Friday 20 December 2019

2019:jazz:pt2:Blue-in-Green Sessions

Imran Mirza presents a very special edition of The Blue-in-Green Sessions that aired 19th 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 2 of our two-part jazz collection featuring a selection of glorious music with incredible selections a handful of which mentioned below...

'FLY or DIE II: Bird Dogs of Paradise' by Jaimie Branch [International Anthem]*
Jaimie Branch’s ‘FLY or DIE II: Bird Dogs of Paradise’ sees trumpeter Branch add the tag of vocalist to her seemingly never-ending skillset which includes trumpet, synths and composition.  The introduction of Branch as a vocalist serves to override any ambiguity regarding any of the very direct messages aimed towards the current Republican Presidency which contributes to a more honest and sincere recording. The album boasts high points from start to finish like the urgency captured throughout ‘Twenty-Three n Me, Jupiter Redux’ and the vibrant ‘Nuevo Roquero Estéreo’.

'A Mirage (Meant to Last Forever)' by Zoe's Shanghai
The debut EP from Zoe's Shanghai absolutely delivers as a fantastic introduction to this Barcelona-based collective.  Over the six tracks presented throughout, lead vocalist Zoé Renié soars over eclectic and vibrant sonic soundscapes that are an exquisite amalgamation of styles and genres laying the groundwork for hopefully much more to follow as they have cultivated such a distinct and confident sound beautifully explored over these six tracks.  With an excellent new single 'Through The Chord' already available, hopefully paving the way for another EP or album to follow shortly afterwards, make sure not to let the gem that is 'A Mirage' slip through your fingers!

'F___ Yo Feelings' by Robert Glasper [Loma Vista Recordings]
This year sees the release of Glasper's "mixtape" comprising of 19 songs seeing the revered pianist paired with Derrick Hodge on bass and original RG Experiment member, Chris Dave, on drums.  As a core trio, 'F__k Yo Feelings' plays host to a slew of other artists as diverse as rapper Mick Jenkins to the legendary Herbie Hancock.  There's a heavy slant on hip-hop throughout, and it's perhaps this free-flowing nature of songs and collaborations that inspired the project being presented as a mixtape in the first place.

'How's By You?' by Bright Dog Red [Ropeadope Records]
Following the praise and plaudits for Bright Dog Red's 2018 debut record 'Means to the Ends', the improv jazz outfit from Albany, New York, return with their thrilling follow-up for 2019.  'How's By You?' presents the band as becoming even more experimental and diverse in their compositions - Cody Davies (credited as supplying sound and electronics for the band) seems to embrace his role further by immersing the musicians within a more disparate and celestial sonic landscape which the Bright Dog Red members seem to thrive in - ultimately all contributing to this overwhelming cacophony of sounds.  The opener 'Runnin 'em Hurdles' eases you in perfectly but by the time you've reached the album's centrepiece - the 9+ minute otherworldly 'What's The Point?' - you ultimately stop trying to comprehend this unravelling psychedelic experience and just learn to accept its mesmerizing nature.

'Cross Currents' by Jesse Fischer
The new EP from the tirelessly prolific Jesse Fischer delivers an exquisite project befitting his unlimited talents.  Teaming with Marcus Strickland, Nate Smith and Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Fischer continues to boast his truly unique ability to craft music rooted within the essence of classic jazz, funk and soul stylings while still having the confidence to push through those boundaries creating something distinctly his own.  The four tracks presented on 'Cross Currents' is truly a testament to that.

'Weightless' by Teotima [First Word Records]*
The musicians comprising Teotima’s ensemble each now return to the fold after 6 years since the collective's debut ('Counting The Ways') as more experienced and well-rounded artists in their own right. With the talents of Ben "Nostalgia 77" Lamdin recruited once again for this album’s engineering and mixing, Teotima delivers on the incredible scope set out with this album. It’s also welcome to hear vocalist Ellie Rose Rusbridge secure a more central role within ‘Weightless’ appearing on five of the album’s seven tracks.

'Live At Club 85' by Smokin Rope
As part of Nu-Skool Soul's rundown of the year's R&B and soul releases, we highlighted music from our friends The Soul Sound Collective who had an incredibly productive year; Tim Higgins - bassist for the Collective - can also boast a further excellent EP as part of jazz quartet, Smokin Rope.  Along with Gabriel Nacu on guitar, Dave Kendall on keys and Luke Simmons on drums, Smokin Rope gifted the three tracks comprising 'Live At Club 85' ('Bop', 'Dark Spiral' and 'Fall From Grace') which is readily available through Bandcamp.  Fingers crossed there'll be more music to get stuck into in 2020.

'You Can't Steal My Joy' by Ezra Collective [Enter the Jungle Records]
The highly-anticipated full-length project from the Ezra Collective finally saw its official release earlier this year with the London five-piece finally gifting fans the album they've waited oh-so-patiently for!  But any time in between projects has certainly been productive - the Ezra members have continued to establish themselves as notable individual performers as well contributing to some of the UK's most exciting jazz projects over the last few years.

'BIRCKHEAD' by Brent Birckhead [Revive Music]*
Saxophonist Brent Birckhead sets the course for his debut project as he ably weaves between stories and themes of “the black experience”, family and one’s identity. The lush ‘Song For Nicole’ is the bold love letter to his wife while ‘The Ivory Antidote’ nods to the middle name that he shares with his grandfather. These themes are explored through an exciting presentation of jazz that doths its cap respectfully to a classic style and aesthetic while still being progressive and forging its own path.

*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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