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Articles by Chris May

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alice Coltrane: Spiritual Eternal: The Complete Warner Bros Studio Recordings

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The most arcane albums in Alice Coltrane's catalogue are not, as is widely supposed, the post-Impulse! mid-1970s discs collected on Spiritual Eternal: The Complete Warner Bros Studio Recordings. They are instead a series of cassettes Coltrane released in limited editions on her Avatar label during the 1980s and early 1990s, when she had retired from the public arena and was focusing on devotional music and leading a meditation centre in California. Unlike the Avatar recordings, the three ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maisha: There Is A Place

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The London jazz scene, which is in 2018 more active and characterful than it has been since the jazz-dance movement of the 1980s, offers up another jewel with this debut physical-release by spiritual-jazz septet Maisha. The band, led by drummer Jake Long, surfaced in 2016 with the download-only live album Welcome To A New Welcome (Jazz Re:freshed) before gaining a bigger profile as the group chosen to open the epoch-defining various-artists compilation, We Out Here (Brownswood, 2018). That album was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anders Lønne Grønseth: Multiverse

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Ever since Jan Garbarek put Norwegian jazz on the map, and especially so after the international success of his rigorously ascetic Officium (ECM) in 1994, the music has acquired a reputation for being not entirely passionless, but emotionally withdrawn. The “Scandinavian sound" which Garbarek championed was conceived in collaboration with ECM label founder Manfred Eicher as an alternative to the American jazz tradition. It eschewed emotional engagement in favour of cerebralism and was often infused with harmolodic motifs borrowed from ...

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Sarathy Korwar & The UPAJ Collective: My East Is Your West

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Indo-jazz fusion has distinguished ancestry in Britain. The music took shape in the mid to late 1960s, when a string of extraordinary albums, each with one foot in Indian classical music and the other in post-bop jazz, were recorded by guitarist Amancio D'Silva and violinist John Mayer. Both featured empathetic jazz musicians (Joe Harriott, Don Rendell, Ian Carr and others) in their bands. A decade later, John McLaughlin and Shakti took up the reins. Between times, in the late 1960s ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Mingus: Jazz In Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden

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Summer 2018 saw the general release of privately held recordings by two giants of twentieth century jazz. First up was John Coltrane's Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (Impulse!). It was followed by Thelonious Monk's Mønk (Gearbox). In autumn 2018, recordings by another totemic figure, Charles Mingus, become the year's third newly revealed archaeological discovery. The release of the Coltrane album was hyped as an event akin to the excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Moses Boyd: Displaced Diaspora

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The pre-release anticipation surrounding drummer and producer Moses Boyd's Displaced Diaspora was a sure sign that the cultural revolution that has reset London's jazz world over the last three years has bedded itself firmly into the architecture. Not because the album is a newly recorded set--but because it is not. The disc is a selection of tracks Boyd played on and produced during 2015. When an audience can be as excited as Boyd's is, at the time of writing in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charles Lloyd: Love-In

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Five decades after the event, Charles Lloyd's Love-In, recorded live at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium in 1967, endures as much as an archaeological artefact as a musical document. From sleeve designer Stanislaw Zagorski's treatment of Rolling Stone photographer Jim Marshall's cover shot, through the album title and some of the track titles ("Tribal Dance," “Temple Bells"), and the inclusion of Lennon & McCartney's “Here There and Everywhere," Love-In's semiology is a powerful reminder of the acid-drenched zeitgeist of the mid ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Various Artists: Running The Voodoo Down Volume 2

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A raft of scholarly theories can be put forward to explain the affinities linking the genres represented on this compilation, subtitled Explorations In Psychrockfunksouljazz 1965-77. But there is a simple explanation: grass and acid, the lingua franca of the era's counterculture. True, there is only circumstantial evidence to suggest that John Coltrane and Joe Zawinul, both featured on the album, used either substance. But if they did not, a large proportion of their audience certainly did. As for the other ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thelonious Monk: Mønk

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Summer 2018 has seen the release of previously unknown recordings by two giants of mid-twentieth century jazz. First we had John Coltrane's Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (Impulse!), and now Thelonious Monk's live album Mønk. Both discs were made in 1963. The breathless hyperbole which greeted the Coltrane was unjustified, if predictable, but the album is nonetheless a valuable addition to the archive. The Monk is, quite simply, among the pianist's strongest quartet recordings. Mønk was ...

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Binker & Moses At London's Jazz Cafe

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Binker & Moses Jazz Cafe London September 12, 2018 Binker & Moses began life around five years ago, when saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd started playing ferocious, free-association duets during pre-performance sound checks as members of Zara McFarlane's band. Both musicians still tour and record with the singer, in fact Boyd co-produced McFarlane's 2017 blinder, Arise (Brownswood), but since 2015 they have also released three sublime albums under their own ...