09/02/2021: “Misty” by Bob Brookmeyer and Stan Getz

This song is profoundly lovely. It’s measured, calm jazz for an evening’s contemplation.

In these lockdowns, a song like this goes a long way. It’s like marshmallows, but with saxophones. If that makes sense.

I love the way that Stan Getz’ saxophone and Bob Brookmeyer’s trombone play off against each other so supportively too!

With Elvin Jones on drums and Herbie Hancock on piano, the song simply can’t miss…

The song was originally released in 1955 by Erroll Garner – the version here was released in 1964 on Bob Brookmeyer and Friends. 

24/01/2021: “Remember The Rain” by Kadhja Bonet

Incredibly stirring and dripping with melancholy, this song serves as a potent showcase of LA-based musician Kadhja Bonet’s talent.

Not only does she sing beautifully, she also plays flute and strings on this too. The show off!

The flute is particularly lovely, in my opinion. It adds a wistful air, bolstered by the strings and slow plucked guitar.

Kadhja’s version of the song doesn’t improve on the original markedly – but how could you? 21st Century’s 1975 original is stunning soul/R’n’B gold.

But what she does do, is take a fantastic song, and make it her own, convincingly. Her version is more elegant; delicate and haunting.

You can find the song on her Bandcamp. It was released as a single in 2015.

22/01/2021: “Last Train Home” by Pat Metheny Group

What a vibe. Rapid fire hi hats, softly splashing away, a dulcet piano, and, above all, a trippy, gyrating electric sitar. That’s not a typo – it’s an electric sitar!

The song never loses its cool, but it still excites, reaching a high point in the middle, where even some vocals enter the scene.

Plus, it’s not without some low end heft, which is, in my opinion, an essential feature of chilled out evening tracks.

The piece was released in 1987 on Still Life (Talking), which won
1988 Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance

20/01/2021: “Earth” by Joe Henderson featuring Alice Coltrane

Anything Alice Coltrane touches is usually pretty brilliant. That cosmic outlook on life and music soaks into every note!

Despite being supremely talented herself, a high quality collaboration never goes amiss. You could certainly say Joe Henderson is high quality, and his composition skills are ably augmented with Coltrane’s playing abilities.

And his own, of course. Henderson is one of the most important sax players of post-war Jazz, and his skill is obvious here as he deftly blazes over the Eastern inspired backdrop.

Unusually for a jazz song, but not unusually for a work of this experimental scope, the drums are genuinely groovy – it’s a sick swinging beat!

You can find the piece on 1974’s classic The Elements. The whole affair is a journey through time and space, my favourite kind of jazz!

18/01/2021: “Be By My Side” by Dom Salvador

A lot of people hold that music from the 60s was the best. And Brazil is generally considered to punch well above its already considerable weight musically.

So there’s no surprise that this energetic number from ’60s Brazil is so heavily laden with funkiness that it seems fit to burst!

The Bossa Nova background to Dom Salvador’s inspired piano playing is clear, as he sprints up and down the octaves and drags the drummer, bassist and horns player with him.

It fits somewhere between Bossa Nova and Funk – a great example of MPB, or ‘Música popular brasileira’ (Popular Music of Brazil).

The track was released on Dom Salvador in 1969, and reissued in 2016.

03/01/2021: “Inferno” by Thundercat

Kicking off with a gospel inspired vocal harmony makes a statement. It happens in hip hop, particularly when artists like FlyLo are involved. Thundercat is a bassist, but broader part of that beat scene.

In this case, the gospel leads into a squelchy, dense soundscape, menacing yet majestic.

The song is about a descent into madness while everything else in the world collapses. Perhaps telling that it was written soon after Trump took the White House…

That also goes some ways to explain the paranoid texture of the track, and the craziness of the drums.

“Inferno” came out in 2017 on Drunk, Thundercat’s 3rd album.

19/12/2020: “Concussion” by Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

I love a good organ trio. There’s an easy going jazz funk grooviness to the format which even ‘okay’ players can tap into. Delvon Lamarr’s group, sometimes styles DLO3, are much more than okay!

In the jazz world, these guys are stars, as their debut album Close But No Cigar reached number one on the Contemporary Jazz Album chart in the US. They still feel like a fresh offering though.

For some reason they keep switching up their drummer – below, it’s David McGraw, who left the band about a year after this. But Delvon and his guitarist Jimmy are a strong foundation for the group’s jamming.

The band’s sound straddles the soul, jazz, funk and blues vibes, leading to frequent comparisons with Booker T & and MGs. They can really nail a groove!

The song came out first in late 2017, having featured at the band’s KEXP session in the video below earlier in the year.

16/12/2020: “Enough About Human Rights” by Moondog

We share the world with a multitude of other species. Sometimes, I think we can forget that a lot of these animals have been doing their thing happily way before humans every learnt to control fire.

Moondog makes the point in a typically quirky way, listing all the other animals which are getting overlooked as we continue the march of progress.

The vocals aren’t super rhythmical, but they are insistent!

The piano drives the track forward, with a simple progression of notes underpinning the song, garlanded with delicate bouquets of higher pitched notes.

The drums are quite non-committal, but the selection of softly played congas and shakers add a nice organic feeling.

You can find “Enough About Human Rights” on H’art, released in 1978. It’s very different from much of Moondog’s more grandiose work, but just as strange…

26/11/2020: “Snow Creatures” by Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones is on the more ‘experimental’ end of Jazz. Frankly, a lot of his music dives into glittering pools of weirdness and splashes iridescent noise all over the place.

He is, undoubtedly, one of those rare musical geniuses, playing multiple instruments with panache and laying out a strange vision of sound according to some inner master plan.

“Snow Creatures” is from the 1972 soundtrack album, Dollars,

The song has been sampled by a sprawling list of hip hop artists, such as Gang Starr, J Dilla, Madlib and Quasimoto.

Listen below to feast your ears on the ominous brass, warped drums, eerie guitars and otherworldly vocals which populate this song!

24/10/2020: “A Love Supreme Part 2 (Resolution)” by John Coltrane

Is A Love Supreme the best Jazz album ever recorded?

It depends what your personal preferences are, of course, but I think there’s a lot in its favour.

The musicianship on display is simply out of this world. In particular, I love the drumming, which is slightly inhuman in its dexterity. This display along ought to rank Elvin Jones as one of the all time greats.

It’s hard to pick between the constituent songs which make up A Love Supreme, and perhaps it’s better to consider the album as one cohesive work. It’s a deeply spiritual undertaking, something that comes across best on the first and last songs. The first piece in particular has a messianic quality due to the repetitive vocal.

But I like this one because it showcases the brilliant piano, bass and sax, on top of those golden drums.

This one came out in 1965 – at this stage I probably don’t need to tell you which album it appears on…