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Nat Birchall: The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef

Read "The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef" reviewed by Chris May

The recent deification of Yusef Lateef rests on the first decade of his long recording career, from 1957—1967, when he extended the language of jazz to include elements of Asian and Middle Eastern musics while recording for Savoy, Prestige and Impulse. After a second decade with Atlantic, where he recorded ten stonkingly good soul-jazz albums, Lateef took up with Creed Taylor's CTI and began a sad decline into noodling wallpaper music. This period was documented exhaustively on Lateef's YAL label ...

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Nat Birchall: Obeah Man

Read "Obeah Man" reviewed by Chris May

Welcome to the latest analog-era time warp... the vinyl revival has rebirthed the 45rpm seven-inch jazz single. The format faded away in the 1960s. Even back then, chart hits such as Stan Getz's “Desafinado" (Verve, 1962) were freak events, but before the coming of album playing FM radio stations, an edited version of an album track could be powerful promo on mainstream radio--and as Bob Weinstock, founder of the Prestige label, told an interviewer in 1959, “The four best promo ...

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Infinite Spirit Music: Live Without Fear

Read "Live Without Fear" reviewed by Chris May

Britain's Jazzman Records has form when it comes to spiritual jazz. Its series Spiritual Jazz: Modal, Esoteric and Deep Jazz, now one release away from its tenth volume, has made accessible again some of the most worthwhile but near-lost African American music of the 1970s. The label also supports modern day British musicians. Stand out home-grown releases during 2018 were Nat Birchall's Cosmic Language and Nick Woodmansey's Emanative's Earth. Jazzman rarely puts a foot wrong (the ninth ...

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Various Artists: Spiritual Jazz 9: Blue Notes Parts 1 & 2

Read "Spiritual Jazz 9: Blue Notes Parts 1 & 2" reviewed by Chris May

The ninth volume in Jazzman's Spiritual Jazz series is a 2 x CD (and 2 x double LP) compilation from the Blue Note catalogue. Just over half the material was recorded between 1964 and 1966, the final years during which the label was steered by Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff and when the go-to engineer was still Rudy Van Gelder. Most of the remaining tracks are from 1968 and 1969. It has all been previously released. Spiritual ...

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Don Rendell / Ian Carr Quintet: The Complete Lansdowne Recordings 1965-1969 (Vinyl box set)

Read "The Complete Lansdowne Recordings 1965-1969 (Vinyl box set)" reviewed by Roger Farbey

Make no mistake, this vinyl box set reissue of the entire EMI Columbia oeuvre of the Rendell Carr Quintet is the British jazz equivalent of resurrecting the Dead Sea Scrolls(*). Although not the first time these ultra rare albums have been reissued (BGO Records obliged fans with these on CD, mostly as two-fers, in 2004) this is however a first for vinyl--legitimately that is. It took Gerald Short, owner of Jazzman Records a mere twenty years to persuade Universal Music ...

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Nat Birchall: Cosmic Language

Read "Cosmic Language" reviewed by Chris May

Spiritual jazz resonates most deeply during times of social stress and turmoil. It was, after all, created by African American musicians who were engaged with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Later given the alternative description Afrofuturist jazz, the music had one foot planted in science fiction-inspired magical realism and the other in black consciousness-inspired social activism. The balance varied from musician to musician, but even the most magical realist among them--a grouping which would include Alice Coltrane, Pharoah ...

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Emanative: Earth

Read "Earth" reviewed by Chris May

Every so often an album comes along that is so sweeping in its cultural scope, and so far beyond the norms of critical discourse, that it almost beggars description. Such a disc is Earth, the fourth physical-release album from drummer and producer Nick Woodmansey's Emanative and the follow-up to the band's outstanding The Light Years Of The Darkness (Brownswood, 2015). Unlike the earlier album, whose source material comprised tunes written by Sun Ra, Joe Henderson, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Nat Birchall: Invocations

Read "Nat Birchall: Invocations" reviewed by Phil Barnes

There is a feeling of a new beginning on this collection from Nat Birchall. Superficially the album is released on Henley-on-Thames' Jazzman records rather than Birchall's own Sound Soul and Spirit records, on which he released the wonderful World Without Form and classic Live in Larissa. More tangibly only Adam Fairhall on piano remains from those two collections, representing the last common link to the pool of musicians Birchall and Matthew Halsall drew from in their classic collaborations on Gondwana ...

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The Greg Foat Group: The Dancers at the End of Time

Read "The Dancers at the End of Time" reviewed by Roger Farbey

This is the fourth album by pianist/organist/composer Greg Foat and has been released both on CD and LP (this review concerns the latter format) and is unquestionably his most accomplished and satisfying to date. The stately strains of a church organ (a real one, since this album was recorded in a church), herald the opening to the title track on Side A, giving way to Rob Mach's tenor before the movement of a door is heard introducing the ...

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The Greg Foat Group: The Greg Foat Group Live at The Playboy Club, London

Read "The Greg Foat Group Live at The Playboy Club, London" reviewed by Roger Farbey

Compare and contrast the cascade of notes from Greg Foat's electric piano with albums featuring keyboardists such as Dave MacRae or Keith Tippett. This set's opener, Erni Clark's obscure minor classic “By The Grace Of God, I Am" recalls a feeling, intentionally similar, to the heady days of the late 1960s and early 1970s which Foat finds most appealing. The short bridging track “Exodus Interlude" with its famous theme and barely a minute in length leads into “Mr Minor" introduced ...

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The Greg Foat Group: Girl with Robot and Flowers

Read "Girl with Robot and Flowers" reviewed by Roger Farbey

A lugubrious brass arrangement combined with keyboard and rock steady drums heralds the opening to “Girl with Robot and Flowers (Part I)," augmented by a plaintive harmonica. “Have Spacesuit Will Travel" has a filmic quality to it, and as the album title suggests--a spacey feel, with echoey piano redolent of a John Barry or Roy Budd soundtrack. Greg Foat's Hammond L100 intermittently recalls Brian Auger and at times even Soft Machine or Caravan, the latter group's ...