Original copies of Phil Cohran 's Artistic Heritage Ensemble spiritual jazz LPs are hard enough to come by, but you never see Cohran's self-released 7-inch singles. Some free jazz freaks who routinely scour the Windy City scene didn't even know they existed until Japan's Midday Music label recently reissued the seven-song collection, simply titled Singles, in a mini-LP-sleeve-style CD. Those familiar with Cohran's grander meditations may be surprised by the more direct and funky approach here, but it's still the same 11-piece AHE (featuring Pete Cosey on guitar and Charles Williams on alto saxophone) that kicks like a mule.
Almost as elusive as Cohran's singles is the self-titled Boscoe album from the early 70s. Considered by some the Holy Grail of black-power free funk, the highly sought-after Boscoe debut -- just released as part of the Numero Group 's Asterisk series of full album reissues -- combines the confrontational rhymes of the Last Poets with the Afrocentric jazz attack of the Pharaohs, which should help explain the high-three-figure price tag of scratchy OG copies of the red-black-and-green-sleeved artifact. www.numerogroup.com.
Jazz-rock done right
Can't say I'm a fan the yawn-inducing nu jazz dabbling of Tokyo DJ Ryota Nozaki under his Jazztronik alias, but he's assembled an ace collection of jazzy prog and cross-cultural fusionary collisions as the Kind Of Jazz - Jazz Rock two-disc set for Universal Japan .
Skipping the more obvious experiments from the late 60s and early 70s, Nozaki instead goes for the more twisted stuff by respected German and English artists of the era like Bob Downes Open Music , Nucleus , Mike Westbrook , Peter Herbolzheimer , Wolfgang Dauner ,Erwin Lehn and Dave Pike . There's nothing terribly obscure uncovered, and Nozaki has very little to offer in the way of track-by-track annotation, even if you read Japanese, but the unusual track selection and thoughtful sequencing make for a swell mix. Just don't hold your breath waiting for a domestic release.
He hung with Sly Stone, opened for Marvin Gaye and had his music sampled by Beck, but Oakland funkateer Eugene Blacknell is largely unknown today outside of a small circle of vinyl fanatics. He never recorded an album.
The good news is that the Ubiquity label, working with Blacknell's son, producer Gino Blacknell , has put together We Can't Take Life For Granted (Luv N' Haight ) -- an amazing collection of the elder Blacknell's blues-bent party jams and unreleased studio experiments from back in the day, including his monstrous Gettin' Down floor-filler for Seaside and We Know We Have To Live Together, which Beck famously jacked for Black Tambourine.
Well-researched historical notes, vintage photos and even a couple of radio spots make for an exceptionally tight career retrospective package. www.ubiquityrecords.com.