Interview with Branford Marsalis

Black Music Disaster

I don’t know anything else about this June 5th Thirsty Ear release but I am anxious to hear it!

The press release:

Hailing from both the UK and US, Black Music Disaster is a super indie group featuring Spiritualized’s legendary J Spaceman, Spring Heel Jack’s multi-instrumental innovator John Coxon, acclaimed jazz icon Matthew Shipp and drummer extraordinaire Steve Noble.

The pace is set with the pulsating Farfisa organ, complimented by dueling psychedelic guitars and punctuated with explosive drums.

At times hypnotic, yet rapidly moving with wide dynamic sweeps, this highly unique sonic experience is unmatched in its ultimate musical journey.

Given these great musicians span such diverse musical backgrounds; the brilliance of this composition is how the genre differences just melt away.

As to the name, Matthew Shipp provides the keys to its origin: “William Parker had mentioned to me about a negative review of a concert he had performed with Cecil Taylor and Anthony Braxton in Italy in which the reviewer referred to the concert as a ‘‘black arts disaster.”

“Everyone thought that was funny and by the time the story got around through Chinese whispers it had changed to black music disaster–at which time we all looked at each other and said that is a great name for a CD.”

Hiroshima – Departure

Review of the contemporary jazz recording Departure by Hiroshima by

I stopped writing reviews a few years ago. One of the major reasons is that I just didn’t have any new things to say. Fortunately, Hiroshima doesn’t have that problem. The group, led by Dan Kuramoto, continues to make their own East Meets West contemporary jazz. Departure, their 18th recording, is defined by its title. They are releasing this on their own. No record label marketing push or anything like that. They’re an indie band.

“Why Departure? Where do I begin? After more than 30 years in the recording industry — and almost four million records sold – we’ve decided to leave record companies behind and venture on our own,” Kuramoto explains. “It’s kinda scary, but given the changes in the music industry and what it’s now going to take for us to survive, we are moving toward direct contact with the community.”

A big part of reaching out to the community is putting content on one of the top three web sites in the world – Facebook. Hiroshima contributes frequently to their Facebook hub. One of the best things there is links to video commentaries by the band for every track on Departure.

What about the music? Kuramoto breaks it down: “It is a new beginning for us in many ways. The songs are all originals with just one guest artist, the incredible harmonica player Tetsuya “Tex” Nakamura, featured on the luscious opening track, “Have You Ever Wondered,” composed by June and Kimo. “Koto Cruise” is the second song and features a funky groove and a burning koto solo. “Blues for Sendai” is just that. There’s a tribute to our friend and mentor James Moody, who passed last December. It’s called “See You Again,” and there is a lot of ‘quoting’ from his “Moody’s Mood for Love.” After many years of requests, we have recorded our first full-on taiko solo ever, “Yamasong”–a live recording that really captures Shoji and Danny’s fierce interplay. “First Nation,” a composition by the Hawaiian Kimo Cornwell, is a powerhouse of a song embracing many cultures, as does our reincarnation of “Thousand Cranes.” The CD ends with a soulful version of “One Wish,” done as an acoustic trio.”

Consistent quality, a distinct sound, and longevity = win. If I were creating a Contemporary Jazz Hall of Fame, Hiroshima would certainly be an early inductee.

Incognito – Surreal

It looks like the unstoppable Incognito has a new collection of vocal soul/jazz gems out here in the States on March 26. Surreal features vocalists Natalie Williams, Mo Brandis, Vanessa Haynes, and Maysa plus one pure Incognito instrumental.

You can take sample all of the new tracks at Amazon right now.

Best of Jazzmatazz from Guru

Among the $5.00 MP3 albums Amazon is offering this month is the The Best of Guru’s Jazzmatazz. The late rapper collaborates with some top-notch talent for this hip hop meets jazz compilation. Jamiroquai, Ronny Jordan, Donald Byrd, and Lonnie Liston Smith are just a few of the artists you’ll hear.

8 from 1989 – Mix Online!

Take a step into the past with these eight tracks from contemporary jazz releases that came out in the year 1989! Listen to classics from the Rippingtons, Miles Davis, and Hiroshima. Also, who put the meat in my bed?! It’s the second mix I’ve published on 8tracks. If you like this blast from the past, check out my 1988 mix with David Sanborn, David Benoit, Spyro Gyra, Tom Grant, Kim Pensyl, and Al Jarreau.

1989 Contemporary Jazz from contemporaryjazz on 8tracks.

Sting, Branford, and Herbie

If you have an iPad, I recommend downloading the free Sting 25 app. Sting is celebrating 25 years as a solo artist. Among the cool things in the app are clips from his 60th birthday concert, from early October, in which he teamed with other artists. On “Consider Me Gone,” we’re treated to Sting with Branford Marsalis and Herbie Hancock. The man on the bass for that evening was another contemporary jazz legend, Christian McBride.

Nu Jazz from Fujimoto Tetsuro

Reflections EP from Fujimoto Tetsuro

Check out the nu-jazz/acid jazz feel of the track “Swim” by Fujimoto Tetsuro. It’s from the producer’s new EP Reflections, which I found in Amazon’s MP3 Store (it’s not on iTunes).

Swim by Fujimoto Tetsuro

Global Noize – A Prayer for the Planet

I’ve been listening to A Prayer for the Planet, the new recording by the jazz/electronica/world collective Global Noize. I can’t imagine why a fan of contemporary jazz wouldn’t want to sample this. It doesn’t follow any formulaic smooth jazz style. It’s got the duo of Jason Miles and DJ Logic leading a cast of talented musicians including Falu, Karl Denson, Mocean Worker, Jeff Coffin, and Oz Noy. It’s a recording that has something for everybody: from the rocktronic/world vocal track “Charisma Love” to the atmospheric “Walking on Air.”

DJ Logic describes Global Noize as “a hip and eclectic musical journey crossing all boundaries.” Miles, Logic, and Falu talk more about this 21st century music:

Us3 Lies, Cheats, and Steals in October

Hip hop/jazz collective Us3 returns with their eighth studio recording, Lie, Cheat & Steal next month. The first of the 13 tracks, “Ghost,” leans on the jazz side, telling a story of abuse and revenge. It’s the first of the messages relating to the theme of the title. Leader Geoff Wilkinson explains  ”I’ve become increasingly disillusioned by the people we, as children, are traditionally brought up to look up to. Politicians, police, business leaders, sportsmen, religious leaders, etc. all seem to be up to their eyeballs in corrupt practices. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening at an increasing pace. Is this what a democracy should look like, where it’s ok to lie, cheat and steal your way to the top?” The music drives this in. Of note are MC’s Oveous Maximus and Akala and the horn section of saxman Ed Jones and trumpeter Bryan Corbet. A variety of keyboardists add to the mix as well as Chris Dodd on Double Bass and DJ First Rate on the turntable.

Lie, Cheat & Steal is available digitally worldwide on October 3. You can sample and pre-order it on Amazon right now.