As we’re now nearly 30 days into the start of 2013, we thought there would be no better time to launch a new feature on the website where we dig a little deeper into the new jazz releases making the rounds each month. As we put together our annual 2012 Jazz Retrospective mixtapes, we realised just how much great new music is still being released across the jazz spectrum but often, except for the odd review here or there, we tend to only mention it in passing over on our Facebook page. Below is our initial attempt at rectifying this situation, as we present the first in what we’ve affectionately dubbed ‘The Record Pool’. This month, we pick three releases – two previously unreleased reissues and a Blue Note Records début – that are more than worthy of a portion of your January pay packet! Let us know what you think…
For The Ardent Crate Digger
Kenny Cox – Clap! Clap! (The Joyful Noise)
Available on 180 Proof Records
The small Detroit imprint Strata Records, Inc burned brightly back in the mid 1970s but within three years it was no more. However, the resounding quality of the musicianship on display on its first short run of releases was enough to make sure the label would cement its place in modern-day crate-digging folklore forever. So when Amir Abdullah (of Kon and Amir Fame) partnered with Barbara Cox, wife of the late Kenny Cox and current owner of the Strata catalogue, to resurrect the catalogue once again in the form of his own 180 Proof Records, there seemed no greater opportunity to shine a light back on to Strata’s revered legacy. Well, the first ‘new’ record to be released in this revived era is now here and as a fitting tribute to Strata’s original owner, it’s an unreleased gem from the aforementioned Mr Cox. A pianist of some talent, who also recorded a few early dates for Blue Note Records, here Kenny Cox presents a stellar set of tunes, part dreamy soundscapes, part energetic jazz workouts and replete with exquisite Latin flourishes. It’s a sublime listen from beginning to end, recalling much of what was great with jazz back in the 1970s and with only 200 pressed, this one is sure to fly. Check out the soundclips below to get a taste.
For The Spiritual Jazz Fan
Hannibal Marvin Peterson – The Tribe
Available on Kindred Spirits
More unreleased, reissued goodness from the Kindred Spirits camp – this one truly is immense. Casual jazz listeners may not recognise at first the name Hannibal Marvin Peterson, but the American trumpeter has had a fruitful career in music, releasing albums on labels such as MPS, Baystate and Enja and playing alongside Gil Evans, Pharoah Sanders, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones and Don Pullen. Most of his work in the 20th century can be categorised in the deep jazz genre, and this LP is no exception, the label even going as far to dub it ‘the lost masterpiece of spiritual jazz’. Originally recorded back in 1976 and only ever committed to a handful of test pressings, the music on show though is top drawer, presenting the richness and musicality often found on the fringes of the jazz mainstream at the time, and featuring blistering trumpet work from Peterson and righteous vocals from Branice McKenzie and Pat Peterson. Any record that features Billy Hart on drums is essential right? The five tracks roll before you on first listen, but as you delve deeper into the intricacies of the sound, you’ll find an effervescent energy that can’t help but take you aback. Preview the title track below.
For The New School Follower
José James – No Beginning No End
Available on Blue Note Records
The US vocalist has carved something of a niche for himself over the past five years with his previous three long-players, displaying a talent that effortlessly straddles the middle ground between traditional jazz, R&B and electronic soul. On this, his fourth album and debut for the legendary Blue Note Records, José James is again in rude form, bringing his smokey vocals to the fore alongside a heavyweight lineup featuring Robert Glasper, Pino Palladino, Chris Dave, Richard Spaven and Emily King. Musically, there’s more than a passing resemblance to D’Angelo’s neo soul classic ‘Voodoo’ – a fact we presume can be traced back to co-producer Palladino’s original involvement in the ‘Voodoo’ recording sessions and James’ deep love for the ground breaking album itself. This soulful sensibility underpins much of the album’s mood, producing both delicate moments (‘Bird of Space’) and more robust standouts such as with James’ two duets (with King and Hindi Zahra) and the Glasper assisted ‘Vanguard’. Preview the opening track ‘It’s All Over Your Body’ below.