after long time no seeing. So we decided to call this song "Chichi to ko" (it means "Father and children" in English). When Masa played tenor sax, Pharoah shouted "Masa"! It was very impressing. And when Pharoah started his solo, I couldn't stop crying. It was so beautiful! Our dreams came true..."

• And check out this clip (posted by tokyojazznotes) of Pharoah with Sleepwalker from 2006 (also ft. Bembe Segue and Yukimi Nagano). It's hard to actually hear the sax at all, what with all the noise from the floor every time he steps up to play, but it's a great nugget... [btw the track is You've Got To Have Freedom]

The Voyage was first posted in the blogosphere by Bacoso on the ever-essential Orgy in Rhythm – and it's still up in the archives there. But just in case anyone's slept [or should that be sleepwalked?] on it, here it is again (with full scans of that modern classic album art...)

May 19, 2011

Pharoah Sanders Quartet - The Creator Has A Master Plan

barabara sounds sez:
Late-period Pharoah, and by this time (2003) he has mellowed substantially. The fire is muted but, like all the great players, he still has his tone and his edge.

Yes, much of the album is located well in the jazz centerfield, focusing mostly on down-tempo ballads. And yes the album includes 6 minutes of outright dross that you should program out of your playlist and your life for ever (look at the track listing and you know already which one I mean). But there are also some fine moments of pure Pharoah, especially on the three longest tracks.

Plus there's a reason why this album is memorable to me, at least. The last time I saw him play live was with on this same visit to Tokyo that he laid down these sides. With these same fine musicians in his group. In a small club, and from very close up. He's been back a couple of times since then (I missed the gigs) but who knows, I may never have that chance again...

dusty sez:
A nice mix of the two sides of Pharoah Sanders – the spiritual jazz elements first developed in his Coltrane years, and some of the more straight-styled blowing he explored in later years! The album's got a bit more of the latter than the former – despite the title – but it still is a beautiful demonstration of the deep, deep soul found in Sanders' tenor – still a tremendously expressive instrument after all these years!

Pharoah Sanders tenor sax; William Henderson piano; Ira Coleman bass; Joe Farnsworth drums

Want To Talk About You; Moon Rays; Tokyo Blues; Greatest Love Of All; The Creator Has A Master Plan; Welcome; Tina; It's Easy To Remember

recorded April 23, 2003 at Wonder Station, Tokyo.

May 9, 2011

Kohsuke Mine - Out Of Chaos

barabara sounds sez:
Fine flowing modal music from Mine and his crew (a crack team of the usual j-jazz suspects) from back in '74. This was one of Mine's first outings after switching from alto to tenor and definitely one of his best ever. Also one of the first albums on the very righteous East Wind label. The stately lyrical second track (by Kikuchi) is a standout here, sandwiched between the two high-power numbers penned by Mine.

The concept for the cover art is questionable (red gloop as a representation of chaos? Or maybe the art director used this image because s/he was clean out of chaos?). But when it comes to the music, there's nothing lacking here whatsoever! [ripped from the CD reissue]

Mine Kohsuke tenor sax; Kikuchi Masabumi piano; Okada Tsutomu bass; Hino Motohiko drums


Recollection; Little Abi; Cross Wind