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Moments club set captured on Live in Bremen

The return of Anthony Joseph and the Spasm band with their latest album on 1 July is a welcome bit of news about an artist who never sits comfortably within the often rigid genre distinctions of jazz. A charismatic poet and spoken word artist fronting an Afro-beat and free jazz-influenced band on the surface Joseph’s artistry is based on a deep love of Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and as a poet the work of Derek Walcott and Linton Kwesi Johnson are important influences. Joseph, described by Robin Denselow in The Guardian as “an intriguing multicultural all-rounder”, in his direction is not going to be an obvious choice for jazz purists. But his pluralistic approach is completely in keeping with the spirit of the music and those jazz artists who are able to push the music forward. Working closing with the Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, and as a guest in recent years with Jerry Dammers’ groundbreaking Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra, Trinidad-born Joseph has a unique vantage point as an artist able to draw in additional elements to his artistic ideas that make perfect sense often folding in soca and psychedelic rock to the mix and keeping it dance-friendly while retaining a strong improvisational sensibility as a bedrock ingredient. Moving to the UK in the late-1980s, Joseph has an Afro-futurist approach in his poetry and his music is its natural corollary. With three albums featuring the Spasm band so far released, the latest of which is Rubber Orchestras two years ago with its quite brilliant stand out track ‘She is the Sea’ the new album Live in Bremen was recorded in October last year and features these tracks: ‘Heavy’, ‘Griot’, ‘Cutlass’, ‘Bullets in the Rock’, ‘Buddha’, ‘Speak the Name’, ‘Bird Head Son’, ‘The Engine Room’, and ‘Started Off as a Dance’. It is released on the French label Naïve. Check back for a review of the album in these pages soon.
Anthony Joseph, above
Photo: Edwige Hamben

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I heard Wes Montgomery, and it was like ‘Oh My God!’" was how swinging modern mainstream US guitarist Sheryl Bailey explained her guitar calling to one magazine interviewer some years ago. That spark of inspiration was enough to send the player who grew up in Pittsburgh on her way deep into the heart of the modern mainstream jazz guitar tradition even as a teenager. After study at Berklee in Boston and a move to New York city the mid-1990s saw the guitarist, who’s on tour in England this week, debut with an album called Little Misunderstood and since then Bailey has chalked up a strong discography and a reputation as a guitarist’s guitarist with albums such as the 2011 album For All Those Living and A New Promise. Hear this fine player this week, with dates at Spike’s Place, Beckenham with Gareth Lockrane, Simon Woolf, and Matt Fishwick (13 June); Da Scalzo 2, Ecclestone Place, London SW1 with Karen Sharp, and Simon Woolf (14 June); the Verdict, Brighton with Geoff Simkins, and Simon Woolf (15 June); Eagle Tavern, Rochester with Dave O’Higgins, Simon Woolf, and Tristan Maillot (16 June, lunchtime); Ronnie Scott’s Late Late Show with Ross Stanley, Simon Woolf, and Winston Clifford (17 June); Lower Ground Bar, West Hampstead, London with Christian Brewer, Simon Woolf, and Clark Tracey (18 June); Boisdale Canary Wharf with Jim Mullen, Simon Woolf, and Steve Brown (19 June); Clock Tower, Croydon with Allison Neale and Simon Woolf (20 June, afternoon); and 606, London with Ross Stanley, Simon Woolf, and Winston Clifford (20 June).
Sheryl Bailey above

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The first thing that struck me leafing through ECM’s hefty 172-page offering Catalogue 2013 is that printed catalogues are very hard to come by these days. I can’t remember seeing one in recent years in printed form apart from a brightly coloured flimsy booklet occasionally on a record shop counter, or as a modest small booklet inserted in a CD that falls on to the floor no sooner than the shrink wrap has been ripped off. Catalogue 2013 is presented beautifully with two album covers on each page for new releases and smaller text later for the deep catalogue. ECM values the visual element of its presentation in three ways on each individual album: in terms of graphics, typography and cover art; and this latest catalogue more than relates to this. ECM isn’t like any other independent label, or come to think of it major label. Majors particularly are blasé about how they present their treasures in catalogue form and some struggle to know what they’ve got and to publicise them, let alone list the “deep catalogue” in a coherent way. A catalogue doesn’t have to be a work of art or resemble one, as Catalogue 2013 certainly does. Yet it helps, and especially if it bears little resemblance to the Argos catalogue. Turn the page and there’s an acrostic that in the middle spells out the word ‘Catalogue’ in red reading down. Dip further in and in classic minimalist typographic design there’s an austere contents page and at the back a 7-page index that has more in common with a university text book than an extended sales document. And there are clues scattered about to future releases set to appear in the months ahead, after the label founder Manfred Eicher turns 70 this July. Look carefully and among the new releases coming up there are entries for albums about to come out: the intriguing Baida for instance by Ralph Alessi accompanied by Jason Moran, Drew Gress, and Nasheet Waits recorded in October last year and expected in the autumn; and also recorded in 2012 the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble’s Outstairs is also due. Trios, to appear on ECM rather than the extraordinary Watt imprint, Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow’s latest is also on the way.
Catalogue 2013 is available for the cost of postage only from www.ecmrecords.com