Kandace Springs is outside her Nashville home staring at a problem. Although a somewhat capacious garage comfortably accommodates her three classic cars – a 1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass, a ’52 MG and a Corvette Stingray – alongside the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon in which she sits to take my call, she now suddenly finds it’s no longer big enough. That’s because, the previous night, she went out and bought herself a rather splendid 1953 Packard to add to the collection… and has nowhere to put it.
“Is five too many, do you think?” she asks, playfully, already knowing and not caring about the answer. “I don’t think it’s too bad, not for me. I love cars. Cars are fun. I work on ‘em, I buy ‘em, I re-sell… and the Packard is beautiful: a two-door coupe, with a straight eight in it.”
“I wrote an album and I just threw it away,” remarks Raphael Saadiq, somewhat flippantly. On the one hand providing an explanation as to how he came to settle upon the material for his seven-years-in-the-making, hard-hitting new solo project Jimmy Lee, but on the other, perhaps not quite realising how such a… well, throwaway comment might sound to the diehard Tone-head and gospeldelic zealot.
“I mean not [literally] throw it,” he continues, sensing the potential alarm. “I had the other project ready, but just kept writing… and just kept writing… writing records over the top of it, and Jimmy Lee just happened, came together naturally. Like The Way I See It.” The Way I See It, of course, being a monster, playlisted on Radio 2 and his breakthrough mainstream solo release in the UK.
Raphael is set to perform songs from that and his most recent release Stone Rollin’ – the brilliant mellotron-laced ode to vintage rhythm & blues – after a seven-year absence when he rocks up at the IndigO2 for this year’s Bluefest on Friday, October 26…
James Reese Europe may be a distant echo in American history, yet his contribution to the development of modern music as well as the standing of blacks in civil society should not stand in silence. A talented composer who was instrumental in founding musicians’ collective The Clef Club in the early 20th century, Europe also led a ‘colored’ regiment, The Harlem Hellfighters in the First World War. Off the battlefield he and his men helped to introduce the early incarnation of jazz to France by way of heady sounds that swept those used to singing la Marseillaise off their feet.
In a new piece, The Absence Of Ruin, to be played at London’s Barbican next month, pianist Jason Moran celebrates Europe’s historic music with a series of daring contemporary arrangements. When I met him in between rehearsals in the city he needed little prompting to spell out the magnitude of the musician in question.
“In a young artform like jazz how do we really treat the way history evolves?” he asks. “What do we acknowledge and what do we decide to forget?
Kabaka Pyramid was among the first of the ‘Reggae Revival’ artists, alongside Chronixx, Protoje and Jah9. Seven years later and he’s the veteran of several US and European tours, has a fistful of hit singles and mix-tapes to his name, and works closely with Damian Marley, who produced his latest set, Kontraband.
Damian and brother Stephen know talent when they hear it and their Ghetto Youths label is a natural fit for the lean, feline-looking Rastaman from Papine in East Kingston, whose recent performances at Reggae On The Lawn in London and Rototum will remain long in the memory. He’s also the people’s choice in Jamaica, thanks to hits like Can’t Breathe and Well Done, on which he ridicules the island’s politicians with lyrics that are fearless and insightful, yet served with a welcome dash of humour. Kontraband is his second album [after 2011’s Rebel Music] and was supposed to be released last year. The delay was due to Kabaka and Damian Marley’s touring commitments over last summer.