Some Favourites from 2020

Eddie Palmieri

Eddie Palmieri is a Grammy Award-winning pianist, bandleader, musician, and composer of Puerto Rican ancestry. He is the founder of the bands La Perfecta, La Perfecta II, and Harlem River Drive. Known as one of the finest pianists of the past 60 years, Eddie Palmieri is a bandleader, arranger and composer of salsa and Latin jazz. His playing skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his jazz influences: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner as well as his older brother, Charlie Palmieri. Palmieri’s parents emigrated from Ponce, Puerto Rico to New York City in 1926. Born in Spanish Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Palmieri learned to play the piano at an early age, and at 13, he joined his uncle’s orchestra, playing timbales. Palmieri’s professional career as a pianist took off with various bands in the early 1950s including Eddie Forrester, Johnny Segui’s, and the popular Tito Rodriguez Orchestra. In 1961, Palmieri formed his own band, La Perfecta, which featured an unconventional front line of trombones rather than the trumpets customary in Latin orchestras. This created an innovative sound that mixed American jazz into Afro-Caribbean rhythms, surprising critics and fans alike. Palmieri disbanded La Perfecta in 1968 to pursue different musical endeavors, though he would return to the band’s music in the 2000s.

United Future Organization

United Future Organization is a nu-jazz trio made up of Japanese-born Tadashi Yabe - Toshio Matsuura and Frenchman Raphael Sebbag. In 1994, the group appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool Joining forces in 1990, the trio quickly…emerged as a leading force on the Tokyo underground club scene, making their recorded debut the next year with the 12-inch "I Love My Baby (My Baby Loves Jazz); " "Loud Minority/Moon Dance" followed in mid-1992, becoming a cult favorite on club circuits ranging from London to Hamburg to New York City. UFO's debut LP Jazzin' 91-93 appeared that September, the same month the trio made their triumphant British debut at London's Fridge club; an American record deal was not forthcoming until 1994, however, with a self-titled collection appearing on Verve Forecast. No Sound Is Too Taboo followed in 1995, with United Future Organization resurfacing in 1997 with 3rd Perspective. In 2000 the trio returned with the album, Bon Voyage on Instinct.

E W Wainwright

After being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force, Wainwright formed his first group, The Jazz Pioneers. The Jazz Pioneers toured the southeastern United States and opened the First Atlanta Jazz Festival in 1965. Wainwright's first major tour as a sideman was with Bob Hope's Far East Tour in 1968. During that same period Wainwright opened for Louis Armstrong's 50th Anniversary in music. He also performed with Redd Foxx and served as Oscar Brown Jr.'s band leader in 1969. Early in 1970 Wainwright moved to the Bay Area where he performed with Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, and Earl "Father" Hines. In the mid 1970s, Wainwright moved to New York, where he performed and toured with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Daily, Buster Williams, Azar Lawrence, and Eddie Palmierie; during that time he also performed at Carnegie Hall with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and McCoy Tyner.

Pharoah Sanders

Pharoah Sanders is an American jazz saxophonist. A member of John Coltrane's groups of the mid-1960s, Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on the saxophone, as well as his use of "sheets of sound Few musicians have said more than the saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of a school-cafeteria cook and a city employee, Sanders moved to New York in 1962, at the height of jazz’s postwar avant-garde—also known as “free jazz” or “the new thing”—which was spawned by the late-fifties experiments of the saxophonist Ornette Coleman and the pianist Cecil Taylor. Sanders’s début album, recorded in 1964 for the ESP label, garnered little attention, but his playing caught the ear of John Coltrane. Coltrane invited Sanders to join his band in 1965. The following year, Impulse!, the label that had been exhaustively documenting Coltrane’s evolution, gave Sanders another chance to record as a leader. The result was the surging and expansive “Tauhid,” an album that positioned Sanders as both Coltrane’s foremost disciple and an artist with ideas of his own. Coltrane died in 1967, and Sanders recorded some with his widow, Alice Coltrane, a multi-instrumentalist and composer, before returning to the studio for Impulse! two years later, with his own group. The resulting album, “Karma,” set the template for a remarkable five-year run. While remaining as fiery as ever, Sanders had developed an interest in soaring, magisterial melodies, and the rhythms of his recordings, while dense and multi-layered, often hewed toward a steady groove. He also incorporated unexpected elements: non-Western instruments, yodelling by the sui generis vocalist Leon Thomas. As the title of “Karma” suggests, Sanders, like Coltrane, felt that music had a spiritual dimension. “The whole musical persona of Pharoah Sanders is of a consciousness in conscious search of a higher consciousness,” Amiri Baraka later wrote. Subsequent Impulse! releases, such as “Jewels of Thought,” “Thembi,” and “Black Unity,” extended a musical quest that has now, in one form of another, lasted more than fifty years. But for someone who has said so much through music, Sanders has said very little to the press, doing only a handful of interviews in the course of his career. I spoke with Sanders earlier this fall, in Los Angeles, where he had just celebrated his seventy-ninth birthday by playing two shows in the area. Sanders still projects a distinctly Southern brand of soft-spokenness, one that’s equal parts humility and aversion to fuss. Although he is an acknowledged master who has been honored at the Kennedy Center, he speaks of himself—and seems to sincerely regard himself—as just another working musician trying to make a living

Kuna Maze

Kuna Maze aka Edouard Gilbert found his base in Brussels. The French-born producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist as many of his generation, discovered – at first – true inspiration in the Los Angeles beat scene (2007-2012), before evolving his sound to broken beat and a wide spectrum of leftfield electronic music, using jazz as the focal point in the construction of his art. Kuna Maze communicates his story to the audience using the dancefloor as a tool and vehicle for connection and community. Kuna Maze studied at various music institutions in France, including the Conservatoire de Lyon and the Conservatoire de Chambery, where he learnt and perfected jazz trumpet. He won the prestigious Belgian Proximus Contest in 2017 and was invited to play at Les Transardentes festival in Brussels. Kuna Maze’s eclectic live set tells a story of its own; a sincere melody that brings meditation to the dancefloor. Kuna Maze has played alongside accomplished producers, such as Nosaj Thing, Flako, Lapalux, Machinedrum – to name a few. He has also brought his live shows and DJ sets to European stages such as Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival, Les Nuits Sonores and Mirage Festival. His music has garnered support from tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson (BBC 6Music/Worldwide FM), Lefto, Soulection, and Gordon Giesking (Finest Ego, Project Mooncircle). Boasting releases on Cascade and Galant Records, as well as remixes and collaborations with the likes of Andreya Triana, Blu Samu, Black Josh, Ødyssee, Katuchat, Woodwire, Winston McAnuff (plus loads more!), Kuna Maze has found a new home with us at Tru Thoughts, turning his hand to the resurgent sounds of jazz-infused broken beat.

Mari Wilson

Mari MacMillan Ramsey Wilson (born 29 September 1954, Neasden, London) is a British singer. She is best known for her 1982 UK top-10 hit single "Just What I Always Wanted" and her 1960s image complete with beehive hairstyle. Recording on the Compact Records label with her backing band The Wilsations, Wilson scored six UK Top 100 singles between 1982-84. Her biggest hit "Just What I Always Wanted" reached number 8 in 1982. In 1983, she scored a second Top 40 hit with a cover of "Cry Me a River" (UK #27) and released her debut album Showpeople (UK #24). After this, further commercial success eluded her, though, in 1985, she performed the song "Would You Dance with a Stranger" (theme for the film Dance With a Stranger), and turned her career towards live performances. Although for a while she distanced herself from her beehive days, she started touring with her old songs again in 2007. In 1992, the album The Rhythm Romance, which combined jazz standards with 1960s songs and original material, failed to return her to the charts. She continued performing with jazz bands, and sang the theme-song to the TV sitcom Coupling ("Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps"). Her version of "Cry Me a River" was featured in the 1990s crime drama series McCallum. In 2005, Wilson returned to recording with the album Dolled Up. This was followed by a compilation of her hits, The Platinum Collection to celebrate her 25th anniversary in the music industry. Apart from pursuing her solo career, she toured with Barb Jungr and Claire Martin as the cabaret act, 'Girl Talk' (though Claire Martin has now been replaced by Gwyneth Herbert). Wilson has also performed in musicals such as Dusty - The Musical, and has been featured on a BBC Television series about celebrities and their health (she has Type 1 Diabetes). Her band was known as The Imaginations for their first two singles before becoming The Wilsations, and her backing vocalists were called The Marionettes. Occasional featured artists were Michelle Collins (Cindy from EastEnders), Julia Fordham and bassist 'Thumbs' Cunningham. Wilson's fourth studio album Emotional Glamour was released on her own Beehive label in October 2008 (though she has long ago changed her former trademark hairstyle). She has also written and starred in a one-woman musical, The Love Thing.

Lamont Butler

50 years ago a talented local musician named Lamont Butler started to create an album that would combine love, happiness and joy. Lamont’s only official album release It’s Time For A Change has been very popular for record collectors around the world but never saw the wider success it truly deserved. Born 1949 in Louisville, Kentucky; Lamont Butler was drawn to music and dance from the very beginning. He was the son of a well-known gospel, blues and R&B singer and pianist Clifford Butler Sr, receiving an early education in what’s required to be a touring musician. It quickly became apparent that Lamont had a wonderful voice and was pushed to the front despite no being fully confident yet of his singing ability. Lamont performed on the gospel circuit for a number of years cutting his teeth with groups such as The Enterprise, The Dynamics and The New Beginnings eventually going solo with Lamont Butler and The Spirit of Truth. It was whilst he was singing and performing during this period that he started to write his own songs and think about putting together an album bringing together all of his influences from R&B, jazz, soul and of course gospel. The result is very raw, almost low-fi sound of It’s Time For A Change, released nearly 10 years after Lamont started to pen the first tracks and it gained relative success. He toured the album around churches in Louisville with tracks such as Love One Another, Time For A Change and Ungodly War quickly becoming firm favourites within the churches of Louisville.

Dr. Lonnie Smith, George Benson, Ron Carter, Joe Lovano

Lonnie Smith, styled Dr. Lonnie Smith, is an American jazz Hammond B3 organist who was a member of the George Benson quartet in the 1960s. He recorded albums with saxophonist Lou Donaldson for Blue Note before being signed as a solo act. He owns the label Pilgrimage Dr. Lonnie Smith is an unparalleled musician, composer, performer and recording artist. An authentic master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ for over five decades, he has been featured on over seventy albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry. Consequently, he has often been hailed as a “Legend,” a “Living Musical Icon,” and as the most creative jazz organist by a slew of music publications. Jazz Times magazine describes him as “a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a turban!” Always ahead of the curve, it is no surprise Dr. Smith’s fan-base is truly worldwide

Idrissa Soumaoro

For this release there isn't a hip-hop beat, instrumental-funk or hardcore-punk joint in sight, rather an electronic-African club banger. Mike took it upon himself to rework Malian artists Idrissa Soumaoro and L'Eclipse De L'I.J.A. and their track ‎Nissodia, which is taken from the Le Tioko-Tioko album originally released in 1978 on the German Democratic Republic (GDR) label Eterna. A sensational track and one which leaves a beautiful memory of good-times from a night out in Paris (and one which is in retrospect is even more poignant as the late-great maestro Tony Allen was in the club that night), and we are sure it will light up many more dancefloors to come

Multiquarium Big Band

Jaco Pastorius is well worth remembering, so this new album by French big band Multiquarium would be welcome for that reason alone. But this is a superior collection by any standards. No single arranger is credited: one can only assume the job was a collaboration instigated by the band’s leaders, drummer André Charlier and pianist/organist Benoît Sourisse. Meanwhile, Biréli Lagrène (best known as a guitarist, although he sticks to fretless bass here), has the almost impossible task of living up to Pastorius’s legacy. Lagrène has certainly earned the right: as a guitarist, he played and recorded with Jaco, and was co-credited with him on the posthumous 1986 album Stuttgart Aria. And what an astonishing player he is. Just listen to the intro to Invitation which the band plays at around 160bpm with Lagrène pumping out the sixteenth notes with the greatest of ease. Personally, as a long-time admirer of the great Laurence Cottle (not to mention Laurence’s disciple Janek Gwizdala), that makes my head spin. I would add that anyone who is still suspicious of the Pastorius style, regarding the very concept of “lead bass” as a contradiction, might do well to give this a listen. Producer Charlier has sensibly avoided mixing Lagrène too high, so that his playing doesn’t dominate: he blends in beautifully. As you’d expect, the tunes on Remembering Jaco are taken from both the Weather Report years and Jaco’s solo career. Material from his eponymous official first solo album includes Continuum, Kuru/Speak Like a Child and (Used to be a) Cha-Cha. There’s also a version of Jaco’s composition Teen Town from Weather Report’s Heavy Weather, with its memorable bass intro, while Invitation, Liberty City and Fannie Mae all appeared on his Invitation live album from 1983.

E W Wainwright

After being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force, Wainwright formed his first group, The Jazz Pioneers. The Jazz Pioneers toured the southeastern United States and opened the First Atlanta Jazz Festival in 1965. Wainwright's first major tour as a sideman was with Bob Hope's Far East Tour in 1968. During that same period Wainwright opened for Louis Armstrong's 50th Anniversary in music. He also performed with Redd Foxx and served as Oscar Brown Jr.'s band leader in 1969. Early in 1970 Wainwright moved to the Bay Area where he performed with Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, and Earl "Father" Hines. In the mid 1970s, Wainwright moved to New York, where he performed and toured with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Daily, Buster Williams, Azar Lawrence, and Eddie Palmierie; during that time he also performed at Carnegie Hall with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and McCoy Tyner.

Ezra Collective

Ezra Collective is breathing new life into one of music's greatest institutions. After attracting attention last year with "Pure Shade" and "Reason in Disguise," the London jazz band is set to release its debut album, You Can't Steal My Joy, in April. Now, Ezra Collective is sharing its latest single, "Quest for Coin." The track's expeditious energy hums with the exhilaration and ambition of new possibilities. The wandering saxophone, layered over a rapid heartbeat of bass and toms, bottles the life of a fast-paced city into four minutes. The members of Ezra Collective — Femi Koleoso on drums, TJ Koleoso on bass, Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Dylan Jones on trumpet and James Mollison on saxophone — met seven years ago at a jazz youth program called Tomorrow's Warriors and formed the group soon after. The band has helped lead a millennial-focused jazz resurgence in the U.K. because of its ability to test musical boundaries: Ezra Collective frequently experiments with garage, Afrobeat and hip-hop. Bandleader Femi Koleoso says these fusions bring together each member's musical upbringing and work to break down stereotypes surrounding a great but sometimes rigid genre.


Situated in South Africa's Johannesburg. SPAZA is “a band with no permanent personnel, with each line-up assembled for the express purpose of recording improvised or workshopped material.” The tracks making up this eponymous LP are free jams by musicians with individual and collective links to Johannesburg’s jazz, Afro funk and experimental electro scenes. 'Spaza' is a word for an informal neighbourhood store, commonplace in South Africa. According to the label, the spaza has come to signify an “entrepreneurial spirit, especially in the country’s black townships where economic barriers to business ownership mean that only a few can attain the status of formal business ownership”. It is also the name of the gallery in Troyeville where the album was recorded. The musicians involved in this collaboration include Nosisi Ngakane on vocals and effects, Ariel Zamonsky on upright bass, Siya Makuzeni on vocals, effects and trombone, Gontse Makhene on vocals and percussion, João Orecchia on electronics, and Waldo Alexander playing electronic violin.

William Parker

William Parker is a bassist, improviser, composer, writer, and educator from New York City, heralded by The Village Voice as, “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time.” In addition to recording over 150 albums, he has published six books and taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians and artists. Parker’s current bands include the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, In Order to Survive, Raining on the Moon, Stan’s Hat Flapping in the Wind, and the Cosmic Mountain Quartet with Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and Cooper-Moore. Throughout his career he has performed with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Milford Graves, and David S. Ware, among others.


Highlife was the music that the Igbo people made their own after the horrors of the Biafran war; music that rebuilt a sense of pride, identity and dignity. Tabansi recording star ‘Uncle’ Victor Chukwu’s super-rare, almost un-Google-able albums Akalaka and The Power are now in your hands, issued back-to-back by BBE for the first time anywhere in four decades. These sets were probably recorded around 1977-79 at the Tabansi Studios in Onitsha, with Chief Tabansi also mixing and mastering: a 100% homegrown Tabansi product. Victor worked with a bassist, a drummer, and some brass- although he also doubled himself on tenor sax and arranged much of these glorious sessions. The songs have an inimitable feel-good quality: happy, dignified, proud, spiritual, everything except one composition in major key. Perhaps it’s no surprise that many 70s and 80s Igbo highlife group members are today gospel singers and musicians. Seven killer Igbo grooves combined in this first ever reissue of two impossible-to-find Tabansi LPs back to back, based around the traditional Ogene 6/8 bell ‘clave’ and brass heavy, spiritual highlife.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Rahsaan Roland Kirk was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist who played tenor saxophone, flute, and many other instruments. He was renowned for his onstage vitality, during which virtuoso improvisation was accompanied by comic banter, political ranting, and the ability to play several instruments simultaneously. Blind since early childhood thanks to poor medical treatment, Rahsaan Roland Kirk developed the gift of seeing with his ears. That’s what someone says in the course of The Case Of The Three-Sided Dream, and it seems to have been true. Kirk imagined the sounds he wanted to make, and then invented the means to create them. Another voice in this biographical documentary sums it up: “It was his one and only reality. It was his life.”

Theo Parish

Theo Parrish is an American DJ and record producer based in Detroit, Michigan. He is an owner of the Sound Signature record label. He is a member of 3 Chairs, The Rotating Assembly, and T.O.M. Project. Theo continued to impact and be impacted by dance music, helping to bring a dormant underground music scene to life. Theo Parrish moved to Michigan in 1994, where he became heavily involved in Detroit’s underground music scene. Since his arrival, he has helped spawn a resurgence of dance classic selections among local DJ talents. ‘Love of the music should be the driving force of any producer, performer or DJ. Everything else stems from that core, that love. With that love, sampling can become a tribute; An expansion on ideas long forgotten, reconstruction, collage. Using the same understanding openly and respectfully can turn DJing into a spiritual participation. It can turn a few hours of selection into essential history; Necessary listening through movement.’ This personal philosophy gives shape and direction to the distinctive sounds that are created by Theo Parrish.


Grandbrothers is a piano/electronic duo formed in Düsseldorf by swiss Lukas Vogel and german Erol Sarp. tie together their respective musical backgrounds and disciplines: Erol is a trained jazz pianist, while by day Lukas constructs synthesizers at Access Music.