Thursday, 12 September 2013

Motor City Jazz Ensemble

As part of a crate-digging project commissioned by car maker-cum-musical tastemaker Scion, deejay and curator Amir Abdullah – of Kon and Amir re-edit fame – recently laid his healing hands on the master tapes of Detroit's short-lived Strata Records.

The midwestern Strata, like the later and arguably more famous New York affiliate Strata-East, offered shelter to emerging urban jazz experiments during the 1970s. The imprint was founded by former Etta Jones pianist Kenny Cox, following a silent recording period in the wake of his two under-acknowledged bop albums cut with the Contemporary Jazz Quintet for Blue Note.

As a sideman, Cox has performed with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eddie Harris, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Dorham and Donald Byrd and to this day actively mentors within the Detroit jazz scene.

But I won't belabour the details of Cox's biography because I found a really happening archival video (see below) that pays him his proper dues much better than I could.

However, I will entreat you to seek out his recently issued - and long overdue - Strata album Clap! Clap! The Joyful Noise. Cox's indebtedness to buoyant Latin rhythms and his hybridized bossa nova soul jazz aesthetic wonderfully complement the politicized afro-centric experimentalism of his motor-city contemporaries.

That said, the ever versatile Cox can adeptly stratify both of those idioms, as exemplified by his appearance on trombonist Phil Ranelin's Vibes from the Tribe.

Prior to Amir's Strata reissue venture, Cox most recently surfaced as the pianist on Francisco Mora Catlett's jazz dance monster, "Amazona."

They say it's so cold in the "D" but we know Kenny Cox keeps it sizzling.

Christopher Pitts - Kenn Cox, Jazz Masters, Date Unknown

Kenny Cox and The Contemporary Jazz Quintet – Introducing Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet, Blue Note, 1968.

Discogs: Introducing Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet



Kenny Cox and The Contemporary Jazz Quintet – "Sojourn," Multidirection, Blue Note, 1969.

Discogs: Multidirection

Phil Ranelin – "Vibes from the Tribe (Prelude)," Vibes from the Tribe, Tribe, 1976.

Discogs: Vibes from the Tribe

Bert Myrick – "Scorpio's Child," Live'n Well, Strata Records, 1974 (Recorded April 4, 1965).*

Discogs: Live'n Well

Kenny Cox – "Clap Clap," Clap! Clap! The Joyful Noise, Strata/180 Proof, 2013 (Recorded 1974-5).

Discogs: Clap! Clap! The Joyful Noise

Francisco Mora Catlett - "Amazona," Amazona, Kindred Spirits, 2004.

Discogs: Amazona

*Big thanks to Kaewonder at Cratery for fact checking the recording date on this one.  Good ear.

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