Tuesday 17 December 2019

2019:jazz:pt1:Blue-in-Green Sessions

Imran Mirza presents a very special edition of The Blue-in-Green Sessions that aired 16th December 2019 on Blue-in-Green:RADIO serving as part 1 of our multi-part celebration for 2019's stunning music releases.

This episode also serves as part 1 of our two-part jazz collection featuring a selection of glorious music with incredible selections a handful of which mentioned below...

'Resavoir' by Resavoir [International Anthem]
'Resavoir' is the self-titled and debut album and project from trumpeter, musician and producer, Will Miller.  Initially composed by Miller through a series of samples & loops before slowly introducing layers of different musicians into the proverbial gumbo - the resulting concoction boasts seemingly strong nods to a '70s aesthetic but still forges gloriously ahead with its own multi-layered and kaleidoscopic sound.  There must be a genuine sense of pride for Miller, and all involved, at the eventual release of this project with all the years that have been poured into it.  'Resavoir' is an absolute gem and one that stands incredibly tall amongst the year's best.

'Empyrean Tones' by Jason McGuiness [Common Good Records]
McGuiness's diverse and innovative productions through his Analog Burners Bandcamp page have proved a real treasure trove of gems over the years, but now signed to the excellent Common Good Records, McGuiness has just delivered what is surely now his magnum opus.  'Empyrean Tones' sees the producer delivering an ethereal cosmic jazz journey that genuinely ranks among the year's best releases.  An extensive list of musicians all deserve to be heralded for bringing their distinctive magic to a project that succeeds as an extraordinary achievement for Jason McGuiness and Common Good Records.

'A State of Flow' by Ishmael Ensemble
The debut full-length project from the UK's Ishmael Ensemble was released in May of this year.  While we may never know where Ishmael Ensemble will specifically go with their compositions, that level of unpredictability has in itself become their trademark: 'A State of Flow' masterfully navigates elements of jazz with dance & electronica, and it's a testament to anyone with the ability to make songs seemingly worlds apart like 'The Chapel' and 'Lapwing' both fit perfectly as part of a cohesive project.  And a fairly incredible one at that!

'A Quest Called Tribe' by Medline [My Bags]*
The legacy of A Tribe Called Quest lies within the subsequent generations of rappers, producers, beat-makers and DJs who herald Tribe’s music as the soundtrack to their youth and the inspiration for them to forge their own path in hip-hop. ‘A Quest Called Tribe’ is very much the exploration of Orlando “Medline” Diaz’s passion for the hip-hop luminaries and it’s a passion that’s exquisitely realised on the new My Bags record label release.  Eight tracks from the beloved Tribe catalogue are masterfully tackled here including ‘Electric Relaxation’, ‘Scenario’ and ‘Jazz (We’ve Got)’ in a thrilling new project that is sure to captivate hip-hop fans’ imagination, particularly with the love and affection with which the songs have been recreated.

'Koma Saxo' by Petter Eldh & Koma Saxo [We Jazz]*
The new project from Petter Eldh, ‘Koma Saxo’, sees the Swedish bassist assemble a wonderful five-piece comprised of long-time friends and collaborators, each incredible artists in their own right, to further carry the flag for We Jazz Records in 2019. The roots of the music here stem from the group’s live performance at the We Jazz Festival, 3rd December 2018, before the recordings were later revisited by Eldh with the end-result revealing the inspired and innovative vision that Eldh brought to the project.  Maybe it was his love of 90s hip-hop that served as inspiration to some capacity, but many of ‘Koma Saxo’s compositions you could almost envisage as being the products of hip-hop producers like Madlib or DJ Premier – or at the very least these are tracks they’d salivate at the thought of getting their hands on.

'Cykada' by Cykada [Astigmatic Records]
Much like Japan's Soil & "Pimp" Sessions referred to their high-octane levels of jazz as "death jazz", for the UK jazz six-piece Cykada, their myriad of experiences, styles and passions seem to organically spawn a style of jazz matching the energy of Tokyo’s finest but still having cultivated a style distinctly their own.  Cykada comprises something of a super-group of musicians from some of the UK’s finest names responsible for some of the UK’s finest jazz releases over the last few years.

'Fluid Motion' by 30/70 Collective [Rhythm Section International]
Melbourne's finest, the 30/70 Collective, return with their third album 'Fluid Motion' released through the UK's Rhythm Section International.  'Fluid Motion' serves as the perfect project to showcase the band's converging styles and inspirations - almost like masterfully straddling this middle ground whereby the music features these precise concoctions of soul, R&B and jazz without falling too far into any one genre.  With production by Horatio Luna and guitarist Tom Mansfield, and highlights too numerous to name, 'Fluid Motion' currently stands as 30/70's masterpiece and an absolute standout for future soul fans whether they be in Melbourne or the world over.

'Distant Voice' by Sean Khan [BBE Records]
Saxophonist Sean Khan follows up last year's exquisite 'Palmares Fantasy' with an excellent four-track EP released through his new label home of BBE Records.  Khan's is a unique and rare talent - one of the few with the ability to effortlessly flit between the broken beat world then jump into solo projects displaying his vision for contemporary jazz.  'Distant Voice' is the continuation of Khan's vision through an excellent four-track selection worthy of the already world-class BBE catalogue.

'For My Sanity' by 14KT [First Word Records]*
Spearheaded by the single ‘The Power of Same’ released late last year and featuring vocals by Muhsinah, guitar by Stro Elliot and piano & synthesizer by James Poyser, the track (along with the brilliant Kaidi Tatham remix) beautifully set the tone for the album that would follow. Over the course of the album's 12 tracks, KT tackles themes of love, faith, hope, as well as social and political angst.  Currently intended to be the first of several jazz-inspired projects from 14KT/IAMABEENIE which is an incredibly exciting premise and while we’ll await those with great anticipation, we have this sublime effort to tide us over in the meantime.

'Constellate' by Tensei [Tokyo Dawn Records]*
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, the production duo of Tensei – consisting of Chris Kramer and Midas Wells – release their brand new project, ‘Constellate’, thus adding their names to the city’s rich musical tapestry established by icons including Curtis Mayfield, Louis Armstrong and Earth, Wind & Fire.  ‘Constellate’ serves as an exciting melting pot of musical styles with a sound rooted in hip-hop just as much as it is in jazz and the spectrum of styles in between, from soul to house and nu-soul. Thus far, Tensei have taken pride in never delivering the same project twice – each of the duo’s releases showcase an entirely new direction with Kramer and Wells seeming to relish the opportunities to navigate between genres and styles. In this case, Tensei’s vision is realised by an eclectic array of vocalists, rappers and musician.

'Liquid Saloon' by Liquid Saloon [Raw Tapes]*
The self-titled debut project from the super group that comprise Liquid Saloon unites long-term collaborators, and Raw Tapes Records stalwarts, Amir Bresler, Nomok and Sefi Zisling for an exciting and versatile jazz record released through the independent Israeli record label.  Label-mate Jenny Penkin, who herself had an excellent release with last year’s ‘Him, on the other hand’, appears on the album’s only vocal track, ‘Won’t Be Led By Fear’, which is a real highlight, as is the 1970’s style soul of opener ‘Naive By Choice’ and the eclectic genre-mash of ‘Polaroid Banana’, along with its accompanying video.

*I have the distinct pleasure of writing for the revered UK Vibe so for the asterisked albums, please visit for my complete review for each of these projects - Imran Mirza

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