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Emma-Jean Thackray

Um Yang - 2022 Repress

    Emma-Jean Thackray, an outstanding figure in the UK jazz scene, releases Um Yang, her long-dreamed project dedicated to the Taoist philosophy of duality and harmony. A highly ambitious and personal record that sees Thackray leading a septet featuring Soweto Kinch and Steam Down’s Wonky Logic, recorded straight to vinyl.

    An accomplished trumpeter, beat-maker, singer, composer and DJ, Thackray draws on far wider influences than jazz. Her sound is distinctive; in the words of The Guardian like “Bitches Brew era Miles entering the dub chamber with a New Orleans marching band – in a good way”. Since debuting in 2016, Thackray has directed the London Symphony Orchestra, performed at the NY Winter Jazz Fest, played Glastonbury five times in 2019 alone, and launched her own record label, Movementt (in association with Warp).

    Raised in Yorkshire, Thackray inherited a grounding in Taoism from her father, and approaches her music with the same pursuit of harmony between Um & Yang (the Korean Ying & Yang), balancing melody and rhythm, groove and free improvisation, cerebral and physical. For this one-off recording, Thackray has applied this ideology in every sense, even down to the ensemble itself featuring not one but two percussionists. Um commences with ethereal interplay between keys, percussion, and Thackray’s trumpet, recalling the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane’s classic records. As the piece builds, an earthy groove emerges. On both trumpet and vocals, Thackray leads the ensemble further out until the piece peaks with an epic breakdown. On the flip, Yang starts on the same cacophonous note but progresses to a joyful groove before returning to a peaceful state again, balance restored.

    When Night Dreamer Records invited Emma to record Um Yang straight-to-disc at Artone’s vintage recording studio in Haarlem, Holland, Emma was excited by the idea of capturing this specific project in one-take, without overdubs or edits. “Recording in (Artone) was such a dream” Thackray recalls. “It had all the fantasy analogue equipment you daydream about one day being able to use. The desk looked like something Uhura would use. All the instruments were natural, woods and metals, no plastic in sight, and everything was to be hit or blown, all analogue. I really needed everything to be natural and real, because the music is about the universe, about the energy of all things, and what is more real than that.” Honest sound to match truly honest music. With Um Yang, Emma-Jean Thackray has created her most personal and defining work to date.

    PERSONNEL:
    Emma-Jean Thackray - Trumpet, Voice, Percussion
    Soweto Kinch - Saxophones
    Lyle Barton - Rhodes
    Ben Kelly - Sousaphone
    Dwayne Kilvington - Percussion
    Crispin Robinson - Congas
    Dougal Taylor - Drums

    Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

    Night Dreamer Direct-To-Disc Sessions

      Seun Kuti, youngest son of afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, and leader of his father’s Egypt 80 band, entered the Artone Studio in Haarlem, Holland, earlier this year to cut a direct to disc session in a single take.

      The first to be released on the Night Dreamer label, the session brought some of the foremost afrobeat musicians in the world together, many of whom cut their teeth playing with Fela himself.

      Inheriting both his father’s musicality and political activism, Seun was only fourteen when his father died, and has played with the band for over twenty years, first as a singer and then as a saxophonist in his father’s mould.

      For the Night Dreamer session, the band took a day to acclimatise themselves to the recording process, sound check levels, and perform a few test cuts, with Seun was the central figure throughout, orchestrating the band with the assurance of his father.

      Playing without the safety of multiple takes, Seun and Egypt 80 cut all four tracks (two per side) in a single take without rehearsal on the second day, improvising with all the focus and relaxation of a band in the midst of a world tour.

      The recordings were cut to the studio’s Neumann VMS70 lathe, capturing not just the urgency of the performance but the atmosphere of the session itself, with all its imperfections. A snapshot of a legendary outfit at the top of their game.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1. Struggle Sounds (Night Dreamer D2D Version)
      A2. Black Times (Night Dreamer D2D Version)
      B1. Bad Man Lighter BML (Night Dreamer D2D Version)
      B2. Theory Of Goat And Yam (Night Dreamer D2D Version)

      Gary Bartz & Maisha

      Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions - 2022 Repress

        The third release from Night Dreamer’s essential “Direct-to-Disc” sessions sees an incredible meeting between legendary US saxophonist Gary Bartz and leading UK spiritual jazz ensemble, Maisha, featuring two Bartz classics and three brand new joint songs written by both Bartz & Maisha in close collaboration.

        Having cut his teeth playing with the likes of Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Art Blakey and finally in 1970, Miles Davis at the peak of his electric period, Gary Bartz became a leading figure of the early-to-mid 70s spiritual jazz movement, releasing a string of ground-breaking albums on legendary NYC jazz label Prestige Records with his NTU Troop, featuring classics such as “Celestial Blues”, “Uhuru Dance” and “I’ve Known Rivers”, before collaborating on Blue Note Records with the Mizell Brothers on the anthemic jazz funk of “Music Is My Sanctuary”. An oeuvre much loved by soul jazzers and hip hop fans alike.

        Led by drummer Jake Long, Maisha have been central to the UK’s jazz explosion, and have fast become the UK’s most exciting and in-demand young spiritual jazz ensemble, from steller shows at Jazz re:freshed, Total Refreshment Centre & Church of Sound and supporting the Sun Ra Arkestra, to releasing their critically acclaimed debut LP, “There Is A Place” on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings in 2018. Theirs is an organic & explosive sound that blends influences from afrobeat and broken beat to Persian music, with a deep love and understanding of jazz, particularly the heritage of spiritual jazz led by titans such as Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and of course, Gary Bartz.

        Which makes this collaboration even more special. Bartz was first invited to share a stage with Maisha by Gilles Peterson to headline the inaugural We Out Here festival. Their chemistry was rich and instantaneous, certainly a two-way street, with the young musicians reinvigorating the legend’s performance and wowing the intergenerational festival audience. A European tour followed, including a London Jazz Festival highlight at the Royal Festival Hall, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his album “Another Earth”, originally featuring fellow legends, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Tolliver, Stanley Cowell, and John Coltrane’s own bassist, Reggie Workman. Now the relationship has evolved into a special straight-to-disc recording for Night Dreamer Records, that captures the vitality of their collaboration. Whilst Bartz and Maisha reinvent classic Bartz compositions “Uhuru Sasa” and “Dr Follows Dance”, extending the pieces into long piece improvised grooves, their recording session gave birth to three brand new joint compositions, written the very same day. These include the propulsive “Leta’s Dance” that magically combines the Bartz’ soulful musical lyricism with Maisha’s African-jazz influences, and the organic jazz funk of “Harlem to Haarlem”, featuring a hot solo from guest trumpeter Axel Kaner-Lidstrom of Cykada & Levitation Orchestra fame.

        Like previous Night Dreamer efforts from afrobeat star Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, and the beautiful collaboration between Brazilian stars Seu Jorge & Rogê, the album was recorded in Haarlem’s Artone Studio, a stones throw from Amsterdam, in just one-take, straight-to-disc, avoiding postproduction embellishments and retaining the purity of the performance lost in modern recording techniques.

        This record really is an event, in and of itself, a meeting of talents, minds, generations and zeitgeist moments, captured in a unique and pure manner. The music does not disappoint, as Maisha have been inspired to reach new heights whilst we find Bartz truly reinvigorated, and both artists in tune to the spirit of the other.

        TRACK LISTING

        A1 - Harlem To Haarlem
        A2 - The Stank
        B1 - Leta's Dance
        B2 - Uhuru Sasa
        B3 - Dr Follows Dance

        Etuk Ubong

        Africa Today - Night Dreamer Direct-To-Disc Sessions - 2022 Repress

          Hailed by none other than Seun Kuti as “one of the best things to come out of Lagos”, Nigerian trumpeter, composer and bandleader Etuk Ubong has developed an original style he calls “Earth Music”.

          Weaving together a unique combination of not only afrobeat, highlife and jazz, but also the ritualistic drumming of Ekombi, the result is urgent and highly energetic, yet spiritual; his compositions reflecting his heritage and life philosophy of goodwill, peace and love for humanity. Ubong’s music is so vibrant and propulsive that one can easily make comparisons with leading lights of the UK scene, such as the Shabaka Hutchings-led Sons of Kemet, but at the same time it is distinctly Nigerian.

          Ubong was invited by Night Dreamer to record at Haarlem’s Artone Studio, home to an enviable collection of vintage mastering and recording equipment and situated right above a pressing plant. He assembled an international ensemble of the highest calibre to record his compositions direct-to-disc, avoiding the interference created by widely adopted recording techniques and capturing his enigmatic live performance in its most natural and explosive form. Ubong is joined by another Lagos-based musician, Michael Awosogo, also on trumpet, and a hand-picked group of UK and Netherlands-based musicians who finally after an impromptu show the night before, recorded the whole album in just one sitting on the last day of the five-day session.

          Much of the music is incredibly fast-paced, and politically charged, particularly on titles such as “African Struggle” and “Mass Corruption'', with Ubong featuring on both trumpet and lead vocal, leading a five-piece brass section over the percussion-heavy rhythm section and soulful keys supplied by Vels Trio’s Jack Stephenson-Oliver. Etuk uses music to address not only injustice but also humanity and spirituality, most notably on “Spiritual Change”, a deep cut on which Etuk reflects on Africans need for internal change before they can address the problems around them, stands-out among the rest of the album.

          Born in the Akwa Ibom State in southern Nigeria, but raised in Lagos, Ubong picked up the trumpet at the age of 14 and never looked back. He went on to study at the Peter King College of Music, Muson School of Music and the University of Cape Town, and aged just 16 was recruited to join the band of the late-great and recently passed highlife musician Victor Olaiya, through whose ranks also passed a young Fela Kuti & Tony Allen before inventing afrobeat. This led to him joining and touring with reggae sensation Buchi, before a fruitful stint with Femi Kuti’s Positive Force, performing frequently at the New Afrika Shrine in Ikeja, and dates with the visionary South African pianist and composer Nduduzo Makhathini, recently signed to Blue Note Records.

          Already greatly in-demand at home in Lagos, and across Nigeria and Africa, he has launched his own venue, “The Truth”, the most prolific in the Nigerian capital since Fela Kuti’s Shrine, performing himself three nights a week. At the same time, Etuk’s following in London & the UK has exploded after numerous performances including a mesmerising and widely-discussed session with acclaimed London-based artist collective, event and music community Steam Down, residencies at Jazz re:freshed & the Royal Festival Hall and a storming set at the inaugural edition of Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here Festival. Ubong’s connection to the UK scene, particularly Steam Down and musicians such as Theon Cross from Sons of Kemet, draws attention to exciting parallels. The intensity, the political edge, the crossing of barriers and pursuit of spirituality.

          Night Dreamer has captured Etuk Ubong, live-and-uncut, at a pivotal point: a highly accomplished musician who has absorbed his home’s musical heritage, created his own sound and already made an impact not only in Lagos but also within the exciting UK and South African jazz scenes. An essential record that transcends the labels of jazz or afrobeat. Let’s call it earth music.

          TRACK LISTING

          A1 - Ekpommommom
          A2 - African Struggle
          A3 - Africa Today
          B1 - Mass Corruption
          B2 - Spiritual Change
          B3 - The Purpose Of Creation

          Sarathy Korwar & UPAJ Collective

          Night Dreamer Direct-to-Disc Sessions

          On their Night Dreamer debut, the sensational drummer, percussionist and musical artist Sarathy Korwar and his allstar “UPAJ Collective” gain brand new ground in their mission to rebalance spiritual jazz with authentic Indian classical music. “UPAJ” means “to improvise” in Hindi, and recording direct-to-disc at Artone Studios with almost no preconceived directions, they truly capture the “spirit of spontaneous improvisation”, as Sarathy puts it, like never before.

          Fluent on both tabla & drums, Korwar has firmly established himself on the UK jazz scene & far beyond, playing with the likes of Shabaka Hutchings & Hieroglyphic Being. Winning a Steve Reid Foundation award and most recently winning an AIM award for best independent album for the album 'More Arriving’.

          On this special recording for Night Dreamer, Korwar and co have brought the UPAJ fully to bear with its mission to collaborate and improvise.The nature of recording straight-to-acetate, with just a pause between each record side, was a challenge they fully embraced, entering the recording with minimal instructions. Korwar relates that they initiated the session by sitting together in a circle to perform a set of breathing exercises, now a regular part of their gig prep. This set a collective tone, slowing heart rates, it centered the players and they felt more present, more aware of the space and each other. As such, trust, communication and ability to relate, came before the instrumentation.

          This new release for Night Dreamer marks an exciting chapter for Sarathy Korwar & The UPAJ Collective, “stepping into the unknown”, only to discover a more true and honest reflection of their art.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. So Said Said
          2. Flight IC 408
          3. Elephant Hangover
          4. Intimate Enemy
          5. So Said Said – Yoruba Soul Mix


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