Category Archives: Jazz

Kamasi Washington – Truth (2017)

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This song is almost 14 minutes long, but who’s counting.’Truth’ is everywhere. This uplifting piece of art features on Kamasi Washington’s sophomore solo recording Harmony Of Difference. He makes jazz cool again. Have a great weekend.

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Wood, Brass & Steel – Funkanova (1976)

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To some, Wood, Brass & Steel’s ‘Funkanova’ is an archetypal jazz funk track. To others, it’s simply a disco instrumental. To the clubbers that continued to dance to its tune many years after the band disappeared, it is verging on proto deep house. In 19767, the band recorded one album, self-titled its release on the Turbo label, and then promptly broke up. Have a good weekend.

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Mtume – Juicy Fruit (1983)

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Back to 1983, before I forget to say…”I’ll be your lollipop/You can lick me everywhere.” James Mtume was part of Miles Davis’s band, full of avant-garde, obscure fusion jazz. But the ’80s came along and he and his band started creating a far more commercial soul sound. I stumbled across ‘Juicy Fruit’ years after its release, via one of the Classic Mastercuts compilations that I came to love in the early ’90s. Then, when it was famously sampled by Biggie Smalls for his debut single, the song evolved from a certified slow jam groove into something far more juicaaay. Have a relaxing Easter break.

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Al Jarreau – Moonlighting (1987)

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al-jarreau

It’s a buttery start to the week for I’ve just learned that Al Jarreau died yesterday. His canon of work that so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B, is largely lost on me; mainly because it so seamlessly bridged pop, jazz funk and R&B. However, after much of his most celebrated recordings has passed, he wrote and recorded this Nile Rodgers-produced tune for a TV series that left an indelible feelgood mark on my memory. R.I.P.

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Ryo Fukui – I Want to Talk About You (1976)

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I watched La La Land with the family this weekend. In a promotional interview, I was impressed to hear that Ryan Gosling learnt to play the piano for a number of impressive one-take shots. But his achievements pale into insignificance compared to the feats of Sapporo-based jazz pianist Ryo Fukui. Fukui started teaching himself the piano at the age of 22 and released his first album, Scenery, six years later in 1976. The ambitions of that album were not insignificant themselves. He included a cover of Billy Eckstine’s ballad standard ‘I Want to Talk About You’ that had been made superlative by John Coltrane’s sax in 1958. Just listen to tit. Fukui died last in March last year – I hope it was with a smile on his face.

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Miles Davis, Robert Glasper feat. Erykah Badu – Maiysha (So Long) (2016)

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New Year’s Day is part recovery and part celebration in my household. Enter Miles Davis. Last year, jazz pianist Robert Glasper reworked several soundbites of Miles Davis’ studio recordings for a tribute album called Everything’s Beautiful. One such recording is a remix of ‘Maiysha’ taken off a Davis performance found on the 1974 album Get Up With It. The revision features the vocals of Erykah Badu. We’re off for brunch. Happy New Year!

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The King Cole Trio – The Christmas Song (1946)

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“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….” The Christmas Song’ was written in 1945 by Bob Wells and Mel Tormé. The King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. Happy Christmas my blog-reading friends.

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Bill Evans – Peace Piece (1959)

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No time for samples today. I have a head cold. The therapy of Bill Evans’ ‘Peace Piece’ is what the doctor has ordered. With its shades of Debussy and Satie, the improvised piano composition featured on his 1958 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. Have a great weekend.

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Shigeo Sekito – The Word II (1975)

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Sampling/borrowing lives strong in the strangest of places. In 2014, for his album Salad Days, Mac DeMarco used the shimmering “jizz-jazz” electronica of Shigeo Siketo, a Japanese musician who mastered the Electone. In 1975, Siketo released his Special Sound Series Vol. 2 collection on Columbia Records. The second track on the flip-side was ‘ザ・ワードⅡ’, otherwise known as ‘The Word II’. Enjoy – it is a thing of rare beauty.

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GoGo Penguin – Hopopono (2014)

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Hailing from Manchester, Chris Illingworth, Nick Blacka and Rob Turner are GoGo Penguin. They create an ambient sound that is full of infectious piano melodies and rhythmic break beats. ‘Hopopono’ is the last track on their critically-acclaimed sophomore album, v2.0. Have a great weekend.

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Jacob Collier – Hajanga (2016)

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Jacob Collier

Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock have been waxing lyrical about the talents of Jacob Collier. Star of the internet, this North Londoner is helpfully both a fan of Stevie Wonder and a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist. What’s more, Collier has a vocal range which is sympathetic to exploring the  worlds of jazz, funk and pop. Watch this space.

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Nina Simone – I Loves You, Porgy (1959)

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Nina Simone was a child prodigy who become the first female black concert pianist in the US. When she was rejected from the Curtis Institute of Music (allegedly due to a racial motivations), she found herself singing in Atlantic City. Her incredible talent drew interest from record execs and she was soon able to release her first album, Little Girl Blue. The disc featured her beautiful version of ‘I Loves You, Porgy’. It was 1959 and there was so much more to come.

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Marvin Gaye – “T” Plays It Cool (1972)

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Marvin Gaye 1972

Check out the groove – it’s a Friday! The hustle, the cool, the break. ‘”T” Plays It Cool’ featured on Marvin Gaye’s album Trouble Man. For once, it’s not his vocals that transcend. Multi-instrumentalist Gaye plays the drums and creates possibly one of the most sublime breaks ever pressed to vinyl. The bubbling synthesizer is a nice modernist touch too. This was 1972. Have a great weekend.

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Thundercat – Them Changes (2015)

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Stephen Bruner

Following a couple of years working on records by Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington, Stephen Bruner used the experience and his new friends to return in style in 2015. The L.A.-based bass player released LP The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam under the stage name Thundercat. Flying Lotus and Washington contribute to the jazz funk on single ‘Them Changes’ with its heartless lyrics and heartfelt use of the Isley Brothers sample – lifted from ‘Footsteps in the Dark’. But the choice bass line is all Bruner.

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