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Jazz Gumbo
A Fusion of Flavors for the Ear!
Category: Jazz
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by Kirby Obsidian
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December 09, 2016 10:36 PM PST

Artist - Tune - Album
Wayne Shorter - Beauty & The Beast - Native Dancer
Steps Ahead featuring Dianne Reeves - Magnetic Love - Magnetic
Ray Bryant - St. Louis Blues - Solo Flight
Archie Shepp - Confirmation - Parisian Concert, volume 1
Metalwood - Mr. Mike - The Recline
Miles Davis - Right Off - Jack Johnson
Steve Eliovson & Collin Walcott - Africa - Dawn Dance
Sam Rivers - Verve - Contrasts
Nguyen Le - Guinia - Maghreb & Friends
Pat Martino - Masquerada - Starbright
Quincy Jones - Walking In Space - Walking In Space

The Opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque

Playlists from all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.ca

I mis-spoke in my intro to Quincy Jones’s 1969 performance of “Walking In Space”. It’s not George Benson, but Eric Gale doing the guitar work. But otherwise, I got it right. Yes to Freddie Hubbard and Hubert Laws, also to Ray Brown on bass, Bob James on keys and Roland Kirk on sax. And many others. Quincy was known for arranging great spaces for musicians to explore and was consequently always able to attract lots of talent to his recording sessions. Before this album, he’d been building a reputation writing and arranging film scores, such as for “The Pawnbroker”, “In Cold Blood” and “In the Heat of the Night”. Simultaneously, he established himself as an arranger for great jazz, and later pop, artists, including Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson. This piece – a rousing take on the number from the stage play “Hair” – is full of great solos delivered with exhuberance.

Miles Davis’s tribute to the boxer Jack Johnson stands in sharp contrast as a piece with virtually no arrangement at all, aside from the masterful, after the fact editing by Teo Macero. It came together as an impromptu jam at a recording session. The lack of prior arrangement doesn’t mean any less strategy or intent in the work. This album, like so much else in the Miles Davis discography, reflects how the man operated. He liked spontaneity, freshness, all things new. He brought together musicians whose work he admired and created spaces for them to fill, and fill them they did.

This particular cut started with the strumming of guitarist John McLaughlin, one of Davis’s new, young recruits at the time, who’d been playing with his former drummer, Tony Williams. This particular session had Billy Cobham on the drums, bassist Michael Henderson, and Steve Grossman on sax. Herbie Hancock happened to be in the building and sat himself at the organ when he came upon the scene.

Enjoy & Thrive!

December 03, 2016 08:38 PM PST
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Artist - Tune - Album
Kamasi Washington - Final Thought - The Epic
Booker T. & the M.G.’s - Melting Pot - Melting Pot
Baird Hersey & The Year of The Ear - Partings - Lookin’ For That Groove
Bill Evans - Autumn Leaves - Autumn Leaves
John Coltrane - Lush Life - Lush Life
Ted Curson - Straight Ice - Flip Top
Public Enemy - Fight The Power - Fear Of A Black Planet
James “Blood” Ulmer - Pleasure Control - Free Lancing
Tony Williams - Two Worlds - Native Heart
Marcus Miller - Bruce Lee - Silver Rain
Marcus Miller featuring Lalah Hathaway - La Villette - Silver Rain
Archie Shepp - Blues Free - Parisian Concert, volume 1
Joni Mitchell - The Reoccurring Dream - Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm
Manhattan Transfer - Birdland - Extensions

The Opening Theme for Jazz Gumbo is "Music Evolution" by Buckshot Lefonque.
Information about all past Sets is available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.ca

There are some funky, gotcha grooves in this set, old and new, from Booker T. to Public Enemy to Marcus Miller to Kamasi Washington. Music to get you tappin your feet or shakin your hip bone.

And then there are some burners of a different order, like the Curson, the Ulmer, the Shepp, with more bite and edge to it than the others. And on the flip side, an almost entrancing offering from Hersey & the Year of the Ear.

But the cream of this set – especially if its cream that you really like – is Trane’s “Lush Life”. I’ve probably waxed on about this one before (like maybe the last time I played it). Just can’t be helped.

First of all, the tune itself, penned by Billy Strayhorn, is about as lush as a tune can get. It’s rich, it’s voluptuous, it’s full of curves and curls, bounces and swells, and it modulates all over the damn place, never settling onto the cozy notes you might expect from your ear’s experience of lesser songs, but always reaching for that other tone that dances your pleasure one cycle higher.

And then, there’s what the soloists do with it. Breathtaking! All three solos are brilliant: by pianist Red Garland, and of course, by the master himself, full of runs and glides, and those famous “sheets of sound”. But the solo that really takes it for me is that by Donald Byrd on trumpet. He makes a simple, lilting dance of it, with flourishes that only enhance the sensuousness of the song, but with a tone that is both slightly throaty and caressing, the very sound of seduction and romance.



November 26, 2016 07:48 PM PST
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Artist - Tune - Album
Jazz Passengers - Basketball Fish - Deranges & Decomposed
Joanne Brackeen - Let Me Know - Keyed In
Emperors New Clothes - Four Corners - History of Acid Jazz
Counter Measure - I Saw Her Standing There - Made To Measure
Bennie Maupin - Night Watch - Moonscapes
Max Roach - Part One - Speak, Brother, Speak
Ramsey Lewis featuring Earth, Wind & Fire - Sun Goddess - Sun Goddess
Manteca - Meanwhile Tomorrow - The Twelfth Of Never
Betty Carter - Sounds - The Betty Carter Album
Larry Coryell - Better Git It In Your Soul - I’ll Be Over You
June Garber - Baltimore Oriole - This I Know
Art Blakey - Night In Tunisia - A Night In Tunisia
Leonard Cohen - Democracy - The Future

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque

Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

“Let Me Know” by Joanne Brackeen is from a masterful album - “Keyed In”, and features the pianist with Jack DeJohnette and Eddie Gomez, artists I was much more familiar with than I was with the lead. It is a rich and evocative album, full of texture and feeling. Brackeen is one of those artists I wonder isn’t better known.

Betty Carter’s “Sounds” is another really extraordinary piece, from another artist who hasn’t gotten the attention she deserves. What a dynamic piece! And how does a bass generate so much drive grinding out a single note?

“Four Corners” by a 90’s group - Emperor’s New Clothes - is something new to me. I discovered it on a CD titled, “A History of Acid Jazz” that I recently came across in the studio, mailed in some years ago. I love the grove and bite of it.

There is lots and lots of music in the studio that has come in over the years, in hopes of generating some air-play and awareness for the artists. Lately, a few discs have come in addressed to this show, and I’ve begun to accept the invitation to explore. I’m loving it! And so I’ve featured a handful of these artists in this set. What a hard life it is, struggling to be heard over a sea of noise. I’ll be making more of an effort to include different voices here.

So, here we go. I hope you musicians out there continue to send in your work.

Kirby Obsidian

November 22, 2016 12:19 AM PST
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Artist - Tune - Album
Don Cherry & Gato Barbieri - First Movement - Togetherness
Michal Urbaniak - Deep Mountain - Fusion
Terumasa Hino - Speak To Loneliness - Speak To Loneliness
Woody Shaw - Stepping Stone - Stepping Stones
Jimmy Smith - (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction - Got My Mojo Workin’
The Temptations - Ball Of Confusion - Great Songs & Performances…
Charles Mingus - Cumbia & Jazz Fusion - Cumbia & Jazz Fusion
Stephane Grappelli - Ain’t Misbehavin - Satin Doll
Macy Gray - Boo - The Id
Oregon - Impending Bloom - Oregon
John Coltrane - Welcome - Kulu Sé Mama

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque

Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

Kirby Obsidian

November 16, 2016 12:16 AM PST
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Artist - Tune - Album
Freddie Hubbard - The Black Angel - The Black Angel
Sonny Fortune - Waves Of Dreams - Waves Of Dreams
Cleo Laine - It Might As Well Be Spring - I Am A Song
King Pleasure - It Might As Well Be Spring - Moody’s Mood For Love
Wes Montgomery - Down Here On The Ground - Down Here On The Ground
Bill Withers - Grandma’s Hands - Just As I Am
Ralph Towner - Beneath an Evening Sky - Old Friends, New Friends
Duke Ellington - Black and Tan Fantasie - Giants of Jazz – Duke Ellington
Roland Kirk - There Will Never Be Another You - The Return of the 5000 lb. Man
Randy Weston - Berkshire Blues - Berkshire Blues
War - Deliver the Word - Deliver the Word
Weather Report - Unknown Soldier - I Sing The Body Electric
Nancy Wilson, Chick Corea, - "Round Midnight - Echoes Of An Era
Lenny White, Stanley Clarke,
Joe Henderson
Frank Sinatra - Someone To Watch Over Me - Someone To Watch Over Me
Horace Silver - Bonita - The Cape Verdean Blues
Dianne Reeves - We Belong Together - Never Too Far

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque

Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

Kirby Obsidian

November 06, 2016 07:06 AM PST
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Artist - Tune - Album
George Duke & Billy Cobham - Do Whatcha Wanna - “Live” - On Tour In Europe
Return to Forever featuring Chick Corea - The Musician - Musicmagic
Gato Barbieri - Sunride - Ruby, Ruby
Chet Baker - Love For Sale - You Can’t Go Home Again
Dave Holland - The Watcher - Prism
Norman Connors - Revelation - Love From The Sun
Stanley Clarke - Spanish Phases for Strings & Bass - Stanley Clarke
Art Tatum - Aunt Hagar’s Blues - Solo Masterpieces, Vol.4
Oscar Peterson & Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen - On The Trail - Digital at Montreux
Mark Isham - Many Chinas - Vapor Drawings
Miles Davis - Gone, Gone, Gone - Porgy & Bess

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque
Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

Check back in a couple of days for notes about this set!

Kirby Obsidian

October 25, 2016 09:57 PM PDT
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Artist - Tune - Album
Pharoah Sanders - You Got To Have Freedom - Journey To The One
Taj Mahal - The Cuckoo - The Natch'l Blues
Wayne Shorter - Causeways - Joy Ryder
Eddie Harris - Don’t You Know Your Future’s In Space - Come On Down!
Joan Armatrading - Am I Blue For You - To The Limit
Lester Bowie - I Am With You - Twilight Dreams
Dewey Redman - Boody - The Ear Of The Behearer
Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack - The World Of Ray Charles
Anthony Braxton - You Stepped Out Of A Dream - Five Pieces 1975
Nock, Maupin, Marshall, McBee - Symbiosis - Almanac
Pat Metheny - 5-5-7 - Letter From Home
Amina Claudine Myers - Christine - The Circle Of Time
Sonny Rollins - Star Eyes - Sonny Rollins Plays For Bird
Al Green - Tired Of Being Alone - Greatest Hits
Robert Glasper featuring Lalah Hathaway - Cherish The Day - Black Radio

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque
Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

It’s my first set back after a long break.

It was a cozy re-entry into the studio at Regent Park Focus. It didn’t take me long to get back into managing all the switches and knobs of the equipment. I don’t stress as much as I once did about how the show will go. My concern is simply: “What music will I play? What will go with what?” By design, I stray beyond jazz into related genres, and I aim for a range and variety of styles, tempos and moods, and try to create some flow between them. I’m on guard against overplaying my favorites, and almost always include at least a cut or two that is fairly new to me.

The characteristic I fret about more than any other is that of period. I’m hyper aware that my own period of discovering and coming to love music in general, and jazz in particular, was the seventies. That was when I actively shaped and directed my personal, musical growth, and also the time when I was most strongly influenced by those around me and the music they loved, and by what was “in the culture”. And my culture at that time leaned away from pop and toward the fringe. Any regular listener to this show will know that soul and rock have their place in my musical world, but it’s jazz fusion that reigns, that to my mind epitomizes artistic creativity.

So I worry some that what I play is so predominantly from the seventies and eighties. Maybe I ought to label the show as focusing on those decades, except that there’s so much from the fifties, sixties, nineties and recent years that I want to include. One of my wishes is that I had more time to explore all of the new music being born every year. I include bits of it as I discover it, but I’m an old dude who just doesn’t circulate that much anymore, and I have a full time job, a wife, a life and…well, you get the picture.

Some of you have been referring me to artists I don’t know, and I very much appreciate it. I get to it as I can, and I’m loving it. Keep it up. And let me know what you think of the show and what you’d like to hear more of.

Kirby Obsidian

September 23, 2016 02:07 AM PDT
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Artist - Tune - Album
Tony Williams - City of Lights - Native Heart
Billy Cobham - Jailbait - Observations &
Brad Scribner - Good Morning -
George Duke - Reach For It - Reach For It
Dinah Washington - Blues in the Night - The Complete Dinah Washington on Mercury – Vol. 7
Oscar Peterson & Count Basie - Lester Leaps In - Satch and Josh…Again
Quincy Jones - Django - Golden Boy
Soundtrack Cast - Cool - West Side Story Soundtrack
Tower of Power - Squib Cakes - Back to Oakland
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme - A Love Supreme
Pursuance & Psalm
Russell Gunn - Krunk Jazz - Krunk Jazz
Chick Corea - Cool Weasel Boogie - The Chick Corea Electric Band
Horace Silver - Togetherness - Silver ‘n’ Voices
Flora Purim - You Love Me Only - Nothing Will Be As It Was…Tomorrow
Herbie Hancock - Toys - Speak Like A Child
Abdullah Ibrahim - Sotho Blue - The Mountain
Mahavishnu Orchestra - The Dance of Maya - The Inner Mounting Flame
Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blues – Part II - Blood, Sweat & Tears
Sly & The Family Stone - Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin - Greatest Hits

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque

Information about past Sets of Jazz Gumbo can be found at:

One Hundred Sets! It feels like an accomplishment. It feels special!
I’m grateful to the folks at Regent Park Focus – Adonis, Amil, Pat, Tyrone and Emanuel – for inviting me to do this and for supporting me along the way.

I’ve always loved music, and in recent years, as I’ve been invited to share it, my love, knowledge and appreciation have grown deeper. Trying – as I plot the introduction of this music to others – to hear it through their ears, opens my own ears to dimensions of the music I had been unaware of, most significantly to the relationship that all musical styles bear to one another, sometimes close, sometimes distant and not obvious.

There was a time that I’d have said that I dislike opera, country and rap, but over time, I’ve loved music from each of those genres. I now believe that the only explanation for a music lover to claim a dislike of any musical style is that they haven’t listened to that style and its offerings closely enough to discover its riches.

As I post this one hundredth set, I can’t help but remember the time I almost let the show go. Between March ’14 and March ’15, I didn’t produce a single set. My life was chaotic; I felt myself pulled in too many directions; it didn’t seem possible to find the time to do the show the way I wanted to. But I remembered the joy of selecting albums from my collection at home, bringing them into the studio in Regent Park, and over the period of a couple of hours flowing between my loose plan and the inspirations of the moment, adding in numbers from my iPod library, and finishing up the two hours of studio time in a state of deep satisfaction, eager to edit the show of the inevitable false starts, dead air and verbal blunders, (thank you Audacity!) and offer it up to listeners everywhere who might be interested.

It’s been an additional joy to have folks listening in from all over the world, and to hear from some of them about the music they’ve been exposed to through this show. Let’s see if we can get in another hundred sets together.

Kirby Obsidian

August 30, 2016 10:02 PM PDT
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Artist - Tune - Album
Ahmad Jamal - One (Ahad) - One
Osibisa - Bassa Bassa & Somaja - Happy Children
Nguyen Le - Manic Depression - Purple – Celebrating Jimi Hendrix
Charles Tolliver - Household of Saud - Paper Man
Airto Moreira - Promises of the Sun - Promises of the Sun
Jack DeJohnette - Monk’s Mood - Album Album
Robert Glasper - Mood - Mood
John Coltrane - A Love Supreme: - A Love Supreme
Acknowledgement / Resolution
Brian Blade - He Died Fighting - Landmarks
James “Blood” Ulmer - Moon Shines - Tales of Captain Black
Branford Marsalis - Broadway Fools - Random Abstract
Charles Mingus - Fables of Faubus - Better Git It In Your Soul

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque
Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

During a ten-week period of the summer of 1995 I listened to Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” every day, sometimes twice. I was on the road, working, selling Encyclopaedia Britannica at state fairs across the U.S. I had married and moved from Seattle to Toronto a couple of years earlier – major changes – and I was trying to make other changes as well.

I enjoyed that summer. A lot. I was making good money and enjoying being a temporary nomad. I started the summer in Columbus, Ohio, then travelled to Sacramento by train. Then a buddy and I drove to the fair in Albuquerque, and on to Dallas. I flew from there to Raleigh, North Carolina, and finally to Atlanta before returning home. I enjoyed every day of it, including the lowest common denominator motel rooms and the fair food.

Every day, during one of my food breaks – (we basically worked 12 hour shifts; it was pure commission work and you didn’t want to stay away from the booth for too long) – I’d find myself a relatively quiet spot and would pop the home recorded cassette into my portable player, and let Trane transport me.

It’s spirit music, and searching, aspiring music. Coltrane was many things: both deeply spiritual and a heroin addict. Perhaps more than anything else – at least so far as the world is concerned – he was a musical explorer and visionary, inventing and testing novel approaches to his instrument at every step along the way to becoming legendary. It’s said that he practiced relentlessly, going at it into the early morning, after he’d gigged late into the night.

One of my favorite Trane stories involves him and fellow tenor man Sonny Rollins, who also practiced insatiably. It’s said that the phone would ring in Rollins’ apartments in the early hours, and when he picked it up, a complex tenor riff would explode in his ear, Coltrane at work. Inspired, challenged, Rollins would return the favor half an hour later. Two giants, prodding each other on; hardly a word spoken.

“A Love Supreme” expresses Trane’s devotion, his faith, his prayer. Personally, it’s not my favorite of his works, but during that summer of ’95 it was at once a haven and a call to thrust myself beyond safety and toward transcendence. Miles Davis, one of jazz’s greatest mentors, can take some credit for helping Coltrane to find his wings, exhorting him, when he employed the gifted unknown in his band, to shed his constraints and to blow as he was capable of blowing, but didn’t yet realize. By the time Trane was ready to branch off and to create his own music, Davis says that he was expressively exploring new sonic territory every night. Folks would come again and again, to hear what Trane was going to blow next, to learn where his explorations were pointing him.

There’s nothing for me to say about the music. It will speak for itself. I wish I’d played the entire album for this Set, and not only the first side. I’ll play the second side, containing the sections “Pursuance” and “Psalm” during an upcoming show, maybe next week.

Lots of other great music in this set. Listen out for the percussionists: Airto, DeJohnette and Brian Blade, each creative masters with a vision. And the group Osibisa, made up of musicians from several African and Caribbean nations, and whose wonderful album cover illustrates this set, bring group percussion to beautiful heights.

Kirby Obsidian

August 22, 2016 11:02 PM PDT
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Artist - Tune - Album
Woody Shaw - In a Capricornian Way - Stepping Stones –
Live at the Village Vanguard
Stanley Clarke - Lopsy Lu - Stanley Clarke
Ira Sullivan - Purples, Violets & Blues - Ira Sullivan
Ornette Coleman - Street Woman - Science Fiction
John McLaughlin - Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat - My Goal’s Beyond
John McLaughlin - Follow Your Heart - My Goal’s Beyond
Clifford Brown & Max Roach - Delilah - Jordu
John Surman - My Friend - Such Winters of Memory
Roberta Flack - Tryin’ Times - First Take
Sonny Fortune - The Blues Are Green - Infinity Is
Buddy Miles - The Midnight Rider - A Message to the People
Carmen McRae - I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good - Carmen McRae
Terence Blanchard - Joe & O - Wandering Moon
Hilton Ruiz - One For Hakim - Piano Man
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross - Things Ain’t What They Used To Be - Sing Ellington
Airto Moreira - O Galho da Roseira - Seeds on the Ground

The opening theme for Jazz Gumbo is “Music Evolution” by Buckshot Lefonque
Playlists of all past Sets are available at jazzgumbo.blogspot.com

An album is to songs what a sentence is to words.
Just as a sentence takes a combination of words to a level of meaning that they cannot even approach individually, a great album will elevate the songs to a place they can only approach with their combined resonance and power. A great album builds, it constructs an alternate reality in which each of its parts can become transcendant.

And Ornette Coleman’s “Science Fiction” is such an album. Which is to say that “Street Woman” is best heard in the context of that album. I can only hope that the tunes it follows here open up the proper space for it, so that you will enjoy it as I have.

Ornette, of course, defied conventions and expectations. He and a few notable others stretched the boundaries of jazz to encompass sounds that hadn’t been heard before. Many music lovers and jazz musicians just couldn’t get it, and still don’t. There’s a lot of Ornette’s music that I don’t get either. But “Science Fiction” is the album that pulls it all together for me, that put progressive jazz in a shape that somehow just does it for me. I find it a really beautiful piece of work.

Other great albums sampled in this set are Brown & Roach’s “Jordu”, and Roberta Flack’s brilliant debut, “First Take”. McLaughlin and Moreira’s albums, while not reaching quite the same standard for cohesion, are really fine too.

Kirby Obsidian

note: I hadn't intended to play McLaughlin's "Follow Your Heart". I failed to turn down the music while I was speaking. Since my words are practically inaudible, and as I spoke my way through the entire beautiful tune, I decided to leave it in.
Note to self: Don't talk so much!!!

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