Listening to Take A Shot feels like a lifetime of experience all rolled into one moment. As if the collection of musicians involved know each other’s language intimately transferring notes and conversations freely. While this follows traditional musical lines it is none the less very enjoyable, life enhancing music perfect for the summer sunshine that captures the essence of live sound. From slower, funkier songs such as the album’s title track to the up-tempo flavours of the delightfully jazzy Oblique all bases are covered, influences explored. Overall it’s also the sense of expertise that dazzles in the process and you get the impression that a wrong note could simply be out of the question.
I was having one of those awkward days when moments didn’t add up to making much sense. The thought of listening to the twist of Modern Jazz did not seem like the answer or even a remotely helpful proposition given the circumstance. But of course, I did so anyway. Funny then that everything suddenly made sense connecting a mind-field of thoughts to the figurative frenzy of free flowing energy greeting me from Kohsuke Mine’s 1970 release. This latest version in the J Jazz Masterclass Series, curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden for BBE Music, testifies to the inherent timeless qualities contained within this abundance of music and I would urge you listen to its rolling, unfolding answers as each skilful player asks the next to respond in kind. Also contained is a 4500 word sleeve note and interview with Kohsuke Mine so all the detail required is here. Again there’s little point in pinpointing certain numbers as this eloquent album merits an entire listen to soak it all up in one listen. Revisiting again.
Release: April 30
Change is in the air. You can sense that as the summer rays begin to intensify and the rumble of double-bass gets jazzy in amongst this shining array of cool, breezy instrumentation. Heidi Vogel’s time honoured vocal adds the seal of taste to the affair as the rhythms pulse and dance through a mist of time which feels very much relevant right now. The words timeless and classic come into view with the sounds providing an easy occasion to get lost in. Kaidi Tatham’s remix then injects a fevered energy into the grooves viewing the song from another, more vigorous, angle.
Sometimes music talks so loud you don’t need the distraction of thinking about it. It just is. Composed and realised by bassist Shintaro Nakamura this collection of heady, heavenly sounds was originally released in 1984, although it feels odd to place it in any given timeframe breathing with as much energy in any decade. Its fiery combination of fast and slow, contemplative and fiercely independent sees the swirl of uneasy tension replicate the highs and lows of life in a series of smouldering, smoky notes. Recorded in New York you also get the pulse of that city tapping out its own rhythm via its player’s breathing in the surrounding landscape. Now reissued as a double 45rpm 180g LP (as well as digitally) plus with translated sleeve notes alongside an informative essay and interview with band members by Tony Higgins all basses are covered furthering your expectation of this seventh release in the J Jazz Master Class Series.
Release: January 22
buy / stream https://orcd.co/shintaro
The difference between hearing this and the endless regurgitation of technical-house blandly constructed for the dancefloor is quite simply that your mind explodes. Perhaps, Pyramid lulls you into a false sense of security surrounding you as it does with the roll of warm emotional turmoil, exuding a rush of autumnal melody amide those delicate piano strikes and cool blasts of horn feeling like life itself just got better. This sense of music does hark back to history but also provides a self-assured reissuance of the present. The deliciously punchy Oblique follows leaving the hot, bluesy swing of Liquor and Poker to end this revitalising release of sound.
Buy / listen https://orcd.co/pyramid
There is a touch of something timeless playing out here. Maybe its Matty Eeles self-assured yet poignant vocal that causes the sensation, or perhaps the drifting guitar lines which accompamy the shuffling drums that paint the intensity. Either way, Don’t Go is a first class piece of music that highlights the repeated demand of the power of song and musicality. One Together, then pushes the envelope further with piano igniting the delicate voice tentatively, as bass twines around warm suggestive tones alongside a brisk rush of percussive punctuation.
Release: January 24
Sounding like a blast of wild abandon the title track, which ignites this set of four extended pieces from Japan’s Jazz scene of the late seventies, epitomises thoughts of time and space. Originally released in 1979 on cult imprint ALM this sequence of events travels the highs and lows of the music as equally demonstrated via the proceeding number Ballad for Mammoth, by breathing melancholy flavour through delicate trumpet and accompanying piano. Not surprisingly, Dog’s Dance then fills the void with more rigorous instrumentation siding on the corner of melody and soul. Finally, Pecker’s Blues ads swing to the rhythms as the free flow of interpretation lets rip over fiery, irresistible grooves that only enhance the hot sense of occasion. A progressive, unrelenting masterclass in the past as future.
Release: November 8
Jazz music is really special to me because of my upbringing. My father was heavy into jazz and always had jazz playing in our household. He also grew up with and was friends with Jaki Byard, who coincidentally played in the Mingus band for a few years before going solo. Every weekend my father would sit and listen to jazz on his hi fi stereo system. And sometimes he would invite me to join him. Basically, father instilled in me my love for jazz.
Some of the most important artists from the past for me would be Clark Terry, Eric Dolphy, Horace Silver, Mile Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and, of course, Charles Mingus. For new future jazz artists, I would say Kamasi Washington, Yussef Kammal, Shabaka Hutchings, Nuyba Garcia, and Robert Glasper are some of my favorites.
Tell the story behind the Strata Concert Gallery recordings by Mingus and how you came to have them released on bbe?
The story behind the Strata Concert Gallery recordings by Mingus is a relatively simple one. The Strata Concert Gallery was an artists collective space where the owner, Kenny Cox had many shows with local and national artists. I believe it was a non-alcoholic space so that all ages could come. This particular Mingus recording was probably the second or third performance from a well-known artist. Mingus was right behind Keith Jarrett with Herbie Hancock to follow Mingus.
How I came to release this recording with BBE is through my collaborative label deal with them. I have the exclusive license rights to the Strata Records catalog and the Mingus recordings were a part of the catalog. Actually, I received an email from Barbara Cox, the owner of Strata stating that her friend Hermine Brooks (widow of Roy Brooks) had the masters to the Charles Mingus recordings and she wanted me to connect with Hermine. Hermine and I talked and I decided to take a chance on transferring the tapes. I then spoke with BBE about the possibility of releasing a never heard before Mingus live recording and needless to say, we were all excited to do so.
What words spring to mind when you think of Mingus as a Bass player and as a composer? If you met him what question would you have liked to ask of him?
The words that come to mind when I think of Mingus as a Bass player and as a composer are genius and complex. I say genius because playing the double Bass is not easy at all to play. Especially, playing some of the most complex arrangements that Mingus composed. And I say complex because when I think of the fact that Mingus was not only a great composer and Bass player but he was also an outstanding bandleader. These unique qualities make him one of the greatest American musicians/composer ever.
If were ever to meet Mingus, I would ask him how did growing up with the extensive amount of racism and the lack of proper musical education contribute to his music? And what makes your compositions different from those with similar experiences?
Where can people hear you DJ? How did the launch of Tomorrow People go and what plans do you have for the night?
Where people can hear me DJ in Berlin, are a few places like Sisyphos, Bar Tausend, and sometimes the Michel Berger Hotel in Berlin. By the way, I moved from Brooklyn to Berlin earlier this year. Right now, I started a party Tomorrow People with a few friends and it’s at a venue Arkaoda in Berlin. I approached the owner of Arkaoda during the summer and explained my idea for the party. He definitely agreed that Berlin needs some new music life!
This party is dedicated more towards more soulful music like disco, boogie, jazz, funk, Latin and African music. Berlin is well-known for its techno and tech house scene but I wanted to offer something more soulful. My plans for the night are to build a ‘brand’ here for Tomorrow People as a place for good ‘organic’ music that takes people on a journey.
Been enjoying your Just a little bit of disco jazz. How would you describe the process of putting live music together in a mix? And how would you compare playing the original versions to what other people try to achieve via re-edits?
For me the process of putting together a mix of live music really depends on my mood which is different than dj’ing live in a club. The difference for me is that when I dj in a club I am very aware of the energy and mood of the crowd and I try to also educate the crowd with music too. Whereas with a recorded mix, I try to imagine the mood I want to project this mood without there being a ‘live’ crowd.
I did a disco jazz music mix because I love both styles of music and there are so many disco jazz records that I enjoy. There are many disco mixes but I wanted to showcase my love for both disco and jazz. Playing the original versions of some live music is great because you get to let the music breathe the way the original artist intended.
How did you get introduced to House Music? And what common threads do you see with the other types of music you love?
I got introduced to House music while in college in the late 80s and early 90s. Pretty much every dj back then had to have not only a Hip Hop, R&B, and Dancehall set but also a House music set. So I would hear it all the time.
The common threads that House music has with other music genres are its history. Meaning that without disco, jazz, funk, soul, Gospel etc there would be NO House music. The lineage of House stems from heavy disco and jazz roots. And like those genres of music, the infectious nature of it is contagious.
How do you feel about club culture currently, how do you see music and dancing moving forward? And how would you describe nostalgia and its place in Dance Music today?
Currently, in the states I think club culture today has become a parody of itself. Meaning that too many club venues are quick to sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s all about how many people drink at the bar and what the bar does in terms of numbers. It used to be you had to prove how many people you could fill the club with that follow you. Furthermore, it has become increasingly so that social media has made many djs stars without really earning their ‘stripes.’ You can have 20,000 Instagram followers and a million selfies of yourself and call yourself a successful dj. Promoters tend to ask how many Spotify or Instagram followers you have over hearing a mix or past/present work.
In Europe, it tends to be about the Spotify followers as well but a lot of it depends on what you’re releasing. Many producers have become djs and many djs have become producers in order to stay ‘relative’ to continue to work. If you release an edit or remix that has other djs or promoters excited then you tend to work more than other djs. The other djs tend to get what they call ‘legacy’ gigs. Meaning they get work off their past accomplishments and not much else.
I see dancing and music moving in the direction of hopefully more of a soulful vibe. It’s disheartening to see some people at clubs all dancing like drones to melodic noise. We need to bring the funk and soul back to music. Producers need to create music with more swing and soul. Furthermore, we need to have more music with engaging lyrics. Not poorly written lyrics that add nothing to the music.
I think with the younger generation they are exploring the earlier forms of House music, especially from the early 90s. Also there are many djs exploring disco and boogie as well. Basically, they are going back to the roots. This nostalgia is growing and I’m happy to see more and more djs and crowds embrace it.
My upcoming releases on my label (180-proof.com) that are slated for next year are Sphere ‘Inside Ourselves’, CJQ ‘Black Hole” and hopefully another Strata Concert Gallery live recording.
Recorded live in Detroit at Strata Concert Gallery in February 1973 you could gain entrance for the princely sum of $5 dollars in advance, or $6 on the door. To witness a Jazz legend of Mingus’s stature at any price would have been quite something. But of course you can do it all over again, courtesy of this most welcome release of Amir Abdullah’s discovery of the existence of 5 two-track master tapes of the live concert. It’s fair to say that Mingus was no day at the beach and according to his own memoir: Beneath The Underdog you find a character which, at times, you may not exactly warm to. But this is music played from the very soul by drummer Roy Brooks, trumpeter Joe Gardner, pianist Don Pullen, plus on tenor saxophone John Stubblefield and is a sheer powerhouse of exhilarating exuberance. Charles Mingus composed and played wonderful, original, passionate music. You can hear that all here. Priceless.
Release: November 2
Let’s face it you’re going to hear the word Disco at least once as you course the veins of this glorious experience, which places the music somewhere around the mid to late nineteen seventies. But even before we even get to the music you first encounter this wonderful story, in this instance, illuminated by Al Kent whose supremely informed sleeve notes are almost as exciting as the music itself. The album’s title comes from the revered Vince Aletti who epically charted the genre’s progress through his columns for After Dark and Village Voice. Starting with the story behind Leon Collins’s 1974 release ‘I Just Wanna Say I Love You’ and the inspired role DJ John Luongo played in Disco’s ever evolving timeline the feature details the driving force that DJ’s played in the literal shaping of the sounds heard on the dancefloor. Filling in some overdue gaps in the chain of events he moves into more chartered territory with Double Exposure’s now infamous ‘Ten Percent’ an extended edit which formed the very first publically available twelve inch single. But of course that isn’t even half of the story as this compilation of DJ mixes from the era proudly lays testament to America’s instigators without whom we would be at a definite loss today. The prime difference with what you will hear here and what has been happening with Disco re-edits currently is that these tracks are what actually occurred there and then, not some re-imagination of the past, which makes this collection all the more significant, real even. Featuring the likes of Walter Gibbons, Tom Savarese, Bobby Guttadoro and Jim Burgess this proves to be indispensable listening both for those that like to remember plus for those who don’t want to forget.