Modern sounds for the 21st century featuring modal, progressive and esoteric contemporary jazz. The 13th volume of the Spiritual Jazz series turns our attention to what’s happening NOW. Over the course of 24 tracks and spanning 2 x 2LPs, Jazzman presents an overview of the contemporary exponents of Spiritual Jazz; musicians who are intent on bringing something personal to the table, as much as they recognize the importance of those who have paved the way for them. This is music recorded within the past 20 years and from 15 different countries, including modern classics from veterans Steve Reid and Idris Ackamoor, providing a vital link between the past masters and the enlightened new generation. It’s pioneers such as John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders et al, with their innovations in reaching another plane of consciousness that was and remains uppermost in the minds of exponents of Spiritual Jazz. Fittingly, several of the artists featured on this compilation, such as Cat Toren and David Boykin, are practitioners of the art of music therapy and sound healing, and have absolute conviction in the role of song as solace. The pioneers may no longer be with us, but their saintly selves loom large, shining a light in the darkness, inspiring many a brave new disciple today, as this album will testify: the new wave of jazz is gathering pace and still sounds fresh, vibrant and as relevant as ever.
part 1: vinyl / CD
part 2: vinyl / CD
Influential jazz collective Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids return with an epic new opus, ‘Shaman!’, featuring a fresh line-up including original 1970s Pyramids member Dr. Margaux Simmons on flute, Bobby Cobb on guitar, long-term associate Sandra Poindexter on violin, Ruben Ramos on bass, Gioele Pagliaccia on drums and Jack Yglesias on percussion. The band transitions from the political and social commentaries of 2018’s acclaimed ‘An Angel Fell’ into more introspective themes. “I wanted to use this album to touch on some of the issues that we all f ace as individuals in the inner space of our souls and our conscience,” explains Ackamoor. “The album unfolds over four Acts with personal musical statements about love and loss, mort ality, the afterlife, family and salvation.” Evolving around Ackamoor’s intricate compositions, the album takes us effortlessly across moods and emotions through a series of expansive, extended pieces. Starting with ritual, soul-searching, and masculine vulnerability on the title track, the band explores timeless existence on ‘Eternity’ and mourns the sudden loss of loved ones in the prescient ‘When Will I See You Again?’, a track which gains new relevance amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. Ackamoor pays tribute to his mentor Cecil Taylor on the angular ‘Theme For Cecil’ and renders homage to the ancestors on ‘Salvation’ and ‘The Last Slave Ship’, recalling the last ship to bring slaves to the US from Africa, the Clotilda. The superb ‘Virgin’ is an anthem of forgiveness, new beginnings and self-healing.
vinyl / CD
Those turned on by Spiritual Jazz should already be aware of West Coast combo Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids. They’ve been playing and recording together since the 1970s, though We Be All Africans is only their sixth full-length outing. Predictably, it’s a fine set, effortlessly fusing their spiritual roots with elements of jazz-funk, soul and, of course, Afro-jazz. Highlights are plentiful, from the swinging, Tony Allen style rhythms, swirling vocals and punchy horns of “Rhapsody In Berlin”, and the clarinet-sporting sweetness of the brilliantly percussive “Epiphany”, to the stretched-out drum workout “Traponga”, which sounds like the work of three drummers and a whole troupe of percussionists.