I know this is a shocking musical turn of events at Londonjazzcollector: crossbreed soul-jazz hip hop, something I never imagined I would write about.
No categories are barred here as long as it is good music, which sometimes you find where you least expect it. An unexpected pleasure is all the better for being…unexpected, an antidote to the disappointment of failing to find pleasure where you hoped to find it, an all too familiar experience in Reissueland – a territory in which nowadays we spend more time than we would wish.
This is contemporary music modelled on elements of modern jazz/ soul jazz and its authentic practitioners, to create a novel hybrid genre. It is not the current mode-de-jour, ” xyz re-imagined”, sampled and adulterated jazz with a beat graft on, but something with a genuine reverence and respect for living sources, something that is unashamedly both new and old. I think it is worth a listen.
Join me, the worst that can happen is we are brought in for questioning by The Jazz Police in pork-pie hats. Just deny all knowledge of LondonJazzCollector, claim you were searching for LondonPizzaCollection – free extra toppings.
On with the show: Jazz Is Dead 5, Doug Carn.
Selection 1: Windfall ( Carn, Younge & Muhammad)
. . .
Musicians: Doug Carn, Hammond B3; Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad, electric bass guitar, Fender Rhodes piano; Zach Ramacier, trumpet; Shai Golan, alto saxophone; Malachi Morehead, drums.
Selection 2: Nunca Um Malandro (trans. Brazil/Portuguese: never a rascal)
. . .
Musicians: Doug Carn: Hammond B3; Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad: electric bass guitar, Fender Rhodes piano; Gary Bartz: Alto saxophone.
. . .
A2 Autumn Leaves
B5 Down Deep
B6 Desert Rain
C7 Freedom at Sunset
C9 Lions Walk
D10 Nunca Um Malandro
Hammond organist Doug Carn made his debut on the Black Jazz label and between 1971-75 released four albums with his singer/wife Jean. After a nearly twenty year hiatus, Carn reappeared in the late Nineties at festivals, recordings and events, and since 2010 he has been performing and touring with his faithful Hammond and now ex-wife Jean.
Carn’s latest project is an entry in the Jazz Is Dead series. JID is an LA-based record label founded in 2020 by Adrian Younge – a lawyer by training – and former Tribe Called Quest hip-hop artist Ali Shaheed Muhammad, collaborating among others, with Roy Ayers, Lonnie Liston Smith, Brian Jackson, Nigerian-born drummer Tony Allen, Brazilian singer Marcos Valle, Brazilian jazz fusion combo Azymuth, and early founder of Brazilian jazz and Bossa, João Donato. They play an awful lot of music in Brazil.
Any recommendations from the series welcome.
A few theme-compilations aside, most of the JID series feature an iconic living artist, with Younge and Muhammad on electric bass and piano, a scattering of LA musicians, and Seventies luminaries such as altoist Gary Bartz. According to a Downbeat interview (Sept 2022), Younge has “an obsession with vintage analog recording techniques and instruments” (welcome to the party Adrian!).
Connoisseurs of genealogy will be interested to learn that the numerical value of a younge in Pythagorean Numerology is 6. A more interesting question is which of the cats pictured below on the cover of Downbeat Magazine (September 2022 issue) is the lawyer? You get only one shot.
Passing trains, from opposite directions, the intersection of the classic and the modern: 2020s DJ hip-hop producers connecting with their 60s 70s jazz roots, pass LJC coming from 60s 70s jazz roots to have a look at what they are up to in 2020s.
Doug Carn, now in his mid-70s, plays straight classic 1970s Hammond B3, without any later music mannerisms. For the most part, varied interesting compositions, thoughtfully integrated classic 60s/70s Hammond B3 voice with well-crafted bass and horn arrangements, with a very dynamic sound to boot. Not at all bad. A few tracks I found cringe-worthy: drum-kit bashing away on autopilot non-stop through a five-minute track. That is hip-hop style, is it? I’m not from around these parts.
Vinyl: Jazz Is Dead JID5 – 2x45rpm LP
With two LPs at 45 rpm, it is effectively the same as one LP at 33 1/3.
These are mostly electronic instruments plugged into a mixing desk, it’s digital, perhaps the odd instrument needs a mic. The engineers are not credited, nor the studio, no inkling of the manufacturing process. DJ-God producers don’t need to explain.
What they have done is produce a very tight and information-rich mix and master it skillfully to give a very dynamic recording. The drumbeats (Malachi Morehead) are given special emphasis, a hip-hop legacy. The Audacity histograms show very fast response, a very modern recording.
Jazz Is Dead boast a “life-like experience” – isn’t that an oxymoron? Is it “audiophile”? – that is a different experience, but given what it is, it sounds (quite) good to me™.
Second LP in the set looks the same, but SIDE C: usual modernist minimum information. It’s a tease of course, an affectation of that generation with youthful eyesight, the information is simply printed elsewhere, in a barely legible very small font in white text out of purple. Obviously information is considered bourgeoise – why do you need to know? Or text discriminates, against people who can’t read: no text is more inclusive.
Jazz Is Dead is an eye-catching ironic name. Jazz isn’t dead, though a lot of jazz musicians are, I reckon a good 95% of those with records on my shelf, though I don’t really think about it that way, it’s all just music. JID is masterminded by keyboard and bass players Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad (better get the spelling right on that one, a Cecil Taylor fatwa is the last thing I need right now).
Following a recent post on the Black Jazz label, dipping into the music of the Seventies, the Doug Carn title caught my eye, and I was enchanted by the off-metre melodic hook of the track Windfall, as good a reason as any to hear what else is under the bonnet of this series. I had not heard anything quite like it before, I found myself, reluctantly, getting into the groove.
London: What’s On The Shelf?
London, September 2022, New Arrivals: original US Blue Note Dexter Gordon’s “Go”, priced at an eye-watering £520. A measure of Blue Note inflation, my same mono copy – Ebay auction 2011, £65. I thought that was quite a lot at the time, I guess originals have become scarcer in the decade since. Go! saw a release in the Blue Note Vinyl Classics series recently, remastered from original tapes by Kevin Gray., but of course, stereo.The “tenfold” premium rests on the desirability of mono, the sentiment attached to an “original” edition, and an article of faith – a 1962 Van Gelder Plastylite will sound punchier and more natural than any modern remaster. The secret is in the 1962 air: cigarette smoke, leaded-petrol car exhaust, mom’s hairspray and dad’s Old Spice, some things not even Kevin Gray can capture.
Perhaps someone should market Vintage Air Freshener – bring the authentic smell of the decade to your listening room. (Free 1960s sample sachet with LP). Also available in 1970’s vintage (Brut, hippy incense and wet linoleum), and 1980s vintage (sweaty Spandex, with Jane Fonda Workout cassette, and a whiff of partly-effective underarm deodorant.).
It’s a blast from the past, in more ways than one.
Those, willing to listen to the Mother of Quotes, turn to Frank Zappa & Mothers: ‘Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny’. This quote cannot exist without the context. Here is where to find it: Zappa & Mothers, RoXy & Elsewhere, side 4, Be Bop Tango. Or:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zppArCRgB18 – at 51:36/ of total 1:02:13
This track, off course, is, and wether you like it or not, a Gesamtkunstwerk, lasting a mere 15 minutes. I am not the biggest Zappa fan. But it is worth it.
Excellent writing, reading and music. Thank you. …keep ’em comin’. “But, I mean, jazz”.
The Jazz Is Dead series is a hit or miss affair. I have listened to most of them and the Doug Cairn release is one of the best. For me, however, the João Donato album is the true gem. It captures a sunkissed tropicalia moment wonderfully. Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad don’t dominate here like they tend to on the other albums and the sound is fuller and more dimensional. Loaded with great tunes and arrangements, its the one I recommend.
Thanks — helpful pointers in a avoiding what sound as if they may be ill-advised choices…
1962, the year before the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, you may need to add some radioactive fallout to that air freshener, “The Atomic Mr. Basie” anyone?
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That would be 1957. I love the much-maligned stereo version!!
Yes! Missing a few chords at the beginning, but I’ve had the French pressing bought in Sydney for almost 50 years of pleasure.
The popular ’80s vintage freshener includes actual Chernobyl dust. Whilst we have had a few rare cases of hair falling out with extended use, (we call the Lt. Kojak look), on the plus side, you will have no difficulty locating the canister in the dark.
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