Welcome to the Guide to the Week of Music, a round-up of music news, media and releases from the wide musical world. This week, it was our privilege to speak with renowned percussionist Airto Moreira, discussing his time spent in New York and his work on Frank Foster’s change-seeking opus, The Loud Minority. We also have some new sounds and visuals from a week worth of browsing and discovery, to run down with you.
It was during this week in 1974, that Frank Foster’s The Loud Minority—featuring such influential figures as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hannibal Lokumbe (born Marvin Peterson) and Stanley Clarke—was released. Surprisingly little is written about the record, despite its notable cast list, musical breadth and resonant subject matter. The liner notes of the album itself serve only to credit the musicians, engineers and designers involved in the record. But it’s an album deserving of deeper analysis. Its passages of unbridled free improvisation, soft and pensive harmony, vitriolic cries and emphatic riffs, make it an outstanding example of early-seventies, big band jazz.
When world class percussionist Airto Moreira and vocalist Flora Purim moved to the U.S. together from São Paulo, New York wasn’t their initial destination.
‘I went to California first,’ Airto explained, ‘but the music scene wasn’t so strong for live performances. So I decided to go to New York. What I really liked about it was that there were lots of venues to play live, and the musicians formed a close community… and we jammed almost every night.’
The city left a lasting impression on Moreira, who still believes it to be the best city in the world for jazz. The most important gig of his career was scored there: a place within Miles Davis’ groundbreaking fusion outfit for the recording of Bitches Brew. But he enjoyed a wide variety of work aside from Miles’ group, including, ‘…playing live with Cannonball Adderley, Ron Carter, Chick Corea, Weather Report, Wayne Shorter… plus recording and going on the road with Paul Simon and Garfunkel too.’ He made some fantastic records of his own in New York: Free, Fingers, Seeds on the Ground and Natural Feelings amongst them.
Airto on percussion with Miles Davis’ ensemble in Lenox, MA, 1970.
When Frank Foster came calling, Moreira was respected enough to be offered an open invitation to the Loud Minority session. “Well, what I really liked in that recording was, first of all, I didn’t rehearse. Frank called me and said: ‘if you wanna record this album, be in the studio on this date and time’, etc.” Airto arrived and found the group had ‘already rehearsed the first song.’
“I just got in there and played. In some ways, parts of the arrangements were completely free. At certain moments, the arrangement would stop and everybody would play whatever they wanted. I thought it was total chaos, because I could’t hear myself in the headphones… so I threw the microphone inside my percussion suitcase and shook it as loud and strong as I could. That’s the sound that was recorded. I thought Frank wouldn’t like it and I thought I was going to be busted…but we went to the control room, listened to it, and when we finished listening Frank said ‘Great… do you guys like it?’. And he didn’t say anything to me. Elvin Jones saw me doing it and he was playing and laughing!”
Airto feels that many of the experiences he had in New York reflect in the music he plays today. He feels that they, ‘can be heard in my most recent album, Aluê, recorded with a Brazilian band in 2016 and which we are releasing in Europe right now’. This will be among the music he and his band will be presenting in Manchester on Sunday and we cannot wait to hear the masterful percussionist back on our stage!
Tenderlonious’ debut LP with 22archestra is released today, following his tremendous show at Soup Kitchen last night. Recording during an eight hour stint at Abbey Road, with Yussef Dayes on drums and a three-strong percussion unit underpinning the groove, it’s a diverse and energetic addition to the ever-expanding canon of contemporary instrumental and improvised music being created in London at present.
Nat Birchall & Al Breadwinner’s collaborative dub LP Sounds Almighty is also out today. All ten of its tracks are available to stream and purchase via Bandcamp: from its opening homage to Vivian “Yabby You” Jackson, to its closer, named after the trombonist Vin Gordon (who contributes to the record too).
Anna Meredith released the first piece from her boundary-pushing collaboration with the Scottish Ensemble this week. Her new project laces contemporary classical composition and subtle electronics through work from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Check out Low Light – Ice below.
Elsewhere, Here Lies Man release their new album today. The grooving hard rock sound remains, but the band ‘wanted to go deeper with the sonic experience,’ said group member Garcia. ‘Even though it sounds more hi-fi than the first record, it was important that it didn’t sound too polished.’
Gilles Peterson’s appreciation for Cuban music and culture is widely recognised. Havana Cultura: ¡Súbelo, Cuba! Further demonstrates his love for the music, as well as showcasing the work of a number of talented artists from Havana and further afield. The new video published this week contains everything from live acoustic performance to highly polished Cuban electro and introduces one of the album’s many contributors, Sigrid.
FORQ were in the studio with the production crew behind Scott’s Bass Lessons recently. Kevin Scott, the bassist who fills Michael League’s extremely large shoes in the current line-up, was central to the video and the group played a raucous rendition of fan favourite Grout.