Various ‘Spiritual Jazz 3’ 2LP/CD (Jazzman) 4/5

No sooner has ‘Spiritual Jazz 2’ been on our listening posts for several months than a third instalment of the ever exploratory anthology comes our way. If anything, this is more clearly focused than volume two and has the added bonus of examining in some detail the jazzy delights that la belle France has to offer. As ever the latest volume is supremely well researched by Francis Gooding and Gerald Short, beautifully packaged and it goes without saying that the tunes on offer are genuinely as rare as hen’s teeth. French keyboardist Jef Gilson has recently been treated to a well-deserved anthology of his work and here a previously unreleased and untiled piece opens up proceedings. Suffice it to say that it fits in perfectly with the overall spiritual feel to the album as a whole. One of the most compelling francophone efforts is by a little known group headed by blind multi-reedist Michel Roques with the piece ‘Le temps’. Before the leader sets off on an intense tenor excursion (comparisons with Roland Kirk are valid), the percussive intro leads into some French spoken dialogue. Another winner is the full-flowing ‘Pro forma’ by Belgian bassist Babs Robert that is simply one of the strongest cuts on the album with the drumming truly outstanding. Big band Scandinavian jazz is well represented with Danish trumpeter and bandleader Palle Mikkelborg heading the Radiojazzgruppen on an exotic musical journey to ‘Mongolia’. Norwegian group That’s Why were quite unique in blending jazz with a Christian religious approach and a brand new Jazzman anthology (to be reviewed shortly on these pages) will cover their work in greater detail. Here ‘Udoyeleg’/’Immortal’ does an excellent job of highlighting their vocal meets instrumental repertoire. Other delights include compositions featuring the cream of European jazz musicians from Danish saxophonist John Tchicai (when will there be an anthology of his work – he famously on a 1960s Impulse album by John Coltrane), Yugoslav trumpeter Dusko Goykovich while German trombonist Albert Mangelsdorf is always capable of turning in a terrific tune. It is left to yet another unknown French formation, the Full Moon Ensemble with the delicious flute-led piece ‘Samba miaou’ with vocals by Sarah to round off a lovely homage to European jazz.

Tim Stenhouse

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