Monday, 18 March 2019

Itiberê Orquestra Família ‎– Pedra Do Espia (2001) (2018 Reissue)

Genre: Latin
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Far Out Recordings, Jam Music

01.   Na Carioca
02.   Bota Para Quebrar
03.   De Coração Aberto
04.   Forró No Encontro Dos Rios
05.   Curupira
06.   Arco-Iris de Som
07.   No Varal
08.   Toada Cigana
09.   Doce
10.   Vale de Luz
11.   De Repente
12.   Muito Natural
13.   Ao Pé Da Lareira
14.   Hora da Prece
15.   17 de Janeiro
16.   Pedra do Espia

Acoustic Bass – Pedro Albuquerque
Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass – Mayo Pamplona
Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Luciano Camara
Cello – Maria Clara, Pedro Araujo
Clarinet – Luanda Bem
Clarinet, Bass Clarinet – Joana de Castro
Classical Guitar – Glaucia Aguiar
Cymbal, Pandeiro, Triangle, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Agogô, Surdo – Ana Leticia
Drums, Percussion – George Camara, Mingo Leahy
Drums, Percussion, Harmonica – Ajurinã Zwarg
Drums, Triangle, Percussion, Agogô – Roberto Rutigliano
Electric Bass – Bernardo Ramos, Bruno Aguilar, Pedro Christiano
Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass, Melodica, Keyboards, Cavaquinho, Voice – Itibere Zwarg
Electric Guitar – Tomaz Lemos
Flute – Leticia Malvares, Maria Carolina
Flute, Piccolo Flute, Bass Flute, Clarinet, Recorder – Aline Gonçalves
Guitar, Mandolin, Cavaquinho – Miguel Martins
Piano, Keyboards, Melodica – Joao Bittencourt
Piano, Saxophone, Melodica – Vitor Gonçalves
Saxophone – Vitor Medeiros
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Sidney Herszage
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Mellophone – Pedro Paulo Junior
Viola Caipira, Classical Guitar, Mandolin – Christiano Nascimento
Violin – Isadora Scheer, Renata Neves
Voice, Percussion, Guitar – Mariana Bernardes

Back in 1994, I recorded a broadcast on Radio 3 of Hermeto Pascoal live in concert with a big band made up of top London-based jazz musicians. It was part of The Hairy One’s European tour and my first taste of the music of a man Miles Davis famously described as “the most impressive musician in the world”. His regular bass player, Itiberê Zwarg, was no doubt part of the band in London. The apprentice had been playing with, learning from and absorbing the master’s notion of polyrhythmic, poly-harmonic and improvisation-rooted ‘universal music’ since 1977, the year after Pascoal’s most widely-known album, Slaves Mass. 
Some 24 years later, in 2001, Itiberê Zwarg led a workshop at the Villa Lobos School of Music with 29 of Rio de Janeiro’s (evidently) most-talented young musicians. Originally released that year on CD, the Far Out label has now resurrected this neglected treasure as a vinyl record, download and double CD. “Itiberê Orquestra Família make universal music,” Pascoal declared. “This family has fallen from the sky. Their music is excellent, a treasure chest full of harmonic, rhythmic and melodic jewels.” He didn’t go so far as to suggest that maybe the apprentice had surpassed the master, but I would argue that Itiberê and his young family of musicians have done just that – and arguably created the album that Pascoal himself has never quite managed. 
Listening to Hermeto Pascoal’s music can be a somewhat frustrating experience. The man is so creative and so prolific – this is someone who set himself the challenge on his 60th birthday in 1996 of composing a tune for every day of the ensuing year (the results were published in 2000 as Calendario de Som, “Calendar of Sound”) – that ideas seem to tumble out like a river over rapids. At worst, his music can border on incoherence. With Pedra do Espia, however, his pupil has created something genuinely coherent. All the more remarkable when you consider the running time of more than 90 minutes and the modus operandi used. Itiberê composed and arranged in real time, transcribing the Orquestra Família’s improvisations in the spirit of experimentation. 
Somehow it all hangs together almost effortlessly from start to finish. On the liner notes to the original release, the composer and orchestrator guaranteed that the collective product would be “surprising in its uniqueness, its harmonic richness, its exuberant melodies and rhythmic variations like nothing you’ve heard before”. True enough, perhaps, although there are echoes of a musical heritage throughout. It explores, for example, the same classical/jazz borderland that Moondog, Gil Evans and George Russell once did. There are moments, too, of pure Frank Zappa that wouldn’t be out of place on The Grand Wazoo or “Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra”. The beautiful wordless vocals of Mariana Bernardes suggest Flora Purim’s take on something like “Midnight Sun”. The signature combination of voice, strings, woodwinds and percussion recalls Steve Reich at his pulsating, hypnotic best. And, of course, there are the constant echoes of the venerable grand master. 
There are 16 pieces on the complete album. Even though the opening “Na Carioca” serves as an initial ‘single’, it’s difficult to separate them. They are more like movements of a symphony than individual numbers, so it’s hard to highlight any one at a time. You have to listen to it as a whole and just let it all wash magically over you. Admittedly, over 90 minutes there is the occasional longueur, when you catch yourself drifting off. But then a sudden shift in tempo or a startling key change reminds you of what you miss if you don’t keep your eye on the ball. If such an ambitious music reveals the odd flaw, arguably something slightly flawed can be more interesting than perfection. Embrace this flawed masterpiece and you’ll be showered with earthly and ethereal delights; different ones every time you tune in.
Mark Sampson / Sound and Colours

A Forest Mighty Black ‎– A Forest Mighty Black (2014)

Style: Downtempo, Disco, Deep House, House
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Drumpoet Community

01.   Because Of...
02.   A Tribute
03.   All My Lovin'
04.   Circumstances
05.   Suite For B-Boy
06.   And You Know
07.   Somewhere
08.   And I Still Grow
09.   Jade Knights, 2
10.   Untitled
11.   Vivement Dimanche!
12.   It's All Inside

Mixed By – Carlo Rüdlinger
Mixed By, Written-By, Arranged By, Producer – Bernd Kunz

A Forest Mighty Black ‎– Mellowdramatic (1997)

Style: Breakbeat, Downtempo, Deep House, Drum n Bass
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Compost Records

01.   Minigame
02.   Duel With A So(u)l
03.   Everything
04.   Tides
05.   Duo Trippin'
06.   Reflections Of A Fake Night
07.   The 9 To 5 (Is Killing Me)
08.   Fresh In My Mind
09.   Rebirth
10.   Till The End

Mixed By – Claudius Frey
Written-By, Arranged By, Mixed By, Producer – Bernd Kunz

Monday, 11 March 2019

Yacine Boularès, Vincent Segal, Nasheet Waits ‎– Abu Sadiya (2017)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD
Label: Accords Croisés

01.   Dar Shems
02.   Disappearance
03.   Bahriyya
04.   Interlude I
05.   Takhmira
06.   Mirage
07.   Demian
08.   Qmar
09.   Nuba
10.   Resilience
11.   Interlude II
12.   Sadiya

Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Yacine Boularès
Violoncello, Percussion – Vincent Segal
Drums – Nasheet Waits

Abu Sadiya, released in April 2018 by Accords Croisés, might first come across as a simple album. This is a repetitive music, part jazz, part classical, with its roots in the stambeli genre that is indigenous to Tunisia. However, after a few listens, there is power in this music. Yacine Boularès plays the soprano saxophone and bass clarinet, Nasheet Waits plays drums and Vincent Ségal plays cello and percussion. They are all accomplished musicians: nobody takes center stage here or is seeking extra attention. There is a careful interplay and exchange among these musicians who listen to each other. 
Yacine Boularès has contributed to jazz, classical, and also Afrobeat recordings with his band Ajoyo. Born of a French mother and Tunisian father, he grew up in France,. After playing in various musical genres, he has returned to his Tunisian roots. This is his best musical release to date. The stambeli is music that seeks to heal and put its listeners into trance. It has been described as “a music of peace,” by Salah el Ouergli, a well-known musician in this genre. It originates from sub-Saharan slaves of West Africa who were brought north. A stambeli performance is a rich interplay of sound, dance and song. Typically the music rises in intensity as night descends. The gumbri, a three-stringed lute, the shqashaq iron castanets, and the tabl drums are traditional instruments featured in this genre. Along with the classic rhythms, there is a modern dialogue here between the soprano sax, drums and cello. 
This album is based on the story of Abu Sadiya. He is a figure of myth and intrigue in Tunisia. During the stambeli performance a dancer in costume plays his role. The album starts out gently with “Dar Shems,” as the slow rustle of brush on drums and the sax notes weave elegant circles around each other. The cello plays a steady, purposeful loop. Picture Abu Sadiya, a West African hunter alone, haunted by the disappearance of his daughter. He dances to enable his daughter to return to him. By the third track, “Bahriyya,” the steady, elongated sax notes entrance the listener. This is a mournful sound, reminiscent of the cyclical nature of Ravi Shankar or Phillip Glass's music: The repetition pulls you in. 
Abu Sadiya's myth is pertinent to the present – to the tragedy of today's migrants. Yacine is quoted in the album notes as saying, “He [Abu Sadiya] incarnates the face of the migrant, the transformation of Africa. He resonates with who I am: a Franco-Tunisian who grew up in Paris yet stayed in touch with Tunisia. It's in New York that I resolved the fragmentation of this identity. The stambeli 6/8 and 12/8 rhythms are typical of the ancient Malian empire, and they went off to the north and Tunisia, but also to the West, the Caribbeans and jazz.” 
On “Takhmira,” Nasheed Waits dances his brushes across the drums. The drumming is haunting. The sax now flies more freely, recalling John Coltrane. 
Although Yacine is the primary composer on this album, the music would not as be as moving without the other two stand-out musicians. Yacine trained at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique of Paris and later at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary music. He met Vincent Ségal during a recording that they both worked on for Placido Domingo. Ségal, a cellist, is noted for his unique musical collaborations with Elvis Costello and Ballalake Sisoko. Nasheet Waits studied music at Long Island University and has been active in jazz since early in his life. 
Yacine described the musical interchange in a recent interview for Lincoln Center, “I think the quality of meditation that music puts you through develops empathy. Connection. A real connection, not just 'I’m going to talk to you because I need this from you.' I think as musicians, we're very lucky to have the time to meditate on ourselves and on other people's music and to develop this empathy.” 
At the album's end, the pace picks up on “Nuba-Resilience.” Nasheet uses his drumsticks – before he had used only brushes. The music is forceful. By the finale, the album has cast its spell, and one feels compelled to wander again through the music as Abu Sadiya has, searching for his lost daughter.
Dorothy Johnson-Laird / Afro Pop

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Trüby Trio ‎– Elevator Music (2003)

Style: Broken Beat, Soul, Future Jazz, Deep House, Drum n Bass, Funk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Compost Records, Quality! Records

01.   The Rhythm (Part One)
02.   Universal Love
03.   New Music
04.   Runnin'
05.   Jaleo
06.   Alegre 2003
07.   A Festa
08.   Make A Move
09.   A Go Go
10.   Bad Luck
11.   Lover Underground
12.   The Swingin' Feel
13    Cruisin'
14.   Satisfaction
15.   The Rhythm (Part Two)

He's given us the invaluable 'Glucklich' series, and now it's time for Rainer Truby's debut album, with his Truby Trio cohorts Roland Appel and Christian Prommer. As you'd expect it's a variety of postcards from around the world, resulting in one of the finest jazz 'n' breaks albums you'll hear this year.  
There's the easy funk of 'Universal Love' for starters, with Marcus Begg on vocals over a nice squelchy bass sound. Begg appears later on 'Lover Uncovered', backed this time by slick broken beats. Joseph Malik, now a Compost stalwart, vocalises 'Bad Luck', and the gorgeous tones of Wunmi add to 'Runnin's sexy groove. The most vibrant tracks for me are the ventures into drum and bass, with 'A Festa' opening initially on a slow beat before the main sound drops - fast and springy. Meanwhile 'A Go Go' is more of a breaks workout but keeps the feel-good energy flying.  
So if it's hot, you want to throw the windows open and put on a cool summery soundtrack - this is one you should consider.
Ben Hogwood / Resident Advisor

Alice Coltrane Featuring Pharoah Sanders ‎– Journey In Satchidananda (1971)

Style: Avant-garde Jazz, Modal, Post Bop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Impulse!, ABC Records

1.   Journey In Satchidananda
2.   Shiva-Loka
3.   Stopover Bombay
4.   Something About John Coltrane
5.   Isis And Osiris

Bass – Cecil McBee
Bells, Tambourine – Majid Shabazz
Design – Wallace Caldwell
Drums – Rashied Ali
Harp, Piano, Liner Notes, Composed By – Alice Coltrane
Soprano Saxophone, Percussion – Pharoah Sanders
Tambura – Tulsi
Producer – Alice Coltrane, Ed Michel

The 1960s saw an increased interest in Eastern spirituality, philosophy and music, which was seen and heard not just on the fringes but even in the most prominent places in popular culture later in the decade, particularly at the height of the psychedelic movement. Jazz musicians had experimented with the notion of Indian/Eastern music several years prior and tended to focus on the opportunities those styles could provide musically, rather than anything aesthetic. John Coltrane had developed a fascination for music of different cultures, notably Africa and India, incorporating different modes but often still performing the compositions with the typical instrumentation of a jazz band. Although receiving mixed receptions at the time, all of those moves made perfect sense given the era, with artists shifting focus and approach from bop to modal jazz – the new influences gave added possibilities and freedom as a soloist. Yusef Lateef displayed Eastern influences even in the 1950s, and by the early 1960s was performing songs (often blues based or standards) with more exotic instruments, not commonly heard on jazz records in the era. 
In 1970, Alice Coltrane expanded on these ideas and experiments with Journey In Satchidananda, the most renowned record of her career and arguably her best. The influence of Middle Eastern music is immediately obvious with the use of the tamboura, which lays a dreamlike, droning backdrop. The rest of the line up is far more typical, with piano, drums, bass, soprano saxophone and various percussion, but the performances are fittingly far from rigid. Bass lines are memorable, fairly simple, repetitive, and they fit seamlessly – functioning almost as if they were repeated mantras. That’s part of the charm for much of the album – repetition without being redundant. In addition to piano, Coltrane also adds her harp flourishes which are extremely effective on the title track in particular and sound much more integrated than they did on some of her previous recordings in a sparser trio setting. Pharoah Sanders plays saxophone, more in the vein of his late 60s/early 70s albums, as opposed to the unrestrained recordings of the mid 60s. 
The title track is a clear highlight and essentially sums up what’s to follow – built around the drone of the tamboura and a straight-forward bass line. Another standout is Isis And Osiris, notable for several reasons – it’s a live cut, with the other four songs being studio offerings. The tamboura is omitted in favour of oud, which provides a sonic contrast. It makes full use of its twelve minutes and develops into a piece more urgent, up-tempo and energetic than anything else that preceded it, without disrupting the flow or feeling out of place. 
The album is strangely accessible, especially when compared to her husband John’s music towards the end of his life and other spiritually inclined music from the era. It was Alice’s second release of the year, following the impressive Ptah, The El Daoud. At a time when many of jazz music’s big names were leaning towards fusion and beginning to use electric instruments, this bucks those trends and sounds all the more distinct for doing so. She would go on to release several more excellent records in the 70s, as well as sporadic releases until her death in 2007, but nothing quite as engaging and cohesive as Journey In Satchidananda.
Chrisjon89  / sputnik music

Pedro Santos ‎– Krishnanda (1968)

Style: Samba, MPB, Psychedelic, Folk
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mr Bongo, CBS, Polysom

01.   Ritual Negro
02.   Agua Viva
03.   Um So
04.   Sem Sombra
05.   Savana
06.   Advertencia
07.   Quem Sou Eu?
08.   Flor De Lotus
09.   Dentro Da Selva
10.   Desengano Da Vista
11.   Dual
12.   Arabindu

Arranged By – Jopa Lins
Producer – Hélcio Milito
Written-By, Composed By – Pedro Santos

A cornerstone of Brazilian psychedelia, with a cover to match, the record bought in elements of folk, afro-soul and samba, bound together by a lyrical depth that reflected Santos’ own reputation as something of a philosopher. There certainly can’t have many records that grooved like this one while dealing with questions of morality, existence and ego. 
A virtuoso percussionist and inventor, the record also features a number of Santos’ hand-made instruments like the ‘tamba’ (electrified bamboo drum) and the mouth berimbau whistle. 
With originals going for silly money online, Krishnanda‘s stock has been increased by association, with everyone from Floating Points to Madlib and Gilles Peterson boosting it to legendary status. Quantic even called it his “favourite album of all time,” and althoguh they might be a tad biased, it doesn’t count for nothing that Mr Bongo have themselves called it “one of the best albums ever made, regardless of genre or origin.”
As ever, Mr Bongo have done a fine job in painstakingly reproducing the incredible cover art from the 1968 CBS original, and have given us a track to stream, which you can listen to below. Click here to find out more.
Anton Spice / The Vinyl Factory

Jóhann Jóhannsson ‎– The Miners' Hymns (2011)

Style: Soundtrack, Modern Classical, Ambient
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: 130701, NoTV-Records

1.   They Being Dead Yet Speaketh
2.   An Injury To One Is The Concern Of All
3.   Freedom From Want And Fear
4.   There Is No Safe Side But The Side Of Truth
5.   Industrial And Provident, We Unite To Assist Each Other
6.   The Cause Of Labour Is The Hope Of The World

Cornet – Niall Thompson, Tony Thompson
Organ – Robert Houssart
Percussion – Beth Steele, Ian Wynd
Trombone – Alex Trotter, Brian Gibson , John Bell, Steve Baxter
French Horn – Alan Tokeley, Callum Mackay, David Tollington, Graham Tedd
Trumpet – Alex Maynard, Ellie Lovegrove, Russell Jackson, Thomas Glendinning
Tuba – Eric Leckenby, Jeff Winter, Owen Wallage
Conductor – Guðni Franzson
Composed By, Arranged By, Producer, Mixed By, Electronics – Jóhann Jóhannsson

In his book, London Under, Peter Ackroyd notes that the world beneath our feet can "move the imagination to awe and to horror". But, equally, it’s a locus for prodigious triumph and catastrophic ruin, as this collaboration between Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and American filmmaker Bill Morrison unequivocally shows. 
Taking the ill-fated mining community of Durham in northeast England as their subject, the pair has crafted a brooding, dark tribute focused on the appalling hardships of pit labour and the undeniable salience of the trade union movement in times of political cataclysm. Morrison deploys archival footage of the 1984 strike and the attendant running pitch battles with police alongside more genteel moments – charting the remarkable escalation of the prosaic towards the historic. Yet, despite the miner’s defiance, the eventual death knell of the industry had been sounded by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and the flow of a community’s economic lifeblood had been staunched. In this light, The Miners’ Hymns becomes something of a fighters’ lament. 
As Morrison’s arresting imagery filters through, the only sounds heard are those provided by Jóhannsson’s highly emotive score. The potency of the pictures’ powerful message can only be fully comprehended by hearing their audio accompaniment. By returning to the brass arrangements of 2004’s Virðulegu Forsetar, Jóhannsson is referencing both the popularity and symbolic importance of the region’s traditional colliery bands, while evoking Elgar’s distinctive brand of Englishness. But these supremely evocative compositions also percolate in fuggy, swirling miasmas, recalling not only Ingram Marshall’s Fog Tropes, but also the catalogues of other artists forging ghostly cavernous sonorities below the Earth’s crust, such as Pauline Oliveros with her deep listening cistern operations and Oliver Beer’s explorations of the resonances inherent in Victorian sewers. Here dwells the belly of the pit, the occupational heart of darkness. 
While nowhere near as immediate as Jóhannsson’s string-based albums for the 4AD imprint – IBM 1401, A User’s Manual and the sublime Fordlândia – The Miners’ Hymns is far more complex in its use of dynamics while succeeding totally in its evocation of time, place and message. And those still seeking the attention-grabbing symphonies of before will no doubt get a suitable fix from the gloriously drilled The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World, drawing to a rousing end this powerful testament to the plight of traditional labours and our nation’s working class.
Spencer Grady / BBC Review

Working Week ‎– Working Nights (1984) (2CD Remastered 2012)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Acid Jazz, Downtempo, Synth-pop, Latin Jazz
Fomat: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Cherry Red, Virgin

1-01.   Inner City Blues
1-02.   Sweet Nothing
1-03.   Who's Fooling Who
1-04.   Thought I'd Never See You Again
1-05.   Autumn Boy
1-06.   Solo
1-07.   Venceremos
1-08.   No Cure No Pay
Bonus Tracks
1-09.   Stella Marina (Main Mix)
1-10.   Storm Of Light
1-11.   Bottom End
1-12.   Venceremos (We Will Win) (Jazz Dance Special 12" Edit)

Bonus Tracks
2-01.   Venceremos (We Will Win) (Jazz Dance Special 12" Version)
2-02.   Afochê
2-03.   Murphy's Law (Live)
2-04.   Pepe's Samba (Live)
2-05.   Inner City Blues (Urban Guerrilla Mix)
2-06.   Storm Of Light (Instrumental)
2-07.   Who's Fooling Who
2-08.   Sweet Nothing
2-09.   Where's The Bridge (Longer Mix)
2-10.   Venceremos (We Will Win) (7" Bossa Version)
2-11.   Stella Marina (Full Rap)

Bass – Chucho Merchan, Ernest Mothle
Drums – Louis Moholo, Mark Taylor, Nic France, Roy Dodds
Guitar – Robin Millar
Guitar, Arranged By – Simon Booth
Percussion – Dawson Miller, Joao Bosco De Oliveira, Martin Ditcham
Piano – Kim Burton
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Arranged By– Larry Stabbins
Trombone – Annie Whitehead, Malcolm Griffiths
Trumpet – Guy Barker, Harry Beckett
Backing Vocals – Leroy Osbourne
Vocals – Claudia Figueroa, Julie Tippetts Robert Wyatt, Tracey Thorn, Jalal, Juliet Roberts

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

VA ‎– Antologia De Música Atípica Portuguesa Vol.2: Regiões (2019)

Style: Avantgarde, Experimental
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Discrepant

1.   Síria (Diana Combo) - Por Riba
2.   Random Gods - Gazulo à Estronca da Santosa
3.   Ondness - Malta Inquieta
4.   Filho Da Mãe - Manta
5.   Live Low - Montemor
6.   Banha da Cobra - Asylo
7.   Fantasma - Lamento das Beiras
8.   Gonzo - Tromba Rota
9.   Luís Antero - Pastagens Sonoras

Mastered By – Rashad Becker

Second volume of our ongoing series, Antologia de Música Atípica Portuguesa (Anthology of Atypical Portuguese Music), this time focussing on various regional styles of the country. A new volume, new sound(s) on these series focussing on new strains of Portuguese music with an (un)characteristic foot in the past musical traditions of the country. The aim being to re-evaluate its musical history, de-construct clichés and re-assemble preconceptions into a new and daring musical landscape.