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Album to Hear Now: The Epic

Millennials everywhere, beware! The word “epic” has finally found its rightful place in the modern world and it has little to do with your festival experience or favorite burrito joint. Kamasi Washington Dectet, a tight-knit jazz regiment headed by the masterful composer and saxophonist best known for his work with Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus, dropped their 3-disc debut The Epic (Brainfeeder Records, 2015) this Tuesday, a timely release just under two months after To Pimp a Butterfly (Interscope Records, 2015) took music media by a storm and brought jazz back into the limelight. Washington has been in the touring game since college (to wit: Snoop Dogg, Lauryn Hill, Raphael Saadiq, Chaka Khan), and spent much of his time back home in LA recording with ten collaborators, and with Flying Lotus’ help would record 190 songs in one month in 2011. Kamasi and his cohorts go way back, but the dectet is looking forward, combining their influences and training to put jazz on the radar for listeners across the board. Four years after the Kamasi Washington Dectet’s Silver Lake recording marathon, a short list of 17 tracks spanning three hours would be compiled and released as one of the most ambitious, genre-spanning debuts to be made this century. The music is free-flowing, expressive, evocative of jazz godheads like Trane and Sun Ra but transcending classic quotations for something near surreal — it’s skyward-looking music, it’s beyond what is now. And that, friends, is EPIC.

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Latest World Music

imageHow’s your spring break? If the pollen count and your allergies are keeping you inside, you can still sit back and travel the globe like a jet setter with new releases discovered by the KZSC World Music Department. Tops this week are the funky-jazzy Canadian group Souljazz Orchestra, traditional/original Nubian musicians Alsarah & The Nubatones, and Las Cafeteras’ self released album full of Afro-Mexican rhythms. Forget the pollen count; here’s the Top Ten Count of new World Music CDs:

1 SOULJAZZ ORCHESTRA Inner Fire
2 ALSARAH AND THE NUBATONES Silt
3 LAS CAFETERAS It’s Time
4 TINARIWEN Emmaar
5 JAMAZE Around The World
6 BEATS ANTIQUE A Thousand Faces, Act I
7 BOSSACUCANOVA Our Kind Of Bossa
8 VAADAT CHARIGIM The World Is Well Lost
9 RODRIGO Y GABRIELA  9Dead Alive
10 ANGELIQUE KIDJO Eve

And if you’re looking for a strong dose of cumbia, check out this Oakland based group: LA MISA NEGRA “Misa de Medianoche”

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Newest World Music

The Ides of March turned out to be a bummer for Caesar, however it also marked the beginning of the new year for the Romans. It’s a new season of world music releases at KZSC including station favorites from the experimental fusion group Beats Antique, internationally acclaimed Tuareg guitarist Bombino plus the collaborative work of Sudanese vocalist Alsarah with French electronic artist Debruit. A modern, haunting take on Sudanese music heard through the sonic lens of French electronic, I can’t tell you how much I’m loving “Aljawal Soundway”. And we just received one by Pink Martini with The (“Sound of Music”) Von Trapp Family. Theatrical world music? More on this one next time. Here’s a quick look at 10 new world recordings worth hearing:

1 BEATS ANTIQUE A Thousand Faces, Act I Beats Antique
2 BOMBINO Nomad Nonesuch
3 DEBRUIT AND ALSARAH Aljawal Soundway
4 OMAR SOULEYMAN Wenu Wenu Ribbon
5 LAS CAFETERAS It’s Time Self-Released
6 VAADAT CHARIGIM The World Is Well Lost Burger
7 DIDI FAVREAU Deal With It Didi Favreau
8 BOSSACUCANOVA Our Kind Of Bossa Six Degrees
9 ALSARAH AND THE NUBATONES Silt Wonderwheel
10 JAMES WHETZEL Beats For Venus

 

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End of 2013: Hot Jazz

I’d like to personally congratulate Northern California for surviving the Third Ice Age. Big cold front just passed through Santa Cruz, which made for ideal conditions to sit inside and listen to records all day. Here’s what’s happening in jazz during the end of a frozen December at KZSC:

  1. OUTER BRIDGE ENSEMBLE Determined (OBM)
  2. PINK MARTINI Get Happy (Heinz)
  3. COREY CHRISTIANSEN Lone Prairie (Origin)
  4. GEORGE COLLIGAN The Endless Mysteries (Origin)
  5. BOBBY WATSON Check Cashing Day (Lafiya)
  6. CRAIG YAREMKO Organ Trio  
  7. DAVID BECKER TRIBUNE Distance Travel (Acoustic Music)
  8. SERGIO GALVAO Phantom Fish (Pimenta)
  9. KENNY GARRETT Pushing The World Away (Mack Avenue)
  10. GEORGE COTSIRILOS TRIO Variations (oa2

Last minute…new releases worth sticking in your ears: JOHN CLAYTON Parlor Series; HOWARD ALDEN/ANDY BROWN QUARTET Heavy Artillery; ELEC TET Shiny Metal Objects; JASON LEE BRUNS JAZZ COLLECTIVE Live At Catalina Jazz Club.

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The Dairy and the Dead

35-43.rOn August 27, 1972, The Grateful Dead played a legendary set on Ken Kesey’s farm in Veneta, Oregon. This show has long been traded among Dead Heads but has never been available as an official release. Until now. The Dead have opened up their vault to restore, mix and master this classic show, which includes fiery performances of China Cat Sunflower, Greatest Story Ever Told, Jack Straw and many others including a particularly trippy Dark Star performed just as the sun set. If that weren’t enough, the release also includes the never-before-released “Sunshine Daydream” film. This movie captures the Dead performing many of the songs from the set as well as the Pranksters up to their typical antics. Film of the Dead in this era is rare, and this release offers a unique opportunity to not only hear Jerry, but to watch him shred. So go fire up your DVD player and start twirling in your living room like its 1972, and if you can’t get enough of the Dead (which we know you can’t) tune into KZSC Wednesdays to make sure you never fall off the bus.

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New Electronic/RPM

Students are back at UCSC. You’ll hear electronic music blasting from dorm to dorm, but here’s what’s Top 10 on KZSC:

  1. JACKSON AND HIS COMPUTER BAND/Glow (Warp)
  2. MODERAT/II (Mute)
  3. CANBLASTER/Infinite [EP](Marble)
  4. JESSY LANZA/Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub)
  5. SINJIN HAWKE/The Lights
  6. CLAUDE VANSTROKE /Urban Animal (Dirtybird)
  7. DISCLOSURE/Settle (Cherrytree-Interscope)
  8. RUSTIE/Glass Swords (Warp)
  9. DAFT PUNK/Random Access Memories (Columbia)
  10. KASTLE/Kastle

Also new & noteworthy: TODDLA T SOUND, SOUNDS FROM THE GROUND, TREE, CRYSTAL STILTS.