Review: In 1970, 23 year-old Brazilian vocalist Celia Cruz headed into the studio with legendary producer and arranger Arthur Verocai to record the first of four eponymous albums that would go on to become "MPB" classics. Here, Mr Bongo offers up a timely reissue of that highly regarded debut, a set that giddily flits between soaring, orchestrated samba-pop ("Cheia Durango Kid", "David"), sun-kissed ballads ("To Be"), tributes to the songwriting prowess of the Beatles (see "Abrace Paul McCartney", whose strings tip a wink to "Eleanor Rigby", and the brassy, up-tempo beat pop of "Lennon - McCartney") and carnival-ready workouts ("Fotograma").
Review: Chicago Odense Ensemble is a unique proposition that came together out of a chance meeting between Danish musicians Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott and a host of notal improvisational musicians based in Chicago, including members of Tortoise and the Chicago Underground Collective. After a now highly sought after first album, the loose-fit collective emerges once more with another wild collection of pieces that span jazz, psychedelic rock, kosmische and so much more besides. As deep and smoky as it is freeform and vibrant, you could spend years listening to this album and discovering new things.
Review: Jazz fans take note: Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album more than lives up to its name. It features previously unreleased recordings by the late, great John Coltrane and his regular accompanying players (pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and Drummer Elvin Jones). The reels of tape the tracks were salvaged from were dated 1963, around the time that the quartet laid down some of its most forward-thinking work for the legendary Impulse label. Much of the material consists of original Coltrane compilations, though there are a few notable covers (including a great version of jazz standard "Nature Boy") dotted throughout. As you'd expect, Coltrane's performance is incredible from start to finish.
Motihar Trio, Schweizer Trio, Schoof & Wilen - "Yaad"
George Gruntz - "Djerbi"
The Albert Mangelsdorff Quartet - "Never Let It End"
Smoke - "Shelda"
Michael Naura Quartet - "Soledad De Murcia"
The MPS Rhythm Combination & Brass - "Timbales Calientes"
El Babaku - "El Babaku"
Hannibal & The Sunrise Orchestra - "Revelation"
Tony Scott & The Indonesian Allstars - "Burungkaka Tua"
Dave Pike Set - "Raga Jeeva Swara"
Review: As part of their ongoing 50th birthday celebrations, German jazz label MPS asked Italian musician and crate digger Nicola Conte to trawl through their archives for spiritual gold. The result is "Cosmic Forest", an eye-opening set of largely obscure and little known tracks originally recorded between 1965 and 75. There is much "straight-up" spiritual jazz to enjoy (Nathan Davis' "Evolution" being a prime example), but it's the cuts that draw on a wider palette of influences that really stand out. Check, for example, the Middle Eastern flourishes of George Gruntz's "Djerbi", the hippy-ish vocal bliss of The Third Wave's "Maiden Voyage", the meditative jazz raga that is "Yaad" by Motihar Trio, Schweizer Trio, Schoof & Wilen, and the tropical drums of "El Babaku" by El Babaku.