Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus

There’s probably no need to tell anybody about Yussef Kamaal anymore, the hype machine has been running for weeks. I don’t care too much about a hype anymore, there’s been to much of that in my life and oftentimes it ended in nothing but disappointment. Hype has sort of become a standard tool in our already oversaturated tool. The good news is, that Yussef Kamaal’s debut is impeccable. The pair concisting of United Vibrations drummer Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams aka Henry Wu manages to attract the heads as well as the new generation of jazz listeners, and they do so with the versatility and their ability to groove. Both qualities that have been lacking on other fore-runners of this new jazz revival, say Kamasi Washington’s much hyped album.

Listening to “Strings of Light” and “Yo Chavez” has been enough for me to click on that shiny buy button, but with every listen there’s a new tune that grows on me, that I didn’t seem to pay attention to at all. My favourite album this week and available through Brownswood.

emanative – Love In Outer Space (Live at Cafe Oto)

About a year ago, London-based jazz musician Nick Woodmansey aka emanative released The Light Years of the Darkness, an album taking a nod to the greatest figures in spiritual jazz. Released by the Steve Reid Foundation it featured cover versions of Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler and, of course, Sun Ra. Two weeks ago, on January 29th, emanative and live-band brought that album to the stage of London’s Cafe Oto, with one of the highlights being their version of Sun Ra’s Love In Outer Space. Enjoy!

Miles Ahead

Oh my, how long has it been since the rumors about a Miles Davis first surfaced? Years! I’m always a bit cautious when it comes to biographies about musicians, or just any other artist. Sure, they’re often interesting, but then I often crave for a decent in-depth documentary on that person instead of taking the shortcut of a Hollywood adaptation. It’s different with Don Cheadle’s take on the life of Miles Davis, titled Miles Ahead after the album, but not revolved around it (I remember teasers from the Kind of Blue recording session.) Cheadle is not only taking on the role of Miles himself, he also directed the movie, and from the looks he did a hell of a good job, both in applying an appealing visual quality to the movie and, more importantly, performing convincingly.

The preliminary ratings for the movie on IMDb (7.7), Rotten Tomatoes (73%) and Metacritic (64%) make hope the high expectations are met. “Miles Ahead” is set for a U.S. release on April 1st, 2016.

Ian Johnson’s Inversions Skateboards

Ian Johnson's Inversions Skateboards

A couple of years back, we did a feature called Jazz & Skateboards, in which we talked to painter Ian Johnson and showcased some of his work. What lead to this feature were his skateboard designs for Western Edition, in particular the Miles Davis Quintet series and the Marvin Gaye tribute. Only a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across his brilliant Out To Lunch series, a tribute to the Eric Dolphy album of the same name and very hard to find – especially if you’re after the whole series.

This time, the chances to cop one (or all) of his skateboards are better, as the new „Inversions” series was just announced on Ian’s Instagram account. As always, it’s a jazzy affair featuring musicians such as Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Sun Ra, and Bud Powell. All available from the Western Edition store and selected stores around the world. Be quick, as I’m sure these will soon be gone!

When The World Was One

It’s been a long time since I last heard a contemporary jazz album that I enjoyed from start to finish. Last year’s Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo was such a record, and so is the new album by Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra. Titled “When The World Was One”, the 7-track recording features fine spiritual jazz reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders or Alice Coltrane, the latter even received a proper tribute.

1. When The World Was One
2. A Far Away Place
3. Falling Water
4. Patterns
5. Kiyomizu-Dera
6. Sagano Bamboo Forest
7. Tribute To Alice

“When The World Was One” was released last week on Gondwana Records and available in all kinds of formats from their Bandcamp store. You can stream the entire record in the player above!

PS: Oh and in case you’re wondering, that beautiful artwork is courtesy of Daniel Halsall, presumably Matthew’s brother.

Austin Peralta live at Futura

To commemorate the late Austin Peralta, Alpha Pups’ Daddy Kev has uploaded a recording of the full concert from the Endless Planets release party. The concert took place on February 11, 2011 and features Austin Peralta on keys, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson on viola, Sam Gendel on the saxophone, Ryan McGillicuddy on bass, Zach Harmon on drums, and Earnest Blount on electronics. Witness 72 minutes of fantastic live jazz with an introduction by Flying Lotus.

Austin Peralta, 1990-2012

Austin Peralta, 1990-2012

When I first read about Austin Peralta‘s passing today, I was confused. Why would a young man leave us so soon? I don’t usually write about the dead, but in this case I was touched too deeply. Austin Peralta was exciting for many reasons. A young gifted musician born in California with a passion for jazz, that alone stands out in days like these. His father is a legend of his own, surfer and pioneering skateboarder Stacy Peralta, original Z-Boy, founder of the iconic Powell-Peralta brand, and director of Dogtown and Z-Boys, Riding Giants and the forthcoming Bones Brigade documentary. In his short lifetime, Austin released three albums, the last one came out on the forward-thinking Brainfeeder label. Despite label-head Flying Lotus’ own jazz background, it was a bit of an unlikely choice, an oddity, but it also widened the perception of Brainfeeder as a label releasing more than beats made in LA. More importantly, it put the name Austin Peralta on the map for a lot of people, including myself. The release of Endless Planets certainly played a part leading to collaborations with The Cinematic Orchestra, Thundercat, Teebs or Amon Tobin. I had the pleasure to see Austin perform live at the Worldwide Awards in London, probably my best concert all year. The joy of playing the keys was written over his face, it’s one of those attributes of a musician that touches me as much as hearing the music. It was a special moment, so much talent in one place and it made me wonder about the things to come. He left way too soon, but he will not be forgotten. May he rest in peace.

Brainfeeder put together a selection of his works and live perfomances on their website, there’s a recording from the Maida Vale session on Heidi Vogel’s SoundCloud, and of course I invite you to revisit this live jam with Taylor McFerrin or the rehearsals from the Endless Planets release party.

November 23, 2012 Found an old interview in L.A. Record

January 15, 2013 The L.A. Weekly has an extended article on Austin worth reading. Also, in case you missed it, watch his last interview at Warsoul Sessions

Bitches Brew Skateboards

Bitches Brew Skateboards

Remember those Miles Davis Quintet skateboards designed by Ian Johnson? This year, Western Edition pays tribute to the Miles Davis album Bitches Brew with a series of eight four decks. The original artwork for the album cover was created by Mati Klarwein, whose son Balthazar is a passionate skater himself. That little detail led to the commissioning of the artwork, but unfortunately the decks have sold out in no time, despite the high price tag. Maybe you’ll have more luck at your local skate shop.

July 18, 2012 If you don’t mind shady Facebook pages, here is your chance to win the entire set!

July 19, 2012 Turns out I could hunt down the series in a local store. Disappointingly, the series consists of only four decks and not eight as the images suggest. The dark motives are on the upper side of the decks, the bright one on the lower. In the end, I decided against buying as I found the price tag too high.

Jazz Covers Vol. 2

Jazz Covers Vol. 2

Back in November 2008, I wrote about Taschen’s Jazz Covers book, so I wanted to mention the publisher is now offering a follow-up. The book features a selection of top 10 favourite records by the likes of King Britt, Gilles Peterson, Rainer Trüby and others, as well as interview with Blue Note engineer Rudy Van Gelder, label founder Creed Taylor, producer Michael Cuscuna, designer Bob Ciano and Jazz Record Center owner Fred Cohen.

For a better impression, take a look at the images taken from the book over on the Taschen website. The book is 12-inch sized, has 560 pages and is available now for €39.99!

Jazz Covers Vol. 2
Joaquim Paulo, Julius Wiedemann
Hardcover, 2 vols. in slipcase, 30 x 30 cm, 560 pages, €39.99
ISBN 978-3-8365-2406-3

Jazz re​:​freshed Live – Prelude

Jazz re​:​freshed Live - Prelude

Cover Artwork

Only yesterday we talked about the Jazz re:freshed anniversary. Now there’s a free compilation for everyone that couldn’t make it to their celebration yesterday. Oh Jazz:refreshed, I always wanted to, but I never attended one in 9 years. Anyway, here is one track for every year, including favourites such as Kaidi Tatham, Mark de Clive-Lowe or Richard Spaven – and a lot of artists I’m looking forward to discover myself!01. Kaidi Tatham – Night With Jude
02. 12 Tone Brass Band – Good Times
03. Séb Pipe’s Life Experience – Dice
04. Dan Waldman Band – Vulcan Elements
05. Mark de Clive-Lowe Trio – Smoked Something (interlude)
06. Grant Windsor’s 3 Five Blind – 3 Five Blind
07. Richard Spaven – Maz Live
08. Al Scott Trio – It’s A Start Live
09. The Unknown Mystic Musound – Into The Unknown Live

You can download this live album for free, it’s only the prelude of more live recordings to come in the future.

I have to big up Adam, Bunny Bread and all the others for the artwork, the liner notes and of course for making all of this happen in the first place. If you read this, please grant me one wish and announce your events as early as possible – I would love to witness Jazz re:freshed live once in my life!

Dave Lambert: Audition at RCA

This is a fifteen minute documentary by D.A. Pennebaker on jazz singer and vocalese originator Dave Lambert.

Pennebaker is an acclaimed filmmaker, known for his documentaries on Bob Dylan and David Bowie. In 1964 he filmed this audition of Lambert’s then newly formed quartet Lambert & Co., only months before the latter died in a tragic car accident. This audition is the last filmed footage of Lambert and the only recording of the quartet’s music.

Read the full story on Lambert and the making of this documentary over at All About Jazz.

(via Brownswood)

Endless Planets Release Party

Hanging out in Los Angeles and not sure what to do tonight? Well, it’s kind of last minute, but we just felt like we should recommend you the Austin Peralta album release party.

You might have heard his new album Endless Planets, which only came out this week on Brainfeeder. In any case check out the videos below.

The full band includes Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (viola), Sam Gendel (alto sax), Ryan McGillicuddy (bass), Zach Harmon (drums & tabla), Earnest Blount aka Ian Simon (laptop) and Austin Peralta himself on the piano.

Check out the events page on Facebook for details!

November 24, 2012 As of today, the entire concert is available for free download!

Matthew Halsall – Ode To The Big Sea

I had a rather stressful week so I’m glad to find myself in the weekend with some smooth jazz to listen to, like this Cinematic Orchestra cover by Matthew Halsall which I found in my inbox this morning.

On request, Matthew allowed embedding the track and now it’s even available for download. You know where you can thank him for that!

Sven Swift – I’m Odd Fashioned pt. 1

Sven Swift - I'm Odd Fashioned Pt. 1

Cover Artwork

You know Sven Swift best from his work as Error Broadcast label manager or you probably came across one of his mixtapes before. A couple of weeks ago, he asked if I wanted to host his jazz mixtape and today it’s finally going up.

I’m Odd Fashioned pt. 1 (stream)
01. Eric Dolphy – Hat & Beard
02. Joe Henderson – Black
03. Antônio Carlos Jobim – God and the Devil in the Land of the Sun
04. Bobby Hutcherson – Idle While
05. John Coltrane – Lonnie’s Lament
06. Sam Rivers – Involution
07. Pharoah Sanders – Colors

But let’s hear about Sven’s motives for digging out some jazz records rather than the ill beats from all corners of the world (like Russia.)

The 1960s were awesome times for Jazz music, or more precisely, Anti-Jazz music. Pioniered by the likes of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, young US American Jazz cats shifted the genre to a whole new level exploring the modal qualities of Jazzmusic. At the edges of Free and Avantgarde Jazz (the New Thing!), music full of beauty and adventure was created.

My two-parts mixtape showcases a small selection of artists and songs from this period of time I found matching each other, somehow. There’s a certain atmosphere of odditiy about each work, bridging antithetic artists as Sam Rivers and Antonio Carlos Jobim or Anthony Williams and Charles Mingus.

As if you didn’t know, there will be a second part available some time next week. Only, you won’t find it here, it will be hosted and posted by our mates of You’ll Soon Know. And that’s not the only good reason to check their blog!

October 18, 2010 As promised, here’s the second part of this mix..

The Jazz Loft Project

Once a photographer for Life in World War II Okinawa and Iwo Jima, W. Eugene Smith photographed and recorded jazz musicians at his Manhattan loft from 1957 to 1965. It was here that now legendary musicians like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Alice Coltrane or Steve Reich met for late-night jam sessions.

The Jazz Loft Project

In that period, Smith made over 4000  hours of recordings and took nearly 40,000 photographs.  The Jazz Loft Project is trying to uncover and document these moments, a book by Sam Stephesonwas recently published. Rare audio-footage of that loft’s era was aired by WNYC in a 10 episode radio-series, which is also available on-demand. Throughout this month, NPR will also report about The Jazz Loft Project.

(via Grain Edit)