Various ‘The Jazz Room compiled by Paul Murphy’ 2LP (BBE Music) 4/5

UK jazz dance hero, Paul Murphy, teams up with BBE Music to deliver his first compilation on the label: a blazing selection of up-tempo jazz titled ‘The Jazz Room’. It’s an essential selection of both contemporary and personal favourites which represent the diverse range of under the radar jazz that Paul Murphy continues to champion. Many of the tracks from the contemporary artists pay tribute to earlier protagonists and as such there’s a real cohesive quality running throughout the compilation.

As well as Art Ensemble Of Chicago’s brilliant 1987 avant-garde interpretation of Fela Kuti’s ‘Zombie’, Jazz Room features the definitive version of Art Pepper’s ‘Mambo De La Pinta’, an 11 minute frenetic up-tempo excursion recorded in Tokyo 1979 featuring drummer Billy Higgins, pianist George Cables and bassist Tony Dumas.

Estonian vibraphonist Terje Terasmaa delivers a superb instrumental rendition of Tania Maria’s fusion classic ‘Yatra-Ta’. The track is taken from her 2009 album Hõbehelid. She follows in the footsteps of her esteemed father, Kalju Terasmaa; a vibraphonist who was an honorary artist in Estonia for cultural services.

Following on from his heavy tribute to Gil Scott-Heron back in 2012, French producer, Bruno “Patchworks” Hovart, turned his attention towards the music by Ethiopian master musician Mulatu, with this timeless tribute featuring Guillaume Clary on flute. The modern modal styled ‘Tribute To Mulatu’ shows restraint and depth with real respect for Mulatu Astatke’s unique blend of Latin jazz and traditional Ethiopian music. It shows the continuing passion that “Patchworks” continues to imbue on his progressive releases and his work on forgotten works such as through the French ‘Favorite’ label.

Staying within the Ethiopian tradition, Raphael Anker and his Swiss-based Imperial Tiger Orchestra continue their exploration of music from the golden age of Ethiopian music with this excellent live tribute of Mulatu Astatke’s composition, ‘Emnete’. The striking thing about this release is that part of their ‘Addis Abeba’ album, released in 2010, was actually recorded in Ethiopia at Addis Abeba’s cultural hub, Club Alizé, including this tribute. The combination of both trumpeter Raphael Anker and John Menoud on baritone sax bring out something special on this track, and the inclusion of traditional Ethiopian instruments adds towards the authenticity.

The New York Ska Ensemble meets Charlie Mingus for this infectious uptempo ska jazz rendition of the classic jazz standard from the legendary composer. ‘Boogie Stop Shuffle’ features legendary Skatalites bassist Val Douglas alongside Fred Reiter-saxophones and flute, guitars, Alberto Tarin, Yao Dinizulu on drums and percussion, Earl Appleton on piano and organ, Mark Paquin playing trombone and bassist Kevin Batchelor. The ensemble embraces the music with a larger than life approach adding the trademark shifting patterns and tempos which really suits the New York Ska Ensemble’s character.

Vocalist Shola Adisa-Farrar adds a welcome soulful sound to Fela Kuti’s ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’ alongside the Florian Pellissier Quintet. Based in Paris but from Oakland, California, Shola teamed up with Parisian pianist and composer Florian Pellissier for the Quintet’s debut album ‘Lost Myself’ featuring this classic Lagos anthem.

Back in 1985 Paul Murphy launched his label Paladin and the first release was a three-track 12″ by Onward International featuring ‘Foot In The Door’; a timeless brassy uptempo jazz-funk track with great energy and a timeless appeal. It’s a track that seems to have eluded many and the prices for the original are high. The bands one and only release features Roberta Pla on timbales/percussion and Guy Barker on trumpet as well as a stellar group of UK jazz musicians. The label went on to release albums by Paz, Tommy Chase and Working Week, including the track ‘Venceremos (We Will Win)’.

This excellent compilation brings together a number of styles which complement each other as a whole and it’s tracks like Lucas Van Merwijk & his Cubop City Big Band’s ‘4 Beat Cha Cha Cha’ which add a more nuanced Latin jazz vibe to the album. Tito Puente’s original gets a big band overhaul and it’s slightly reminiscent of the Mongo Santamaria track ‘Mazacote’, albeit in signature not tempo. The Dutch-based band includes an international cast of established musicians who lead the way in Europe, with their music finding a large fan base in not just Europe but in South America. A track which emphasises the band’s effervescent style.

Lauded by none other than Gilles Peterson as “the original messenger of jazz who found almost every dancefloor classic”, Paul began DJing in 1970s London. His passion and unique playing style placed him at the epicentre of an emerging jazz-dance scene in the city, popping off in spots like The Horseshoe (aka Jaffas), The Wag, The 100 Club, The Blue Note and The Electric Ballroom, where he founded the now famous ‘Jazz Room’, after which this album is named.

Jazz Room features tracks by acclaimed jazz producer Benedic Lamdin – aka Nostalgia 77 and also Chip Wickham who alongside his Blue Mode band adds a soulful organ jazz interpretation to Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like A Teen Spirit’ original; check out Chip Wickham’s ‘La Sombra’ album. The Mamelon group bring an exciting blend of electronic meets traditional music from Mali, with their captivating uptempo ‘Koumba Fri Fri’.

This welcome compilation will open doors to the wealth of great music across Europe or tucked away in places you usually wouldn’t look. A solid collection of contemporary tributes and past works of importance.

Mark Jones