BBE Music continues its highly acclaimed J Jazz Masterclass Series with Kemo Sabe, the debut album from pianist Masao Nakajima. Recorded in 1979 on Yupiteru Records, it’s an elusive beast in the field of J Jazz and balances delicate and refined playing with power and vigour.
The Kemo Sabe album features bassist Osamu Kawakami, who has performed and recorded with such J Jazz figureheads as Sadao Watanabe, Isao Suzuki, and Kunihiko Sugano. Sax duty is by Toshiyuki Honda, leader of the popular fusion group Burning Waves. On drums is Donald Bailey, the noted American drummer most known for playing on classic Jimmy Smith Blue Note sessions. Bailey lived and worked in Japan for a number of years from the late 70s and recorded several album dates with local artists such including Keiko Nemoto, Isao Suzuki and George Kawaguchi.
Recorded at the height of the electric fusion era, Kemo Sabe is an avowedly acoustic album, which may account for the small sales and low profile of the album at the time. The propulsive title track, written by New Zealand jazzman Mike Nock, was gifted to Nakajim- san when they briefly met and was featured on J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan vol 3. The reissue’s liner notes features an exclusive interview with Masao Nakajima himself, discussing his career and background to the album.
The BBE J Jazz Masterclass Series is curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden and is dedicated to presenting the very finest in Japanese jazz. The series features rare, long-lost and unreleased material presented in the highest quality reproductions of the original releases, fully licensed and authorised.
Roger Webb was an accomplished composer and songwriter in the 60s and 70s who wrote for the likes of Shirley Bassey, Johnny Mathis, and Bette Davis, but he also turned his hand to some outstanding library works such as this bright and breezy LP from 1971. With vocals from Barbara Moore (also noted for working with Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones), Vocal Patterns is a mixed bag that veers from kitsch 60s pop to melancholic reflections and more besides. If you want a portal back to a different era, this record will sweep you off your feet and land you right back there.
Electronic jazz pioneer, pianist, producer, re-mixer Mark de Clive-Lowe has an envious reputation as a cross genre creative artist who blends acoustic, electronic and world music exploring themes of belonging and identity. Equal parts jazz, house, hip hop and broken beat artist, Jazziz summed him up perfectly - "way before jazz hybridity became a worldwide phenomenon, de Clive-Lowe was busy designing its blueprint.”
Freedom is a live concert recording made at the Blue Whale, Los Angeles - where Mark put together a Los Angeles based collective made up by very accomplished and suitably talented Teodross Avery – saxophone, Corbin Jones - bass, souzaphone drummer Tommaso Cappellato Carlos Nino – percussion and the highly renowned spiritual jazz vocalist Dwight Trible.
Reinterpreting a set of Pharoah Sanders highly respected music is not for the creatively timid, and Mark himself sets out the approach and philosophy this collective took when approaching this project: “This album is a celebration of the music, joy and spirit that the great master-teacher Pharoah Sanders brings to the world through his lifelong creative journey. We gathered at Los Angeles’ Blue Whale jazz club to perform some of our favorite Pharoah compositions from a place of love, respect and gratitude for all the inspiration he’s brought to each of us. No one can play this music how Pharoah plays it - his expression is unique and imprinted on every one of his compositions in the deepest of ways. We can’t possibly improve on his mastery and share this music simply as a heartfelt thank you to Pharoah - we celebrate you, and are so grateful for all the timeless - and timely - music you have gifted to the world”.
Across this 12 track album the unique approach of improvised jazz is embellished with MDCL’s tasteful and subtle touches of electronica played & triggered – from behind his array of equipment he reinvigorates and energises the music with a deft and tasteful approach and the interplay between the musicians including vocalist Dwight Trible is flawless and more akin to a extensively rehearsed studio recording than a live concert, such are the skills of all the players.
The highlights are many and varied, from the delicate, sensitive Mansions World and Astral Travelling to the intense and rhythmically driven tracks Ore-Se-Rere and Teodross Avery’s spine tingling saxophone clarion call that opens the ever green ‘You’ve Got To Have Freedom’ is a beautiful tribute from one generation of master musicians to Pharoah – one of the greatest ever.
Dan Berkson follows the fantastic Blues for Bristol single from earlier this year with an EP of reworks from 2021's Dialogues LP - taking the source material & alternative takes along with him on a transatlantic journey, both physically and sonically, as part of his relocation to California in the immediate aftermath of the album's London studio sessions.
Utilizing overdubs, edits, sampling and employing North Oakland's Vintage Synth Museum's vast collection of modules, FX & drum machines - the Reworks EP shows Dan deftly bridging the gap between his earlier electronic work (which saw him release on Damian Lazarus' Crosstown Rebels label, and Steve Bug's legendary Poker Flat as part of his duo with James What) with his current focus as a jazz musician and composer. 10ft Ganja Plant's dub specialist Craig Welsh is drafted in along the way to help re-contextualize and reframe the elements within the compositions - while multi-instrumentalist and producer Ben Marc provides a stellar remix.
From the accomplished string arrangement intro on Momentum Pt. 1, you know this is by no means your straight-forward collection of album track re-hashings. Layers of synths and effects are employed throughout with a consideration that befits the subtlety of the original pieces, while cuts and edits from the album's alternative takes intermingle seamlessly with new electronic flourishes. The EP flows and progresses with the depth of thought akin to a consummate long-player, building toward the almost entirely new version of Live Bait - employing a vintage Wurlitzer and a lilting lounge-esque gait while Craig Welsh's dub-wise sensibilities are brought to the fore, delivering a jazz record that could nearly have come out of the late Lee Perry's infamous Black Ark. Playing us out, producer & seasoned UK jazz scene instrumentalist Ben Marc follows the release of his debut LP for Innovative Leisure with a bumpy and low-slung remix of Unity taking the original to new territories & spaceways.
"Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."
These words by legendary bassist/composer Charles Mingus are a touchstone for Little Big, the quartet led by pianist Aaron Parks. The band’s new recording, Little Big II: Dreams of a Mechanical Man, communicates with a clarity and simplicity that belies its ultimate depth. “I want to cast a spell,” explains Parks, “to lull you into a trance where you think you know where you’re going, and then take you somewhere unexpected, almost without realizing how you got there.”
This new music continues the band’s cultivation of a musical language that marries creative improvised music to more groove-centered music—electronica, indie-rock, hip-hop, and psychedelia—but without a trace of mannered “fusion” or a sense that the music is cobbled together from disparate styles. Rather, it feels seamlessly integrated, whole in and of itself.
Dreams of a Mechanical Man is Little Big’s second release on Ropeadope Records, recorded after more than two years of touring for Parks, guitarist Greg Tuohey, bassist David “DJ” Ginyard, and drummer Tommy Crane. One primary distinction of this new album, according to Parks, is that “today, the band operates as a single organism. The first record was about the tunes and the aesthetic. This album keeps that focus and also captures the chemistry we’ve developed on the road, the way this band feels as it makes music in the moment.”
2018’s Little Big was itself a kind of sequel to Parks’ acclaimed Blue Note debut, Invisible Cinema, a 2008 recording that put the composer and pianist in the center of the conversation about how jazz was developing in the new century. With Dreams of a Mechanical Man, Parks continues to explore the possibilities of how the music can find a voice that incorporates influences from popular music, the jazz tradition, classical composition, and folkloric songs—ideas that are now finding their most compelling and mature expression yet, as songwriting, performance, and production come together in surprising ways.
“Friendo,” for example, begins with a bumping groove, a catchy melody, a mantric bassline. But a little over halfway through the track, it shifts into a new gear and expands kaleidoscopically, revealing an unforeseen element of menace. "The Ongoing Pulse of Isness" opens into an immersive world of chimes and bells, develops as a meditative folk song in a swaying 9/4 meter, and eventually finds its way into swirling harmonic complexity and fiery improvisations. "Attention, Earthlings" has a stuttering drum beat and hypnotic chords supporting a stately melody, which gives way to a piano solo that explodes upward in a froth of notes as Tuohey, Crane and Ginyard ratchet up the tension to a near breaking point. “The Shadow and the Self,” beginning as a brooding minor key guitar feature, later takes a dramatic turn and broadens its palette to include Parks’ own wordless vocals in a fleeting glimpse into the song’s hidden core. Parks credits Blonde Redhead, Pat Metheny Group, and the work of Carl Jung as inspirations for this particular composition—just a few of the many strains of influence that inform an eclectic band aesthetic. This music comes from everywhere.
The production partnership with Chris Taylor—producer/bassist for Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, among others—was also key. “He was an essential contributor in the studio,” Parks notes, “adding brilliant details. On the title track, for example, he came up with the idea of an overdubbed percussion section, which we ended up recording in the lobby of the studio. It’s a subtle touch that helps to create a strong sense of place.” Taylor was also critical in helping the band find its best performances—not the so-called perfect ones but rather those that captured the band at its most human. “He helped us embrace these moments of imperfection and rawness, allowing the music to breathe and come to life.”
"I guess you could say,” Parks explains, “we’re going for and, not or. Structure and freedom. Restraint and abandon. The idea is for this band to simultaneously feel like a well-oiled machine and a scrappy crew of improvisers.”
The voices of Parks’ bandmates are crucial throughout. Both “Is Anything Okay?” and “Where Now?” were fully improvised in the studio, portions of longer free-form explorations that lean on the band’s ability to glean logic from spontaneity. “This,” Parks says, “is the band really being a band, a living thing.”
2019 was a critical year for Aaron Parks, 36. He not only toured extensively as a leader with Little Big but also was an integral contributor to Waiting Game, the acclaimed recording by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. Since moving to New York from Seattle to attend the Manhattan School of Music at 16, Parks has been gradually developing his distinctive voice. Upon the recommendation of legendary pianist Kenny Barron, he joined Terence Blanchard’s band for five years and three notable albums, followed by his own Blue Note debut, which John Fordham of The Guardian declared “a real independent vision” by "a fast-rising star.” He has also released two highly lauded albums for ECM, the solo piano Arborescence and Find The Way with Ben Street and Billy Hart. Parks co-founded the collective supergroup James Farm with Joshua Redman, Matt Penman and Eric Harland, and many others have sought him out as a collaborator, including guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, oudist Dhafer Youssef, singer Gretchen Parlato, and drummer Kendrick Scott.
The larger purpose of Dreams of a Mechanical Man, Parks says, goes beyond the development of musical ideas. “There’s so much deeply troubling news coming at us each day, amplified by how we consume media. It is all too easy for our hearts to become overwhelmed and hardened. For us to do the systemic work that we need to do to stand a chance on this Earth, we will need to be able to show up with our hearts available and whole. We must be able to feel.”
And so, after a solo piano introduction, “Solace” takes form as a winding melody that develops with both melancholy and optimism. “That song comes from a place of real tenderness and vulnerability,” he says. “It’s intended as a small dose of heart-opening medicine.”
Parks, who has himself experienced periods of depression, hopes that the songs and musical narratives presented in Dreams of a Mechanical Man can offer us all a bit of therapy. This is music that aims to sound the alarm about some of the big picture issues on our planet (“Attention, Earthlings”), asks us to think deeper (the title track “Dreams of a Mechanical Man,” evoking the Pinocchio story and G.I. Gurdjieff’s teachings), and invites us to turn inward to examine how we relate to ourselves and one another in these precarious times ("Unknown").
With this most recent recording, Aaron Parks has built something simple and complex, outer and inner, stirring and soothing. It is a beacon for what creative music can be in 2020 and beyond.
Strut present the final instalment in their series of reissues of Sun Ra’s historic recordings in Egypt with The Sun Ra Arkestra meets Salah Ragab in Egypt plus the Cairo Jazz Band, originally released on Greek label Praxis in 1983.
Salah Ragab first encountered the Arkestra at a concert at the house of Goethe Institut ex-pat Hartmut Geerken during the Arkestra’s first visit to Cairo and Heliopolis in December 1971 and, although Ra and Ragab did not meet in person on that occasion, they did meet and bond together when Ra returned to Egypt in 1983, resulting in these recordings. The Arkestra had been touring Europe in March 1983 and made their way to Cairo, playing a number of concerts during April at the Il Capo / Il Buco venue before recording the two superb studio versions of Ragab compositions, ‘Egypt Strut’ and ‘Dawn’, at El Nahar Studios in Heliopolis in May, featuring Salah Ragab on congas.
Kostas Yiannoulopoulos, organiser of the Praxis festival in Greece, released the recordings as the A-side of this album, with three tracks by Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Orchestra on Side B. ‘Ramadan’ and ‘Oriental Mood’ were first heard on the Cairo Jazz Orchestra album Egypt Strut released in 1973 while ‘A Farewell Theme’, received its very first release on this record, written following the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970; the piece was played at the much-loved President’s funeral.
This first ever official reissue of the album features previously unseen photos and memorabilia alongside brand new liner notes by Hartmut Geerken and Paul Griffiths. The album is released in its original artwork and is fully remastered by Technology Works.
“Soundmusication” is the third and final album by Jamaican born tenorist Fitz Gore, another rare and beautiful spiritual jazz LP from the late 1970s. “Fitz had a very deeputopian faith in the right music, which could change the world and develop a real condition of peace, because it was supposed to move people`s feelings and actions to spiritual truth. He was convinced that music owned the healing power of the world” (Ulrich Kurth). Other players include Lukoki Mampasi on electric piano, Obama Ngomo on bass, Emmanuel Dipanda on drums or Gil Nguema on guitar. They really open the door to let the leader do such amazing things on his horn. First reissue remastered in 2022, comes with original artworks and the bonus track “Gisela (Lion Rock)”.
“Greetings. Soundmusication is my third Long Play Record. Audibles hereof are self-attesting. Earlier emissions are traceable on GorBra Records - two LPs and one EP - the Talismen. Here are four musicians Africaine, one North American (renown bassist, Wilbur Little), one Italian, one Spanish, one Dutch and I (Jamaican). Let the appropriatives of this circle go as they will. Barco Salida. Farewell.” (Original sleeve notes by Fitz Gore).
„Soundmusication“ is an impossible to find spiritual jazz LP from 1980, privately pressed on Fitz Gore´s own Gorbra label and reissued here for the first time. It is the third and final album by the Jamaican tenor saxophonist, that was carefully remastered in 2022 and comes with the bonus track „Gisela (Lion Rock)“, pulled from his rare and only 7inch single „Soundnova“.
The first two LPs, recorded earlier with his group „The Talismen“, were already reissued on the Sonorama label in 2021 („Soundnitia“ and „Soundmagnificat“). This last record presents a new and highly international line-up of musicians, including Lukoki Mampasi on electric piano, Obama Ngomo or Wilbur Little on bass, Emmanuel Dipanda on drums, Gil Nguema on guitar and Michele P. Zanardi on solo organ.
Gore was a tenor saxophone player and singer born in Jamaica August 8th 1935. He came to Europe in the early 1950s and travelled to various locations. After visiting London and Copenhagen. he moved to Paris, where he met jazz legends such as Mal Waldron, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin or Jimmy Woode.before moving to Bonn, the capital of West Germany, together with his wife Gisela.
Here Gore's collaboration with the pianist and later musicologist Ulrich Kurth began. They played their first duo concerts in Bonn, later also in Strasbourg and Paris. During an extended stay in the French capital they urged their friends there, drummer Philippe Zobda-Quitman from Martinique and Moroccan-born bassist Gérard Ebbo, to move to Bonn and form a quartet. Then they founded the so called “Talismen” consisting at various times of musicians Gore, Kurth, Ebbo and Zobda-Quitman, plus Lukoki Mampasi (piano), Jochen Paul (vibes), Lamont Hampton (congas) or Janos Sudy (drums and gamelan).
When Gore produced the four releases on his label between 1975 and 1980, he really felt at home in Bonn. Together with his wife Gisela he organized the Talismen concerts. To be independent from the music industry, they designed their own artworks and released all the records themselves. Fitz and Gisela also distributed their tiny editions to specialized stores or sold them directly at concerts. They also realized their own recordings, with the friendly help of musicians or friends such as Michele P. Zanardi, Peter Roesberg and Ernst von Hagen.
Fitz admired the singer Paul Robeson and had a similarly deep and warm singing voice. During concerts he put the saxophone aside from time to time. Then he sang spiritual and gospel songs as well as secular songs, accompanied by the reduced sound of the organ. Among his favorites were "The Very Thought Of You" (presented here) and "Steal Away" (which can be heard on the LP "Soundmagnificat"). Again and again he read self-penned poems during his performances, thus cultivating an old tradition of his homeland.
The bonus tune “Gisela (Lion Rock)” is titled after (and dedicated to?) Gore`s wife, and was recorded in sunny Tenerife in March 1978. It is another example of the tenorist`s narrative playing with his passionate ensemble The Talismen. The recording was originally released the same year in tiny amounts only, as the only 7inch single on the GorBra label. “Soundmusication” remains the last album by the Talismen`s “shepherd”, who suddenly passed away in Bonn in 2002 due to heart failure.
'Obio' is the second single from Sai Galaxy's debut EP 'Get It As You Move', to be released on Soundway Records
Sai Galaxy represents a star-studded cluster of artists from around the world – their varied styles colliding to form a refreshing fusion of classic Afrobeat, disco and West African funk
Drawing from the influence of 70s and 80s Nigerian artists such as Nkono Teles, Jake Sollo and Mike Umoh, the Sai Galaxy collective is on a mission to reproduce the analogue warmth and groove from those decades
Spearheaded by Australian multi-instrumentalist Simon Durrington, the members include Olugbade Okunade - former trumpet player from Seun Kuti’s Egypt 80 - as well as guests Gabriel Otu, Ray Lédon and Vanessa Baker
Francis Harris’ Thresholds album dropped on his own Scissor and Thread earlier this year, garnering rave reviews for an album steeped in atmospheres, drone textures and electro-acoustic explorations.
It’s an album far removed from the dancefloor, but he’s also managed to curate a remix package from some of the most talented and boundary-pushing artists active on the fringes of the electronic music space.
First up is Manchester resident Hidden Spheres’ remix of Earth Moves, which is flipped into a pulsating slice of electronica.
Yu Su, the up-and-coming producer currently living in Canada, takes the same track on a different journey, resulting in a slinky, affecting piece of music that eventually falls into a deep groove.
Speaker Music - the moniker of ‘rhythmanalyst’ DeForrest Brown, Jr., delivers two reworks of the albums title track Thresholds. The Rhythm Remix focuses on the original’s brass washes, and adds a thick, playful bass rhythm. The Studio Soul remix is more a freeform piece of audio manipulation and editing, resulting in a transportative piece of work that fully compliments the original track.
Often affectionately referred to as the "Godfather of British Latin music" Robin Jones was truly one of the great performers on the international Latin scene. Denga, his first recording from 1971 is a scintillating fusion of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazillian rhythms laden with heavy Fender Rhodes sounds and no less than three Afro-Latin Percussionists. The hard-to-find album has now been reissued by legendary London jazz DJ Paul Murphy's Jazz Room Records imprint. It should be an essential purchase for anyone who loves Latin jazz. Feature's Robin's personal favorites including "Goodbye Batucada" which rightfully lays claim to be the first Brazilian Jazz Samba tune recorded in the UK and the Worldwide Sound standard setters "Denga" and "Africa Revisited".
Live from the Netherlands, especially for you, we made a selection of the coolest music, news and events... in Jazz and beyond! We offer 4 different streams, or even better 4 different mood streams. Discover music that inspires you, that you can dance to, relax with, and everything in between. Thanks for listening!
Jazz de Ville
Jazz de Ville is an online jazz radio station, which airs globally from its office in Amsterdam. It's a platform for everything that has to do with Jazz and is founded by DJ Maestro, the infamous Dutch DJ, master of vinyl and producer of the platinum awarded compilation series Blue Note Trip for Blue Note Records. Recently he joined forces with Michiel Lamens of Goodmorrow.com and Korstiaan Zandvliet.
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You will never hear a DJ spin that embraces such an enormous variety of styles! Take one quick look into Maestro's massive music collection and you find great records lying next to each other: John Coltrane with Cerrone; Nina Simone with Fela Kuti; or even better Masters at Work with Chet Baker.
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