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A Jazz Immuno-Booster: Part 8


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The immuno-booster series is back. After all and, sadly, the pandemic is everything but over so our need for soothing and uplifting music is greater than ever. As usual, we've asked a number of prominent jazz musicians to share with our readers the music they rely for encouragement.

For this instalment the selectors were Uri Caine, Paolo Fresu, Shabaka Hutchings, Phillip Johnston, Andrea Keller, Marie Kruttli, Hermon Mehari, Myra Melford, Matthieu Michel, Vanessa Perica, Sélène Saint-Aimé and Matt Ulery.

Happy listening! Stay safe and sane with the help of great music!

For details on the tunes see the playlist below. If you're curious about the rationale behind these choices, here is what the selectors had to say [comments listed in chronological order, by reference to the songs they refer to].

Vanessa Perica
Gerald Clayton's Life Forum has been one of my go to albums since it was released in 2013. The writing is beautiful, and the playing exceptional. "Some Always" is a stand out, uplifting track for me. It features a glorious, angular journey from Ambrose Akinmusire, who is later joined by Clayton on piano for a distinctive soli section. Music for the heart and mind. Highly recommend!

Paolo Fresu
Every time I put on John Coltrane's "Say It (Over and Over Again)"—featuring McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones—I can feel an instant sense of peace and cosmic balance. That's what we need in this difficult moment, especially here in Italy, but—increasingly so—also around the world.

Marie Krüttli
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah's music is often touching me. There is something visceral about his music. Something tribal and close to the ground. Powerful harmonies (often quite dark and melancholic), haunting melodies and rythme influences coming from very different ethnic cultures. It makes me feel like I am part of this big planet, that my existence makes sense somehow and that I'm connected to different cultures as well. I often think of the role of an artist today. And i think that there is a lot to do with letting the energy of life breathing through us. With power and authenticity. And I feel it when i listen to "Twin"; especially the live version better with flutist Elena Pinderhughes.

Shabaka Hutchings
My track is "Half Note Triplets" recorded live by Eric Dolphy and available on Vintage Dolphy. During the lockdown there was a day when I was feeling particularly despondent and really didn't feel like any music I put on had any meaning that resonated with how I felt. While on my daily walk i stumbled across this tune and was hooked on so many levels, it totally brightened my day. J.C. Moses' snare and bass drum accompaniment, focussing on the tune from the perspective of the drum comping outwards was a revelation... and the horn playing is transcendental!

Hermon Mehari
My suggestion is Pat Metheny's "Last Train Home" from the album Still Life Talking. Pat's music in general is pretty uplifting, but even more importantly to me, it always takes you to a different place. This song in particular has some melancholy to it but the kind you find in recalling fond memories and good times.

Matthieu Michel
I didn't even need to think about it. My choice went right away to Joni Mitchell's album Both Sides Now, and the song "Answer Me My Love," even though almost every other tune on that album would have been a good selection. The songs on this record are pure beauty. Joni Mitchell sings like an angel. The arrangements by Vince Mendoza are gorgeous. The ensemble, a mix of classical and jazz musicians, is top of the top and so are the soloists (Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock...). The recording and the mixing are also top notch. This music goes deep down in my body and my heart. It tickles me right there where tears are sleeping. I think it just reconnects me with nature and the beauty of the human being, and helps me to forget how fucked up the capitalism system we live in is. This really is music that connects People!

Matt Ulery
The first thing that comes to mind is Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" from the Charles Mingus record Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus. Mingus is so incredibly elastic on this recording. It's basically a head in -bass solo -head out with more sauce from the bass kind of arrangement. I'm pretty sure there's a really obvious edit in the recording at the bridge of the bass solo. I imagine that take was feeling too good to waste. I appreciate the tempo and spirit of this recording deeply.

Myra Melford
After a little bit of thinking, I finally have settled on "Part 4," from Henry Threadgill's Old Locks and Irregular Verbs, recorded by his band Double Up, featuring Jason Moran and David Virelles on piano. The entire suite is a composition that Henry dedicates to Lawrence Butch Morris. I find the stately theme of this section so uplifting and inspiring. The playing and improvising by the pianists, in particular, covers so much emotional territory. It really seems to be an anthem for these times, and a shining example of why art and creativity are so vitally needed by our troubled world.

Sélène Saint-Aimé
Ayub Ogada's "Kothbiro" is a song that healed me during the quarantine period. Someone very close to my heart shared it with me and it brings a lot of memories. I love the prayer aspect of this piece. The sobriety, depth and beauty of the melodies...

Andrea Keller
Reid Anderson's "Silence Is the Question" never fails to enchant me with its immensity, beauty, fragility, strength, compassion, simplicity, complexity, patience, honesty, and raw collective spirit.

Phillip Johnston
My selection is Michael Hashim's "Green-Up Time," from his fantastic all-Kurt Weill CD, Green-Up Time, which showcases his imaginative re-inventions of a broad range of Weill tunes performed by a few different musical combinations, including the Axis String Quartet and the much-lamented banjo virtuoso Eddy Davis, who recently passed due to the effects of the COVID-19 virus. The title track, which features Mike and Eddy, as well as the swinging rhythm section of Kenny Washington, Dennis Irwin and accordionist Will Holshouser, showcases the irresistible ebullience and technical prowess of Mike's alto playing, as the band transforms one of Weill's most beautiful songs (from a lesser known musical entitled "Love Life") into a a swinging barnburner that just makes you feel happy to be alive. So this is why they called it Hep Records!


  • Uri Caine: Aretha Franklin "Mary Don't You Weep" Amazing Grace (Atlantic) 0:00
  • Vanessa Perica: Gerald Clayton "Some Always" Life Forum (Concord) 7:00
  • Paolo Fresu: John Coltrane "Say It (Over and Over Again)" Ballads (Impulse!) 12:29
  • Marie Krüttli: Christian Scott "Twin" Tiny Desk Concert (NPR) 16:43
  • Shabaka Hutchings: Eric Dolphy "Half Note Triplets" Vintage Dolphy (G.M.) 22:50
  • Hermon Mehari: Pat Metheny "Last Train Home" Still Life (Talking) (Geffen) 31:30
  • Matthieu Michel: Joni Mitchell "Answer Me My Love" Both Sides Now (Reprise) 36:57
  • Matt Ulery: Charles Mingus "Mood Indigo" Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Impulse!) 40:19
  • Myra Melford: Henry Threadgill "Part 4" Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi) 45:02
  • Sélène Saint-Aimé: Ayub Ogada "Kothbiro" En Mana Kuoyo (Real World) 52:10
  • Andrea Keller: Reid Anderson "Silence Is the Question" The Vastness of Space (Fresh Sound/New Talent) 57:38
  • Phillip Johnston: Michael Hashim "Green-Up Time" Green-Up Time (Hep Jazz) 1:04:44



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