Tamar Osborn

This morning we welcome saxophonist and flautist, Tamar Osborn, who leads the seven-piece horn-led collective, Collocutor, in the vanguard of London’s thriving music scene.

Their compositions draw inspiration from the many genres encountered over the course of a varied career, ranging from jazz, afrobeat, Indian classical and Ethiopian roots to polyphonic choral music and minimalism—the link being primarily modal music with a transportive effect.

Collocutor’s selection

Khyam Allami – Tawazon I: Balance خيّام اللامي - توازن

Tamar Osborn: I’m not very good at mornings so this track is one for easing into the day, starting gently and building in energy as it goes. I can’t remember exactly how I came across Khyam Allami, but it was probably while searching for oud artists after listening to Le Trio Joubran and visiting Damascus back in late 2010. I love the timbre of the instrument, and the micro-tonal inflections in his playing — this solo track really allows you to immerse yourself in it. And the idea of ‘Balance’ seems like a good place to start the day from…

Aditya Prakash Ensemble – Untruth to Truth

Tamar Osborn: Aditya is one of my bandmates in the choreographer/dancer Akram Khan’s current production ‘Xenos’. He comes from the South Indian classical (Carnatic) tradition, but has a wide range of influences and explores the paths between them in his own projects, something which resonates with me as a composer. He has a great voice, and for me this track brings together different traditions naturally and with ease.

Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo Vice Versa – Dança Do Paje

Tamar Osborn: Hermeto Pascoal is one of those legendary musicians whose reputation I know well but whose music I haven’t properly explored, so I jumped on this when it was released. It spoke immediately to my ongoing love of the late 60s and 70s, not just the music but the production aesthetic of the time. Atmospherically it takes me back to when a friend took me to see a beautiful gig by the artist Joyce at the Jazz Cafe years ago, and to when I was playing in a band whose repertoire included Brazilian funk & soul by bands like Banda Black Rio, experiences which lead to me delving in to the sonic world of 60s & 70s Brazilian music. The opening section of this track is like the sun coming up, and the groove that kicks in is life affirming—complete with what sounds like a bass flute solo, not something you hear very often!

MailTape’s selection

Collocutor – Archaic Morning

Sanjay: A relative oldie but a goodie from Collocutor’s debut album, ‘Instead’. This opening track is an excellent seven and half minutes of modern modal jazz, pairing flute, trumpet and tenor sax to create a track that combines a thick groove with a rich melody.

Maya Youssef – The Sea

Sanjay: I really like how Maya Youssef demonstrates the range of the qanun—a 78-stringed zither—on a “personal journey through the six years of war in Syria”. ‘The Sea’ is a plaintive closing track on ‘Syrian Dreams’—a beautifully-produced album that constantly changes mood, from sorrow to hope, on compositions that range from the ‘Prayer for Peace’ of the title track to ‘The Seven Gates of Damascus’, in which she pays tribute to her battered homeland.

Rishii Chowdhury & Roopa Panesar – Birdsong and Music Composition

Sanjay: This is a composition from ‘Representing Birdsong’—a collaborative project inspired by birdsong between sound and visual artist Lucy Stevens, tabla player Rishii Chowdhury and sitar player Roopa Panesar. Recorded in Swithland Wood in Leicestershire, UK, they explore the sounds of bird vocalisations—including the variations in pitch, repetition and duration—by fusing field recordings, musical improvisation and drawing techniques. Check out more of the Swithland Wood Recording Project.

Cecil Taylor Quartet – African Violets

Sanjay: The closing track this morning is a dedication to pianist Cecil Taylor who passed away on April 5th. Co-written by vibist Earl Griffith, ‘African Violets’ is a slow ballad that highlights both players’ sense of melody. The piece unfolds fairly traditionally and Cecil Taylor’s extremely unique harmonic style works nicely behind Earl Griffith’s melody and his own soloing. In the words of Alexander Hawkins in April’s issue of The Wire, “Cecil Taylor always represents the playful and the unpredictable. His work can be by turns brutal and romantic. It has austerity, and yet is streaked through with glee and mischief. He is one of the masters at structuring an hour of music; but listening to his encores: did anyone ever structure the single minute with such devastating beauty?”

That’s all for this morning. As ever, thanks for listening and much love and gratitude to Tamar Osborn for being our guest today, and to Pierre-Julien Fieux for this episode’s cool illustration!

Humans behind this episode #311 🤗

Curator: Sanjay Mistry
Writer: Sanjay Mistry
Illustrator: Pierre-Julien Fieux

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