An unusual opportunity to hear saxophone colossi John Coltrane and Stan Getz play together, in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1960. Credit for the tune has been claimed both by Thelonious Monk, with the name “Hackensack”, and by Coleman Hawkins, with the name “Rifftide”. Coltrane develops his solo brilliantly, repeatedly ending increasingly complex phrases with the tonic, before breaking away and spreading ribbons of notes. Getz plays blusier, steady streams of 8th notes, and smears notes exquisitely in the bridge of his third chorus. The two unite for some glorious counterpoint before taking the head out, by which point the band has sped up considerably, swinging feverishly.

John Coltrane - tenor sax
Stan Getz - tenor sax
Oscar Peterson - piano
Paul Chambers - bass
Jimmy Cobb - drums

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke joins forces with Madvillain’s rapper MF Doom on “Retarded Fren,” the first track from Lex Records 10th anniversary compilation ‘Complex.’ Yorke tables a delicious assortment of signature Radiohead motifs to lay down a quirky beat of machine sounds and eerie string pizzicatos. With a beat of such artistic genius in its own right, the song at first almost needs no rap, seeming as though a rapper would merely become accompaniment to the beat and not the other way around. Yet, Doom rises to the high occasion that is “Retarded Fren,” speaking lines of beautiful nonsense, a theme so typical of all of Doom’s raps. “Greedily slurp up the surplus of burp puss”—and enjoy.

Source: youtube.com

Electronic artist Seth Haley, known by his stage name pseudonym Com Truise, released his first ever full album entitled Galactic Melt in June of 2011. The quintessential Truise sound of heavy synth and 70’s-esque snare, this track Cathode Girls makes nebulous its underlying 4/4 meter with strange, echoed syncopations and tone bleeps. It is a classic 70’s synth piece turned awkwardly contemporary.

Source: SoundCloud / Com Truise

The Los Angeles based daKAH Symphonic Hip Hop Orchestra, lead by Geoff “Double G” Gallegos, features MCs, singers, and instrumental soloists with an ensemble including the usual symphonic instruments but also using drums, bass, keyboards, and turntables. The soundtrack to “Hip Hop Maestro”, a “daKUMENTARY” film about the group, includes the track “Triple Threat”, which delivers on the promise of its title by showcasing Printz Board's rapping, trumpet playing, and beat-boxing abilities. daKAH's remarkable tight rhythm section ably supports the weight of the lush orchestration, giving soloists and MCs a formidable groove to work with. -KR

Source: SoundCloud / daKAH

Esperanza Spalding’s “Radio Music Society” was released on March 20th, 2012, affording her a spot on the iTunes store home page, and a performance of “Radio Song” on Letterman. The song employs improvisation and ensemble orchestration beyond what can normally be heard from music with prominence in such contexts, while still relying on simple enough melodies and structures to be approved with the label “big time stuff”. Spalding’s virtuosic vocals rest comfortably on her pocket bass playing, an ability that may earn attention as a gimmick, but is an uncompromisingly musical solution to the problem of her multifarious yet inseparable abilities. -KR

Becca Stevens Band performs The Smiths’ classic “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (Morrissey/Marr). The performance is introduced by Liam Robinson’s startling  interpretation of the song’s string arrangements on accordion, and is interesting to hear without the dated 80s synth and drum sounds of the original recording, and at about half the tempo of the original, with a sparser, more syncopated rhythmic feel. -KR

Becca Stevens - vocals, guitar
Liam Robinson - vocals, accordion
Chris Tordini - bass
Jordan Perlson - drums

New York City’s Slavic Soul Party uses Balkan rhythms and melodies arranged for 9 musicians, playing intricate unison lines before exploring extended improvisations. Multi-reed instrumentalist Peter Hess extracts an unusual tone from his alto saxophone, not unlike the upper register of a serbian bagpipe, while percussionists Ron Caswell use Western instruments (snare and concert bass drum, cowbell) to achieve some of the lilting syncopation found in Balkan grooves. -KR

John Carlson - trumpet
Kenny Warren - trumpet
Tim Vaughn - trombone
Matt Musselman - trombone
Peter Hess - alto saxophone
Peter Stan - accordion
Chris Stromquist - snare drum, cowbell
Ron Caswell - tuba
Matt Moran - bass drum, cymbal

English guitarist Robert Fripp, who cofounded King Crimson and played the guitar solo on David Bowie’s “Heroes”, explored the possibilities of tape looping, and eventually called the results “Frippertronics”. To achieve the effect he would run a single reel of tape through two recorders placed adjacently, so that the sounds heard on the first would repeat themselves on the second. Here he demonstrates the combination of this technique with improvised solo guitar, in a performance given in Burbank, California, in 1979. Fripp’s “shredding” abilities and experimental edge yield remarkably melancholy, expressive music. -KR

Taylor McFerrin, the son of legendary vocalist Bobby McFerrin, was recently signed on to Brainfeeder, Flying Lotus’ LA based record label. In 2006, he released his debut EP, entitled “Broken Vibes”, which includes “Georgia”, a demonstration of his distinctive scatting abilities, arrangement of vocal harmonies, and electronic production. His vocals on the track seem to be mostly improvised, in an eery falsetto style that reflects his father’s abilities, but also represents a different direction for such remarkable vocal talents, coming under the influence of the moody electronic music created by artists such as Four Tet, and Brainfeeder colleague Teebs. -KR

Source: SoundCloud / Taylor McFerrin

A selection from “Frame”, saxophonist Ben Wendel’s second release on Sunnyside Records. The title tune makes complex use of shifting odd meters, and extremely intricate lines played in unison between either saxophone and piano, or electric guitar and fender rhodes. Wendel offers an extraordinarily articulate solo, followed by pianist Tigran Hamasyan, who plays a series of jarringly complicated but always resolved rhythmic ideas. A thematic vamp made more pronounced by guitarist Nir Felder’s heavily effected tone is then used to support melodic lines astonishingly executed by Wendel and Hamasyan. The recording is an incredible ensemble performance, and a demonstration of Wendel and Hamasyan’s remarkable improvisational abilities. -KR

Ben Wendel - tenor saxophone
Nir Felder - guitar
Tigran Hamasyan - piano
Adam Benjamin - fender rhodes
Ben Street - bass
Nate Wood - drums

Source: sunnysidezone.com

Dr. Dog, a band from West Grove, Pennsylvania formed in 1999, gives a spirited performance of “Keep A Friend”, taken from a 2007 concert in Vancouver, Canada. The song can be found on their 3rd record, “We All Belong”. The audio and video quality may be poor, but the performance effectively recreates the enthusiasm of the song’s verses, and the stately simplicity of the chorus, which employs lead guitar in place of the piano used for the studio recording. -KR

Robert Glasper's “Black Radio”, which was released on February 24th, 2012, sees an impressive cast of collaborators, most of whom contribute vocals, join the Robert Glasper Experiment, a trio consisting of Glasper, bassist Derrick Hodge, and drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave. Soulquarians member Erykah Badu is featured on a reworking of Mongo Santamaria's “Afro Blue”, on which the tune's 6/8 rhythmic underpinning is abandoned in favor of one of Glasper's typically Dilla-influenced grooves. Glasper accompanies Badu on fender rhodes and switches to an acoustic piano to add some tasty lines in the spaces left by the melody, which are more copious than usual thanks to the band's restructuring of the tune. -KR

A selection from a funky Beninese Ensemble called the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, recorded in 1969 and finally released in 2011 on a remastered version of their first lp, which was aptly titled “The 1st Album”. The group draws from the musical tradition of the West African Vodun religion, while obviously playing foreign instruments. -KR  

Source: SoundCloud / Analog Africa

Israeli singer and pianist Mika Hary recorded this tune for Quickstar Productions’ “Goin’ Back Home, International Edition, Vol. 11”. The song is an original of hers, played by excellent NYC jazz musicians, and including superb solos by both guitarist Nir Felder and Hary herself, who demonstrates an intriguing soloing style forgoing the familiar percussive consonants of traditional improvised scatting. -KR

Mika Hary - vocals
Nir Felder - guitar
Eden Ladin - piano
Sam Minaie - bass
Ziv Ravitz - drums

Brooklyn based Dirty Projectors and Icelandic songstress Björk meet somewhere with “Mount Wittenberg Orca”, an EP released in 2010 on Domino Records. Its seven songs were all written by leader Dave Longstreth, whose concepts realized through the band have included a fictional suite about Eagles drummer Don Henley, and an interpretation of Black Flag’s “Damaged”. Mount Wittenberg Orca is a more acoustic record, featuring even more prominently the band’s distinctive vocal effects. “All We Are” closes the proceedings, making use of Dirty Projectors’ a capella trio (Amber Heard, Angel Deradorian, & Haley Dekle) to provide harmonic context for Longstreth’s and Björk’s exquisite deliveries, which alternate verses at first, before co-mingling for a splendid conclusion. -KR

Source: SoundCloud / Dirty Projectors