April is Jazz Appreciation Month – here’s to 30 days of celebrating music we love, culminating in International Jazz Day (IJD) at the end of the month. Introduced by the UNESCO in 2011, with the aim to draw attention to the genre and its ambassadorial qualities, IJD is an annual celebration uniting communities, artists and jazz enthusiasts all over the world.
There’s more jazz than ‘just’ music – in the words of the IJD organisers: ‘this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change‘.
Celebrate the event in style at Turner Sims, as we welcome Chicago’s renowned musician, composer and bandleader Marquis Hill on Tuesday 30 April. Hill hones a warm, mellifluous tone on trumpet and flugelhorn, building upon his distinctive sound to craft arresting originals that embrace post-bop, hiphop, R&B and spoken word.
Of course, the best way to discover new sounds would be through the ears and minds of the musicians themselves, so we asked our Spring Season jazz artists to suggest tunes for a playlist. Spoiler alert: there’s not only jazz in this playlist! Keep reading in order find out who chose who … you might be surprised.
Feel free to let us know which artists inspire you this month. We’re at @TurnerSims on social media and we’d love to hear from you. Enjoy the music!
Marquis Hill Blacktet
Roy Hargrove Star Maker
Marquis Hill Stellar
Marquis Hill: ‘Roy Hargrove’s sound and compositional style have had a huge influence on my approach to music. His super tight and melodic ensemble is the epitome of the classic quintet sound.’
John Taylor In Cologne
De La Soul Drawn
Ivo Neame: ‘I pick John Taylor, In Cologne from the album Angel of the Presence featuring Palle Danielsson and Martin France. This piece has an unpretentious melody whilst containing enough structural twists to provide contrast. The piece is in two different time signatures and I love the musicians’ playful exploration of this complex form. Their interpretation makes repeated listens an absolute pleasure.’
Anton Eger: The track that I’ve chosen is from a record that I actually find quite odd. It’s from De La Soul’s release from 2016 called and the Anonymous Nobody… with an impressive list of guest features. Unfortunately it’s a very confusing and inconsistent record with lots of changing and detouring and for every track you listen to it’s like you question if you’re still listening to the same record. I nearly gave up listening but towards the end suddenly a track appeared that captured me. The song is called Drawn and it features Swedish group Little Dragon (but to be honest it’s more than featuring). Apart from the very end where Posdnuos raps for a minute or so it’s really Little Dragon’s track. The song starts gently with an ostinato played by double bass and pizzicato strings and builds up beautifully throughout the track with classical percussion and tasteful synths joining in as the track develops. It takes me to a very pleasant place.’
The Steve Williamson Experience
Mark Turner Lennie Groove
John Coltrane Crescent
Steve Williamson: [Lennie Grove is] ‘a masterful composition competently executed and with an awesome rhythm section on one of Mark‘s early albums. Crescent by John Coltrane signifies a turning point in my musical development. It was the first time that I had heard someone extend harmony in such a way. I found it mesmerising, both spiritually and musically.’
Miles Davis In a silent way
Miles Davis It’s about that time
John Etheridge: I was absolutely riveted when I first heard the tracks In a silent way and It’s about that time from the Miles Davis album In a Silent Way. This is some of the earliest and most creative Jazz/Fusion and has a universal appeal due to the atmospheric nature of the music. The opening track features John McLaughlin’s guitar playing an immensely pared down version of Joe Zawinul’s tune, which originally had sophisticated harmonies. In fact both tracks eschew normal jazz harmony but have exotic chord movements over a pedal point bass line and have what to me is the most important ingredient – a sense of exploration. It’s as if the music is moving along a jungle path and nobody is quite sure where it’s heading, but the journey is fascinating. This is achieved by Miles and Teo Macero splicing bits of tape together so that the track eventually becomes a direct and triumphant statement, with a searing Davis solo. It’s all a masterful melange of sounds, tape edits, exploratory improvisation – everyone on their toes … magical!
Norma Winstone, John Taylor and Tony Coe Tea for two
Nikki Iles: A sublime version of this song, demonstrating that a well-worn standard can be totally transformed into an art song with an imaginative approach that re-frames the whole song with new meaning … amazing playing from these 3 consummate improvisers
D’Angelo Betray my Heart (D’Angelo and the Vanguards/ Black Messiah)
NES You made it hard for me
Nesrine Belmokh: ‘A tribute to what D’Angelo represents: a tremendous influence in my way of understanding and love music!’
Daniel Herskedal The Horizon
Palle Mikkelborg Prince of peace
‘It’s been really inspiring that you immediately can hear it’s Palle playing after his very first note – and that he tells a lot using very few notes. One of my first concert memories is from his concert at Moldejazz – before I started playing myself.’
Tin Men and the Telephone
Tin Men and the Telephone The Wall
Tony Roe: ‘Perhaps the track The Wall from Tin Men could be fun. It’s still (unfortunately) very actual. A musical commentary on the ideas of Donald Trump and an attempt to convince him to start a musical career and quit the political one.’
Eric Vloeimans’ Oliver’s Cinema
Jon Balke Ya Andalucia
Keith Jarrett Questar
Eric Vloeimans: ‘Ya Andalucia – pianist composer Jon Balke made this beautiful record Siwan with singer Amina Alaoui. Arabic, Jewish, baroque and jazz influences…and what a melody …. I love it. This song was on repeat in my CD player many times! Keith Jarrett – Questar is one of the most inspiring groups for me. This beautiful song from the album My Song, the melody, the perfect energy of the rhythm section… it’s all great.’
Delta Saxophone Quartet
Mike Westbrook & John Surman A View from a Drawbridge
Chris Caldwell: ‘Two Jazz giants, British Contemporary jazz still at the cutting edge 45 years later.’
Joshua Redman Blues On Sunday
D’Angelo Chicken Grease
Blues On Sunday: This record changed my life. Hearing the sound and feeling Josh and his band delivered was, to me, a bridge between the older players I was immersing myself in (Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins) and a more modern sound. Josh’s tone, phrasing, and melodic narrative sense made me go “This! This is how I want to play.
Chicken Grease: When Voodoo came out I was dumbstruck. It was a game changer for me and all the musicians I was around. The way in which Pino Palladino (bass) and Questlove (drums) played together (with the bass so behind the beat) was – is – visceral. I’d never heard grooves with the subtlety and depth delivered in this album.