"SPIRITUAL JAZZ" & ETHNO/WORLD-JAZZ
review page 2

V.A. : "Spiritual Jazz" ('68-'77->'09)
The John Betsch Society ('74->'07)
Don Cherry ('78)
Ara Tokatlián & Enrique Villegas / Milcho Leviev ('75,'87->'09)
The Whitefield Brothers ('09)
Roy Brooks & The Artistic Truth ('73/'10)
Raphaël ('72)
Derf Reklaw ('98)
Rise ('11)

Phil Cohran and The Artistic Heritage (on a different page)
Sun Ra (on a different page)
The Pyramids/Idris Ackamoor (on a different page)

** G ***VG ***° VG with perf moments ****PERF *****impossible to have a better example
+° some tracksbetter ; +' possible better from certain viewpoint

JazzmanV.A. : Spiritual Jazz (US,..,1968-1977,pub.2009)****°
  -esotheric, modal and deep jazz from the underground 1968-77-

‘Spiritual Jazz’, often is associated as if it was launched by John Coltrane’s 1964 album “Love Supreme” but the reality was that there were some spiritual movements evolving and influencing black society, in which for instance Sun Ra was amongst the first to give it some rather weird significance within music, so that this spirituality also was given a cosmo jazz meaning, also known to his friends John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders (who therefore also changed its name to "Pharoah"). What participated into this development as well was a great spontaneous mixture of ethnical styles, most often in search for their own roots, a genealogical reference with a spiritual or true awareness, as a renewed foundation of their roots, mixed with the freedom of the jazz discipline. Even soul-jazz, (and even some very early disco!!) at first, more often was expressed in association with some spiritual form or awareness. In that way, even the lesser known inspirators in this style had available a large area of inspirations, and a gloomy moodiness platform in which the intended to explore their deeper spiritual feelings in association with the creation of music, and words. Not all the listed tracks from this album are from a black origin, but all of them dwell in this area of ethno-soulful-spiritual moody jazz. Where Sun Ra was often too abstract and experimental to fit within this spiritual jazz area (and therefore was cosmo-free jazz), his followers (Brother Ah, and Ronnie Boykins, listed here, or admirers like Sal Ragab from Cairo, also listed) were already in a more direct-moodily, smoothly and relaxed area, despite their own contribution of original vividness of their personal awarenessness. This makes an investigation of these names worthy of investigation. The mix is very original, done with a DJ-consciousness of what fits perfectly next, and shows many highlighting moments of spiritual jazz, spiritual poetry or ethnical fusion revealing something deeper of an awareness that is just a style investigation. Highly recommended ! The recordings are rare, but many of the listed albums were in fact already reissued some day.

My radio show will feature several of the albums featured on this compilation.

Audio on http://www.undergroundhiphop.com/... & http://www.emusic.com/...
& http://www.rushhour.nl/...http://www.trackitdown.net/... & http://www.juno.co.uk/...
Label info : https://www.jazzmanrecords.co.uk/...
& on http://www.myspace.com/wedigdeeper
Press info : http://www.parisdjs.com/index.php/post/various-spiritual-jazz
Review with audio : http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=90964
Other reviews : http://www.righton.fm/reviews.php?id=34&ob=id&o=d
& http://www.dustygroove.com/...
& http://www.beyondjazz.net/viewtopic.php?t=15046
& http://www.shook.fm/..
& http://www.hum45.ch/...

* James Tatum's "Jazz Mass" on http://waxidermy.com/...
& http://cousinsvinyl.com/2008...

* Some info on Salah Ragab : http://orgyinrhythm.blogspot.com/... & http://jazzzin.blogspot.com/... ; audio : http://www.juno.co.uk/... or on http://www.youtube.com/... and video intro on http://www.youtube.com/...
* Info on Ade Olatunji  album : http://ajbenjamin2beta.blogspot.com/... and here
* Frank Derrick album here
* Ronnie Boykins album on ESP : http://www.espdisk.com/...
* Two Lloyd Miller releases are reviewed on http://www.psychemusic.org/PERSIAreviews.html#anchor_46
Other album here with audio here

Some list of Spiritual jazz masters :
http://www.miqel.com/jazz_music_heart/jazz-spirit-masters.html

















Heavenly Sweetness  The John Betsch Society :
Earth Blossem -LP/CD- (US,1974,re.2007)***°'

I’m glad to have found this ethno-spiritual jazz album, the only release by this band. I will resume some info of the liner notes here :

"John Betsch had joined the Bob Holmes Trio in 1963, then studied at Berkeley with John Abercrombie, Ernie Watts as follow students. A road accident had prevented him from being sent to Vietnam when he went into the army duty in 1967. After his service he joined Tim Hardin’s group. They recorded an album together with members of the future Oregon, which the label has still never released. So he joined Bob Holmes again. Two years later he was expected for a university course with Archie Shepp and Max Roach in which he participated for four years. The album was influenced by the student and political Afrocentric ideas active in those days, besides an influence from the spirit of Coltrane. The album was recorded in one day. After the album the most noticeable bands he played in where those of Steve Lacy, Mal Waldron and Archie Shepp."

I will simply describe that this album swings with harmonic melodic themes (almost Canterbury), with an exotic rhythm section, and some subtle free jazz richness in improvisation, played by talented musicians, from a great quality, a bit like the more Afrocentric albums from early Pharoah Sanders, remaining tempered and melodic much longer. The last section becomes a bit freer near the end.

Audio "Earth Blossem" & on http://www.juno.co.uk/...
Label : www.myspace.com/heavenlyssweetness
Description : http://www.dustygroove.com/...
Review with audio : http://www.boomkat.com/...
& http://www.rushhour.nl/...
Heavenly Sweetness  Don Cherry : Latif Khan (US,1978,re.2009)***°°

..“Brown Rice” from two years before this recording has made me suddenly appreciate trumpet, an instrument I could not stand before, for the first 20 years of my life. Analysing again what I heard, it is no doubt Don Cherry ‘s way of playing that is rather unique, and even with moment subtle wild, never is more than necessary. That’s also exactly like his music is. With the best musicians they just play only when the sound needs it, making it inspired and meditative to a degree no matter how wild things go, the subtle delicate extremely intelligent and skilful balance is always there. But Don Cherry did not always play with the professionals. He once played with the Krishna worshippers, or with some amateurs who he thought had the right feeling, also he did participate with contemporary classical composer Pederecki. He brought elements in from an African origin, in essence from what the instruments especially had to offer, and also Indian elements. Also in the free jazz, he showed some moves, like on “Orient”(1971).

This album was a cooperation between Don Cherry and Latin Knan on tablas, a studio album played as if it is a live recording simultaneously and played live by lots of musicians, while most instruments were separately recorded by Don Cherry himself. The label considered this album as one of their favourites and it shows again some incredible and original moments of don Cherry indeed it is a shame that this one never received a reissue until now.

The first track is a combination of an Ornette Colman track/melody with a new and further worked out section brought in. Don Cherry plays here piano, organ and trumpet. “Air Mali” with African bass, high breathy singing, smoothly brings in the next move. This ends with a great tabla solo with African bass. Very special is “One Dance” on an Indonesian melodic theme first played by bamboo flute and keyboards imitating the gamelan and piano, then with small parts moodily improvised upon it with trumpet and piano, and some droning tampura, and with strange vocal sounds adapted in it too. Rhythm 58 ¼ is I think in a 5/8¼ rhythm which is difficult to follow if you purely try to count with it (keyboard and tabla). Also “Sangam” is an improvisation on tabla with organ, which is rather long, while the tabla player remains really amazing. The album was divided into a ‘music’ and a ‘sangam’ side. Especially the music side shows Don Cherry’s ideas on fusing world music with jazz in a beautiful sparsely developing style.

Audio on http://www.rushhour.nl/...
Label : www.myspace.com/heavenlyssweetness
Details : http://www.cd-v.net/jazz/cover/cherry/JP-2009.html
or http://www.geocities.com/cherry_tapes/latifkhan.htm (from discography)
or http://www.discogs.com/Don-Cherry-Latif-Khan-Untitled/release/1670148
Info : http://www.parisdjs.com/index.php/post/Don-Cherry-Latif-Khan-Music-Sangam
Leader Music  Ara Tokatlian & Enrique Villegas : Inspiration (US,1975)
    + Ara Tokatlian & Milchio Leviev : In Memoriam (US,1987,re.2009)***°

I’d like to mention this improvisational moody, spiritual sounding jazz album, partly comparable to early Pharoah Sanders a bit, with sax, piano, double bass and some flute and some vocal improvisations on the last tracks. This reissue compiled two LP’s with over ten years between then, but they combine very well. For a part, Milcho Leviev takes over, in tribute, the role of Enrique Villegas well, plus he adds more swings and power to the mix as well. Highly recommended to lovers of spiritual jazz. This was a post-Arco Iris jazz project.

Available from http://www.viajeroinmovil.com
Label : http://www.leadermusic.com
About Villegas : http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/musician.php?id=12187
See my page on all releases from the band Arco Iris here
Now Again Rec.  The Whitefield Brothers : Earthology (D,2010)****'

This is the second album by this German band who dug into 70s Afropsych/jazz and funk (from Ethiopian jazz on at least three or four tracks, Benin Afro-polyrhythms, Afrofunk and Afrorock), leaves openness for more modern rhythms (hiphop minded, then even a touch of electronic) the occasional hiphop itself or beat poetry (with some of the better approaches with it for its use of such fresh combinations I have not heard for a long thanks to the creativity along with and thanks to the strong jazz core), nice flute improvisations, Middle Eastern elements, and so on. The themes seems to be picked out carefully and lots of guests were invited (even a Japanese koto player).
Names mentioned included vocalists Edan, Mr. Lif, Quantic, Percee P, MED and Bajka with musicians from Antibalas, El Michels Affair, Quantic and the Dap-Kings. The band had appeared before in a different form/project as Karl Hector or Poets of Rhythm. As strong and surprising as the album evolves, the last track is a more light rhythmic ending. Highly recommended to the real world-jazz/spiritual jazz lovers.

Info : http://www.stonesthrow.com/news/2010/02/whitefield-brothers-earthology
Label info : http://www.nowagainrecords.com/announcing-whitefield-brothers-earthology/
Other reviews : http://www.prefixmag.com/reviews/the-whitefield-brothers/earthology/36080/
& http://drownedinsound.com/releases/15017/reviews/4138787
& http://www.spin.com/reviews/whitefield-brothers-earthology-now-again
& http://www.citypaper.com/music/review.asp?rid=15736
& http://drownedinsound.com/releases/15017/reviews/4138787
& http://www.musicomh.com/albums/whitefield-brothers_0110.htm
& http://whitefield-brothers.mondomix.com/en/chronique5597.htm
& http://www.toocooltodie.com/index.php?/tctd/aotw/the_whitefield_brothers/
& http://www.independent.co.uk/...
& http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/121169-whitefield-brothers-earthology
& http://hangout.altsounds.com/reviews/...
& http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/...
& http://afrobeatblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/album-review-earthology-whitefield.html
Description : http://www.dustygroove.com/item.php?id=dz4gtjd83b
& http://www.shook.fm/content/2010/02/return-of-the-raw-the-whitefield-brothers/
& http://www.accesshiphop.com/store/?itemid=18600

Jazzman Rec. Roy Brooks & The Artistic Truth :
Ethnic Expressions (US,1973,re.2010)****°

Crazed by the spiritual Afro-mystic (ideas), drummer Roy Brooks with his band has released a few albums before this independent label, Im-Hotep, (a label with the pyramids as a logo). This album is recorded live in New York in 1973, professionally. In the early 70s Roy Brooks had participated in Max Roach's M'Boom Percussion Ensemble, but he also had his own band, The Artistic Truth, where he called himself M'Jumbe (swahili for “messenger”). Besides he was involved in musical training in Harlem. Roy Brooks with The Artistic Truth is one of those rare spiritual jazz inspirations, which grooves, hangs tightly together and still tends to cross its borders with energy bursting out. The brass section leads the melodic themes, with the double bass and electric piano behind them as support. A drum solo almost invisibly takes over and smoothly turns back to the band's full power. “The Smart Set” and also “Eboness”after that are a soulful smoothful song, rooted in black consciousness (say Afro-centric). Last track has some lead flute. The track is about an African traditional holiday dedicated in respect to a unifying existence. It has a second 13 minute part which explains (female voice) with spoken word the holiday. Also hear the jazzy grooves grows throughout the track, and also the lead singer starts to groove with her voice along. Very strong !!

A few years after this, Roy returned to Detroit. In the late 70s, Roy was part of the Archie shepp Band with whom he toured in Japan. The Artistic Truth continued from the 80s until the 90s until the jazz scene saw a downturn. Assailed with mental distress the last few years of his life were full of problems, before he passed away in 2005.

Audio : http://www.rushhour.nl/... & http://www.junodownload.com/...
& http://www.discogs.com/... & http://boomkat.com/... & http://www.youtube.com/...http://www.youtube.com/...
Seller's descriptions : http://www.jazzloft.com/... & http://www.dustygroove.com/...
& (with audio) http://www.piccadillyrecords.com/...
Other reviews : http://www.33-45.org/?p=1167
About Roy Brooks : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Brooks
Different albums on http://ileoxumare.blogspot.com/...
& http://katonah-privatepress.blogspot.com/... & http://www.showandtellmusic.com/..
Other reviews : http://www.grooveattack.com/...
Phil Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble

All 4 reviews moved to http://psychemusic.org/philcohran.html
The Pyramids
Idrissa Ackamoor

All 4 reviews moved to http://psychemusic.org/IdrissaAckamoor.html
Heavenly Sweetness       Raphaël : Stop, Look & Listen -LP/CD- (B,1972)****

I was curious when I heard about this album that was described as being a lost spiritual album from Belgium. I wondered shortly if there ever was such a spiritual jazz movement in Brussels; -in fact there wasn’t. The album still is a very good improvised album with different variations of classic jazz improvisations on piano with a bebop jazz swing on bass and drums and a little touch of bongos with an exotic wordless or lyrical soprano taking care of some parts and returning more often to her voice, especially one the intro and outro and a few returns in between for about 3 long tracks, with an effect that makes it comprehensible of the effect of labelling this album into the deep jazz or spiritual jazz for sure. In between the foundations of piano with drums are some other improvisations like with marimba, free excursions on drums with the swing slowly hanging in the head, before returning to the piano theme. The second track has the longest lead by the voice, which shows skills and ideas, making her improvisation exotic as well. A little bit of male spoken word is a good finishing touch to the spiritual side of this. There’s a small part of a well played blues swing on the piano here too, and another incredible swing also on the vibraphone, with effective sound-sensitive rhythm accents. These first three tracks form a perfect trippy mood. The last track has an beautiful way of playing the piano, a bebop swing on bass and drums, vibraphone solos and a return to the piano theme.

The album was led by the American born Pierre Pletinckx who played this album with members of the Brussels jazz scene at the time he had been part of it. You know that Pierre had played before with Charlie Parker and John Eardley. On this session we have drummer Robert Pernet, vibraphonist and bongo player Johnny Perret and double bass player Paul Dubois someone who recorded other things with Toots Thielemans, Bobby Jaspar and others. The lyrical soprano was Rose Thompson.

Audio links on http://www.piccadillyrecords.com/... or on http://www.rushhour.nl/...
Description on http://www.dustygroove.com/...
Label : http://www.myspace.com/heavenlyssweetness
Label info & audio on http://heavenlysweetnessblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/...
or on http://soundcloud.com/heavenlysweetness/raphael-stop-look-listen
Ubiquity Records       Derf Reklaw : From The Nile -LP/CD- (US,1998)****°

Derf Reklaw is mostly known from the 70s spiritual jazz band The Pharaohs, with a 1972 album that was only re-released in limited edition on LP so far. This newer album proves the magic is still there. The project is fused with energy, creativity and complexity. Participating were a lot of professional musicians. I think it’s worth mentioning all their names :

Derf Reklaw played flute (1,3,7,9), djembe (1,5), cowbell (1), tumba (2), whisums (2), quinto (4), vocal (4,7), alto saxophone (5), jugs, whisums, mouth trumpet and beatbox (6), musa drum (8), congas, jugs and whisums (10) ; Rahmlee Michael Davis on trumpet (3) and trumpet solo (1,5) ;Michael Harris on trumpet (1,3) and trumpet solo (5) ; Nick Smith on piano (1,3,5,7,10) ; John Rangle on piano (9) and marimba (10) ; Trevor Ware on acoustic (acro) bass (1,5) ; Reggie Carson on bass (3,10) ; Jeff Littlton on bass (5,9) ; Lui Lui Satterfield on electric bass (1,7), djun djun drums (3) ; Don Littleton on drums (1,3,7,10), plow sweep (2), cascara (4), tumba (8) ; Leon Mobley on djembe (1), conga (3) ; Billy Higgins on drums (9) ; Pondoza Santiel on tumba (1-5,8), conga (7) ; Munyungo Jackson on congas and shakers (2), shekere (3), congas and bata (4), talking drum and shakers (7), tumba, rattles and shakers (8), timbale, sordo and shakers (10) ; Ronald Muldrow on guitar (7) ; Kamau Daaood with D.R. poetry reciting (1) ; Kang The Guru on vocals (2) ; Dwight Trible on vocal (7,10), Zuri on vocal (7,10) and vocal arrangements (7), Mag Da Pie 3.14 on vocal (7), Nailah on vocals (10), Tamaron Gennae on vocals (10) ; Trevor Ware on claves (4) ; Mimi Archie with the sounds of river and crickets (1) ; John Rangel as elephant herder (elephant trumpet-alike sounds on 5).

The first track, with a background of water and crickets and spoken word brings us immediately into the setting of a boat journey along the Nile, spiritual jazz with beautiful groovy jazz flute and trumpet solos and lots of hand percussion.  Throughout the album a lot of complex polyrhythmic ideas occur, the vocal contributions often sound magical and partly shamanic with weird creative sounds and colours like other instruments. “Hannibal” might be the most complex track with most variations. Also here a setting is made with elephants in battle, trumpeting their way. Lots of polyrhythms occur, taken over on a certain stage by the full band making different layers combating or competing against each other, the sax and later piano leading the jazz theme. “Jus, Da Position” is Derf Reklaw solo with nose flute themes, responding singing and beat box rhythms. “We See” almost seem to break with the spiritual jazz setting, or opens it up, with a reggae-rhythm based positive song of hope with gospel-like singing and responses, just a handful of strange vocal use too, and a flute solo bringing it back to the original setting. This is lighter, but still fits well with the inner goals. “Watusi Wu/Breal of the century” after that is only based upon percussion. After an original version of Coltrane’s “Olé”, the last track, “Carnival” has lots of percussive ideas too, it is as if here a Latin rhythmic theme is returning to certain African roots. The percussion is capable of taking over a merlody with such a rhythmic complexity the melody seems to be remaining or survive in the rhythm only. Most of the album has a spiritual creative awareness and transformed complexity I am used only to find in 70s albums. Even though a few tracks are lighter in theme, this makes this album still a future classic. Only the way Derf Reklaw plays the flute alone is worth the experience. An over 70 minute album. Track it !

Audio : http://www.youtube.com/...
Details : http://www.discogs.com/...
Homepage : http://www.derfreklaw.com/
Review : http://www.ubiquityrecords.com/artists/DERF-REKLAW.html
& http://www.allmusic.com/album/from-the-nile-r377115
Label : https://www.ubiquityrecords.com/
Kudos Records       Rise : Messages -LP/CD- (UK,2011)***°

At first I thought I finally found a new record of spiritual jazz, a new band digging that same area. Rise is in fact the project of the producer, beat technician and musician from Manchester paying a tribute with this album to the spiritual jazz days. Partly it recreates the moods of these days with the inclusion of spoken word fragments, some of it with a Christian spiritual context, watering piano, flute improvisation and a whole array of percussion improvised with it. This convinces for a big while, but then the longer the album takes the more it becomes clear there are repetitions, loops of grooves and moods and rhythms involved, it begins to show itself as another groove band as they are so many nowadays with a formula that does not have more in mind than the right combinations to repeat over a few minutes, the samples of spoken word in the end becomes methodical as well. It is really nice to listen to, but I wish I was kept in the false impression a bit longer or was surprised after a while by a bit more than with intros and loops and a bit of improvisation with that. Something of those days still isn’t there but like a magician producer they hypnotised me for a little while this could be repeated to a degree very well.

(One of the spoken word fragments is taken from a Sun Ra interview, the others I don't know).

Audio on http://www.youtube.com/...
& http://solarsoundsystem.bandcamp.com/album/messages
& http://soundrotation.blogspot.com/...& http://www.rushhour.nl/...
Info on producer : http://www.myspace.com/risehiphop
Label : http://futuristicamusic.co.uk/ & http://www.thewordisbond.com/...
Description with audio on http://www.piccadillyrecords.com/...
& http://www.dustygroove.com/...
There exist also some pages on Indofusions and 3 pages on Indo-jazz in a different section
See overview on http://psychefolk.com/sitar.html

Go to the next review page->
(more spiritual jazz)

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