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ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Vin Gordon: African Shores

Read "African Shores" reviewed by Chris May

In 2019, British saxophonist Nat Birchall is celebrating twenty years as a bandleader. His specialism is post-John Coltrane spiritual jazz. Since 1999 he has released an album every two years or so. The most recent was the outstanding Cosmic Language (Jazzman, 2018). The next is due later this year. Fittingly for an anniversary year, it will ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Maisha: There Is A Place

Read "There Is A Place" reviewed by Chris May

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 ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Nat Birchall meets Al Breadwinner: Sounds Almighty

Read "Sounds Almighty" reviewed by Chris May

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 ...

ARTICLE: RADIO

Coffee and Croissants with Oddgier Berg

Read "Coffee and Croissants with Oddgier Berg" reviewed by Nick Davies

In this episode, special guest pianist Oddgeir Berg talks about his trio's album Before Dawn [Ozella Music] and the strength and depth of the Finnish jazz scene. The playlist includes lots of new music from artists like Cloudmakers 5 through to Nat Birchall.

Playlist Cloudmakers 5 “The Past Is Another Country" from Chinese ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Chip Wickham: Shamal Wind

Read "Shamal Wind" reviewed by Chris May

British flautist and saxophonist Chip Wickham is a graduate of the fertile 1990s modal-jazz scene in the northern city of Manchester. It has produced some stellar talents, amongst whom saxophonist Nat Birchall and trumpeter Matthew Halsall shine most prominently. But while Birchall and Halsall, who guests on one track on Shamal Wind, have each notched up ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Nicola Conte: Let Your Light Shine On

Read "Let Your Light Shine On" reviewed by Chris May

Italian guitarist, bandleader, crate digger and DJ Nicola Conte's journeys into musics originating from beyond Europe—be they Brazilian, Hindustani, Latin American or African—sometimes carry a touch of the touristic about them, but his work is so transparently heartfelt that it never becomes a problem. It is also, always, superbly well crafted. Conte identifies Let Your Light ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...