Album of the Week: 20-24 January
Jeff Parker – Suite For Max Brown [International Anthem] Our album of the week is Jeff Parker‘s “Suite For Max Brown“, that will be out on the 24th of January, on International Anthem. Parker himself is known to many fans as the longtime guitarist for the Chicago–based quintet Tortoise, one of the most critically revered,…
Jeff Parker – Suite For Max Brown [International Anthem]
Parker himself is known to many fans as the longtime guitarist for the Chicago–based quintet Tortoise, one of the most critically revered, sonically adventurous groups to emerge from the American indie scene of the early nineties. The band’s often hypnotic, largely instrumental sound eludes easy definition, drawing freely from rock, jazz, electronic, and avant-garde music, and it has garnered a large following over the course of nearly thirty years. Aside from recording and touring with Tortoise, Parker has worked as a side man with many jazz greats, including Nonesuch labelmate Joshua Redman on his 2005 Momentum album; as a studio collaborator with other composer-musicians, including Brian Blade, Meshell Ndegeocello, and fellow International Anthem artists Makaya McCraven and Rob Mazurek; and as a solo artist.
Suite for Max Brown is informally a companion piece to The New Breed, Parker’s 2016 album on International Anthem, which Guardian honoured as ‘the Best Jazz Album of the Year,’ the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times included on their ‘Best Albums of 2016’ lists; and recently, Aquarium Drunkard included it on their ‘Best Albums of the Decade’ 2010-2019 compendium. Guardian said “no other musician in the modern era has moved so seamlessly between rock and jazz like Jeff Parker. As guitarist for Chicago post-rock icons Tortoise, he’s taken the group in new and challenging directions that have kept them at the forefront of pop creativity for the last twenty years. As of late, however, Parker has established himself as one of the most formidable solo talents in modern jazz.”
Though Parker collaborates with a coterie of musicians under the group name The New Breed, theirs is by no means a conventional “band” relationship. Parker is very much a solo artist on Suite for Max Brown. He constructs a digital bed of beats and samples; lays down tracks of his own on guitar, keyboards, bass, percussion, and occasionally voice; then invites his musician friends to play and improvise over his melodies. But unlike a traditional jazz session, Parker doesn’t assemble a full combo in the studio for a day or two of live takes. His accompanists are often working alone with Parker, reacting to what Parker has provided them, and then Parker uses those individual parts to layer and assemble into his final tracks. The process may be relatively solitary and cerebral, but the results feel like in-the-moment jams—warm-hearted, human, alive. Suite for Max Brown brims with personality, boasting the rhythmic flow of hip hop and the soulful swing of jazz.
“In my own music I’ve always sought to deal with the intersection of improvisation and the digital era of making music, trying to merge these disparate elements into something cohesive,” Parker explains. “I became obsessed maybe ten or fifteen years ago with making music from samples. I was a big hip-hop fan all my life, but I never delved into the technical aspects of making that music. To keep myself busy, I started to sample music from my own library of recordings, to chop them up, make loops and beats.”
“So I made The New Breed based off these old sample-based compositions and mixed them with improvising,” he continues. With Max Brown, it’s evolved. I played a lot of the music myself. It’s me playing as many of the instruments as I could. I engineered most it myself at home or during a residency I did at the Headlands Center for the Arts [in Sausalito, California] about a year ago.”
His New Breed band-mates and fellow travelers on Max Brown include pianist-saxophonist Josh Johnson; bassist Paul Bryan, who co-produced and mixed the album with Parker; piccolo trumpet player Rob Mazurek, his frequent duo partner; trumpeter Nate Walcott, a veteran of Conor Oberst’s Bright Eyes; drummers Jamire Williams, Makaya McCraven, and Jay Bellerose, Parker’s Berklee School of Music classmate; cellist Katinka Klejin of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and even his seventeen-year-old daughter Ruby Parker, a student at the Chicago High School of the Arts, who contributes vocals to opening track, “Build A Nest.”
Ruby’s presence at the start is fitting on multiple levels: it’s how Parker left us on The New Breed, with Ruby singing on that album’s closing track “Cliché,” and their ongoing, multi-generational collaboration is right in line with the familial themes that inspired this album’s title. “That’s my mother’s maiden name. Maxine Brown. Everybody calls her Max. I decided to call it Suite for Max Brown. The New Breed became a kind of tribute to my father because he passed away while I was making the album.
There is a multi-generational vibe to the music too, as Parker balances his contemporary digital explorations with excursions into older jazz. Along with original compositions, Parker includes “Gnarciss,” an interpretation of Joe Henderson’s “Black Narcissus” and John Coltrane’s “After the Rain” (from his 1963 Impressions album).
1. Build a Nest (feat. Ruby Parker)
2. C’mon Now
3. Fusion Swirl
4. After the Rain
8. Del Rio
9. 3 for L
10. Go Away
11. Max Brown
New From Los Angeles: Artform Radio
This Thursday sees the very first in our new weekly shows from the heart of Los Angeles. Artform Radio is a storefront radio excursion, a diverse journey into forward thinking music, culture and ideas and a series of live broadcasts that will take place every Thursday from 12 PM to 8 PM (PST) / 8…
This Thursday sees the very first in our new weekly shows from the heart of Los Angeles. Artform Radio is a storefront radio excursion, a diverse journey into forward thinking music, culture and ideas and a series of live broadcasts that will take place every Thursday from 12 PM to 8 PM (PST) / 8 PM to 4 AM (GMT), coming to you from The Artform Studio in Los Angeles via Worldwide FM.
The first instalment will feature the talents of Adrian Younge and Endo, Oliver Wang, Nelson George, Franky Vasquez, Josh Kun, Michael Barnes and Adrienne Williams. Tune in.
Album of the Week: 13-17 January
Majid Bekkas – Magic Spirit Quartet [ACT Records] Our album of the week comes from Moroccan multi-instrumentalist Majid Bekkas’ “Magic Spirit Quartet” to be released on ACT Records on the 31st of January, 2020. Trance, ritual, mysticism and psychedelia describe the ideology behind Gnawa music, and Majid Bekkas, one of the most dazzling exponents of…
Trance, ritual, mysticism and psychedelia describe the ideology behind Gnawa music, and Majid Bekkas, one of the most dazzling exponents of modern Gnawa, combines this music with other genres. With his latest release Magic Spirit Quartet, he has built a bridge to connect North Africa and Scandinavia, aligning the ancestral with the ambient. It is an inspired move which seems to catch the very spirit of 21st century jazz.
The origins of Gnawa have never been fully explained. It is believed that slaves from Mali, Niger or Ghana were trafficked to the former empire of Morocco, where they preserved their culture, taking part in night-long rituals called lila, ceremonies during which diseases were healed. Over the past two centuries, this music, with its powerful singing, the rattling of the giant castanets and the incapable groove of the guembi bass lute, has become inseparably linked to Moroccan culture. An important development in the past few decades has been how jazz musicians such as Randy Weston or dub master Bill Laswell have discovered the potency of Gnawa music and brought it to Western ears in new and interesting ways.
Majid Bekkas stands out in our time as one of the most exciting stars of Gnawa. Although he was born and still lives in Sale, across the river from the Moroccan capital Rabat, his origins are further South, in Zagora in the Moroccan Sahara. Back in the mid-1970s he set up a group inspired by the pioneering Moroccan rock band Nass El Ghiwane and also took up the guembri. Since then he has overcome all cultural barriers using this totemic and large box-lute, but has also made a major impact both with the oud and with his voice. Album releases such as “Out Of The Desert” with Joachim Kuhn (2009), and collaborations with Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and Klaus Doldinger are just the tip of Bekkas’ musical iceberg.
With Magic Spirit Quartet, Bekkas has teamed up with three artists with Nordic roots whose sound spectrums reflect their truly international outlook. Trumpeter Goran Kajfes, born in Stockholm of Croatian parents, is equally at home in jazz futurism and minimalism as well as in the Middle East and Africa. He is the leader of the Subtropic Arkestra, a role in which he has previously brought Bekkas in as a guest. Also participating in this group is keyboardist Jesper Nordenstrom, who has made his mark in every facet of the Swedish scene. The ensemble is underpinned by Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg. He works in many different contexts: together with f.ex. Ibrahim Electric, Carsten Dahl Trinity, and also in a duo with the kora virtuoso Dawda Jobarteh from Gambia.
4. Chahia Taiba
Majid Bekkas / vocals, guembri, oud & electric guitar
Goran Kajfeš / trumpet, electric trumpet & percussion
Jesper Nordenström / piano, organ, synthesizers & spinet piano
Stefan Pasborg / drums, percussion & tuned gongs
Cover art by Sonia Delaunay: Tango Magic City,
Album of the Week 6-10 January
Ben Tankard – All Keyed Up [Time Capsule] Our album of the week is Ben Tankard‘s ‘All Keyed Up‘ reissued on Time Capsule. This collection of ground-breaking instrumentals captures a moment of musical alchemy. Stylistic edges become blurred with by-turns into jazz, gospel, soul, funk and dance. A new genre – gospel jazz – was…
Our album of the week is Ben Tankard‘s ‘All Keyed Up‘ reissued on Time Capsule. This collection of ground-breaking instrumentals captures a moment of musical alchemy. Stylistic edges become blurred with by-turns into jazz, gospel, soul, funk and dance. A new genre – gospel jazz – was created in their wake.
The son of a minister father and a missionary mother, Tankard grew up playing drums in his local church. Numerous offers of scholarships to music college came his way but his height and youthful speed determined the choice of a scholarship in basketball. Turning pro, he was drafted with NBA team Portland Trailblazers before a knee injury cut his career short and led to a period of homelessness: “I could not pay my rent so for a short time I was living in my car and sleeping on friend’s sofas.”
A church visit proved life-changing: “I heard of a revival service that was going on. I was nearly starving with no job or income so I went only for the free meal. Afterwards the preacher called me up and told me to sit down to the keyboard. I was hesitant but after all I did not have anything to lose. When my hands touched the keys I began to play like George Duke! No lessons – just instant awareness. That is where ‘gospel jazz’ was born. Since it was jazzy in nature, yet inspired in the church, I decided to call it ‘gospel jazz’.”
Tankard got a job at a local music store where he spent the next few years honing his craft before he began recording his own music. “I programmed all the instruments myself on a keyboard so I called it All Keyed Up.”
Curator Pol Valls found the record while digging and was struck by it’s genre-defying creativity: “the track which stood out the most for me was Eden Celebration which has the feel of early dance music. I also loved Melodic Heaven and the title track All Keyed Up. That track was really short though so we decided to make a remix of it.
If Eden Celebration, with its highly rhythmic cross-breed of jazz fusion and electro shows Tankard at his most creative, then All Keyed Up – a stellar exercise in funk-laced jazz fusion replete with Don Blackman-esque piano runs – demonstrates his prowess on the keys. On Melodic Heaven lo-fi synths and boogie-fied bass synths combine with his elegant and soulful piano. The remix of the title track expands the short-but-sweet piano-based vignette into a Balearic anthem replete with extra drums, synths and guitar.
Released in 1989, Tankard’s All Keyed Up album kick-started a hugely successful recording career. Nowadays he’s also known as a motivational speaker, author, trained pilot (famously flying to shows in his own planes) and as the star of his own reality TV show. This collection chronicles the magic that happened at the beginning of his career, it’s inspired melding of styles sounding as fresh today as when they were first put to tape on his home studio.
Eden Celebration 4:47
Melodic Heaven 5:22
All Keyed Up 2:54
All Keyed Up (Time Capsule Seaside Mix) 5:11
Album of the Week 30 Dec – 3 Jan
Tino Contreras – Musica Infinita [Arc Records] Worldwide FM Morning Mari’s album of the week is Arc Records‘ “Tino Contreras – Musica Infinita [Arc Records] Gilles Peterson announces the launch of his new Arc Records imprint with a reissue of cult record “Musica Infinita” by Mexican drummer and composer Tino Contreras. A psychedelic, experimental jazz…
Tino Contreras – Musica Infinita [Arc Records]
Gilles Peterson announces the launch of his new Arc Records imprint with a reissue of cult record “Musica Infinita” by Mexican drummer and composer Tino Contreras. A psychedelic, experimental jazz record, originally released in 1978, it marked a daring step forward by the Mexico City-based musician, and is now re-released for a chance to get the widespread dues it deserves. A limited private press, copies of the original are highly sought after, despite the drummer being much overlooked in both his home country as well as abroad, with a career that started in the 1950s, and which has seen him share stages with many of the greats – including Dave Brubeck, Cannonball Adderley and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Explaining his connection to the record, Peterson says, “This was the first record I heard from that region which had that amazing psychedelic, cosmic jazz sound. It’s somewhere between a David Axelrod record and a release on Saturn. I’ve always had it as one of my secret gems.”
Re-issued for the first time, it’s a chance to get acquainted with an especially bright moment for an artist whose legacy is surely due for greater attention. Bridging strongly-felt Mexican tradition with a grounding in a primo jazz schooling, “Musica Infinita” channels grand concepts into a visceral musical experience.
A1. Sinfonia Del Quinto Sol
B1. El Hombre Cosmico
B2. Orbita 13
Worldwide Rotations: December
We’ve updated our regular Worldwide FM playlist with upfront and reissued music from around the world. Listen throughout the month on air, or to enjoy on the move, subscribe or follow the playlist on Spotify and Soundcloud. 30/70 – Echoplex [Rhythm Section] Afronaut – Transcend Me [Apollo] Alabaster dePlume – Do You Know A Human…
We’ve updated our regular Worldwide FM playlist with upfront and reissued music from around the world. Listen throughout the month on air, or to enjoy on the move, subscribe or follow the playlist on Spotify and Soundcloud.
30/70 – Echoplex [Rhythm Section]
Afronaut – Transcend Me [Apollo]
Alabaster dePlume – Do You Know A Human Being (Demo for Labour) [White Label]
Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra – J Schleia [Alien Transistor]
Babe Rainbow – Something New [30th Century Records]
Beatrice Dillon – Workaround Two [PAN]
Bixiga – Niran [Traquitana Music]
Brainstory – Peter Pan [Big Crown Records]
Brisa – Behind The Veil [Bastard Jazz Recordings]
Brisa – Over The Sun [Irma Records]
Bufiman – News From The Treetops [Dekmantel]
Calibre – Colby Park [Signature Recordings]
Charlotte Dos Santos – Harvest Time [Because Music]
Daniel Casimir & Tess Hirst – Representation [Jazz re:freshed]
David Versace – Love Expressions [Self Released]
David Walters – Kryé Mwen [Heavenly Sweetness]
Dirg Gerner – The Art Of Letting Go [Eglo Records]
DJ Haram – Get It feat Orion Sun [Hyperdub]
Dominic J Marshall – Feeling [Darker Than Wax]
Don Sinini x Grizzle – Leeds [NTS]
Doon Kanda – Nastasya [Hyperdub]
ECHT! – Tsht [Sdban Records]
Écru – Rose [Jade Mannion / Écru]
El Khat – Ya Raiyat [Batov Records]
Érik Cosaque – Kominiké [Heavenly Sweetness]
Eyedress – Trauma [Lex Records]
Gil-Scott Heron – Revolution Televised (Jorun Bombay Edit) [White Label]
Gilberto Gil & João Donato – Uma Coisa Bonitinha [Geléia Geral]
Harriett – 2 minutes [DAMCAM]
Hector Plimmer – Step [Albert’s Favourites]
HMD – Tha Gift (feat. Tobi Sunmola & ROM3) [House of Claremont]
J-Felix – Mind Up feat. Andrew Ashong [Forthcoming]
Jamael Dean – Akamara (Remix) [Stones Throw]
JK Group – Nutha One [La Sape]
Jonny Faith – Ascending [Heard And Felt]
Katharina Ernst – x 03 [Ventil Records]
Kink Gong & Li Daiguo – Pipa Jingpaw [Akuphone]
Kirk Barley – Temples [33-33 Records]
Låpsley – Ligne 3 [XL Recordings]
Lazy H – Far Away [Stereoptico]
Le Motel – Ashes [Maloca]
Leif – Igam-Ogam [Livity Sound]
Leila – Members My Dear [Unknown]
Leon Vynehall – I, Cavallo [Ninja Tune]
Luiz Bonfá – Minha Saudade [Continental]
Masok – In A Rush [Raw Tapes]
Matty – Selfportrait [Matty Unlimited]
Melanie Velarde – Another Para [RVNG Intl.]
Michael Kiwanuka – I’ve Been Dazed [Polydor]
Mogwaa – Ethereal Waves [White Label]
Mr Marvin – Entity [Family Recordings]
Mukhtar Ramadan Idii – Check Up Your Head [Analog Africa]
Colectivo Arte & Manha – Mystic Brew [World Galaxy / Alpha Pup Records]
Nick Walters – Dansoman Last Stop [22a]
Ovall – Dark Gold [origami PRODUCTIONS]
Raw Humps – The Awakening [Mandarin Dreams]
Roberto Fonseca – Cadenas [Mack Avenue Music Group]
Rudolf C – Cirqular [Salt Mines]
Sahra Gure – Intro [SUN OF AGMIU]
Sam Wise – BirdsEye View [Self Released]
Seu Jorge & Rogê – Saravá [Night Dreamer]
Sign Libra – Sea of Fecundity [RVNG Intl.]
Standing On The Corner – Vomets [Grand Closing]
Stenny – Cursed [Ilian Tape]
Sweet Mixture – House OF Fun and Love [Discs Of Fun & Love]
Tapes & 7FO – Freak [EM Records]
TCB – [ESP096] TCB – B3 – Primal Astrology [ESP Institute]
Terri Lyne Carrington & Social Science – Dreams & Desperate Measures pt 4. [Motema US]
Tribe – Hometown [Strut]
Tribe feat Poet Mbiyu Chu – Ode To Black Mothers [Strut]
Tulipa Ruiz feat. João Donato – Tafetá [Pomm_Elo]
Underground Canopy – Stoopid Game [Menace]
Undergroung Canopy, Bluestaeb & S. Fidelity – Tony Sendo [Menace]
Wajatta – Don t Let Get You Down [Brainfeeder]
Wiki, Princess Nokia – Dame Aquí (feat. Princess Nokia) [Wikset Ltd]
Zoë Mc Pherson & Rupert Clervaux – Cercle Vertueux [BAKK]
ZOE’S SHANGHAI – TTC [Unknown]