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Articles by Chris May

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is A Reptile

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It is appropriate that this, British-based Sons of Kemet's third album, should be released under the Impulse banner. During its heyday, Impulse was the home of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders and as such was the chief platform for the cosmic/spiritual jazz movement of the 1960s and 1970s and that movement's demand for white-majority society's recognition of black culture and respect for black people. In 2018, the multi-racial Sons of Kemet, led by tenor saxophonist and composer Shabaka ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yazz Ahmed: La Saboteuse

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If Miles Davis was alive today and in the studio recording In A Silent Way, the results might, just might, resemble London-based Yazz Ahmed's La Saboteuse. Other approximate reference points are Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume 2 and, during the more rocking-out moments, Davis's Bitches Brew. But Ahmed's album is no knock-off of any of those discs, nor is it built around the kind of shape-shifting production interventions employed by Eno or by ...

AFROBEAT DIARIES

Felabration 2013

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Felebration 2013 Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra & Guests 229 London, UK December 14, 2013 The second package show to be staged in London this year in honor of Fela's memory, Felabration 2013--a celebration of what would recently have been his 75th birthday--followed Saluting the Black President, presented at 229 back in May. The format was similar: a fast-moving succession of young, mainly Afrobeats (with an “s") artists offering their own spins ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orchestra: I Hear the Sound

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Recorded in France in 2012 and 2013, I Hear the Sound is a live recording of saxophonist Archie Shepp's oratorio, “Attica Blues," co-written and arranged with Cal Massey in 1971, which was first heard on an Impulse! album a year later. Most of that album, Attica Blues, is revisited, with some adjustments to the running order of the tunes. In addition, Duke Ellington's “Come Sunday" is woven into the middle of the suite, and Shepp's “Mama Too Tight," the title ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Le Grand Kalle: His Life, His Music

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Singer and composer Joseph Kabasele, aka Le Grand KallĂ©, is widely credited with the creation of “Congolese rumba," the most popular style in Central and East Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. In reality, Congolese rumba was born of several parents, but Kabasele's role in its creation was far reaching and has become the best documented. He was instrumental in blending traditional Congolese music with Cuban dance music--which was rooted in the music Congolese slaves had brought to the island ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miles Davis: Legendary Concerts

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Like the curate's egg, parts of trumpeter Miles Davis' 1980s recordings and performances were excellent, and others considerably less so. The 1985 Columbia album, You're Under Arrest--of which the CD/DVD set Legendary Concerts was a partial live performance, with one important personnel change--was the strongest of the early to mid 1980s albums, on which keyboardist Robert Irving 111's heavy on the back beat groove-arrangements, first heard on The Man With The Horn (Columbia, 1981), and Davis' increasingly minimalist playing, meshed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dexter Gordon: North Sea Jazz Legendary Concerts

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The North Sea Jazz festival has an immense archive of filmed concert performances, which makes its Legendary Concerts CD/DVD series an eye-wateringly interesting prospect. The first eight volumes--featuring tenor saxophonists Dexter Gordon, Yuri Honing and Wayne Shorter, pianist Michael Borstlap, guitarist Jan Akkerman, and trumpeters Miles Davis, Eric Vloeimans and Dizzy Gillespie--are all cherry-pickingly good, and more releases are planned. Already, Legendary Concerts is a major event. Recorded and filmed at The Hague's Carrousel Zaal during the 1979 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brian Haas / Matt Chamberlain: Frames

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It is not often an album confounds expectations to the degree that Frames does. And confounds them not just once but twice. The first expectation arises from the players' histories. Brian Haas is best known for his work with Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, the spectacularly trans-genre band which the pianist co-founded twenty years ago. Drummer Matt Chamberlain has worked with neo-classicists such as pianist Brad Mehldau and guitarist Bill Frisell, but is better known for his recordings with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ahmad Jamal: Saturday Morning

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"Play like Jamal," Miles Davis told his pianists in the mid 1950s. The trumpeter was not shy about recruiting band leaders or poaching their musicians, so you might suppose he canvassed Jamal. But the pianist maintains Davis never popped the question. Interviewed in 2012, he side-stepped the subject, saying that he was in any case too busy leading his own band to consider offers from Davis or anyone else. “I lived a block and a half from Miles when I ...