1 Rumberos de Cuba-Habana De Mi Corazon 5:07
2 Rumbaprofundo-Medley: Robby and Negro Opening Time / Pensamiento 4:18
3 Afrocuba de Matanzas-Palo Yaya 6:27
4 The Havana Sessions-Maria Elena Lazo 4:15
5 Grupo Afrocuba-Que Sensacion Cuando La Vi 6:07
6 Omara Portuando-Ritmo pa mi 3:15
7 Xpanish Harlem Orchestra-Rumba Urbana 6:33
8 Chucho Valdez & Ruben Gonzales-Como Siento Yo 2:59
9 Felix Baloy-Despues de esta noche 3:06
10 Cubana Mayor-La Habana Buena 3:57
11 Danay-Guajira 8:35
12 Radio Bakongo-Macaco Mata el Toro 6:21
13 Robert Sanabria f. Tito Puente-Ran Kan Kan 3:58
14 Doble Filo f. Pepito=Que Tu Te Crees 4:58
The original concept was to be a travelogue featuring the rumba, and, journeying with the rumba from Cuba to Africa. But, as it happens, once I sent the net out, I ended up on my own, and different, quest through the riches of the mostly Cuban and Cuba-by-way-of-NYC territory of the afro-cuban sound.
The Harder They Come was the first reggae record I ever bought. The next two were Catch A Fire by Bob Marley, and, Funky Kingston by Toots and the Maytals. I discovered King Tubby and Lee Perry a few years later. And so it came to be, my vibration with the classic old school roots, rockers, reggae. In compiling the index of Dub Collision mixes, I noticed there was no reggae in the collection. Until now.
1. The Pioneers – Sample Man
2. Alton Ellis – The Winner
3. Melodians – It’s My Delight
4. Burning Spear – Get Ready
5. Keith Hudson – In the Rain
6. Congos – Days Chasing Days
7. Cornell Campbell – My Conversation
8. Yabby You – Take My Hand
9. Scientist – Separation
10. Leroy Smart & Bunny Lee – Dub You Madly
11. Junior Byles & the Upsetters – Beat Down Babylon
12. Sandra Cross – Is There a Message/Dubwise Message
13. Niney the Observer – Tribulation Version
14. Bob Marley & the Wailers – Running Away + Crazy Baldhead (live)
Although there is a turntable in the SIJI video–third in the stack here–the common denominator is the beat, moving from fractured to smoker’s hip to, well, Lagos. Ijo is my favorite watchable drop so far this year.
A facile formulation I could employ to qualify pianist Stan Tracey‘s stature would be to call him the Sonny Rollins of British Jazz. This would capture his sturdiness over a career almost equal in duration to that of Rollins. This would also provide intimations of other similarities, but one would have to be familiar with those shared qualities, such as virility, the magnitude of their sounds, Tracey on the piano, and Rollins–of course–on tenor saxophone. And this formulation would also be suggestive about their shared artistic integrity and different yet uncompromising artistry. All of this is stretched over close to sixty years, with both men, once and long ago, being attentive students in the school of be-bop.
I’m dissatisfied with the formulation. It measures music but seems unhooked from the one factor that separates the two, for Rollins is well known as the nonpareil tenor titan, whereas Tracey is at best well known as the greatest jazz pianist Great Britain has yet produced. And, therein rears the problem of context that weighs down my formulation.
The fact is, to the best of my experienced reckoning, even vigorously committed jazz fans in the U.S. may have never spent much or anytime with Tracey’s music, would probably be unaware of Tracey’s place in British jazz, and, would not be able to leap with my formulation to its vaunted estimation, both Rollins and Tracey are true masterly lions.
I may be wrong, but I believe I read somewhere that Tracey has been to the U.S. less than a handful of times, last fall being one of those times. I am more secure in pointing out that in my own collection of forty or so Tracey recordings, two were released here in the U.S. That all the others were released in the UK, only, diminishes yankee opportunity, only. Otherwise, Stan Tracey simply has been one of the world’s greatest jazz artists for the better part of his almost sixty year long career. And, as a leader for over fifty years, he’s been documenting on LP and CD his extraordinary findings as one of the foremost masters of the School of Duke and Monk.
I was soon enough astounded in 1980 when I checked out one of his recordings on Steam, a solo piano date Hello old Adversary (1979). I was inspired to do so by a review, perhaps in Cadence, that tossed off an accolade, ‘Great Britain’s answer to Thelonious Monk.’ This was the only association I needed. The record arrived, I slung it on the mat. Dropped the spike.
And, I was blown away. At that time, solo piano in my world was Tatum, Monk, Keith Jarrett, Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim,) and McCoy Tyner. Where had this Tracey guy been? I had at the time the same feeling I had the first time I heard Pee Wee Russell, which was: how could music this good have escaped me?
I went out and blew a paycheck at Northcountry and bought a copy of every Stan Tracey Steam record in their stock. Maybe it was four or five records. I grabbed by friend Thorne, and we had a session and we were both shocked, hooked, and, all of sudden, paying close attention to this titan. He was so at the time, in the British scheme of things. Without going into the many details of our discographical journey over the next fifteen years, the two of us bacame Tracey’s foremost fans in Vermont! I suppose this all one can say.
The thrust of our affection was aimed at taking in the only Tracey we could touch, those Steam Records. We learned early on Tracey was not coming our way. The appeal of Tracey’s series of records, made for the label he was compelled to start to document his work, is straight-forward. Ranging from solo to duo, (especially with another British piano legend, Keith Tippett,) to four-five-six-seven-eight-orchestra, every single record is an exercise in onrushing modern swing, intense exploration of the flux of melody and rhythm, and, it’s all moved by a seemingly volcanic urge to etch a musical voice without compromise.
I wish I could tell you Tracey’s music is sort of like this or that, yet it seems to be to transcend comparisons. Tracey melds his forthright and propulsive chords-into-shards piano style with his immense book of original compositions to forge a sound that is utterly unique. His music doesn’t sound like that of Mingus, yet it is, similarly, absolutely earnest, ferociously direct, and resolute in its travels along Tracey’s distinctive bluesy, folkloric trajectory. I guess, one apt comparison, along a shared quotient, one with energies aimed to evoke joy, would be with Don Pullen and George Adams.
Tracey also leads a big band, and its own attractions are equally invigorating. Well, this provides another case of wanting to hear every note. I’ve never heard Tracey lead even close to a mediocre recording session. Tracey turns 85 at the end of this year. He’s been recently prolific, having issued brilliant dates with Evan Parker, with the young saxophone star Simon Allen, Bobby Wellens, Guy Barker, with his trio, octet, and orchestra–adding up to eleven new dates in our new century. In different ways, every darn time out Tracey astonishes.
Tracey has been playing with his son Clark, a drummer, and Andrew Cleyndert, bass, for a long time now. For Tracey’s new record Sound Check, Cleyndert is present for the fine trio disc. It’s sterling and equal to Tracey’s other trio recordings of the last two decade. However, the second disc is of duos with his son Clark is the staggering main course. (Wait, it’s the first disc–maybe a minor miscalculation of sequencing, but I put the trio disc in the player first, as it should have been.) Yes, their musical relations are seemingly telepathic. Son Clark, who for me squares the traditional mellow vigor of a drummer like Billy Higgins, with the uncanny organic feel of drumming in the vein of Ed Blackwell and Billy Hart, is on equal footing here with his father.
And, I mean equal. The percussive back-and-forth, with Clark all over the kit, and using it surgically, partnering with Stan at his punchy, ducal best, comes of as dance; dancing. This is Clark’s best outing, among a lot of great work, on record. What a great idea, to wax one of your very best records in a six decade recording career with your own son! The piano-drum duo is always the rare bird of formats. Here, on what is simply a spectacular record, the Clarks have made one of the most engrossing records of this or any year.
1-Ike & Tina – Funkier Than a Mosquita’s Tweeter 2:33
2-Finger – Téléphone 3:50
3-Graham Central Station – It’s Alright 3:48
4-Un Aio Black – Yeah Yeah Yeah 3:05
5-Fred Wesley – Out Of Sight (feat. DJizzle) 2:23
6-Roland Stone – Honky Tonk Woman 4:33
7-Fishbelly Black – Brick House 5:44
8-Groove Robbers Feat. Dj Shadow – Last Stop 2:25
9-Talking Heads – Slippery People 3:55
10-Nightmares On Wax – What I’m Feelin’ (Rae + Christian Mix) 6:21
11-Jeff Beck – Grease Monkey 3:32
12-Mr. Scruff – Nice Up the Function (feat. Roots Manuva) 3:52
13-Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – Give It Back (live) 3:21
14-The Cinematic Orchestra – Channel 1 Suite 3:44
15-The Meters – Hang ‘Em High 3:23
16-Afros Band – Right On Right Off 2:44
17-Fila Brazillia – Speewah 3:53
18-Herbie Hancock – Nobu 7:07
19-Otis Grove – Basket Case 3:47
20-Docteur Nico & African Fiesta Sukisa – Canchita 3:55
I’ve been planning on doing a hard funk mix for sometime, and then when I get around to it instead I end up with a funk and groove and hip hop and breaks and soul melange, stretched over 40+ years, and between the first fuky world and Africa and the Caribbean. Here is Ike and Tina and Doctor Nico, as well as very fresh Otis Grove, Fishbelly Black and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. As the kids say, “It’s all good.”
Hat tip to Duze, who kindly turned me onto to late Nawlins local icon Roland Stone. John Sinclair–the John Sinclair–has the scoop on Mr. Stone.
Mali’s Khaira Arby has delivered–after two decades–a recording for the rest of the world. I’m not at all tempted to say much more, except to tell you Timbuktu Tarab is by far the best African record of the year, and, furthermore, obtain its five stars and essential status by the third track. If you need a rundown, I’ve tacked expert commentary below. For everybody else, the video from NPR captures her vibe.
SambaSunda come from Bandung, the bustling capital and cultural centre of Western Java, more commonly known as Sunda. The Sundanese are the second largest ethnic group in Indonesia with a unique language and culture.
The group updates the lilting sounds of Sundanese gamelan degung and the angklung bamboo instruments by adding elements of Jakarta’s kroncong, Sunda’s jaipong, Balinese kebyar and the Brazilian rhythm of samba. The classic sounds of the traditional instruments evoke not only past splendour but also the bustling, urban energy of Bandung today: A full sound palette from the deep resonance of the mighty gongs to the silvery eloquence of the suling bamboo flute, complete with a heavyweight percussion section, wild vocal chanting known as senggak and the truly breathtaking vocal skills of singer Rita Tila.
Just happened onto George Marsh‘s youtube spot. He’s a master drummer who has been playing his own music, and with others, across the creative spectrum from his west coast home base for decades. I first heard him on a Jerry Hahn record many years after the record came out, say around 1974.
His music first really knocked me out when I heard a record of duets with John Abercrombie and Mel Graves. Like Ed Blackwell, Marsh strikes me as a percussion naturalist. He is a very organic and warm player.