Various Artists ‘Spiritual Jazz Vol.2: Europe’ (Jazzman Records)

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Fast becoming one of my favourite labels, London-based Jazzman Records continues with its erudite release schedule of both contemporary, and apodictic revelatory jazz from across the last five decades.  The second concomitant volume in their spiritual series is a full purview of “post-Coltrane” European jazz – a sort of serious jazz collectors Eurovision, with examples from across the whole continent.

This 11-track survey (lavishly presented on both vinyl and CD) documents the old world’s break from the American scene, and its foundation of a progressive-polyglot European style.  Gothic Wagnerian choirs, esoteric ethereal atmospherics, Balkan melodrama and Espanola flair are all adopted within the undemaricated avant-garde jazz sound that stirs the soul and evokes venerable imaginative thoughts.

Each of the previously scarce, and never before reissued, tracks is carefully chosen to demonstrate the wide spectrum of variety and diversity over this period. The UK’s own revered, exalted Michael Garrick (represented in his Sextet guise) limbers up live with an ever-increasingly intense piano stabbed ‘Egyptian-sand-dance’ rendition of the Biblical era Temple Dancer.

Other excursions include Barney Wilen’s Afro-beat and funk work-out, Africa Freakbeat – a soulful sax bleats and wails to, an almost, Can-esque groove – and the Spanish matador themed foot-shuffling rhythm, and piping horns of Pedro Iturralde, on Las Morillas De Jaen.

Taking the spirit out of the spiritual; Austrian Erich Kleinschuster and his sextet perform a Teutonic lament of enlightenment, complete with mourning trumpet and operatic Hammer House of Horror chorus – can’t believe Finders Keepers missed this one – on the opus Communion; whilst Belgium’s, renaissance alluded, Raphael runs through the full jazz gambit of assiduous deft piano, vibraphone, finger-snapping drums and free-form narratives on his Banshee howling, but heavenly, Archangelo.

Psychedelic’s are taken care of by the Dutch acid-prog maestro Hans Dulfer & Ritmo-Natural’s Part II of his grandiose funked-up Candy Clouds oeuvre closes the compilation on a searing horns carpet ride of boss nova cosmic vibes.


With cuts from Finland to the former Yugoslavia, ‘Spiritual Jazz Vol.2’ travels well, highlighting some rare finds, and bringing them to a wider appreciative audience. We salute Jazzman for capturing an important epoch in modern jazz.



Due: 06/02/2012


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