V/A – The Kings of Jazz (Compiled by Gilles Peterson and Jazzanova)

Gilles Peterson digs out obscure gems from well-known jazz masters and Jazzanova get to play with contemporary forces

If there is any danger of exhaustion from being asked to dig in those crates so often and for so many labels, there is no sign of it here. Gilles has chosen this time to favour the bigger names over the more obscure artists and chosen tracks from Coltrane, Blakey, Evans, Mingus and more.
His side opens with the ephemeral ‘Christo Redentor’ from soul jazz supreme Donald Byrd. Avant-garde gospel meets Ennio Morricone. We appear to be on more familiar ground with the next track: a mid-sixties Blue Note groover. Except that it isn’t, it’s Clifford Brown and Max Roach back in 1955, laying down some funky grooves that would turn out to be years ahead of their time.
Gilles has dusted off those Dingwalls jazz sides (or does anyone remember those Saturday afternoon shows on Jazz FM?) and this time filtered off some of the best known names in modern jazz for his contribution to the Kings of… series. Expect crashing piano solos, crackling percussion and all the accoutrements of a damn fine jazz dance selection. And being jazz dance, there is an obligatory nod to Mark Murphy ‘My Favourite Things’ and a higher than usual incidence of jazz vocal tracks that make the cut.
The thought of Gilles’ less jazz-literate fans coming across giants like Coltrane (here represented by the heavyweight choice ‘Equinox’), Mingus (‘Moves’) and Bill Evans (‘Peace Piece’) is an exciting one.
Jazzanova landed the task of choosing from more contemporary sources; a baker’s dozen of tracks representing these more broken times. Current big noises like The Matthew Herbert Big Band are there, as are long-time big names on the scene: Two Banks of Four and 4 Hero.
Jazzanova had the luxury of being able to call on many of the artists and elicit exclusive remixes and interpretations of tracks. They have chosen wisely and widely. Their choices cross continents (all populated ones at least) and genres effortlessly demonstrating once again that jazz is not dead, it has just moved house.
Although I am not averse to a spot of nostalgia (like hearing UFO’s ‘Loud Minority’ again, it is the fresh Afro-tinged jazz tracks that grabbed me most including possibly the definitive vocal version of ‘Afro Blue’ by Jeffrey Smith – an epic track boldly re-interpreted.
A fine riposte to a heavyweight selection of classics.
Gilles Peterson’s selection: “The History”
01 Donald Byrd – Cristo Redentor
02 Clifford Brown / Marx Roach Quintet – George’s Dilemma
03 Roy Haynes – Quiet Fire
04 Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Spirits Up Above
05 Charles Mingus – Moves
06 Arthur Blythe – Autumn in New York (Part One)
07 Mark Murphy – My Favorite Things
08 Lee Konitz – Five, Four and Three
09 The Jazz Crusaders – Young Rabbits
10 Art Blakey – Anthenagin
11 John Coltrane – Equinox
12 Bill Evans – Peace Piece
Jazzanova’s selection: “The Present”
01 4 Hero – Spirits in Transit
02 [re:jazz] – Inner City Life
03 Nikki O – Butterflies
04 Jeffrey Smith – Afro Blue
05 Sleep Walker feat. Bembe Segue – Into the Sun (KJM Edit)
06 Two Banks of Four – One Day
07 The Five Corners Quintet – Trading Eights
08 Shaun Escoffery – Breaking Away (Koop Remix)
09 Bembe Segue – Mother of the future (Live Version)
10 Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Waltz for Goddess
11 United Future Organization – Loud Minority
12 Sunaga T Experience – No Reason No Rhyme (Nicola Conte plays a Mode for Tatsuo)
13 The Matthew Herbert Big Band – Everything’s Changed
Link: www.rapsterrecords.com/kingsofjazz

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