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Articles by Chris May

LIVE REVIEWS

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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Various Artists: Nicola Conte presents Cosmic Forest: The Spiritual Sounds of MPS

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The description “spiritual jazz" means different things to different people. It was first applied to the predominantly African American style platformed by the Strata-East and Muse labels in the early and mid 1970s. The tag was not introduced until a decade later, and a better one would have been “cultural jazz," despite the tautology--for although every Strata-East and Muse artist would, if asked, almost certainly have acknowledged the inspiration of John Coltrane's masterpiece A Love Supreme (Impulse, 1964), little of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jack Wilkins: Windows

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Guitarist Jack Wilkins' debut on producer Bob Shad's Mainstream label lay gathering dust for almost forty-five years before being reissued on CD by Solid Records in 2017. That disc, and now WeWantSounds' 2018 vinyl edition, have restored to general circulation an album that can be filed alongside such mid-twentieth century jazz-guitar gems as Johnny Smith's Moonlight In Vermont (Roost, 1956), Wes Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960) and Grant Green's Idle Moments (Blue Note, 1964), from each of which Windows ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harold Land: A New Shade Of Blue

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If Harold Land had left nothing else behind him other than the 1960 Contemporary Records album The Fox, a place in jazz history would be secure. The disc not only featured some of the finest mid-period hard-bop tenor saxophone to come out of the West Coast, but in Land's frontline partner, Dupree Bolton, it showcased a trumpet soloist of outsize talent, one, tragically, who was cut down by heroin addiction and psychiatric problems almost as soon as the recording session ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tony Kofi: Point Blank

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British saxophonist Tony Kofi has made a specialism of heritage projects. Among the best of them is the Monk Liberation Front, a band which Kofi co-founded with pianist Jonathan Gee in 2003 and which performs Thelonious Monk's music. The work of Julian Cannonball Adderley is the focus of another venture. An early spin-off from the Front was the Tony Kofi Quartet's paradigm tweaking Plays Monk: All Is Know (Specific, 2004). The Adderley project has yet to be recorded. In late ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lokkhi Terra meets Dele Sosimi: Cubafrobeat

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A younger version of London's Grand Union Orchestra, founded by world-jazz pioneer Tony Haynes in 1982, Lokkhi Terra was put together by keyboard player Kishon Khan in 2005. Both ensembles have made a specialism of jazz / South Asian fusion, with Lokkhi Terra also giving as much attention to music from Cuba, where Bangladeshi-born, London-based Khan lived for a while in the early 2000s. Cubafrobeat, as the title foretells, is a blend of Cuban dance music ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Various Artists: Innerpeace: Rare Spiritual Funk And Jazz Gems

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It took a few years for producer Bob Shad's newly formed Mainstream Records to nail its direction in the 1960s. A less than auspicious start was releasing the first singles by the latter-day Trump-boosting halfwit Ted Nugent. A better move, given hindsight, was releasing the debut album by Janis Joplin's Big Brother & The Holding Company. But by the end of the decade, Mainstream had hit its stride as a platform for jazz--in particular freedom jazz / spiritual jazz, with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet: Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition)

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Jazz in Poland has a courageous and artistically distinguished history--first in cultural opposition to Soviet-era dictatorship, later as a celebration of national and personal freedoms. Despite this, most Polish musicians remain little known beyond their own borders. The violinist Michal Urbaniak and the late pianist Krzysztof Komeda and trumpeter Tomasz Stańko are among a tiny handful who have acquired bigtime international profiles. On the strength of Polka (Worldwide Deluxe Edition), bassist, composer and bandleader Wojtek Mazolewski deserves to join their ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Buddy Terry: Awareness

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Strictly niche in 2018, and on the margins even during his early 1970s heyday, New Jersey's Buddy Terry was among the cohort of soul-jazz musicians who, inspired by the rise of the black consciousness movement in the late 1960s, elected to recalibrate and repurpose their music. The new aesthetic became known as freedom jazz (and, later, spritual jazz) and was often near indistinguishable from its blissed-out cousin, cosmic jazz. Both styles retained the grooves and emotional candour of soul jazz, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nat Birchall meets Al Breadwinner: Sounds Almighty

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The British tenor saxophonist Nat Birchall has been recording uplifting cosmic-jazz since 1999, when he self-released his debut album, The Sixth Sense, a hard-bop tinged affair which included, in tracks such as the two versions of “Helix Nebula," pointers to his future direction. It took Birchall a decade to come to wider attention, with the release of the early masterpiece Akhenaten on his occasional collaborator, trumpeter Matthew Halsall's Gondwana label in 2009. Since then Birchall has released another seven outstanding ...