"It’s quite a personal one, but the first ten seconds of “Out of this World” on Coltrane’s “Coltrane”. This was one of the first jazz records I bought on a whim when I was flailing around without any guidance on what I should listen to. I was used to 90s production values, so everything about the sound was so unfamiliar:Elvin’s drums tuned really high, the sound of the room, and then that rolling groove he plays from the start - was it 3/4, 9/8? Where did it come from? The way it hung off Jimmy Garrison’s bass part. There were deeper things going on here that I had to investigate. It drew me into that world in a big way."
1. Fela Kuti - Alu Jon Jonki Jon (1'17" - 1'27")
Fela Kuti - Afrodisiac (1973)
"I had to get something with Tony Allen in here and I think on balance this is one of my favourites. I saw him for the first time in my early 20s, when he joined Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 for their second set, and lifted the band in such a beautifully subtle way. The lyrics to the song are apparently based on a Yoruba folk tale about a famine in the animal kingdom, where the dog saves his mother from being eaten by hiding her in the clouds. The section I've chosen is just as the tension has been built by the horns, stabby keys and fairly urgent drums, there's a break, and when the groove comes back the feel is somehow more relaxed while still increasing the energy."
2. Vijay Iyer - Composites (0'55" - 1'05")
Vijay Iyer - Reimagining (2004)
"There seems to be a theme of shifting feels here. This is an early example of this trio's experiments with rhythmic modulations based on the Fibonacci sequence. The later ones (thinking of their versions of Mystic Brew and Human Nature) are a little more refined, but I like the rawness of this as well as the mysterious harmonic territory in which this piece lives. The section in question is the first time the piece transitions from a cycle of 7 beats to 11 beats in the same time duration. Reimagining was a very important album for me back in my early days in London emerging from music college and forming interests and directions, and was a step towards digging deeper into Steve Coleman's music as well as AACM artists like Henry Threadgill."
3. Saul Williams - Twice the First Time (2'21" - 2'31")
Eargasms-Crucialpoetics, Vol1 (1997)
“I could choose pretty much any ten seconds of this track. I've picked one line from it but the entire track is just a succession of great musical and lyrical moments: “Not until you listen to Rakim on a rocky mountain top have you heard hip hop... extract the urban element that created it and let an open wide countryside illustrate it”. I remember hearing this track way back and everything about it stood out - the sparse and open production, viola and cello, the power of the lyrics and his delivery. It still feels fresh."
4. Tortoise - TNT (0'00" - 0'10")
Tortoise - TNT(1998)
"I heard this record about the same time as the Coltrane record I picked for the first version of this series. It was another moment of hearing drums without the baggage of 90s production cliches. Bold to start an entire album with such an open sound - two drum kits feeling their way into the song for a good 30 seconds or so before the guitars join. Tortoise were also a great gateway drug to the Chicago jazz scene, particularly via Jeff Parker and then people like Rob Mazurek / Chad Taylor."
5. Miles Davis - Nefertiti (6'36" - 6'46")
Miles Davis - Nefertiti (1967)
"The tune has just calmed down from peak intensity - Herbie and Ron are back to 1 in a bar, not much going on, then two big interventions from Tony. He's definitely got something to say here. One of the great cymbal sounds too. The second Tony in this list, and another one where there were so many options to choose from."
6. Doudou Ndiaye Rose - Ligeuyou Ndeye (3'55" - 4'05")
Doudou Ndiaye Rose - Djabote (1992)
"I'm not the first in this series to pick something from this record but that's got to be a testament to how good it is. There are fifty Sabar drummers and you really feel the weight of that in the sound. I've picked the moment where the ensemble subtly shifts gear, switching up from the triplet feel. It's such a powerful feeling for me when the transition drops. Do listen to the whole track to get the full effect."
7. McCoy Tyner - African Village (3'09" - 3'19")
- Jazz à Vienne (2002)
"I'm a big fan of the albums McCoy made in the few years after Coltrane's passing. Time for Tyner is one of those (with the great Freddie Waits) and the original source of this tune. This live version with a much later quartet really gets me though. Eric Harland and Charnett Moffett fire up the rhythm section, but Bobby Hutcherson just goes in straight away on this solo - it's basically just all tension through to the end. A real statement of intent, and such sustained intensity from everyone. Also do check out the original - there's an incredible bit of that legendary left hand in McCoy's solo at 7:39."
8. John Coltrane - Out of this World (0'00" - 0'10")
John Coltrane - Live in Seattle (rec 1965, rel 1971)
"Last time I picked the version of this from the album Coltrane. I heard this later version much more recently - the tempo is slower, Elvin's drums seem lower-pitched, Jimmy Garrison's bass part puts everything in a different context. It feels somehow calm yet menacing at the same time. Hearing such a familiar piece this way had a similar effect to the first time I heard the original. They're only 3 years apart but you can hear how much the band has been through in that time."