First Word Records to celebrate European unity with Brexit day compilation

— News — Editor

First Word records, the London-and-Leeds-based record label responsible for releasing contemporary classics by Children of Zeus and Tall Black Guy, are planning to release a unique compilation album on 29th March (the day that Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union). The label’s aim is to compile material submitted from as many European countries as possible, including non EU member states, and to donate 50% of digital download proceeds to charities The Refugee Council and Shelter. Described as a celebration of unity and diversity, the compilation’s running order will depend upon the music submitted to the label by musicians throughout Europe. Find out more about the project here.


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March 29th 2019, First Word Records is releasing a very special album. We’d like YOU to be a part of it. The aim is to feature tracks from as many different European countries as we can. Regardless of what happens with Brexit, this is simply a tribute to our home; Europe. Our team, our artists & our friends consist of people from across the globe. In a time rife with division & uncertainty, we’d like to celebrate unity and diversity. The best way we know how… Music. If you live in Europe (not just the EU) and feel you have some music that fits our vibe, send it over! The album will be released digitally worldwide, and we’ll split profits 50:50 with the artists. From our label share we’ll be donating 50% to split between two charities; The Refugee Council and Shelter. Send us Soundcloud links to your music to: Closing date for submissions is March 1st. One track per entrant. We look forward to hearing from you x • (🔊@quietdawn – ‘Being’) • #firstwordrecords #indierecordlabel #europe #europeanmusic #beats #soul #jazz #hiphop #brokenbeat

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The repeat listen: Joachim Kühn – Melodic Ornette Coleman

Tasting Notes: Ornette Coleman & Joachim Kühn – Colors (Live From Leipzig), Joachim Kühn – Solos

Fifty years ago, the celebrated pianist Joachim Kühn released his debut album as a bandleader. At that time he was part of a swathe of musicians mingling in Paris, recording albums for the emerging labels Actuel BYG and Futura. His early work saw the pianist exploring jazz-rock and free jazz styles, the latter of which being a style that the work of Ornette Coleman had led him to approach. They involved ensembles of varying size, but with his 1971 LP Solos and the subsequent Piano Solo album for MPS records, he identified himself as a diverse, sensitive and expressive solo piano performer.

In the years prior to Kühn’s emergence, the aforementioned saxophonist Ornette Coleman had sparked significant change in the world of contemporary jazz. His 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come had foretold and influenced the free jazz developments that were to follow, inspiring musicians such as Joachim Kühn and numerous others. Coleman gained widespread renown in the years running up to the time of Joachim Kühn’s first efforts, boldly recording with orchestra members and unusual combinations of musicians — not to mention his young son Denardo — generally keeping the jazz world on its toes with his trailblazing attitude.

From these brief introductions of the two artists, it’s easy to see how their paths didn’t cross for several decades. They emerged at different times and moved in different musical circles. Then of course, there’s the somewhat ironic fact that Coleman avoided writing piano parts into his compositions for such a long time.

Yet eventually, during the early nineties the musicians did meet. Coleman and Kühn hit it off, Coleman playing comfortably and expressive alongside the pianist his pre-eminent free jazz works had inspired. They performed several concerts together and released recordings from their show in Leipzig in 1996.

As one of the few pianists Coleman had developed a good rapport with during his career, Kühn’s relationship with the late saxophonist’s work is understandably strong. It’s this fondness that informs the 75-year-old’s new solo piano release, Melodic Ornette Coleman.

Built upon the heartwarming notion of an ‘imagined encounter’, it hears Joachim Kühn interpreting thirteen Ornette Coleman compositions that the two never recorded and closing with a bonus composition from his own pen.

There are contemplative moments, bursts of unbridled energy and challenging harmony. There are passages where melodies develop, distort and desert the listener, in rapidly evolving and fiercely creative loose form constructions. The pieces Physical Chemistry and Food Stamps on the Moon are fine examples: shapeshifting compositions that flirt with styles and genres but exist outside of recognised boundaries, other than the broad church of free music. Both examples are wonderfully mellifluous, living up to the album title entirely. Yet they move and develop in a creative and characterful manor, which is credit to both Coleman’s writing and Kühn’s playing.

Like many before it, Melodic Ornette Coleman is an album with a lot to reveal to players and fans of solo piano music. With endless phrases and ideas to extrapolate, it’s a treasure trove of musical expression.

New sounds and visuals

Manchester-based duo Darcie delivered another masterclass in DIY pop production this week, releasing their sugary new single Mango. With its overdriven drums and slick beat repeat breaks, video game-esque keyboards and tremolo guitar, it’s a unique and summery track high on invention and creativity.

Agbeko’s new video for their Ethio-jazz and prog rock-infused track The Remedy, continues the hexagonal motif established in their mountainside press photos. Created by Rich Williams, it frames the band in a web of geometric patterns, a soft amber hue capturing the warmth of the song’s beguiling melodies.

Newly signed to Mello Music Group (the label home to rap artists Oddisee and Quelle Chris), South African four-piece Seba Kaapstad have hit the ground running with Breathe. An effortlessly groovy and beautifully produced R&B cut, it pushes the vocal talents of Zoe Modiga and Ndumiso Manana to the fore, with a falling piano backing and undulating electronic beat underpinning the arrangement.

Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs and beatmaker extraordinaire Madlib released their first collaborative track since 2014’s critically-acclaimed LP Piñata, this week. Speculation is rife that 18th March — five years to the day since Piñata dropped — might be the day that follow up album Bandana arrives, but without confirmation we at least have the propulsive, energising Flat Tummy Tea to head nod along to!

The supremely talented Lophiile dropped a new EP with Blue Note records this week. There’s nothing typically ‘Blue Note’ about the EP, from its visual aesthetic to its musical content and for that we tip a cap to both label and artist for their emboldening move. You’re Gonna Need It features Jesse Boykins III and takes shape around a springy electronic beat, acoustic piano changes, synthetic vibes and stacked vocals, resulting in a melodic and contemporary RnB cut. Rather than a lyric video or official audio stream, the track is accompanied on YouTube by a stylish ‘visualiser’, in which grainy patterns shift to the movements of the music.

Photo credits: Joachim Kuhn by Juanjo Fotografia Professional, Seba Kaapstad by Foto Svengoetz

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