Now's The Time

Now is No Longer the Time

Just as dreams provide a radically different perspective on our waking lives, so the late-night hours permit us to see our daylight lives in a fresh and revelatory light. That’s why late-night radio should sound distinct from daytime radio, and that distinction has been a guiding principle of “Now’s the Time.” Perhaps, like me, there was a period in your life during which you found yourself, long after dark, the only one awake in the house, tuned to the radio. I have adolescent memories along these lines – listening to Earth Radio in Davis, the old KSAN in San Francisco, KLRB in Carmel, KUSF, KTIM in San Rafael. If your experience was like mine, a dee-jay mixed a late-night musical tapestry for you that made you feel like part of a select coterie of cognoscenti. Maybe it was King Crimson, or Sun Ra; maybe it was something else. That’s the spirit I’ve tried to capture on “Now’s the Time” – the sense that the late-night hours afford us extra space for contemplation and reflection, for open-eared experimentation, for bittersweet regrets and clear-eyed hopes. I don’t know exactly why you might have been awake in the middle of the night, but I have been delighted and honored that you stumbled upon this radio broadcast.

Geri_Allen_mid_1980sAnd just as the night inexorably yields to day, and sleep to wakefulness, this two-hour radio show ends at 2 a.m. every Thursday morning. And on 2 a.m. Thursday 7 May 2015, it will end for good.

The reason is simple: My day job has become sufficiently busy that I can no longer do the show.

The run of “Now’s the Time” has been short – just shy of two and a half years. During that time, I have felt so delighted to have that weekly late-night pause when I could meaningfully sequence the most varied jazz-and-not-only-jazz records. I have been even more thrilled to speculate that you were listening, though I know that the late-night audience is small. A “select coterie of cognoscenti,” I wrote above – very select in my case. Like so select that it would likely have been more efficient to just have you over to my house and play records for you there.

space-place-sun-ta-egypt1The central pillar of the “Now’s the Time” musical edifice is Miles Davis, who was featured with a particular album every month. The program was constructed from all of the musical dimensions that radiate outward from Miles.

Jazz, of course, in Olympian quantities. From Arthur Whetsol playing trumpet in the 1920s Duke Ellington band, to Coleman Hawkins shouting “Oh, play that thing!” in the 1930s Fletcher Henderson band, to Marie Bryant singing “The Sunny Side of the Street” with Lester Young in 1944. The golden age of the 50s and 60s, of course: Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor… mind expanding astral jazz of Sun Ra, the Pyramids, Marcus Belgrave and Alice Coltrane. Plenty of solid fusion (for lack of a better word), including the Brecker Brothers, Eddie Harris, heaping helpings of Herbie Hancock. All the way to exciting new releases from 2013-14 by Donny McCaslin, Naked Truth, Terri Lyne Carrington, Robert Glasper, Geri Allen, the French National Jazz Orchestra, Eric Harland, Mark Taylor

JazzwevegotOver time, hip hop emerged as the second major vertex of the program: Nas, Digable Planets, Jay-Z, Madvillain, De La Soul, Ugly Duckling, People Under the Stairs, PM Dawn, Pete Rock, Lords of the Underground, Mos Def, Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, A Tribe Called Quest, plus new records along the way from Kanye West, Chance the Rapper, Run the Jewels, Shabazz Palaces, Kendrick Lamar, Amerigo Gazaway, Kool A.D.

And of course, old and new R&B, adventurous music from Africa and Latin America, the occasional classical selection.

wheelsofsteelThroughout, there were the artists that emerged as the veritable Now’s the Time Hall of Fame, whose music recurred regularly, providing a latticework of connectivity and familiarity for long-time listeners: Miles, naturally, and Herbie Hancock; but also Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Wayne Shorter, Sly & the Family Stone, Meshell Ndegeocello, the Roots, Ambrose Akinmusire, the Wu-Tang Clan (including solo discs by Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA), Al Green, Shirley Horn, Augustus Pablo, Betty Carter, the Souljazz Orchestra.

blackmusicjonesMost nights there was a poem. Throughout 2014, I chose one Latin American poet a month, and read the poems in Spanish and English alike: Gabriela Mistral, Jorge Luis Borges, César Vallejo, Coral Bracho. There were jazz poems by Jayne Cortez, Quincy Troupe, Sun Ra and Amiri Baraka. There was Yeats!

There are jazz programs on KUSP that have been airing for decades, some with the same knowledgeable hosts they had decades ago. “Now’s the Time” is but a blip on that long-term calendar. But I have never stopped feeling honored and delighted to be a momentary blip on that sonic timeline. I’m grateful to you for listening. And to many members of the KUSP family who helped me out: Steve Laufer, Geo Warner, Johnny Simmons, J.D. Hillard, Mike Lambert, Larry Blood, and Terry Green notably among them.

Lady_DJI’ve wondered frequently over the last couple years whether anyone was listening. KUSP’s Johnny Simmons was recently quoted in the Good Times, saying “I don’t know what ‘community radio’ means anymore. Everything is everywhere. People don’t want a record show anymore. They want what they want and can download it onto their iPad. It’s a changed world.” A bittersweet benediction for this particular “record show,” perhaps. But it was great fun while it lasted.

Miles of Miles

This program is named after a song recorded in November 1945 by Charlie Parker‘s Reeboppers. It features a limpid, lucid, translucent trumpet solo by a 19-year-old Miles Davis, in which you can kind of foresee a lot of his subsequent artistic development. You can certainly hear hints of In A Silent Way (1969).

My point is this: the program has always accorded a special place to the music of Miles Davis (1926-1991). In fact, every month we’ve highlighted a single Miles Davis record and paid it special attention, placing it in its historical context, comparing and contrasting, making links with music before and since the release in question. Now that “Now’s the Time” is winding down its short radiophonic run, I wanted to provide a summary of every Miles Davis album so highlighted. The list follows the pictures. I only wish I could have gotten to more of them…

Apr 15 Agharta (1975)

Mar 15 Porgy and Bess (1958)

Feb 15 Tutu (1986)

Jan 15 All of You: The Last Tour 1960

Dec 14 The Complete On the Corner Sessions (1972-5)

Nov 14 On the Corner (1972)

Oct 14 Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival

Sep 14 Filles de Kilimanjaro (1968)

Aug 14 Take Off: The Complete Blue Note Albums (1952-4)

Jul 14 Star People (1982-3)

Jun 14 Kind of Blue (1959)

May 14 Special Miles programming all month long

Apr 14 Miles at the Fillmore (1970)

Mar 14 Miles Davis In Person Friday Night at the Blackhawk, San Francisco (1961)

Feb 14 Dark Magus (1974)

Jan 14 No Miles album; program host at large in Peru

Dec 13 Milestones (1958)

Nov 13 Doo-Bop (1991)

Oct 13 Directions (1960-70)

Sep 13 Dig (1951)

Aug 13 Get Up With It (1970-4)

Jul 13 Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1958)

Jun 13 Nefertiti (1967)

May 13 Special Miles programming all month long

Apr 13 First Miles (1944-7)

Mar 13 Live in Europe 1969

Feb 13 Miles Ahead (1957)

Jan 13 My Funny Valentine (1964)

To Pimp A Butterfly: Equal Parts Dr. Dre and Miles Davis?

All through April I have enjoyed juxtaposing Kendrick Lamar‘s mind-bogglingly good new record To Pimp A Butterfly, with my favorite Miles Davis record, Agartha (1975). I hope that you’re enjoying it, too. During the final week of April, we’ll delve into the dark, but redemptive, heart of both records: “Ife,” from Agharta, and “Mortal Man,” from To Pimp...

Turns out the Miles Davis-Kendrick Lamar connection is in the air these days. Kendrick Lamar’s record is the subject of a lengthy profile in the Arts section of the Sunday Times (that’s the New York Times: what other “Times” might I have meant?) for 15 March

Mark Spears, an in-house producer at Top Dawg Entertainment known as Sounwave, said there is “a whole lot of anger, a whole lot of frustration” in the music, which was influenced in equal parts by Miles Davis and Dr. Dre. “The world today has a bunch of problems. That rubbed off,” he said, referencing the unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Now it’s not clear to me whether producer Spears, or Joe Coscarelli, the author of the article (or indeed Kendrick himself), believes that the record is equal parts Miles and Dr. Dre. Either way, it’s a fascinating claim to ponder. As a dogged volunteer radio programmer who has spun a lot of Miles Davis records in the last couple of years – the St. Louis-born trumpeter is easily the most-played artist on my program – I could not stop speculating on how Kendrick was influenced by Miles.

After a few wasted hours of cogitation, I concluded that what the Times meant is that Kendrick’s new album features a lot of the lush, high production-value sound associated with Dr. Dre, and which was a hallmark of his brilliant 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d. city on the one hand, and a jazz sound, on the other. Not a jazz-like sound, or a jazz ethos, but jazz music period. “Miles Davis,” in this regard, is just meant as a synonym for “jazz.” Much of that is thanks to Lamar’s longtime associate Terrace Martin, who plays real jazz behind Kendrick’s rapping on a number of the latter’s recordings. Martin is joined by some bona fide jazz players on To Pimp, including pianist Robert Glasper and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. Some of that jazz is more Art Blakey (“For Free?”) or Herbie Hancock (most of the tracks) than Miles Davis.

But before I realized what the Times meant to say, I had thought look and hard about what features of Miles Davis’s sound, in particular, could be heard on Kendrick’s new record. And it turns out there are a few elements of Miles’s musical world that can be detected here.

Critic Stanley Crouch criticized Miles’s flirtations with funk and rock; others, in contrast, celebrated Davis’s dialogic propensity, his enthusiasm for layering different musical styles. Lamar’s record is dialogic in the same way that Davis’s music was, fusing poetry and hip hop and P-Funk and more.

But Kendrick’s music is dialogic in an additional sense, one that is peculiar to hip hop; I refer more directly to the dialogue of different voices and characters, which do not always agree with each other. Like, for example, the world weary alcoholic who remonstrates the young protagonist on the track “u” on the new record; like the fearful childlike voices that populate his earlier mixtapes Overly Dedicated and Section 80. This kind of dialogue is filmic. And it’s often unperceived by a lot of listeners, strangely. Critics of rap’s “message” take the lyrics of many rappers – which can be misogynistic or violent or antisocial – entirely literally. These voices, I argue, should be interpreted more like a Martin Scorsese film. Should we accuse Scorsese of being a bad role model because of the vile things the Joe Pesci character says and does in Goodfellas? Probably not, but the same courtesy is not extended to Ice Cube for his sprawling, cinematic AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (1991). On Ice Cube’s record, the principal character narrates tales of wrongdoing, even as other characters – some voiced by Cube, some by others – contradict that very narrative directly or indirectly. One track features a chorus of voices exclaiming “F*ck you Ice Cube!” at intervals. How could we mistake such a chorus of voices for a single, unitary “message”? Cube raps contentious poetry, and then other voices counter what he says. It’s a dialogue. Kendrick Lamar heightens the tension of this kind of dialogue on the new record.

An additional feature of much of Miles’s music is the attention to the overall sound, the Gestalt, as much as the individual instrumental voices. This is odd for a bebop-era jazz musician, for whom the solos are typically as important as the ensemble passages. Arguably, the great collaborations with Gil Evans (Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain) put the ensemble sound at the forefront, on an equal footing with Miles’s trumpet voice, at least. So too the various electric experiments beginning with Bitches Brew, and most surely including Agharta. And the 1980s Prince-inflected funk of Tutu. Davis’s biographer Ian Carr called these varied performances trumpet concerti, for two voices: the trumpet and the ensemble.

In a similar vein, Dr. Dre‘s sound is all about production values. Unlike the lone rapper or turntablist, Dre privileges the sonic Gestalt. This is what most struck Questlove when Dre’s The Chronic was first released, according to Questlove’s autobiography. Dre’s overall production oversight of To Pimp A Butterfly and its predecessor imbue the music with an orchestral lushness not unlike Miles trumpet concerti. Paradoxically, when our Times reviewer claims Kendrick’s record is part Dr. Dre and part Miles Davis, the “Dre” part is itself very Miles-like in this deep sense.

April Records

Two fantastic new records this April on the program: one is making headlines everywhere new records are followed, the other almost fantastically obscure.

Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly pulls off the almost impossible task of exceeding the expectations created by his 2012 masterpiece good kid, m.A.A.d city. If good kid was a film (that’s what the album cover said), To Pimp is a novel in verse, dense, multilayered, peopled with a pullulating dramatis personae, melodramatic, as serious as your life. All that, and a solid jazz line-up, including pianist Robert Glasper throughout.

Brian Shimkovitz started the blog, and then the record label called Awesome Tapes from Africa to release the most varied music from Africa that he found in what was for years the preferred sonic platform on the continent: the cassette. He has amassed an impressive catalogue of releases, now issued on vinyl, CD and mp3, as well as cassette. But the Holy Grail of his awesome-tape quest was a 1994 tape by Ghanaian Ata Kak called Obaa Sima. Now that enigmatic album is available on Awesome Tapes label. Shimkovitz bought a cassette copy in Ghana years ago and thereafter set out to locate Ata Kak. It turns out that only about 50 copies of the cassette were released, and fewer than ten sold. Shimkovitz ultimately had to use his own cassette as the source for this reissue. In the meantime, he tracked down Ata – real name Yaw Atta-Owusu – who endorsed the reissue. Says critic Robert Christgau: “…his Westernized Afropop is pure self-expression. Because no one heard it but his posse, it says nothing about the cultures that produced it but a lot about the musician who felt compelled to put it on tape—a lively, focused, friendly guy unlike any other you can bring to mind.”

This month’s Miles Davis record is my favorite Miles Davis record. Yes, that’s right, my favorite Miles album. Maybe my favorite record ever. Agharta (1975), music as profound and as mysterious as the mythic continent evoked by the title.

Porgy and Bess and Miles

This month of March 2015, we’re listening to Miles Davis‘s Porgy & Bess (1958).

Franck Bergerot nails it with characteristic accuracy and terseness in his Miles Davis dictionary:

Recorded in stereo with personnel and under conditions similar to those present for the Miles Ahead sessions (a hard-to-read score, recordings after scant rehearsals, abundant edits), Gil Evans produced a veritable masterpiece and one of Miles’s best-selling records.

Amiri Baraka, jazz poet and more


28BOOKBARAKA-master180 Regular listeners know that most weeks, you get a poem on our little radio program, at no extra charge. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been dipping into the voluminous compendium of poetry by the late Amiri Baraka (1934-2014, né LeRoi Jones). The newly published collection is entitled S O S Poems 1961-2013, and is edited by Paul Vangelisti.

Baraka’s poetry is almost ridiculously multivalent – shifting voice, tone, mood mid-line. It’s political, it’s critical, and it evokes, implicitly and explicitly, jazz.

Here is a short poem called “Buddha Asked Monk”:

“If you were always right
would it be Easier

or more Difficult
Living In The World?”

“I knew you’d ask that!”
Monk said, Blue and

Baraka’s jazz writing – especially the books Blues People (1963) and Black Music (1968) – has been fundamental to the way I think about jazz, and about music in general. Like this paragraph about John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, from Black Music:

Coltrane’s music takes its impetus and shape from the repeated chords that harmonically fix the tune. In fact, he plays sometimes as if he would like to take each note of a chord and sound it singly, but at the same time as the overall chord. It is like a painter who instead of painting a simple white, paints all the elemental pigments that the white contains, and at the same time as the white itself. But Ornette Coleman’s music has been described as “non-chordal.” That is, he does not limit his line to notes that are specifically called for by the sounded chord. The form of a Coleman solo is usually determined by the total musical shape of what he is playing, i.e., the melody, timbre, pitch and of course, the rhythm – all of these moved by Ornette’s singularly emotional approach to jazz, in music the sam way as the older, “primitive,” blues singers produced their music.

Or this account of a set by Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot in 1963:

One evening after the last tune of the set, Monk leaped up from the bench, his hands held in the attitude he had assumed as he finished the number, and without changing that attitude (hands up and in front of him as he lifted them from the keys) he wheeled off the stand and did a long drawn out shuffle step from the sand completely around the back of the club. Everyone in the club stopped, sort of, and followed him with their eyes, till he had half circled the entire club. Monk brought the semicircle to a stop right at the center of the bar, and without dropping his attitude or altering his motion he called out to the bartender, very practically and logically, “Give me a drink.” Somebody next to me said, to no one in particular, “Now, you get to that.”

Strewn from the hands of the gods of the winds of March

March brings two new forthcoming releases, each imaginative, each distinct, and both intersecting in the light of midnight.

Vastly resourceful tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin – originally from Santa Cruz, now NY-based – will release Fast Future at the end of March. It’s his first new album since Casting for Gravity (2012). The band is the same – Jason Lindner (keyboards of every stripe), Tim Lefebvre (electric bass), Mark Guiliana (drums), joined by producer David Binney on synthesizers and vocals (I’m serious). The musical concept, too, follows the logic of the earlier disc: McCaslin explores the overlap between the adventurous acoustic jazz that he mastered on earlier albums and electronica as purveyed by artists like Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Boards of Canada. If Fast Future differs from Casting for Gravity, it’s because the newer disc has a lighter touch, a slightly less frenzied heartbeat.

I interviewed McCaslin for All About Jazz in early 2013, following the release of Casting for Gravity: he spoke thoughtfully about electronica, tone, Santa Cruz and his influences as a saxophonist.

German pianist Julia Hülsmann returns with her quartet – rounded out by Tom Arthurs on trumpet and flugelhorn, Marc Muellbauer on double bass, and Heinrich Köbberling on drums – this time joined by vocalist Theo Bleckmann, on an April 2015 release called A Clear Midnight: Kurt Weill in America. Hülsmann presents a strong program of songs by composer Kurt Weill, not limited – in spite of the record’s title – to his output after fleeing the Nazis and coming to the US. The songs are frequently subjected to surprising but not jarring harmonic modifications, rendering them slightly less familiar. “Mack the Knife” is remade into a kind of modal exercise, for example, far removed from Sonny Rollins’s rocking version. Vocalist Bleckmann has a high, crystal clear sound, more redolent of theater than jazz – though many jazz musicians have invited him in to great effect: John Hollenbeck, Ambrose Akinmusire, and now Hülsmann.

What did I mean by “both intersect at midnight”? Moccasin’s disc features a beautiful ballad called “Midnight Light,” while Hülsmann’s title track is “A Clear Midnight.” And the two tracks actually sound pretty nice back to back. And we’ll hear as much of both records as we can this month of March on the program.

Our Miles Davis record for March is Porgy and Bess. More on that later.

The title of this post is from a pretty old-school poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne about the advent of Spring.

Reading about Tutu


This month’s Miles Davis record is Tutu (1986). Some of the background for the on-air chatter I might do about it comes from two fine texts. French music journalist Vincent Cotro published a short and handsomely illustrated book (in French) about the album in 2013. And there is a long chapter on the Tutu album and era in the late trumpeter Ian Carr‘s excellent biography (check out the hugely expanded second edition from 2006). Here’s a little of what I learned from Cotro and Carr.

The basic story about Tutu revolves around bassist-impresario Marcus Miller. Miller had worked with Miles in the trumpeter’s immediate post-retirement period: it’s Miller’s fantastically funky bass you hear on the telluric “Fat Time” from Miles’s comeback record The Man With The Horn (1981), for example. Miller, so the story goes, single-handedly created the multi-instrumental musical environments, heavy on Prince-era funk; Miles came in and played his trumpet parts atop the pre-recorded backdrop, Miller pointing at him when it was time for the trumpet.

This creative process is both ingeniously inventive and the source of some of the criticism that’s been leveled at the record. By design, the music is not as interactive as a genuine, live group performance: like, say, the Miles quintet recorded at San Francisco’s Blackhawk in April 1961. (The pianist on those great Blackhawk dates, by the way, is Marcus Miller’s cousin Wynton Kelly. Just so you know.) Miles’s solos are wonderful and react to the Marcus Miller musical treatments, but the musical treatments do not, in turn, react to Miles the way a live band would or could.


Perhaps. Then again, the Miller approach mirrors that employed by Miles’s greatest musical partner, Gil Evans. Evans created orchestral backdrops against which Miles would solo and improvise, and they are clearly among the masterworks of the trumpeter’s œuvre: Miles Ahead (1957), Porgy and Bess (1958), Sketches of Spain (1960). Ian Carr likens these recordings to trumpet concerti, in which there are two, and only two, voices: the orchestra and Miles’s trumpet. Carr furthermore points out that the very different Bitches Brew (1969) is similar in this respect: Miles is the lone solo voice against a backcloth of oozing electronic sound. In this sense, Tutu is closely linked to a longstanding practice in Miles’s artistry. Miller sagely saw the connection with the earlier Davis-Evans collaborations.

And there is more interaction than the description above might suggest, particularly between Davis and Miller. Miller recalls the sometimes unpredictable atmosphere created by Miles-roshi:

‘Portia’ on Tutu was a first take. I showed him the melody on a soprano sax I had, so he could relate to another horn, and then we started running tape. I was sitting there while he was playing, and he picked me up by my collar and pushed me up to the microphone to play the melody with him. I’d never played soprano on a record before, and we were both going on to the same track. He was playing so great that I was afraid I was going to make a mistake and ruin everything Miles played. That was one of the most tense experiences I’ve ever had.

The Marcus Miller-based story is not the whole story, either. At the origin of the Tutu sound is the late keyboardist George Duke. Duke was asked by Warner Bros. producer Tommy Lipuma (for whom “Tomaas” on the record is named) to produce a background musical treatment before any of the Marcus Miller material ever happened. He recorded a demo for the track that became “Backyard Ritual” (we’ll hear it on the 19 Feb broadcast). Davis, rather than convening a band to perform “Backyard Ritual,” instead simply recorded his solo over the demo, and that’s what appears on the album. Miller, in turn, was asked to provide more songs that resembled the Duke track. He did, and the rest is musical history.

That naked integrated music

Regular listeners of Now’s the Time – and there are literally tens of them – know that most weeks you get a poem on this program, at no extra charge. During a January broadcast, I read Muriel Rukeyser‘s “A Certain Music,” which begins

Never to hear, I know in myself complete
That naked integrated music;

I like that phrase, “naked integrated music.” It’s a nice way to think about the music I feature on the show: naked in its honesty and directness; integrated in its hybrid enthusiasm to draw upon multiple traditions, temperaments and terrains.

February brings a new crop of naked integrated records that we’ll listen to carefully, together. First up is Montréal pianist Marianne Trudel‘s La vie commence ici, released last year on the excellent Canadian Justin Time label. This record slyly changes character each time you think you’ve got it pigeonholed. It is gentle, classical-inflected chamber jazz one moment; it is an adventurous charge along the boundaries of avant-jazz the next. Throughout, Trudel’s musical and lovely playing, improvising and compositions are a delight, and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen is an intrepid fellow traveller.

From further afield than Québec comes another late-2014 release. JÜ Meets Møster brings together Hungarian power-rock trio (I guess you’d call them a power trio) and Norwegian saxophonist Kjetil Møster. Talk about your naked integrated music. This fine collaboration on the always-satisfying RareNoise label reminds me of the under appreciated Last Exit, one of my favorite 1980s bands, which featured guitarist Sonny Sharrock and saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. It’s that same marriage of soulful, loud rock ‘n’ roll textures with the abandon of the European free jazz scene of the 60s and 70s, rejuvenated for the new millennium. And it’s as eminently songful as Marianne Trudel’s acoustic piano quintet. I find myself grinning crazily (more crazily than usual) whenever I listen to it.

From the Miles Davis discography, an 80s classic – perhaps the 80s classic – and the trumpeter’s first album for Warner Bros. Records: Tutu (1986). This marks the freshest collaboration between Davis and the last of his eminences grises, bassist and producer Marcus Miller. Integrated jazz, funk, reggae and more.

January Recorded Wonders

A new month, a new year, a new slew of discs for our special attention. Two new records, two sets of reissued rarities. In and amidst the eclectic mixtape you’ve come to rely upon from Now’s the Time on KUSP.

D’Angelo‘s Black Messiah is mind-bogglingly rich, soul-satisfying music that reveals particular profundity in the jazz-and-not-only-jazz format of our program. No video as of this writing, but here’s a taste. Tune in for more.

Alto saxophonist Sarah Manning‘s Harmonious Creature is a January 2014 release that got past me. I learned about it from someone’s year-end list and want to share it with all of you, as much as we can fit in. Manning’s sound owes something to the rustic, acoustic groove I so appreciated on bassist Todd Sickafoose’s subtly epochal Tiny Resistors (2008). She’s joined by viola player Eyvind Kang, who listeners may know from his work with Bill Frisell, and by the standout guitarist Jonathan Goldberger.

In the reissues camp, we start with Spirit of Malombo, a marvelous two-disc overview of the work of South African-British musician Julian Bahula, whose bands fused jazz, South African pop and traditional musics and a lot more. We’ll hear from his late-60s SA outfit Malombo Jazz Makers, as well as the particularly delicious seventies sounds of London-based Jabula.

Finally, our Miles Davis album for January is a new release. All of You: The Last Tour 1960 brings together live recordings from six European dates in March and April 1960. Most of these recordings, often taken from radio broadcasts, have been spottily available as bootlegs in whole or in part; the new four-disc Acrobat set puts everything together very nicely. The key drama of these performances is the playing of tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, who was dragged kicking and screaming to accompany Davis on these dates. He can be heard working out his incipient sheets of sound approach to soloing, creating the sound that would mark his post-Miles musical identity so irrevocably. The fine liner notes by Simon Spillett point out that Coltrane’s experiments were not always well-received by the European audiences. At the same time, Davis can be heard developing a sound that would be, conceptually speaking, among the least ambitious, but for sheer jazz ingenuity, among the most rewarding, of his many musical identities: the rock-solid post-hard-bop sound that would truly flower on the 1961 recordings from the Blackhawk in San Francisco.