Review: Despite not releasing all that much in 2018, Canadian nu-jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD's reputation continued to rise. That was in no small part due to their eye-catching collaboration with Little Dragon, which resulted in the digital release of "Tried" back in September. Now the track has been given a deserved seven-inch single release by Ninja Tune. With LD lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano doing her best to channel the spirit of Minnie Riperton, "Tried" has a similarly languid, jazz/folk/soul fusion feel as some of the best works by Rotary Connection. BADBADNOTGOOD's admiration of the Charles Stepney-produced band comes through loud and clear through the choice of instruments and arrangements. For further proof, check the accompanying flipside instrumental mix.
Review: Expansion's latest must-check seven-inch mines Roy Ayers' 1983 album "Lots Of Love", a sparkling post-disco set that combined the vibraphonist's usual jazz-funk flavours with colourful synthesizers and genuine boogie flavours. "Everybody" on the A-side is particularly potent; a lolloping synth-boogie head-nodder rich in life-affirming synthesizer squelches, rubbery jazz-funk bass, fluid Ayers vibraphone solos and background vocals that sneakily reference "Everybody Loves The Sunshine". Flipside "And Then We Were One" is if anything even more summery in feel, with mazy synth and vibraphone motifs dancing atop a killer jazz-funk groove. It's a little more up-tempo than the A-side, but arguably a little less addictive.
Review: A modern day Scott-Heron, without the myriad of demons on his back, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Porter has such a distinctive voice, charm and band command. He clearly lends himself well to edit culture (as proved by the huge success of the many "1960 What?" versions in recent years) and this 7" from Expansion is no exception. "On My Way To Harlem" is straight up narrative jazz with fantastic attention paid to the subtle samba and solemn horns. "1960 What?" speaks for itself; far more authentic to the original than the other versions that have popped up, if you've not already got a favourite edit - Jazz & Cole have the answer.
Review: Most experts agree that Archie Shepp's 1972 album "Attica Blues" is one of the finest soul-jazz LPs ever made - a politically-charged affair that just gets better with every listen. This tidy seven-inch single from Mr Bongo offers up two of the album's standout moments. On the A-side you'll find the title track, a swirling, down-low mixture of belted-out female chorus vocals, surging orchestration, Blaxploitation style bottom end and an impassioned lead vocal from Henry Hull. Flipside cut "Quiet Dawn" sees Waheeda Massey take lead vocals over a more obviously jazz-centric backing track rich in wild sax solos from the effervescent Shepp. Like the A-side, it's simply essential.
Review: Wow, classics don't come much more special than this. A like-for-like repress of the 1970 RCA release, both sides here are soaked in Scott Heron's raw troubled soul. The endlessly sampled, hugely powerful and perfectly funky "Revolution" remains almost as poignant and prophetic as it was the day it was penned. "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is much more personal and reveals his talent as a singer as much as the lead track boasts his poetry and ability to deliver a strong message.
Review: Dynamite Cuts lives up to its name with this limited 7" from acclaimed Brazilian jazz singer Tania Maria. Two driving and dancey tracks pressed nice and loud for the first time on 45, "Fio Maravilha" is a busy arrangement made up of wild piano, big raw drums and Maria's impassioned, lung-emptying singing that whizzes along at pace. "Bedeu" has a little more Latin flavour, bossa nova swagger and space in the mix for the soul to shine through. Drop either one and take shelter, cause both of these cuts are bombs.
Review: Dynamite Cuts & The George Semper Music Archives present the first official re-issue of the Funk and Soul band The Perfect Circle from their 1977 self titled The Perfect Circle, LP. The peak of George Semper's music legacy as a "Godfather of Bay Area Funk" and "Hammond B3 Hero" Semper produced, performed on, and released the LP on his Los Angeles based Inner City Records label. The Perfect Circle band is known for their "Bay Area Funk" San Francisco/Oakland sound a unique fusion of funk, jazz, soul, & rock akin to bands Tower of Power and War. The Perfect Circle, LP has since become rare-vinyl grail among DJs, music lovers and collectors worldwide! A superb work, we chose our two favorites leading with the disco-funk dancer title track introducing the band The Perfect Circle. On the flip side is the rare groove The Hands of Time, a b-boy, disco, jazz-funk floor shaker. Don't miss out on The Perfect dancer, DJs tool and one for the collectors!
Review: 1974's Coming Right At You, the sole album from 100% Pure Poison, has long been a sought-after jazz-funk gem. Soul Brother has previously reissued the rare (and increasingly expensive) LP, though this double 7" marks the first time most of these tracks have been available on wax since 2001. Check first opener (and title track) "Windy C", a superb chunk of lolloping, laidback jazz-funk that sits somewhere between Bob James and Cymande, before turning your attention to the slow-burn soulful delights of string-laden torch song "Puppet On A Chain". Over on the second 7", "No More City, No More Country" is a more hard-spun Blaxploitation funk affair, while "Hole In My Shoe" is a horn-fired slab of J.B's style funk-soul fusion.
Review: Tennessee's legendary jazz pianist, Harold Mabern, is surely one of the kings of the mighty Prestige label, and his material helped bridge the gap between jazz and funk back in the 1970s, alongside the likes of Idris Muhammad, The Jimmy Castor Bunch and all those geniuses. "I Want You Back" is a stone-cold classic and contains one of the most hummable trumpet lines ever, and if you hear closely it's been reworked and sampled by none other than the King of pop when he was only a little one. Funk Inc's sublime "Sister Janie" resides on the flip, a more lo-fi funk bullett for the diggers, and complete with a dusty organ!
Review: Cuban bandleader, composer and rumba magician Ramon Santamaria had a huge influence throughout his 40 year career, notably writing Coltrane's famous "Afro Blue". Here are two of many stand-out cuts from his 1963 album Watermelon Man! While most the album's focus was on his Herbie Hancock cover, it's tracks like these that really gave the album its spirit and unique character; "Yeh Yeh!" is a samba shaking horn-led cut laced with crackling percussion and party cries while "Get The Money" leans back with rhythm and blues sass and a rhythm that's as powerful as Ramon's legacy. Moneymaker shaking guaranteed.
Review: Since launching last year, the Dynamite Cuts has delivered a string of killer seven-inch singles featuring sought-after cuts from fantastic old albums and this is another must-have along the same lines. It boasts two tracks from Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers' 1970 debut album, "Doing What We Wanna Do", neither of which have appeared on a "45" before. You'll find a riotous Hammond funk explosion rich in energetic, break-driven drumming and wild trumpet and organ solos on the B-side, with the similarly sweaty title track nestling on the A. This insatiable number is altogether deeper and looser in feel, with tasty group vocals rising above bustling drums, warm Hammond lines and punchy sax solos.
Review: When it comes to offering up seven-inch singles of tracks taken from classic or sought-after albums, Dynamite Cuts has an impressive track record. They're at it again here, this time mining Roy Ayers and Wayne Henderson's 1978 jazz-funk/disco fusion masterpiece "Step Into Our Life". On the A-side you'll find the languid, loose and groovy title track, a memorable affair in which dueling vibraphone and trumpet solos make merry atop a head-nodding, toe-tapping jazz-funk groove. Flipside "For Real" is a little more energetic and loved-up, with touchy-feely vocals, husling slap-bass and sci-fi synths to the fore.
Review: It seems so obvious you wonder why it doesn't happen more often: Stefano Torossi's "Feelings" album from 2000 was made up of track titles that convey certain situations and emotions that he masterfully reflects in the music. This new double 7" includes the highlights, such as the racing jazz and trumpet stabs of "Running Fast," the sustained and uneasy chords of "Fearing Much" and "Feeling Tense," which is actually a pretty lush bit of smooth jazz. "Walking In The Dark" rounds off the double pack with playful guitars and luxuriant synths that are pure soundtrack goodness. Ace.
Review: Brit-funk combo 52nd Street are undeniably best-known for their 1983 single on Factory Records, "Look Into My Eyes", which came accompanied by some killer remixes from John "Jellybean" Benitez and sailed closed to the NYC electro sound. The Manchester outfit's roots were in jazz-funk though, as this essential reissue of their 1982 debut single proves. "Look Into My Eyes" is simply superb: a warm, woozy and gently groovy affair full of attractive lead vocals, elastic slap bass, colourful synthesizer lines and dreamy chords. If you're after some more up-tempo dancefloor pressure, check out flipside "Express" - a riotous affair rich in hammered-out Clavinet lines, jaunty lead lines and energetic percussion.
Review: Legendary bandleader Eddie Palmieri took a rare groove excursion from his Latin legacy in the early 70s for two albums as Harlem River Drive. Criminally overlooked, Soul Brother have dusted off two of the many highlights from his self-titled debut; "Idle Hands" is a sleazy, Gaye-style message with an almost spoken word quality to the vocals and a smoky wooziness to the horns while "Seeds Of Life" is a real end-of-set belter that rises and rises with tight orchestration between the guitar, horns and drums. Incredible... This can't be slept on this time round.
Review: The music that makes up Harmony of Difference, Kamasi Washington's first EP of note since the release of acclaimed 2015 album The Epic, was premiered live as a "six-track movement" earlier this year. The "suite" - here stretched across both sides of an essential 12" - sees Washington continue to explore the idea of what it means to be black in America in the 21st century. Musically, the EP contains some of his smoothest and most laidback compositions yet, with all his musical collaborators being on fine form. The headline attraction is undoubtedly 14-minute flipside "The Truth", an almost operatic jazz epic full of swelling choral contributions, fizzing drum solos, rising horns and, of course, plenty of Washington's distinctive saxophone.
Review: Brazil 45s hit the quarter century in their run and show no sign of stopping. It's an all-girl affair on this one as two hugely popular and prolific singers take a spin under Mr Bongo's spotlight. Elizabeth (often known as Elizete) lays down a steamy samba flavour that gets raunchier as the track develops. Elza, meanwhile, gets busy on a Bossa tip as a carnival of percussion and horns go toe-to-toe with her sharp, sexy staccato vocals. Powerful.
Review: Thanks to a plethora of pleasing releases from the likes of Nat Birchall and Michael Grossman, 2019 has been a vintage year for Jazzman's "Jazz 45" series. The last volume of the year comes courtesy of Jai Ho, an occasional studio "supergroup" who initially met by accident in the late 1990s. In fact, A-side "Short Story From Tabla, Drums & Trumpet" was recorded in a single day in 1996. The descriptive title is accurate, with squally, effects-laden trumpet solos riding a killer backing track of military style drum breaks, exotic tabla motifs and toasty double bass. The group met again for another studio day in 2003 and recorded B-side "Oye Maia", a wonderfully lucid and languid mixture of attractive Kalimba melodies, drifting trumpet and shuffling Indian instrumentation.
Review: Born on the French Island of Martinique, Louis Xavier later settled in France where he discovered the freedom of jazz, and an idea to mix his influences into a global melting pot of sound. He formed his band (Synchro Rhythmic Eclectic Language) in Paris in the early '70s, making music that was both spiritual and eclectic for its time. Both tracks are jazz in essence but with instrumental funky rhythms infused with intricate percussion and electric keys.
All The Way (feat Tyler Daley & Kaidi Tatham) (4:00)
All The Way (feat Tyler Daley & Kaidi Tatham - Flutestrumental) (3:59)
Review: A warm welcome back to the Darkhouse Family, Cardiff's finest purveyors of soul-fired instrumental hip-hop and jazz-funk flavoured broken beats. The good news is that "All The Way", which features the combined talents of guests Tyler Daley and Kaidi Tatham, is every bit as good as anything on their superb 2017 album "The Offering". The A-side original version, in particular, is superb - a languid chunk of head-nodding hip-hop soul rich in double bass, drowsy jazz horns, twinkling pianos and impassioned, emotive vocals. That said, the instrumental flipside revision, which includes extended flute solos where the vocals once say, is also impeccable.
This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
Review: Storied Latin-jazz artist, composer, producer, and DJ Nicola Conte lays down a marker for his upcoming fifth studio album Free Souls with this delightful 7" of the same name. Brandishing two gens from the album, Conte's channelling soul jazz at it's purest on the title track, with a rhythm and blues arrangement that provides the perfect backing for Bridgette Amofah's gliding vocal delivery. On the B Side, "Shades Of Joy" is equally as memorable with Marvin Parks' soft croon enveloped in the smooth double bass and horn section. On the basis of this, the forthcoming album should be one of Conte's finest yet!
Review: Kalita Records are proud and honoured to announce the first ever official reissue of the four choice tracks from Randolph Baker's privately pressed sought-after 1982 disco album 'Reaching For The Stars', plus an unreleased instrumental take of 'Party Life' sourced from the original 24-track analogue master tapes.
Originally recorded at Jim Morris and Rick Miller's Tampa-based Morrisound Studios, 'Getting Next To You' features both a mixture of both local Florida talent plus jazz superstar Nat Adderley and bassist John Lamb at their finest. Originally pressed in a limited run of just one-thousand copies, with no distribution and most copies being sold in the local city and on Randolph's own merchandise table at the back of live gigs, original copies have long been sought-after by both collectors and DJs alike, acknowledged as a true grail and masterpiece in the disco scene and deservedly demanding extortionate figures to those lucky enough to find their own.
Here, in collaboration with Randolph, Kalita Records have chosen to re-release the four choice tracks from the album: 'Getting Next To You', 'Jazzman', 'Callin' Me' and 'Party Life'. The former is an in-demand horn and chant-filled disco masterpiece, which, as Randolph explains, concerns unity and "everyone on the same level in other words, everyone just loving life". It is arguably the song that Randolph is most well-known for in the disco and funk scene and perfect for the modern discerning dance floor. 'Jazzman' is an instrumental track with prominent trumpet and saxophone solos working with funky basslines to produce a truly great jazz-funk groove. It was "a tribute to Nat Adderley and Duke Ellington's bass player, John Lamb, for being so generous and saying yes to the project". 'Callin' Me' is a soulful disco number featuring the lead vocals of Laurie Erickson and is "about being on the road and ensuring loved ones that you will always come back home no matter what. It was like a promise to ensure loved ones they didn't have to worry". Lastly, 'Party Life' is a joyous disco track with a strong funk bassline and horns. As Randolph recalls, it "was the joy like after an actor finishes a movie. There was nothing but joy. It's finished; let's celebrate big time. Where everyone in the studio yelled at the top of their lungs - The End!" Here, with access to the 24-track master tapes we have been able to include the original version plus an unreleased instrumental take, allowing us to focus on the infectious bassline and make it even more ready for the modern dance floor.
Accompanied by extensive interview-based liner notes and never-before-seen photos.
Review: Hot on the heels of "Mission" earlier this year, Shuya Okino's Kyoto Jazz Sextet troupe present another gem from last year's Unity album complete with a remix of the highest calibre. This time the cascading, Latin rhythm and frenetic horn leads of "Rising" are given the midas dancefloor touch by none other than Ron Trent. Maintaining the wily spirit of the original while coating in warm organ blasts and subtly bumping kicks, it's a precision translation that brings the original into a whole new context.
Review: "The dampness of the rainforest, the hostility of the mangrove ultimately did not suit him. So he left his natural environment for the tranquillity of a freshwater body". So goes the (translated) back story of this new EP from Laurent Bardainne. The 'he' in question is a Tiger who ventured across Europe, Asia and America and apparently picked up various musical styles along the way. Whatever you make of that, the tracks here are gold: "Marvin" is smooth jazz fusion with percolating drums, "Porsche 944" has a joyous lead sax and more crisp boom bap drums, while "Aout" is a soaring bit of heartfelt soul Daptone might put out. The Drop Vibes rework of "Porsche 944" features a vocal roller and closes things in fine fashion.
Review: As far as we know, Norwich has never been renowned as a hotbed of quality jazz. Norfolk trio Mammal Hands, then, could well be the city's greatest jazz export to date. They've already released three impressive albums in the last four years, and this fine EP will surely enhance their reputation further. The real killer is A-side "Becoming", a wonderfully positive, gently rising affair that sits somewhere between studious spiritual jazz and giddy, thrill-a-minute jazz-dance. That said, we're also enjoying the undulating horn lines, twinkling pianos and soft touch beats of "Refuge", not to mention the smoky, early morning lament of beguiling closing cut "Shimmer".