Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spiritual Jazz 4

In 2012, Jazzman Records was responsible for two of the year's best compilation releases with volume two and three of their acclaimed Spiritual Jazz series. This spring, the label continued their exploration into the world of spiritual jazz, releasing the fourth volume of the series Americans in Europe: Modal, Esoteric & Progressive Jazz from the European Underground 1963-1979. Unlike the last two volumes, which focused solely on European artists and the music that came out of that region, this volume takes a look at some of the best rare gems that were recorded by American artists while they were temporarily residing or touring in Europe. As this brilliant compilation helps highlight, Europe became a very fruitful place for many American jazz artists. During the sixties and seventies, jazz was beginning to take a backseat in many record executives' eyes to rock, soul and other forms of popular music. This shift made it much harder for aspiring jazz artists to make a recording, as well as find a consistent working gig. This therefore caused many notable and up-and-coming jazz artists to make their way to Europe, were there was still a heavy demand for jazz and it didn't come with all the social, racial, and economic issues and pressures that were, at the time, very present in the states. Europe also was a place were American artists could experiment and perform with some of the brightest musicians coming out of Europe. On Spiritual Jazz 4, this collaborative effort is on full display, which includes American flautist Sahib Shihab working with Swiss guitarist Pierre Cavalli, Don Cherry performing alongside Krzysztof Penderecki, and pianist Hampton Hawes in collaboration with notable sound library composer Johnny Hawksworth to name just a few. There are tons of great tracks included on this compilation including "Five, Four, & Three" by Lee Konitz, "T & W" by Frank Wright Sextet, "Born & Shake" by Clarence Peters, "Summertime" by Albert Ayler, "The Creators" by Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land. Overall, Jazzman Records has brilliantly managed to come full circle in this series by showcasing the important contributions in jazz that were made in a collaborative effort by both American and European musicians. Definitely one of the year's best releases!

Johnny Hawksworth & Hampton Hawes - Jazz Rule

Frank Wright Sextet - T & W

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