Category Archives: Jazz

Khruangbin – So We Won’t Forget (2020)

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Texas trio Khruangbin have featured pretty regularly on this blog. I like the mix of Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic and Disco. The band have shared a new song called ‘So We Won’t Forget’ from their upcoming album Mordechai, out on the Dead Oceans label on 26th June. Warm, sunny and nostalgic. “Ooh, one to remember/ Writing it down now/ So we won’t forget.”

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John Coltrane – My Favorite Things (1961)

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From one master of his genre to another. John Coltrane was and is one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century. His enduring legacy is rooted in the modal jazz he pioneered with his classic quartet between 1960-64. ‘My Favorite Things’ was the title track of an album he released on Atlantic Records in 1961. He played the 14-minute version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune in E minor. Have a great weekend.

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Nina Simone – He Needs Me (1958)

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Late night return from a gig… something soothing to play me into a slumber. In 1958, Nina Simone covered Peggy Lee’s ‘He Needs Me’, penned by songwriter Arthur Hamilton. Hamilton was best known for his song ‘Cry Me A River’ that he’d written a few years earlier. Nothing in his body of work surpassed this beauty, released on Simone’s debut album Little Blue Girl.

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Little Steven and The Interstellar Jazz Renegades – City Lights (2019)

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Last year, five years after its final episode aired, the soundtrack to Lilyhammer was released. It was scored by Steven Van Zandt, the star of show. He had pulled together the Interstellar Jazz Renegades, a group he had founded with the help of E Street Band bandmate Max Weinberg. With that band, he decided to have some fun. ‘City Lights’ is exactly that. Have a great weekend.

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Moondog – Lament I, “Bird’s Lament” (1969)

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From one pioneer to another. It may only be 1min 53secs long, but Moondog’s ‘Lament I, “Bird’s Lament”‘ is an avant-garde jazz masterpiece. Louis Thomas Hardin lost his sight at the age of 17 in an accident involving a dynamite cap. As Moondog, he wrote most of his music in braille –  it did not hold him back. ‘Bird’s Lament’ features on his eponymous album, which he released in 1969.

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David Axelrod – The Human Abstract (1969)

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Before DJ Shadow and Lil Wayne successfully sampled the sounds of David Axelrod, listening to his music may have been unnecessarily limited to the cool kids of jazz. The slow, ascending piano of ‘The Human Abstract’ presents the listener with a journey into a sea of strings. It’s a timely dose of midweek jazz junk.

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Yusef Lateef ‎- Like It Is (1968)

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Some midweek, midtempo jazz…. nice. Born and named William Emanuel Huddleston, until his father changed the family name to Evans, Yusef Lateef converted to Islam while he was in his early 30s. This was a man open to influence. His classic 1968 album The Blue Yusef Lateef is full of eastern persuasion and never more so than on ‘Like It Is’. Many draw a straight line between ‘Like It Is’ and the subsequent popularity of world music.

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Ian Dury & The Blockheads – What A Waste (1978)

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A year after Iggy was striking out again, another remarkable performer was also playing his own tune. “I could be the driver an articulated lorry/I could be a poet I wouldn’t need to worry/I could be a teacher in a classroom full of scholars/I could be the sergeant in a squadron full of wallahs.” ‘What a Waste’ was originally released on Stiff Records as a single. Essentially a song about being in a job that makes you happy; for Ian Dury and his Blockheads, this included mixing Two-tone with glam and jazz funk.

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Mariya Takeuchi – Plastic Love (1984)

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I started the week with a track from Haruomi Hosono… I end with another influential figure in the world of city pop. Outside of Japan, Mariya Takeuchi is best known for marrying her collaborator Tatsuro Yamashitathe and releasing the classic 1984 song ‘Plastic Love’, with its dancefloor-filling final chorus. The Japanese genre is an unexpected mix of 1970s/1980s smooth AOR and jazz funk. This very American sound is strange through the filter of a Japanese scene. Have a great weekend.

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The Go! Team – We Just Won’t Be Defeated (2005)

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A year after The Go! Team released Thunder Lightning Strike, they produced a remixed version of the album due to sample approvals/clearance etc. It was a masterstroke by the Brighton band, particularly because ‘We Just Won’t Be Defeated’ appeared on the disc. Have a great weekend.

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The Comet Is Coming – Summon The Fire (2019)

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From the supernatural to the cosmic. Dan Leavers, Maxwell (Betamax) Hallett and Shabaka Hutchings are The Comet Is Coming. On the almost onomatopoeic ‘Summon the Fire’, Hutchings’ distorts a horn to Betamax’s pulsating snare drum. It’s a hard groove full of jazz, electronica and trance. The track features on their sophomore album Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery.

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Alice Coltrane – Turiya And Ramakrishna (1970)

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John Coltrane’s second wife was Alice Coltrane née Alice McLeod. Alice was able to establish herself in her own right as a talented composer and performer. None more so than on the Astral Jazz album Ptah, the El Daoud. More specifically, listen to her late-night piano solo on ‘Turiya and Ramakrishna’. Soothing jazz and blues to take us into the weekend. Have a good one.

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Melvin Bliss – Synthetic Substitution (1973)

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In 1973, Melvin McClellan aka Melvin Bliss thought he had struck gold with the Herb Rooney-penned track ‘Reward’. Released on Sunburst records, the single saw some chart action… and importantly enough interest to get the pressing into the right hands. A decade later, it was its jazz-funk-tinged B-side that was making all the news. The opening drum break on ‘Synthetic Substitution’ would quickly become a hip-hop staple. Have a great week.

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L’indécis – Soulful (2018)

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I am revisiting instrumental hip-hop music for the second time in the week. Where Joakim’s Karud’s work was full of energetic loops, French producer L’indécis plumps for something much more chilled out. Soulful features on last year’s Playtime EP, released on the suitably named Chillhop Records ‎label. Have a great weekend.

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