Various ‘If Music Presents: You Need This – World Jazz Grooves’ 3LP/CD/DIG (BBE) 4/5

Now in his 15th year of running Soho’s IF Music record shop, Jean-Claude is well-respected as a rare find head. Many a DJ and producer will give him a shout if they need that special find. Victor Kiswell is also a renowned digger and DJ, appearing on the Cairo edition of Boiler Room. So if, as a team, they ever thought about laying down a compilation it well may house a few obscure, global gems, right?

‘If Music Presents: You Need This – World Jazz Grooves’ also comes on the back of Jean-Claude’s two wonderful volumes of ‘A Journey into Deep Jazz’ and his excellent introduction to Black Saint and Soul Note Records on BBE. So, expectations are fairly high…

And the opener means serious business. ‘Illustration’ by violinist Billy Bang’s Survival Ensemble. Powerful stuff. It’s a late 70s Watts Prophets/Last Poets jazz spoken word. A deeply flabby bass line riff prods, cymbal/snare shuffle some support and the saxes offer harmonious backdrop to the urgent, passionate U.S. political critique that flows. “Rip off, rip off, rip off the people!”

Next up is the French (Martinique-born) pianist Michel Sardaby (he of the much-loved 1974 album, ‘Gail’) with ‘Martinica’ from his 1972 album ‘In New York’. It’s a fizzing, physical, latin modal work out with extra rhythm section fire offered by Billy Cobham(!), the hardest-of-all-hands Ray Barretto(!) and the solo-owning Richard Davison(!) on bass. Sort of like a latin Strata East job. Deep.

Le Steel Band De La Trinidad ‘Calypso Jazz Improvisation’ is a dirty, funky, soul-jazz calypso. Steel drum solos all over it. Fun ‘n’ Filthy.

Kafé was from two islands up from Sardaby, Guadalupe, and was also bons amis with Hard Hands – it’s such a small global jazz world out there ain’t it? His ‘Fonetik a velo’ from 1990s ‘Santiman-Ka (Jili)’ has a slow, atmospheric vocal and soprano sax intro leading into 10 mins of thumping jazz funk that’s gwo ka’d and chant-washed to a higher plane.

The Dutch composer and clarinet guy, Theo Loevendie, and his Theo Loevendie Consort (great name for a band) don’t mess about. ‘Timbuktu’ storms in with bamboo flute (played by Candy’s dad, Hans Dulfer), stacks and stacks of percussion and aggressively ganged horns that rhythmically pound your gut into submission before argumentative, caterwauling solos exhaust themselves leaving the sax to wrap it up, all sudden like. It’s so damned fierce – just relentless.

Thanks to the Oud Power for helping us to catch our breath – Ahmed Abdul-Malik’s oud leads a percussive workout before an exotic Herbie Mann picks up the flute and dances his alluring dance over the now-thickening harira of percussion. As he shimmies out of the picture trombonist Curtis Fuller spins more deep, interesting yarns before a crowd appears from nowhere to deliver respectful applause and Ahmed wraps things up with more departing oud. Gorgeous.

Percussionist Armand ‘Jauk’ Lemal’s ‘Souffle’ (from 1970s ‘Le Rythme – Activité Choreo-Musicale’) offers us a relatively(!) minimal rest. Hypnotic afrobeats, with occasional uplifting, choreographed, multi-instrument harmonic rejoices bring us nearly 9 mins of melting, lilting, therapeutic relief.

Pianist Masabumi ‘Poo’ Kikuchi brings some tetchy ‘Pumu #1’ to the comp. It’s a very nervy piece. Incessant, unrelenting train-track percussion and a demanding, bit discordant, piano shouts interruptions over petulant bass. It’s a caffeine-loaded, open-plan-office-deadline of a track.

A nice turn of pace comes from a much-less much obsessive and not remotely self-interested spiritual joy that is Joe Malinga and Southern African Force’s “ITwenty Five”. An elevated piano-riff from heaven rolls over optimistic golden voices and sweet, sweet reeds. A divine payday.

So that’s your lot! 6 full and curated sides of really heavy kit – it’s so well weighted from start to finish and, as expected, not a dud in sight.


Ian Ward