“Jazz will always have its appeal: though influenced, jazz does not need to be dictated by trends. It has been experimented with by (almost) every population on the planet. It is its diversity, the fusing of various elements of different folklores, that allows jazz to constantly evolve and maintain its relevance.” - Jean-Claude & Victor Kiswell 2018.
IF Music’s Jean-Claude has released a number of unmissable compilations for BBE but this co-production with fellow record dealer and music specialist Victor Kiswell may well be his best yet. A ride around the globe through time and location, jazz is presented with new regional flavours, something different is added in the next locale where the music has settled.
“Europe, The Americas, Africa and Asia are all represented herein and hopefully a few surprises for you, the listener, too”
Read our track by track review below…
Billy Bang's Survival Ensemble ‘Illustration’ - it appears we can’t have a Jean-Claude compiled record without a bit of Billy Bang (he’s been on the last two compilations for BBE anyway) and I’m not complaining. There is a definite Watts Prophets nod on this nail hard 1978 jam that leaves no prisoners in it’s spoken word tale of racial and class injustice to a disjointed minimal rhythm occasionally punctuated by New York horns.
Michel Sardaby ‘Martinica’ - Michel Sardaby was born in 1935 in Martinique and is still going. Spotted as a prodigious pianist at an early age, he played with renowned blues players like Sonny Boy Williamson before focussing more on jazz with many of his releases on the fantastic Disques Debs International label from Martinique. The track included here (from his ‘In New York’ album of 1972, band members included Ray Barretto and Billy Cobham!) is a swinging but tough modal groove with the lightest of Caribbean feeling.
Le Steel Band De La Trinidad ‘Calypso Jazz Improvisation’ (1973) - exactly what you would hope from the title, a loose and lithe groove with soloists taking the melody around the blues scale. Such a funky little number, I might just have to track down the ‘Magie Caraïbe’ album this is pulled from!
Kafé ‘Fonetik A Velo’ - released in 1990 on Disques Debs offshoot Debs, the late Guadeloupean musician Kafé offers a song in three parts. The first part slightly tarred by the early ‘90s saxophone sound but when it gets going, it’s a life-affirming song with great rhythmic dexterity and a beautiful counterplay between the lead and backing vocals.
The Theo Loevendie Consort ‘Timbuktu’ (1969) - if you told me this was Sons Of Kemet I’d have believed you! Absolutely eye-popping jazz from late ‘60s Netherlands, horns honking and firing in all directions while the rhythm section lock in hard. Astonishing.
The Jazz Committee For Latin American Affairs ‘Ismaa’ - the initial stand out track for me. There’s nothing Latin-American about this. A heavy Oud led melody (played by Ahmed Abdul-Malik) over a deep as hell groove which builds slowly, unleashing rides halfway through, reminding me slightly of the release on Miles’ ‘Shhh/Peaceful’. Herbie Mann on flute and trombonist Curtis Fuller add lines to the story. You only realise this is live right at the end as the applause kicks in. Wonderful stuff.
Armand Lemal ‘Souffle (Part II)’ - Moroccan percussionist (and all round creative dynamo - google him) Armand Lemal offers up a Lalo Schifrin-esque journey. Conga led and bass heavy with splashes of harmonic colour and sounds created from, well I can’t tell. Lemal experimented with all kinds of things to make sound (even utilising gas and liquids) so who knows but it is emotive, funky and drenched in atmospheric tension. Around this period in the early ‘70s, Lemal was collaborating deeply with contemporary dance choreographers and it is easy to visualise this music in such a setting. The whole album ‘Le Rythme: Activité Choreo-Musicale’ is well worth a listen.
Masabumi Kikuchi ‘Pumu #1’ - apparently also known as Poo Sun, Kikuchi was a Japanese jazz pianist and composer known for his eclectic range of music. He worked with Sonny Rollins, Gil Evans, Elvin Jones and Miles Davis amongst many. From his 1978 album ‘But Not For Me’, ‘Pumu #1’ feels like big city music, awkwardly funky, and insistent. He was born and raised in Tokyo and ended his life in New York and this tune is reminiscent of both. Heavily percussive, tablas and triangle leading the pulse with heavy-fingered bass and discordant piano tumbling and probing throughout.
Joe Malinga & Southern African Force ‘ITwenty Five’ (1989)- is an enchanting ballad with a solid Mzansi groove. Joe’s gritty township voice mixed with the smoothest of South African jazz instrumentalism. A song about the 25th of the month which was always payday, the music is restrained suggesting relaxation time, a removal of stress. If you know Abdullah Ibrahim/Dollar Brand then you will recognise the musical language here.
Words by Justin Turford (Ex-Friendly)
Released on 23rd November 2018 on BBE Records