Review: The 62nd single in Mr Bongo's long-running Brazil 45s series is notable for containing Jose Prates' "Nana Imboro", a deep, hypnotic and intoxicating samba cut that was initially recorded and released way back in 1958. Relatively slow and steady by samba standards, its chanted refrain is thought to be the inspiration for Jorge Ben's much better known "Mas Que Nada". Wisely, Mr Bongo has backed Prates' sublime original with a 1960 cover by obscure Polish outfit Wroblewski Jazz Quintet. This dispenses with the chanting, instead increasing the number of intertwined horn parts. Given that original copies of the rare Polish EP it first appeared on will set you back serious money, it's great to see this fine cover included here.
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: 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: Japanese imprint Ultra Vybe is midway through a seven-inch series focusing on some of the many gems tucked away on albums released by legendary U.S "funky jazz" label Groove Merchant in their early 1970s. Their latest picks are taken from pianist Larry Willis's 1973 set "Inner Crisis". You'll find the album's title track - a warm, mesmerizing and surprisingly melancholic fusion of restless organ lines, jammed-out electric piano solos, classic jazz horns and fussy grooves - on side B, with "Out On The Coast" on the A. This jaunty jazz-funk affair is far more hard-hitting, thanks in no small part to some rousing sax lines, blistering funk drums, razor-sharp jazz guitars and a seriously heavy bassline.
Review: There's a growing feeling both inside and outside jazz that Kamasi Washington could well turn out to be one of the style's all-time greats. He's certainly making all the right moves, delivering thought-provoking concept albums of eyebrow-raising length that simply refuse to settle on one sound, rhythm, style or sub-genre. Heaven & Earth, his first album for almost three years, continues this trend, comprising angry instrumental answers to America's growing issues with class division and racism, Rotary Connection style workouts, Sun Ra-esque spiritual workouts, funk and soul-influenced burners, spiraling choral and orchestral affairs, and electric fusions of rubbery synth-funk and mind-altering jazz-blues. Typically, the results are never less than sublime, with Washington's virtuoso saxophone playing taking centre stage throughout.
Review: Already out in the ether since the summer, Kamasi's sprawling three-part jazz opus finally sees the light of vinyl day. Presented on heavyweight vinyl with his striking signature artwork, its delivery befits the album's rave reviews on its original arrival. Highlights, in case you haven't heard it yet, are the awe-inspiring switch from fusion to swing on "The Next Step" the album's overall sparing inclusion of vocal that make "The Rhythm Changes" really stand out and sparkle and the attention to detail on the narrative structure on reprise notes such as "Re Run Home". A must-have for any jazz/Brainfeeder fan.