Various Artists - Spiritual Jazz. Esoteric Modal and Deep Jazz from the Underground 1968-1977Jazzman Records
Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, jazz music was recorded to the backdrop of major political and social upheavals and these are celebrated in this very well documented and presented esoteric selection of rare and truly obscure vinyl delights. In recent years independent labels such as Tribe out of Detroit, Black Jazz and Strata East have finally received their due and selected albums re-issued. However, the music showcased here is even less well known and often on one-off labels that individual artists released themselves for an extremely limited local audience at the time. The overall feel is one of an openness to musical influences within and beyond the United States, with a particular focus on Africa and the Middle East. Among the wonderful musical treasures on offer a few are worth pointing out including the intriguingly named Ohio Pentitentiary 511 Jazz Ensemble and a rendition of 'Psych City'. Long-time Sun Ra bassist Ronnie Boykins with the elongated and experimental 'The will come, is now' is another highlight while African flavours abound on Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam's 'Ayo Ayo Nene' and Middle Eastern modes evident on Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band's 'Neveen'. Additional 45s from Leon Gardner and Lloyd Miller provide a more succinct sampling of the music on offer. The compilation is best viewed as a companion to the excellent ongoing Gilles Peterson jazz series. If the names are not familiar, do not be put off as this is a voyage of musical discovery well worth the extra effort.
Tim Stenhouse, 04/08