Big Band Not “Big Band”

50ish minutes of modern big band bangers, semi-orchestral jazz and large ensemble avant-funk.

1. Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath – MRA
2. Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble – Unity
3. Nucleus – Bull Dance
4. Hugh Hopper – Minipax I
5. Carla Bley – Song Sung Long
6. Sun Ra – Where Pathways Meet
7. Sam Rivers – Tranquility
8. Archie Shepp – A Prayer





by Mandrew on Mixcloud

A “jazz” mix of mystical, mythical meditations mostly from the seventies, including a bit of echoplex, electronics and unusual instrumentation. Features a number of tracks by/with members of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi group*, who everyone who knows me knows I am a bit obsessed with, plus one from the M’Boom LP I blogged about in my list of special records that I will get back to. And, the Tyner track features Alice Coltrane; everyone loves Alice. All from own vinyl collection.

1. Eddie Henderson – Spiritual Awakening*
2. Bennie Maupin – Ensenada*
3. Freddie Hubbard & Ilhan Mimaroglu – Monodrama
4. Eddie Harris – Smoke Signals
5. Phil Ranelin – Time Is Running Out
6. Billy Hart – Rahsaan Is Beautiful*
7. Norman Connors – Morning Change*
8. McCoy Tyner – His Blessings
9. Art Ensemble Of Chicago – The Bell Piece
10. Max Roach/M’Boom – January V


Songs From The Big Dig 2


Another short late night listening selection, this time made up from records from the 70s that I picked up in Southwest USA. Includes a few tracks sampled in hip-hop for those who like spotting that sort of thing.

1. Eddie Kendricks – If You Let Me
2. Harvey Mandel – Fish Walk (edit)
3. Milton Nascimento – Raça
4. Nina Simone – Funkier Than Mosquito’s Tweeter
5. Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band – Garden Of The Moon
6. Ahmad Jamal – Swahililand
7. Odetta – Sakura
8. John Fahey – The Waltz That Carried Us Away and Then a Mosquito Came and Ate Up My Sweetheart
9. Joe Zawinul  – His Last Journey
10. Lee Oskar – Haunted House

A Foolhardy Endeavour Pt.4

Cristo Redentor front cover

97. Harvey Mandel – Cristo Redentor (1969)

On the surface (OK, the cover is pretty intriguing) this doesn’t seem too promising: Cristo Redentor is ostensibly an instrumental blues-rock album by a virtuoso guitarist who went on to join Canned Heat and even record with the Stones after they’d got a bit shit. However, part of what makes Mandel an admired maestro is his ability to draw from and deftly utilise different styles. Most of his late sixties/early seventies albums have worthwhile moments that surpass the usual white boy blues wankery so prevalent at the time, and this first – and best – one covers a lot of good ground, from pretty full-on psychedelia to jazz and a touch of country.

The story of my relationship to this record starts with my good friend Martin, who’s something of a blues expert (he won a harmonica playing competition at a blues festival, which may or may not have been judged by Charlie Musselwhite who appears on this LP, when he was about 12). In the nineties I used to go to the dilapidated house he shared with a couple of friends, where we’d smoke, listen to early Wu-Tang and delve through Martin’s impressive vinyl collection. This was where I first heard Beefheart and other artists I’d go on to love and obsess about, but late one night I pulled out Cristo Redentor, by an artist I’d never previously heard about, and asked to put it on. The title track, a cover of a gospel-y jazz tune by Duke Pearson, opens side 1 with a wordless soprano, harp and big strings, Mandel just adding subtle reverbed licks over the top. Gorgeous, atmospheric and a pretty ego-free opener for a solo guitar album, it took me in immediately and has gone on to feature on many a mixtape.

Not so long after my first exposure, the album became mine when Martin sold off his entire collection. I got a few other great records* off him, but this one has remained the firm favourite. I immediately started playing side 2’s incredible version of the gospel standard ‘Wade In The Water’, as well as the following ‘Lights Out’, in DJ sets alongside funk and hip-hop. The former has since been sampled and compiled several times: an open drum break, strings, and guitar that pans across the stereo field, veering between a jazzy bright-toned bounce and psychedelic backwards fuzz – it’s got everything for diggers and dancers. The latter track which piles on more slow funk, more strings and more winding backwards guitar really deserves more of a look-in though. A great one for anyone into David Axelrod. And if you want weird, wait for the multitracked guitar drone to appear amidst the uptempo rhumba-style groove of ‘Before Six’.

I now own three different issues of this album (none of which are in terribly good condition, to be honest), including the dodgy computer graphic-adorned 1989 version on the Editions EG label, who put out/reissued a lot of Eno’s stuff. So, avant-rock/prog progenitor, blues rock journeyman or halfway mod, as the back cover of the original might have it? I’ve seen this and other Mandel albums filed under rock, jazz, fusion, and that favourite crate-digger-cum-curator-invented genre ‘funky rock’. And the fact it’s so hard to place is admittedly part of its charm.

Cristo Redentor - versions

Thanks Martin!

*I didn’t take those daft Groundhogs albums that seem to be so fashionable these days.

A Foolhardy Endeavour Pt.3

Max Roach - M'Boom - front cover

So, we come to the jazz…

98. Max Roach – M’Boom (1980)

Not just jazz, but jazz from the bloody eighties. Sort of jazz anyway, and recorded in 1979 if that helps. This is credited to Max Roach, who formed the M’Boom ‘re:percussion ensemble’ around 1970, but it’s very much a group work. The ensemble features a bunch of experienced drummer-percussionists – Roy Brooks, Freddie Waits, Joe Chambers, Ray Mantilla etc – whose extensive CVs are summarised on the back. Before you run away with thoughts of endless soloing, this is an album of tunes, using “more than 100 different instruments of determinate and indeterminate pitch”, which means a whole lot of marimba, vibes, xylophones, timpani, gongs, bells, and pretty much every instrument you can bang on. Banged on by men who really know how to bang on shit.

My discovery of this album is somewhat bittersweet: I got it for a couple of quid at Rhythm Records (once the only good reason to visit Camden), where it was reduced because they were closing down. Now usually when something’s that cheap, even in a sale, it’s for good reason, but I took a chance on it because I knew about some of the players and I like music that clangs and bangs. At the very least I figured it might have something I could sample for a track I’d never finish.

Upon getting it home, I discovered it delivered far beyond merely being OK. Alright, so my girlfriend at the time did say the (great) opening track ‘Onomatopoeia’ sounded like it was “written for some dodgy modern interpretive dance” and lo and behold, when I looked it up on YouTube recently, this was the first thing I found. However, there’s a lot more going on here. The beautiful Mingus tribute ‘January V’ (which later appeared on Four Tet’s edition of the Late Night Tales series) is all vibes, chimes and marimba, and might come across to contemporary ears like something from the late nineties Chicago branch of post-rock, except better and more emotionally charged than that. And closer ‘Kujichagalia’ rides on a killer funk rhythm, led by steel drums and snares, backed up with woodblocks, cowbells and assorted African instruments.

The first M’Boom album from 1973 really is rare as fuck, but this one can often be found for way less than it’s worth (to me at least); while record digging in Massachusetts last year, I practically forced John Twells to pick it up for a paltry $3-4. I hope he’s played it*.

“For fans of”: Steve Reich, Tortoise, Konono Nº1, gamelan, and, er, Parasol Trap

*update from John: apparently he has played it, DJed with it and made others buy it. So there, I’m not alone.

Songs From The Big Dig

I can’t work out the bloody widget embedding thing, but here’s a mix of records I picked up up for between $1 and $10 on my holiday in New England and Montreal.

1. Jack Nitzsche – Performance
2. John-Pierre Ferland – Le Chat du Café des Artistes
3. Ellen McIlwaine – Wade In The Water
4. Pharoah Sanders – Upper Egypt
5. David Byrne & Brian Eno – Qu’ran
6. David Crosby – Tamalpais High (At About 3)
7. John McLaughlin – Peace One
8. Minnie Riperton – Minnie’s Lament
9. Robert Fripp – Water Music II
10. Bobby Hutcherson – Prints Tie
11. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Loom