Egon is on tour in Europe with Madlib & J.Rocc and will be updating us through the end of the month.
Off days on tour are never really off days – well, unless you consider a day that starts up on the Southwest coast of England, involves a $300 cab ride in blinding rain to Bristol, a missed train, a two hour journey to London and three room changes an off day. Whatever. While Madlib and J.Rocc made their way to Nando’s (J’s third time on this trip) and our UK manager Alex’s recommendation for a reggae store (which ended up giving up more Indian ghosts than Jamaica), I met with Kayode Samuel. Kayode, the Nigerian behind a host of Nigerian comps on labels like Soundway and Strut, was pleased to know Madlib was playing one of the unreleased Bola Johnson selections he unearthed in Lagos on this tour (check the recently issued Nigeria 70 comp on Strut) alongside Ify Jerry Krusade’s monstrous “Everybody Likes Something Good.” So pleased, in fact, that he sold me the last round of records he brought back from Lagos – including, oddly enough, one of Madlib’s most wanted Embryo records – for ten quid apiece.
Day two in London started late, and by the time we got to Jazzman Gerald’s studios, we barely had time to participate in the photoshoot G had organized for the forthcoming J.Rocc/Jazzman mix…. We were going to miss soundcheck. Scratch that, we WERE going to miss soundcheck. Thank god for Alex, who, at one point texted me to tell me I was an “unreliable rascal” (hey man, my tour managing fees are cheap). Meanwhile, we got to browse through Gerald’s frighteningly diversified collection and peep the entire Mor Thiam album alongside Mehr Pooya’s Iranian album – including his 10 minute cover of Dennis Coffey’s “Scorpio.” Madlib ended up with one of his most wanted albums – Stefano Torrossi’s “Feelings,” and I ended up in the same place I was last year – with the Mor Thiam album on hold, and not a trade closer to getting Akon’s dad’s debut in my greedy palms. (MP3: Mor Thiam "Ayo Ayo Nene" from Spiritual Jazz)
We did, of course, make it to Gilles Peterson’s show on time and, wouldn’t you know it, the man was there. What a cat. He’d read our previous blog and had brought some Horo records for Madlib. One of the key cuts from Madlib and J.Rocc’s mix – a rarely heard Steve Grossman record – was amongst them. And Gilles – who’d recently lunched with the label’s owner, regaled us as the fellas mixed (and clowned) with stories of unreleased Freddie Hubbard box sets and promised to give me a copy of the Sun Ra album I needed on the label.
Later that night, after I saw J and Madlib off (with Alex, of course), I trekked over to Hackney to see the Heliocentrics in rehearsal with Mulatu Astatke, fresh off a plane from Addis. The band sounded incredible as they ran through Mulatu’s classic tracks and cuts from the recently released Inspiration Information album. Man, I wish I could have stayed, but I had to make my way to Fabric for the gig, and I did so… Just in time to see Madlib walk off stage because the crowd hadn’t made enough noise for J.Rocc’s set. He was off stage long enough that the crowd knew they had to make up for it and, hey, these are Benji B’s folks and they know how to rock it. J.Rocc estimates that Madlib never took the Strong Arm Steady disc out of CDJ #2, he played so many songs from the album.
The gig ended two hours after it was supposed to – J.Rocc: “I’m doing it Japan style” – and after a couple hours of sleep we were in our cab, late for our flight to Zurich. Got a text from Gilles – who I’d missed at the gig – asking if I got my Sun Ra record. Madlib: “Alex has it.” Hmmm…. He’s a rascal, but a reliable one. I’m sure he’s kept it safe.