Review: Best known amongst house heads for being the source of the lilting orchestral sample in Pepe Bradock's "Deep Burnt", Freddie Hubbard's 1979 version of "Little Sunflower" is a soul-jazz classic and a half. Since the full version of Hubbard's vocal re-make (the trumpeter first recorded an instrumental take in 1968) only ever appeared on a hard-to-find promo 12", this Record Store Day reissue should be an essential purchase. It remains a gentle, breezy and sunset-ready jazz-dance gem, with Hubbard's emotion-rich vocals and mazy trumpet solos riding Latin-tinged percussion, elastic double bass and some suitably jammed-out jazz pianos. In other words, it's the kind of life-affirming treat that's capable of spreading sunshine on even the cloudiest day.
Review: Another gem from the archives of Des Moines' favourite son: Samuel Jonathan Johnson - gets a much needed official reissue here. Johnson came from a family of musicians who were originally based in the Midwest. When he was six years old, the family moved to New York City, where he played for several churches and quickly gained notoriety as one of the city's finest musicians. His LP My Music was released in Europe to modest acclaim, but never received recognition back home. Disappointed in the outcome, he went into early retirement as a recording artist and began to work with local bands in the New York area. The 12" mix featured here of "You" combines the original funk riffs, captivating string arrangements and uplifting piano with a squelchy lead synth - which elevates the track to a whole new level. The aforementioned "My Music" on the B side is now a favourite with the diggers - spiritual soul from the one and only Samuel Jonathan Johnson.
Review: Lonnie Liston Smith made a lot of rather good records in the 1970s and '80s, though few are quite as heavy, intergalactic and intoxicating as "Space Princess". Initially recorded and released in 1978 as the opening track of his jazz-funk focused "Exotic Mysteries" album, the track - a suitably cosmic workout of epic proportions - quickly became a firm dancefloor favourite at both the Loft and Paradise Garage in New York thanks to its extended, Latin-tinged percussion breaks. Here the original DJ promo 12" gets the reissue treatment, with the peerless classic being accompanied by fellow "Exotic Mysteries" cut "Quiet Moments" - a gentle, samba-soaked shuffle through sunrise-ready jazz-funk bliss.
Review: Splendor were a very short lived outfit - '70s funk/soul group including Billy Nunn, Robert "Bobby" Nunn, Sascha Meeks and Richard Shaw. "Take Me To Your Disco" and "Special Lady" were released in 1979 as the first single from the group's eponymous and only LP. It represents a heyday of disco - a zeitgeist where big budgets made for some amazing and seminal productions. With the likes of Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind and Fire fame) and the legendary Tommy Vicari on production duties - you can really hear the magic on these ones.