Under The Influence \\ Native Dancer
In celebration of their first vinyl release, we take psychedelic soul collective Native Dancer Under The Influence. Get to know which jazz albums inspire vocalist Frida Mariama, keyboardist Sam Crowe and multi-instrumentalist Josh Arcoleo.
Miles Davis \\ My Funny Valentine – Miles Davis in concert ’64
When I was at college in Bristol in the 90s I used to borrow my dads old Volvo to drive there. This was before iphones and aux cables…he had a cassette player in there. I had a friend whose dad was into jazz and one day she turned up to college with a couple of cassettes for me that she’d ripped from her dad’s jazz collection.
One of them was the ’64 concert by Miles Davis. I must have listened to that shit everyday for two years after the first time I put it on during the way home from college that day. I could sing every note of all the solos and still can.
Apparently it was a charity gig and Miles told the band they weren’t getting paid five minutes before they went on stage and there was a massive argument. It’s some of the most intense listening of any record I’ve ever heard. You can actually hear them listening… consequently the playing is absolutely unbelievable because they’re so in the moment and you know the audience was right there with them. Some dude can’t contain himself and just yells out in the middle of Stella! Heavy.
Weather Report \\ Heavy Weather
It’s no secret that Weather Report has been a massive influence on us. The 70s was another incredibly fertile period for creative music. The advent of synthesizers brought an amazing new palette to the jazz idiom which then provided a vast well of stuff for hip-hop producers later down the line to sample from. In turn, it birthed another generation of fans for this music.
Of course the big hits on the record Birdland and Teen Town are the ones everyone knows but for me it’s all about side two and in particular The Juggler and Jaco Pastorius‘s masterpiece Havona. The writing is stunning and the orchestration is absolutely breathtaking; the perfect balance of analogue synthesis, the earthy sound of percussion and Wayne Shorter‘s soprano combined with some of the heaviest playing on record from that era. Check Jaco‘s Rite of Spring quote in his Havona solo.
Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae \\ At Newport
Live records are amazing because you hear the audience and the band respond to each other which is the real power in music. It shows humanity at its best; the way we can lift each others spirits by committing to the present moment whether you’re the one creating the sound or the one focusing your attention on what’s being created. It has an upward spiral affect.
This record shows off three very different singers, but for me it’s all about Ella Fitzgerald here. Apart from the joy in her delivery, the virtuosity is breathtaking. Airmail Special is the masterclass of all masterclasses in improvisation, feel and creativity. She apparently used to forget lyrics a lot so became incredibly good at quoting other songs and weaving jokes into songs. In I Can’t Give You Anything But Love you get her impressions of Marilyn Monroe and Louis Armstrong. Insane.
Miles Davis \\ Miles Smiles
This is greatest jazz group of all time in my humble opinion. Soon after the 64′ concert, George Coleman left and Miles Davis tried a few different guys but eventually managed to persuade Wayne Shorter to leave Art Blakey‘s band and come and join the group with Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock. In my mind Miles Smiles, Sorcerer and Nefertiti are the same record so I’ve cheated here and chosen all three but conceptually they’re the same; all recorded in the same room for Columbia with the same producer Teo Macero. These were the last fully acoustic records Miles made before he started experimented with electric instruments.
This band reminds me of New York so much. So dark and so angular. They genuinely created their own language as a band and obsessed constantly about how to further abstract the harmony and rhythm. The hook ups between each of them are unparalleled and it creates this insanely dark counterpoint. I don’t think anyone’s ever come close on record to this level of group improvisation before or since.
Sonny Rollins \\ The Bridge
This was Sonny Rollins‘ first album after he took a sabbatical from playing live and spent a lot of that time practicing on Williamsburg Bridge. You can really hear a progression in his playing on this album and it really connected with me from an early age.
JS | Tina Edwards