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!
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!
Earlier this year, Harte Recordings successfully funded their 40th anniversary package of Space Is The Place, the Afrofuturist sci-fi film starring Sun Ra and his Arkestra. This limited edition release contains the restored versions of both the original and the uncut version on DVD, a book with never-seen-before photos, essays, interviews and comments, and the soundtrack on CD or vinyl, including previously unreleased music from the film.
It appears the vinyl bundle was only available for backers of the project, but you can buy the CD package from a variety of online stores including Rush Hour, Super Viaduct or Amazon.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to do something different for this Solid Steel mix and I decided to approach the mix as if I was ‘back from a good night out’ and winding down with some late night weird selections from my vinyl collection”, says Bristol’s Pinch about his guestmix for the show.
Haven’t done these in a while, but this week there are enough mixes worth a mention. Shall we start?
One-Handed‘s Dedication series is one of the more exciting podcasts, each episode being dedicated to just one artist. This time it’s Mr Beatnick who shares his love for Sun Ra on his eclectic mix (he wrote about him before!)
Next up is something I’ve mentioned before in a side-note, the second podcast by the Tempoclash crew. And it’s a special one as Danny Breaks doesn’t do many mixes these days.
Whenever I hear one of the Detroit producers reminiscent about The Electrifying Mojo, I go an seek recordings of his shows. Which is how I stumbled across this interview with Prince (transcript) and this compilation which was incidentally released this month.
Will Saul’s Aus Music is preparing a Japan exclusive compilation of some of its back catalogue. It’s cover artwork well crafted and Save Vinyl shares some photos of its making. Selected Works will be out next week and if you must you can get it from HMV Japan.
Three “incredibly rare” 7-inches, originally released on Sun Ra‘s own Saturn label in super-low quantities, are now getting reissued in a special box-set from Jazzman Records.
“We’ve selected six otherworldly songs from Sun Ra’s back catalogue of incredibly rare singles. Originally issued in tiny runs of as few as fifty copies on his own Saturn label, these 45s were often hand distributed by Ra and his legendary Arkestra, meaning that only the most seasoned collectors have ever laid hands on an original Saturn 45.”
The box-set itself will be limited to 999 hand-numbered copies, each pressed on glow-in-the-dark vinyl. I haven’t seen this offer anywhere but on the Jazzman website, so you better be quick with your order!
As second review in classic reviews I picked Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra album. Craig recorded this album alongside Francisco Mora, percussionist for Sun Ra’s Orchestra, Craig Taborn and saxophist Matt Chicoine, better known as the tape-in-sandwich dropping Recloose. The ensemble’s first effort, Bug in the Bassbin was picked up by the early London drum’n’bass scene around Goldie and 4hero. In Europe the record was reissued by James Lavelle’s Mo Wax label and sported remixes from 4hero and Peshay. For the recording of an entire album, Detroit fellows Paul Randolph and Richie Hawtin joined the ensemble.
“Futuristic is something that I always viewed as being 21st century. Now that there are only months left until the new millennium, it’s pretty difficult to invision what will be futuristic. As far as I’m concerned, we will be living in the future very soon.” -Carl Craig
The album resembles a classically performed, electronic sounding piece of work, offering its listeners different interpretations of how future might sound. The experiment begins with an amusing voice-message, that confuses the listener’s ideas of where the journey is going. It by voices blends into passages of voices speaking in different languages and an introduction by Carl Craig himself. Eruption raises the tension with ever-running drum-rolls and dark synthesizer sounds, just to finally erupt with the start of the third track, The Beginning Of The End, a dark mooded electronic hip hop track.
The following tracks drag you into different directions, not yet being sure what the record should sound like. This passage shares the beat-patterns with nineties trip-hop, hip hop, drum’n’bass, even bigbeat. It’s with the tune Blakula, when the more glorious second half of the album starts. Melancholic strings, not sure if I can hear oriental flavours in it, and deep synths playing underwater bells. The huge single People Make The World Go Round (original by The Stylistics) has Detroit’s very own Paul Randolph on vocals and guitar (there’s a J Dilla remix, too). Over the next few tracks, the jazz portion dominates the electrics, paving the way to the grand finale of At Les (this is the live-recording from Paris) and the previously mention Bug In The Bassbin.
In retrospective one can say Innerzone Orchestra had huge influence on many different styles, be it the early drum’n’bass scene, and even more importantly the West London broken beat scene! Carl Craig repeated the concept on Detroit Experiment and is currently working on an album with classic Detroit jazz outfit Tribe.