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

The increasingly international nature of jazz is a particular passion of this writer and so this compilation which deliberately sets out to explore this phenomenon in greater depth is to be applauded from the outset for its open-minded approach. It is indeed wide-reaching and covers the French Caribbean and both the Maghreb and Machrek, before a brief incursion into Japan and ending up with South African jazz exiles. Some of the recordings would benefit from being heard with the original album in their entirety and maybe album re-issues will eventually surface, but If Music are to be congratulated for making the contents within more widely accessible and in most cases, this is the very first time many listeners will have heard the individual pieces, if not necessarily the lead musicians. A real grower is the driving percussion of Moroccan born drummer, Armand Lamal, and the flute driven instrumental, ‘Souffle'(‘Blow’), which was actually recorded in the mid-1970s in north-east Paris, where the largest concentration of North Africans in the Paris Region reside. The sound of the Middle Eastern oud is omnipresent on, ‘Ismaa’ (‘Listen’) which was another lesser known project of Monk’s bass player Ahmad Abdul-Malik, here part of a larger ensemble called the Jazz Committee for Latin American Affairs. Intriguingly, this was recorded in the United States in 1968 under the aegis of the production talents of Willis Conover, more commonly referred to as, ‘The voice of America’,. which promoted American culture throughout the globe. French West Indian pianist Michel Sardaby is well-respected for his electric piano work during the 1970s and the melodic, ‘Martinica’, is a fine example of his openly percussive approach, ably assisted by the likes of Ray Barretto and Billy Cobham.

Off to even more exotic places with a Japanese only release on Victor from 1978 by the pianist, Masabumi Kikuchi, who ECM records rightly paid homage to a year or so back by recording a double CD of him live before his passing in 2015. Here, he is surrounded by Indian tabla player, Badal Roy and bassist, Gary Peacock, who also composed the number. It is at once a dense and intense musical experience, and the combination of Indian sub-continent percussion allied with a distinictive Japanese thought pattern on piano results in a truly haunting track that catches the interest of the sub-conscious and returns to one’s mind repeatedly. If there is one Japanese jazz musician deserving of an anthology in his own right, it is surely Kikuchi. Deceptively simple in conception, the blues-inflected riff of, Twenty-five’ from an extremely rare 1989 album on Swiss label Plainisphere, develops into something far more interesting from Joe Malinga (unclear from the notes which instrument Malinga plays, but he is in fact an alto saxophonist as well as arranger and co-composer of the piece) and the Southern African Force. The trumpeter present owes an allegiance to the late great Hugh Masekela, but halfway through the piece, suddenly a whole horn section emerges with a soprano saxophone, and the repetitive motif takes on an altogether more vibrant tone. Like many of the pieces included which are lengthy, they gain with repeated listens and are subtle in nature.

The timing on the CD could be a little more generous and this writer for one would like to hear more of Armand Lemal, The Jazz Committee for Latin American Affairs, and the wonderful Japan meets the Indian sub-continent and beyond from Masabumi Kikuchi. One important note for listeners of the CD edition. The inner sleeve notes refer to a piece by the Steel-Band de la Trinidad, ‘Calypso-Jazz Improvisation’. This is available on the vinyl format only.

Tim Stenhouse