Tuesday, 19 November 2019

José Mário Branco ‎– Mudam-se Os Tempos, Mudam-se As Vontades (1971)

Genre: Folk, World, & Country
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: EMI, Guilda Da Música

Tracklist:
01.   Abertura (Gare D'Austerlitz)
02.   Cantiga Para Pedir Dois Tostões
03.   Cantiga Do Fogo E Da Guerra
04.   O Charlatão
05.   Queixa Das Almas Jovens Censuradas
06.   Nevoeiro
07.   Mariazinha
08.   Casa Comigo Marta
09.   Perfilados De Medo
10.   Mudam-se Os Tempos, Mudam-se As Vontades

Credits:
Acoustic Guitar, Handclaps, Choir – José Mário
Arranged By, Directed By – J. M. Branco
Double Bass – Willy Lockwoode

Monday, 18 November 2019

Tindersticks ‎– No Treasure But Hope (2019)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Lucky Dog, City Slang

Tracklist:
01.   For The Beauty
02.   The Amputees
03.   Trees Fall
04.   Pinky In The Daylight
05.   Carousel
06.   Take Care In Your Dreams
07.   See My Girls
08.   The Old Mans Gait
09.   Tough Love
10.   No Treasure But Hope

Credits:
Acoustic Guitar – Stanley Staples, Stuart A. Staples
Backing Vocals – Dan McKinna
Bouzouki – Adam Goldsmith
Cello – Andy Nice, Sarah Willson
Double Bass, Piano – Dan McKinna
Electric Guitar – Neil Fraser
Horn – Matt Gunner, Richard Steggall, Tom Rumsby
Percussion, Backing Vocals – Earl Harvin
Saxophone – Terry Edwards
Vibraphone, Organ, Piano – David Boulter
Viola – Rachel Robson, Rob Spriggs, Sophie Sirota
Violin – Alison Dods, Calina De La Mare, Howard Gott, Kate Robinson, Laura Melhuish, Lucy Wilkins, Natalia Bonner, Rick Koster
Vocals – Stuart A. Staples
String And Horn Arranger – Dan McKinna
Producer – Stuart A. Staples

The oddest thing on Tindersticks’ 12th album is its longest track, See My Girls. Stuart Staples, a mannered singer anyway, sounds as if he has been studying Ron Moody playing Fagin in Oliver! And the lyric he delivers in that sly and insinuating voice is set in an unspecified past, in which cameras and newsstands are still everyday things. On the walls of his kiosk, the narrator has pinned the photos his girls have sent him from their travels – Paris, Rome, the Pyramids – via some very odd phrasing (“The tall buildings of the Americas / Skyscrapers as they are known.” Skyscrapers, you say? Really?). Eventually they end up at the scenes of death: Flanders, Birkenau, Cambodia, Yemen, Israel and Palestine. And then it’s back to turtles and dolphins and trees. It appears to be the blandest of all messages: well, the world’s a rum old place, eh? Musically it is so compelling – a twisting, droning, spidery piece – that it only makes the lyric seem odder. 
That aside, No Treasure But Hope is much as you would expect: subdued and crepuscular, everything stripped back so each musical element is distinct and has its own breathing space. The Nick Cave comparisons are still valid, but perhaps a truer one might be Lambchop, with whom Tindersticks share a certain warmth and relative straightforwardness that the Bad Seeds tend to eschew. Warm in sound, that is: Tindersticks’ world is not a happy place, and even beauty brings Staples to his knees (on For the Beauty). The use of severed limbs as a metaphor for loss on The Amputees leads one to fear that Pinky in the Daylight will be about the forcible removal of a finger, but it turns out to be a glorious love song, “pinky” referring to one of the colours revealed in the world once love illuminates it: “Bleached by my own sadness / I was slipping into the grey / But now I see / Pinky in the daylight, crimson at night.” It’s all rather lovely and it yields its loveliness slowly, like a drip. Don’t dismiss it because there’s no instant hit. 
Michael Hann / The Guardian

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Haircut One Hundred ‎– Pelican West (1982)

Style: New Wave, Pop Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Arista, BMG Eurodisc, American Beat Records

Tracklist:
01.   Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
02.   Love Plus One
03.   Lemon Firebrigade
04.   Marine Boy
05.   Milk Film
06.   Kingsize (You're My Little Steam Whistle)
07.   Fantastic Day
08.   Baked Bean
09.   Snow Girl
10.   Love's Got Me In Triangles
11.   Surprise Me Again 12
12.   Calling Captain Autumn

Credits:
Bass Guitar – Les Nemes
Congas, Percussion – Mark (Ilford) Fox
Drums – Blair Cunningham
Guitar – Graham (Blythe) Jones
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Nick Heyward
Saxophone – Phil (Neville) Smith
Trombone – Vince (Kenton} Sullivan
Trumpet – Dave Lord, Herschell Holder, Little Barbara, Little Bobby, Ilford Fox
Brass Arrangements – Phil Smith
Producer – Bob Sargeant

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Yazz Ahmed ‎– Polyhymnia (2019)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Ropeadope

Tracklist:
1.   Lahan al-Mansour
2.   Ruby Bridges
3.   One Girl Among Many
4.   2857
5.   Deeds Not Words
6.   Barbara

Credits:
Alcyona Mick – piano & Fender Rhodes
Alex Ridout – trumpet
Becca Toft – trumpet & voice
Camilla George - alto sax & voice
Carol Jarvis – trombone, bass trombone & voice
Charlie Pyne – double bass, bass guitar & voice
Chloë Abbott – trumpet
Corrina Silvester – percussion & voice
Gemma Moore – baritone sax
George Crowley – bass clarinet
Helena Kay – alto sax & voice
Johanna Burnheart – violin & voice
Josie Simmons – baritone sax & voice
Naadia Sheriff – piano
Noel Langley – trumpet, flugelhorn & voice
Nubya Garcia – tenor sax & voice
Ralph Wyld – vibraphone & glockenspiel
Rosie Turton – trombone & voice
Samuel Hällkvist – guitars
Sarah Tandy – piano, Fender Rhodes & voice
Sheila Maurice-Grey – voice
Shirley Tetteh – guitar & voice
Sophie Alloway – drums & voice
Tori Freestone – alto flute, soprano sax & tenor sax
Yazz Ahmed – trumpet, flugelhorn, Kaoss Pad & voice

That eastern, softened bold sound of the trumpet is unmistakable. Uniquely moving up and down Arabic scales, she paints a panorama of radiant sound. Yazz Ahmed returns with an innovative, wonderfully colourful conceptual album, Polyhymnia.

After the stellar success of La Saboteuse, Ahmed’s unique cosmic sound has been firmly stamped as a fiercely individual voice in the current jazz line up. This latest release, written in January 2015 over a single six-week period, is a record unlike her previous ones.

La Saboteuse is an inward-looking album, an expression of her creative struggles, but Polyhymnia is outward-looking. It’s a suite of six movements inspired by courageous women chosen by Ahmed. Ahmed’s chosen six are Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female director; saxophonist, Barbara Thompson; The Suffragettes and three activists; Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai. Polyhymnia is a Greek goddess of poetry, dance, arts and eloquence, and a fitting title for Ahmed’s third album.

Performed only once in its entirety since its premiere on International Women’s Day in 2015, Polyhymnia has been brought off the stage and into the studio, cementing these musical responses to these women in time.

“I tried to react to these women’s stories on an emotional level,” Ahmed told me. “Forgetting about myself, taking in their history, their beliefs and the music that surrounded them and their lives. That gave me a lot to think about. I want to write music that is reflective of my own personality as well as getting inspired, but also remembering to give my emotional take as well.”

As well as the women she champions, Ahmed champions her band; it is a diversified group of exceptional talent. The six women’s stories are carried so vividly in Ahmed’s compositions, then amplified and empowered by her guests.

Tori Freestone’s wild tenor saxophone cadenza on ‘2857’ (track 4) exemplifies the metaphorical depth of the album; regular collaborator Sophie Alloway drumming grounds Ahmed’s cosmic voice throughout; rising star Shirley Tetteh’s dreamy and golden soloing over Barbara is delightful; Camilla George, Nubya Garcia, Samuel Hällkvist and Sarah Tandy are another few of the twenty-five musicians who are amongst this great list.

“Adding these extra voices (since the original performance) inspired change and building extra layers and electronics. It’s really nice to hear the guests have their voices heard. It was really fun working with Shirley Tetteh and Samuel Hällkvist, they’re both wonderful guitarists who I have worked with a lot and they have very individual voices. In the studio, you can do lots of really fun things. You can chop it up, play in any way you like. That gave me the freedom to add extra layers, more textures, to give it a more fun experience for the listener. Something to get really deep into your soul.”

Powerful improvisation takes the compositions to the next level, one of the album’s standouts, ‘2857 is of no exception. Written for Rosa Parks, who in 1955 ignited a civil rights movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Parks was consequently arrested, sparking revolutionary and historical change. Ahmed responded constructing her composition mathematically using the technique ‘tone row’. “It’s where you have a series of notes, and you make music out of that series in any order you choose. So, I chose random notes and used the 2857 number by starting on 1 note, then counted 1-2, then skipped 1. Then counted 8 more notes, and that would be the next note. So, the notes I chose became the melody. Then with the rhythms, I joined up the dots.”

It’s a mathematical foundation, but Ahmed responded emotionally in her voice. "I wanted the musicians in a collaborative improvisation to build up rage and express the evil of racism and frustration of how to fight for equality and everything being against you. There’s a tenor cadenza by Tori Freestone, which before that she’s playing something very calm which is supposed to be the voice of Rosa Parks and her very calm protest she made on that bus.”

‘One Girl Among Many’ (track 3) is another compositionally intriguing track, and probably the most forthright homage on the album, channelling Malala Yousafazi’s voice directly and musically. Ahmed explains, “I watched her UN speech on YouTube, and it brought me to tears. It wasn’t just the words that she recited, but the tone in her voice, it is very musical. And I thought ‘you’re going to make music from the quotes I find powerful’. So, I transcribed the words and then worked out what the notes were in her voice. Then I harmonised them and built melodies from them. I got everyone to chant which I hope feels mighty. It reflects when her voice rises and falls in pitch, and also in intensity. I wanted to bring that out musically.”

On ‘Deeds Not Words’ (track 5), Ahmed draws four instruments together, boldly harmonising, one by one, embodying the Suffragettes joining of voices as one. The layering of the instruments invokes an inspiring aura, as the whole album does in effect. “Using these electronics, especially the chaos pad, has become part of my voice. And I love using electronics because it just adds different colours to the natural sound of a trumpet or the flugelhorn. I like to live sample whilst I’m playing and mess around with it at the same time, so it’s kind of like a conversation. It’s fun, and you can be more inventive and create different worlds with these added effects.”

The album, at points, isn’t easy listening. A few of the stories translate unpredictably, and you can find yourself a bit lost in the direction the music is going. Track to track, there isn’t a natural flow to the album either, simply because each track is a standalone story. The album pullout is the reference the listener needs to experience this music. The women’s stories are briefly told featuring powerful quotes, alongside Ahmed commenting on her inspired compositional choices. It’s beautifully illustrated by Sophie Bass, who has designed Ahmed’s album artwork before. Experiencing this, alongside the music, is crucial to understanding and enjoying the music’s sound and concept.

Polyhymnia is packed with cascading electronic warping of trumpets, colourful eastern soundscapes, and strongly charged instrumentals that allow Ahmed to tell these women’s stories in her own language. It is an insight into Yazz Ahmed’s remarkable compositional ability, her inspirations, all attributed to these exceptional women.

This isn’t an album you’d regularly pull out for the joy of listening like perhaps you would with La Saboteuse. This is an extraordinary conceptual album, that exemplifies Yazz Ahmed’s passion for her music and the women who have inspired her. It is a wonderful addition to her recordings, and we can’t wait for her next personal instalment, and to hear Polyhymnia live in York next month.  
Hamish Irvine / Jazz Revelations

Yazz Ahmed - La Saboteuse (2017)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Naim Jazz

Tracklist:
01.   Inhale
02.   Jamil Jamal
03.   Misophonia
04.   The Space Between The Fish and the Moon
05.   La Saboteuse
06.   Al Emadi
07.   Inspiration Expiration
08.   The Lost Pearl
09.   Bloom
10.   Beleille
11.   Whirling
12.   Organ Eternal
13.   Exhale

Credits:
Bass Clarinet – Shabaka Hutchings
Bass Guitar – Dave Manington, Dudley Phillips
Drums – Martin France
Electric Piano, Electric Piano – Naadia Sheriff
Guitar – Samuel Hällkvist
Percussion – Corrina Silvester
Additional trumpet ensemble parts – Noel Langley
Vibraphone – Lewis Wright
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Flugelhorn, Producer – Yazz Ahmed
Producer – Noel Langley

If Miles Davis was alive today and in the studio recording Bitches Brew, the results might, just might, resemble parts of London-based Yazz Ahmed's La Saboteuse. Other approximate reference points are, during the more reflective moments, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume 2 and Davis's In A Silent Way. But Ahmed's album is no knock-off of any of those discs—there are lengthy passages on which it does not sound remotely like either one of them—nor is it built around the kind of shape-shifting production interventions employed by Eno or by Davis's producer, Teo Macero. It is a statement in its own right, and one with substance. 
Foremost among the singular elements Ahmed brings to the music is her cultural background. Raised in Bahrain by her Bahraini father and English mother, she relocated to Britain at age nine. She tentatively explored her Middle Eastern roots on her 2012 debut album, Finding My Way Home. On La Saboteuse, her use of Arabic modes and scales is more assured and her improvisations upon them more jazz-based. The result is a genuinely transcultural music, rooted in Middle Eastern and jazz traditions yet also resolutely futuristic. 
The band on La Saboteuse is bigger than the one on Finding My Way Home and newly assembled. The only returnees are Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Corrina Silvester on percussion. Among the featured new recruits are Lewis Wright on vibraphone, Naadia Sheriff on Fender Rhodes and Samuel Hällkvist on electric guitar. Martin France is a great choice of drummer. Most of the tracks were written by Ahmed, alone or with Wright. The only cover is Radiohead's "Bloom" (Ahmed and second trumpeter Noel Langley guested on the band's 2011 album, The King Of Limbs). 
When In A Silent Way was released, one hostile old-school critic condemned it as "opium music." They know a thing or two about opium in the Middle East, and in parts of London too, but La Saboteuse is a life-affirming rather than a life-denying album—not so much addictive as offering the kind of solace for the soul that repays being revisited. 
Chris May / All About Jazz

Throbbing Gristle ‎– D.o.A. The Third And Final Report (1978)

Style: Industrial
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: The Grey Area

Tracklist:
A1.   I.B.M.
A2.   Hit By A Rock
A3.   United
A4.   Valley Of The Shadow Of Death
A5.   Dead On Arrival
A6.   Weeping
B1.   Hamburger Lady
B2.   Hometime
B3.   AB/7A
B4.   E-Coli
B5.   Death Threats
B6.   Walls Of Sound
B7.   Blood On The Floor

Credits:
Bass Guitar, Violins, Vocals – Genesis P-Orridge
Lead Guitar, Effects, Tapes – Cosey Fanni Tutti
Tapes, Electronics Machines – Peter Christopherson
Synthesizers, Drum Programming, Electronic Rhythms, Tapes – Chris Carter,

Friday, 15 November 2019

Sparks ‎– Lil' Beethoven (2003)

Style: Modern Classical, Big Beat, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: PalmPictures, Lil' Beethoven Records

Tracklist:
1.   The Rhythm Thief
2.   How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?
3.   What Are All These Bands So Angry About?
4.   I Married Myself
5.   Ride 'Em Cowboy
6.   My Baby's Taking Me Home
7.   Your Call's Very Important To Us. Please Hold.
8.   Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls
9.   Suburban Homeboy

Credits:
Drums – Tammy Glover
Guitar – Dean Menta
Keyboards, Orchestrated, Programmed By – Ron Mael
Vocals, Programmed By– Russell Mael
Written-By, Producer, Arranged By – Ron Mael, Russell Mael

This album's just too damn weird to review. Really. Like if I told you that Lil' Beethoven, the umpteen-millionth album from Sparks, was some weird mesh of classical and pop music, you might think of the stilted latter day work of, say, Joe Jackson or Elvis Costello or someone else who started to take themselves too seriously, and that would be wrong. You might surmise from that comparison -- and from the title of the album itself -- that this is some serious statement. Erm, not exactly. This is Sparks, remember. 
So, okay, yeah, let's try this again. There is a lot of what you'd think of as "classical" music here - -big, sweeping string sections, a penchant for dramatic musical gestures, and song structures that are more complicated than your typical pop song. There aren't really many synthesizers -- which have been in tow on Sparks projects since 1979 -- but rather the orchestra tells us the story. But the Mael brothers, the creative forces behind the band, brought along a weird bunch of songs. I guess that's par for the course for a Sparks project, but these are really weird, almost unlistenably weird at first, but strangely captivating on the second or third time. 
Lil' Beethoven does stand as one of the most substantial albums in the sprawling Sparks catalog because of its massive reach, but that reach will serve to alienate just as many listeners as it charms … but, oh hell, who are we kidding? Sparks couldn't be any more of a cult act than they already are, and this (like every record they've put out for years) is very much intended for that cult, for everyone who's been following the plot all along. And those people won't be freaked out by the bizarre material here, like the poetic/spoken word "What Are All These Bands So Angry About?" -- an obvious response to rap-metal and its ilk, albeit a couple years too late -- or "Your Call's Very Important to Us, Please Hold", which irritatingly repeats that very line for four minutes. That's just part of the story. 
The album's opener, "The Rhythm Thief", does a good job summarizing the sonic direction of Lil' Beethoven through the lines "I am the rhythm thief / Say goodbye to the beat" and a multi-tracked chorus responding "oh, no, where did the groove go?" The drama is bolstered by a swarming string section, creating the aura of genuine drama -- that whoever this "The Rhythm Thief" is, he really did steal the rhythm, and that the people are truly worried. It's a marvelous way to begin such an odd album, especially since Sparks continue on with song structures like they would've often employed -- quirky, repetitive tunes that sound made for some sort of other-world disco -- except backed by this massive orchestra in the place of the "groove." 
The second track, "How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall", comes close to wearing out the joke (who hasn't heard the old line "How do I get to Carnegie Hall / Practice, man, practice" before?), but that's the only real misstep. Another highlight, the gorgeous, late-period Beatles-esque "I Married Myself" weds an idyllic, pastoral track to Russel Mael's love poem to himself ("I married myself / I'm very happy together"). 
Two of the best tracks come at the end. First there's the epic and extremely discordant "Ugly Guys with Beautiful Girls", which lulls the listener into complacency with its almost Celine Dion-smooth intro before crashing into the manic choruses. Seriously, this is one of the most mind-blowing tracks on a record out this year. Russel Mael spews out crazed spoken-word monologues asking why ugly guys can get beautiful girls on each verse before the almost-frightening, multi-tracked chorus barks "WOP / WOP / WOP / WOP / Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls" over and over again -- and this goes on for seven minutes. The bits of the song sound extremely jarring together, but that's part of what captures Mael's wounded-heart protagonist so well. It's also one of the only songs with much guitar work, which sounds extremely shocking after seven tracks of orchestral grandeur. This song may appear to be a horrible, unlistenable mess at first -- it certainly did to me -- but it's truly one of the most inventive and exciting songs I've heard all year. 
And as if things couldn't get any weirder, Sparks close the album with "Suburban Homeboy", a bouncy springtime romp making fun of, well, suburban homeboys. The song is so utterly silly and happy, so, well, so gay, in every meaning of the word, that wedding it with lyrics like "I say 'yo dawg' to my detailing guy" and "I bought me cornrows on Amazon / I started listening to Farrakhan" sounds both hilariously silly and like deadly-serious social satire. 
Yes, Lil' Beethoven is brilliant. It may take a few listens to get there, because this is unlike any record that you're likely to hear this year, and it's unlike any record that Sparks have ever released. But it's worth all the effort. 
Jason Damas / popMATTERS

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Dick Hyman ‎– Moon Gas (1963)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: The Omni Recording Corporation

Tracklist:
01.   Moon Gas
02.   Maid Of The Moon
03.   Isn't It Odd
04.   Stella By Starlight
05.   Imagination
06.   Space Reflex (Blues In 5/4)
07.   Bye, Bye Blues
08.   They Can't Take That Away From Me
09.   For All We Know
10.   Desafinado
11.   I'm Glad There Is You
12.   Star Eyes

Credits:
Producer – Creed Taylor

Monday, 11 November 2019

Onyx Collective ‎– Lower East Suite (Part Three) (2018)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Big Dada

Tracklist:
01.   Onyx Court
02.   Don't Get Caught Under The Manhattan Bridge
03.   Battle Of The Bowery
04.   There Goes The Neighbourhood
05.   2 AM At Veselka
06.   Delancey Dilemma
07.   Rumble In Chatham Square
08.   Eviction Notice
09.   Magic Gallery
10.   FDR Drive

Boris Vian once said, “Sans le jazz, la vie serait une erreuronce”. 
Loosely translated this means: Without jazz life would be a mistake. The same could be said for New York’s Onyx Collective in 2018. The group’s ability to incorporate jazz, rock, punk with avant-garde sensibilities means their music can fit perfectly in the Tate’s Turbine Hall as well as at a gritty house in Brookyln, making them one of the most important bands on the planet at the moment. 
As their name implies Onyx Collective, are more than a number of regular players, having collaborated with Nick Hakim, Princess Nokia, Julian Soto, Dev Hynes, Wiki and have, in one guise of another, appeared on David Byrne’s new album and in Ibeyi’s live band. At times they feel like the Wu-Tang Clan of jazz, with a roster of core, and fringe members who could appear on any track at any given time.

Onyx Collective’s RZA is saxophonist Isiah Barr. On Lower East Suite Part Three, he is joined by Austin Williamson on drums, Walter Stinson on upright bass, Spencer Murphy on electric bass, and Roy Nathanson as guest sax on four tracks. There is another, mostly invisible, member of the group, one who holds them together, who inspires and challenges them, and that is New York City itself. 
'New York's role in Onyx Collective is everything,' Barr recently said. 'The names of people, the places, the street corners here are so legendary and historically prominent - it leaves a roadmap that we can walk through and a story for us to follow.' On Lower East Suite Part Three, like their previous releases, the city is at the heart of the music. Gritty sax explode like car horns during rush hour, drum patterns replicate the East River surging along, and bass lines mimic the never-ending procession of people populating its street. 
Before recording began Onyx Collective were priced out their HQ and moved to a practice space at the Magic Gallery. This effected the new music being written, as concepts like eviction and gentrification show themselves in the songs titles. ‘Don’t Get Caught Under the Manhattan Bridge’, ‘Battle of the Bowery’, ‘There Goes the Neighbourhood’, ‘Rumble in Chatham Square’ and ‘Eviction Notice’ tells us all we need to know. NYC is in flux, and this is fuelling Onyx Collective’s fire and giving them some extra bite to their music. 
Opening track ‘Onyx Court’ conjures up images of waiting for an audience with Haile Selassie, or Isaac Hayes in ‘Escape from New York’. Gongs tremble, horns vibrate as the emperor walks to his throne and you are ushered in for an audience. 
‘Battle of the Bowery’ gives of a feeling of being unsteady and slightly light headed. As the music swirls around you there is an off-kilter bounce to it. This is when Lower East Suite Part Three really starts to come into its own, and Onyx Collective give a hint of what they’re capable of. Stinson’s bass is the grounding force here. Williamson’s drums and Barr’s sax play off each other to create eddies and maelstroms that create a feeling of movement, and flux, that feels like a short bout of vertigo, or when you get in from a night out and realise you’ve drunk too much. Everything is slowly spinning round you, it’s not unpleasant, but you can see the room slightly turn. ‘Magic Gallery’, an ode to their new home, is the most romantic song on the album. 
You can feel the excitement and passion for their new practice space, but the regret and longing for having left their pervious home. 
The standout tracks are ‘2AM at Veselka’ and ‘Rumble in Chatham Square’. ‘2AM’ is the most straight forward song on the album, but don’t be deceived, through classic jazz sounds, and vibes, there is plenty going on. Each member is given a chance to showcase their virtuosity at their applied disciplines. It also gives a period of reflection, to take in what you’ve just heard, and get ready for the next barrage. ‘Rumble’ opens with a jaunty sax riff and ad-hock drum fills, while the bass manages to hold everything together. Its wired and frayed in places, but this is when it’s at its most exciting and breath-taking. Much like a real-life rumble, the sax and drums are taking shots at each other, while the bass tries to keep them apart, and play mediator. 
On Lower East Suite Part Three, Onyx Collective have delivered an album that builds on the sound, and reputation, of their previous releases but pushes that sound further. Gone are the vocal samples, and field sounds, but in its place is a calculated and frenetic energy that seeps from ‘Lower East Suite Part Three’, showcasing each member’s classical training, but also their disdain for it. They have thrown off the shackles of conventional composition and, instead, opted for something that suits their collectives loves. Lower East Suite Part Three is an important album, not just in Onyx Collective’s career, but in music in general. It shows that jazz isn’t confined to the past, or dusty records, and is loud, vibrant, angry at society and has something to say. It shows that Onyx Collective can rub shoulders with any band and give as good as they get. It also shows that Onyx Collective can write music flawless music, as well as just jam the bangers out, and have fun doing it. 
Nick Roseblade / Drown In Sound
An expandable quartet composed entirely of native New Yorkers is rare, but does that affect their musical product? Does residence matter in today’s tiny connected world? Taking a break from backing such pop near-celebrities as Princess Nokia, Blood Orange, and Wiki, Onyx Collective answer these questions in the positive by creating a mad NYC night out with John Lurie, Charles Mingus, and a straitlaced Albert Ayler as your guides, tongues firmly in cheeks. 
There’s no denying Messrs. Isaiah Barr (alto and tenor saxophone), Austin Williamson (drums), Walter Stinson (upright bass), and Spencer Murphy (electric bass) have absorbed the grittiness of New York’s Lower East Side circa 1992. Many of their often brief, through-composed tunes whirl around like street food vendors and congueros vying for space in Tompkins Square Park. The fidelity is lo, the energy East Village carefree. 
Enter from the top or the bottom; it’s all gurgling dissonance and lopsided rhythms, a late-night confection of warbling tones, dive-bar atmospheres, and the convoluted essence of some Manhattan past where rents were low and groceries affordable. 
Oddly, the group waits until the album’s final song, “FDR Drive,” to reveal its menacingly trippy trademark swing beat, and it’s a delight, like Jackie McLean playing Tilt-a-Whirl with Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell. Saxophonist Roy Nathanson guests on four tracks, but such nearly danceable ditties as “2AM at Veselka” and the equally compact “Delancey Dilemma” are all Onyx Collective’s deranged show, as humorous as they are catchy. 
Ken Micallef / Jazz Times

Yussef Kamaal ‎– Black Focus (2016)

Style: Contemporary Jazz, Soul-Jazz, Broken Beat, Deep House
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Brownswood Recordings

Tracklist:
01.   Black Focus
02.   Strings Of Light
03.   Remembrance
04.   Yo Chavez
05.   Ayla
06.   O.G.
07.   Lowrider
08.   Mansur's Message
09.   Wingtai Drums
10.   Joint

Credits:
Drums, Percussion – Yussef Dayes
Electric Bass – Kareem Dayes, Tom Driessler
Electric Guitar – Mansur Brown
Synth, Electric Piano – Henry Wu
Tenor Saxophone – Shabaka Hutchings
Trumpet – Yelfris Valdés
Vocals – Gordon Wedderburn
Written-By, Performer, Producer – Henry Wu, Yussef Dayes
Engineer, Producer – Eric Lau, Malcom Catto, Richard Samuels

If people still think that the capital of jazz is New York, surely they've never been to London or listened to anything that comes from the British capital these days. Just like New York, London is a melting pot. Because you can find musicians from any part of the world, the produced outcome is extremely cosmopolitan. Yet, since London never had such a rich history of jazz as New York, the music tends to carry a very different vibe while essentially being part of the same tradition. Yussef Kamaal is a perfect illustration of such phenomenon. 
The band officially consists of Yussef Dayes on drums and Kamaal Williams on keyboards. However, additional instruments (e.g. electric bass, guitar, trumpet, etc.) feature in the majority of the tracks on Black Focus. The album is rhythmically saturated: a few tracks feature additional percussion, which in combination with a standard acoustic drum kit add an exotic flavour to the entire mix. Artificial sound effects on keyboards, trumpet, and guitar applied to most of the tracks have a huge impact to the overall sound, too. Yet, since the drums and the bass are left without much additional processing, the sonic template sounds well balanced as most of the tracks have a solid acoustic base giving Black Focus a trance-like feel. 
Yussef Kamaal states that their musical inspirations derive from artists such as Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, Herbie Hancock, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Thelonious Monk, or Kaidi Tatham. That might be very true, but in terms of the rhythmic vocabulary, harmonic progressions, choice of instruments and their sonic textures, music on Black Focus also resembles Jamiroquai, Brand New Heavies, or Incognito—bands that were described as being part of Acid Jazz movement. While labeling the band as Acid Jazz collective would be as problematic as trying to define the term itself, it does explain why Yussef Kamaal is under the wings of Gilles Peterson and his Brownswood Recordings label. After all, it was partly because of Peterson that the term Acid Jazz emerged. 
There are two types of tracks on Black Focus—with and without melodic improvisations. Perhaps, this split is the main problem with the album. Tracks featuring solo improvisation make the music sound outdated, while tracks without melodic soloing articulate something extremely fresh and radical, jeopardizing the whole modern jazz paradigm that for so long enchained the music. If only Yussef Kamaal had more confidence to follow such a solo-less direction, the album could have benefited more in terms of its internal coherence, innovation and a healthy dose of anarchism. Nonetheless, despite the division, Black Focus is a forward-looking sonic journey that will fill one in on what's happening in London's jazz scene right now. 
Rokas Kucinskas / All About Jazz 

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Scrimshire ‎– Listeners (2019)

Style: Afrobeat, House, Nu-Disco, Downtempo, Trip Hop, Soul
Format: Vinyl
Label: Albert's Favourites

Tracklist:
A1 Theme For Us (Feat. Joshua Idehen & Chip Wickham)
A2 The Socials (Feat. Soothsayers)
A3 Life Is Valuable (Feat. James Alexander Bright)
A4 Before
A5 After (Feat. And Is Phi)
B1 I Never (Feat. Madison McFerrin)
B2 Won’t Get Better (Feat. Emma-Jean Thackray)
B3 Don’t Stop Here (Feat. Ego Ella May)
B4 Thru You (Feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow)

Credits:
Drums, Recorded By – Chris boot
Electric Piano, Piano, Synthesizer, Percussion, Drum Programming, Guitar, Bass – Adam Scrimshire

Scrimshire has become one of the more influential voices of the London scene for quite a while now. Knowing him primarily from his label Wah Wah 45s, as well as his fantastic DJing, this new album is actually my first proper introduction to the talented musical polymath. His new album Listeners is a sublime project, combining his influences of jazz, soul and electronic music in a cohesive, intricately composed and beautifully textured album. 
9 tracks in length, the project features an array of producers that bring their own personalities to the table. “Theme For Us” features instrumentalist Chip Wickham and poet Joshua Idehen, who both provide such stellar moments through incredible flute compositions and a spoken word piece that just works brilliantly together. Soothsayers feature on the upbeat “The Socials,” as they bring their wild afro beat and dub sounds to an eclectic and beautiful piece. Scrimshire’s synth leads and electronic compositions throughout are brilliant. The track “Before,” for instance has this profoundly moving piano piece that bridges two incredibly soulful tracks together. We’ve already spoken about “Life Is Valuable” with James Alexander Bright, a beautifully soulful track, while “After” is an angelic, spiritual track featuring And Is Phi, who provides mesmeric vocals to this rhythmic masterpiece.The soul of “I Never” with Madison McFerrin is gorgeous, as the percussion, keys and synths add a soft, soulful touch to this track. “Won’t Get Better” featuring Emma-Jean Thackray is one of my favourite tracks of the year, as I’ve played it countlessly on radio and with my headphones in, walking around South London. The rhythms and pulsating energy of this track is incredible, as Emma-Jean really excels vocally throughout. “Don’t Stop Here” features another incredible vocalist, Ego Ella May, who’s soothing voice is perfect for the subdued, beautiful composition. The legend Georgia Anne Muldrow features on “Thru You,” as she provides powerful vocals over heavy percussion and drums that bring infectious energy. A perfect way to close this album. 
As I mentioned before, this is a sublime, exciting body of work and Scrimshire has exceeded all expectations for me. Listen to his brand new album Listeners below via Bandcamp and don’t forget to support! Released via Albert’s Favourites. 
Martin Boev / In Search of Media

Africa Express ‎– EGOLI (2019)

Style: African, Electro
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Africa Express

Tracklist:
01.   Welcome
02.   City In Lights
03.   The River
04.   Bittersweet Escape
05.   Johannesburg
06.   Become The Tiger
07.   Africa To The World
08.   Absolutely Everything Is Pointing Towards The Light
09.   Mama
10.   Where Will This Lead Us To?
11.   Morals
12.   Taranau
13.   No Games
14.   The Return Of Bacardi
15.   Sizi Freaks
16.   I Can't Move
17.   See The World

Credits:
Mastered By – Frank Merritt
Mixed By – Blue May, Scott Knapper
Recorded By – Africa Express, Steve Sedgewick

Five albums in, and Africa Express – Damon Albarn’s cross-cultural collaboration engine – has pitched up in Johannesburg, known as Egoli in Xhosa. It could be the best iteration yet of this speed-dating pop writer’s camp, in which a handful of UK and US artists (Nick Zinner, a returnee, plus Super Furry Gruff Rhys and grime MC Ghetts, to name three) and a 20-stong cast of local producers, musicians, singers and groove-bringers pull an album together in a week. 
Thanks to South Africa’s vast natural resources of dance music, both traditional and bleeding-edge, Egoli is a party album almost end to end, an update on Buraka Som Sistema’s Angolan-Portuguese rave dynamics and more like a Gorillaz record than anything you might normally file under “world music”. The frisky, blue-wigged Moonchild Sanelly locks horns with Infamous Boiz, innovators in South Africa’s gqom genre. Together they lead the charge for body-moving pop. 
Of the few lower-key tracks, the incessantly lovely Absolutely Everything Is Pointing Towards the Light is sung alternately in Welsh and Xhosa by Rhys and Zolani Mahola. 
Kitty Empire / The Guardian

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Uschi Classen ‎– Soul Magic (2002)

Style: Broken Beat, Future Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Earth Project

Tracklist:
01.   Soul Magic
02.   Dizzy Heights
03.   Now Illuminate
04.   Wise Words
05.   Fire
06.   She
07.   The Path
08.   Meditative Flow
09.  Home
10.   Only In Your Eyes

Credits:
Arranged By, Producer, Keyboards, Programmed By – Uschi Classen
Mixed By – Marc Woolford, Uschi Classen
Scratches (Cuts & Scratches) – Da Boodley

Friday, 1 November 2019

EABS ‎– Slavic Spirits (2019)

Genre: Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Astigmatic Records

Tracklist:
1.   Ciemność = The Darkness
2.   Leszy = Woodland Spirits
3.   Południca = The Noon Witch
4.   Ślęża (Mgła) = Ślęża (The Fog)
5.   Ślęża = Ślęża
6.   Przywitanie Słońca (Rytuał) = Sun Worship (The Rite)
7.   Przywitanie Słońca = Sun Worship

Credits:
Bass Guitar – Paweł Stachowiak
Drums – Marcin Rak
Electric Guitar – Vojto Monteur
Executive-Producer – Sebastian Jóźwiak
Flute, Soprano Saxophone – Tenderloniousr
Percussion, Effects – Spisek Jednego
Piano, Electric Piano, Synthesizer, Harmonium, Effects – Marek Pędziwiatr
Tenor Saxophone – Olaf Węgier
Trumpet – Jakub Kurek
Mastered By – Marcin Cichy
Mixed By – EABS, Maciej Jakimiuk, Vojto Monteu
Performer – Jakub Kurek, Marcin Rak, Marek Pędziwiatr, Olaf Węgier, Paweł Stachowiak, Spisek Jednego, Tenderlonious, Vojto Monteur

The name of the label here makes it clear enough that this music places itself in the searching, modally sprung musical and spiritual tradition associated with the great Polish pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda, whose 1965 recording Astigmatic with, a.o., Tomasz Stanko (t) and Zbigniew Namyslowski (s) is generally regarded as one of the best ever Polish recordings. 
The Wroclaw-based and curiously titled EABS ensemble paid explicit homage to Komeda on their well-received 2017 debut release Repetitions (Letters To Krzysztof Komeda), which focused on some of the composer’s lesser known works. Here, the brooding opening that is The Darkness was apparently born out of a collective improvisation on a Komeda-inspired medley. It sets an appropriate, challenging yet compelling note for a release which charts a freshly voiced albeit structurally familiar passage between matters consonant and dissonant. 
Overall, this charged session would seem to allude to tough times in Polish history, even as its long-form modal moods can modulate from a characteristic Polish melancholy to a Coltrane-like affirmative ethos fired by ancient animistic or pantheistic tropes.

Hip-hop inflections and plenty of diversely swirling electro-textures elicit strong playing all round, with Wegier and the London-based 22a entrepreneur Tenderlonious contributing some invigorating saxophone: sample Woodland Spirit (which features some of the most swinging rhythm here) and Sun Worship. 
If, like me, you wish to find out more about EABS, there are some good clips on YouTube. This distinctly atmospheric release is available in digital/CD/LP formats, with the CD and LP issues also available in a luxury limited edition which comes with a book. 
Michael Tucker / Jazz Journal

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Theon Cross ‎– Fyah (2019)

Style: Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gearbox Records

Tracklist:
1.   Activate
2.   The Offerings
3.   Radiation
4.   Letting Go
5.   Candace of Meroe
6.   Panda Village
7.   CIYA
8.   LDN’s Burning

Credits:
Arranged By – Wayne Francis (Ahnansé)
Drums – Moses Boyd
Electric Guitar – Artie Zaitz
Percussion – Tim Doyle
Tenor Saxophone – Nubya Garcia, Wayne Frances (Ahnansé)
Trombone, Arranged By – Nathaniel Cross
Tuba, Composed By, Arranged By, Producer – Theon Cross
Co-producer – Moses Boyd
Mixed By – David Wehinm
Tuba player Theon Cross is probably best known to British jazz audiences as a member of Sons Of Kemet, the Mercury nominated quartet led by multi-reed player and composer Shabaka Hutchings. He’s also been part of Brass Mask, the New Orleans inspired ensemble led by saxophonist and composer Tom Challenger and of Seed Ensemble, the ten piece band led by alto saxophonist and composer Cassie Kinoshi. 
Cross also leads his own bands and is one of a larger group of London based jazz musicians who have been creating waves on the UK music scene through their participation on the much feted “We Out Here” compilation, released by DJ/producer Gilles Peterson on his Brownswood Recordings label. 
Featuring tracks by Cross (“Brockley”) and Hutchings “We Out Here” also includes pieces by drummer Moses Boyd, saxophonist Nubya Garcia, keyboard player Joe Armon Jones and the groups Maisha, Ezra Collective, Triforce and Kokoroko. There has been a real buzz about the musicians in this circle with many individuals and bands enjoying healthy record sales, high profile gigs and mainstream media interest in a manner rarely seen since the ‘jazz boom’ of the late 1980s (Loose Tubes, Jazz Warriors etc.). Indeed there’s a certain continuity here with many of this current crop of exciting new musicians having come through the Tomorrow’s Warriors programme spearheaded by bassist and educator Gary Crosby. 
The success of the “We Out Here” project has led to the musicians in its orbit collaborating with their counterparts from Chicago, notably drummer and composer Makaya McCraven, on the ChicagoXLondon Mixtape album “Where We Come From” released on the Chicago based International Anthem label. Cross, Garcia and Armon Jones all feature prominently amongst other musicians from both sides of the Atlantic. 
Others with whom Cross has worked include multi-reed player Courtney Pine, American soul artist Jon Batiste and the rappers Kano and Pharoahe Monch. He is also a member of South London’s increasingly influential Steam Down musicians collective, based at the Albany Theatre in Deptford. 
Cross released his first recording as a leader in 2015. “Aspirations” was a five track EP featuring the trio of Cross on tuba, Garcia on tenor sax and bass clarinet and Boyd at the drums. The EP was well received and earned Cross nominations for Best Instrumentalist in the Jazz FM Awards of 2016 and 2018 and Best Newcomer in the 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. 
For “Fyah” Cross retains the same nucleus with Boyd at the drum kit throughout and with Garcia specialising on tenor sax on six of the album’s eight tracks. For his first full length album Cross also enlists the services of a number of like minded guests with Steam Down founder Wayne Francis (aka Ahnanse) taking over on tenor for a couple of tracks with Artie Zaitz adding electric guitar. Tim Doyle, from the band Maisha, provides percussion on one piece while Theon’s brother, Nathaniel Cross, adds trombone to another. 
Perhaps unsurprisingly the music on “Fyah” is highly rhythmic, similar in spirit to that of Sons of Kemet as it mixes elements of jazz, hip hop, grime and electronica with other aspects of African and Caribbean music from Afrobeat to reggae. 
The aptly titled “Activate” gets the album off to an exciting and energetic start as Cross’  rumbling tuba bass lines lock in with Boyd’s crisp drum grooves as Garcia’s tenor dances lithely around them, agile, but full blooded and incisive. Cross is scarcely any less nimble on the mighty tuba as he duets with Boyd’s vibrant and highly contemporary rhythms on this Carnival inspired opener. 
“Offerings” opens with the sampled sounds of party chatter which forms the backdrop to the deep, loping grooves created by Cross and Boyd as Garcia weaves sinuous sax melodies around them. There’s a Kemet like atmosphere of Afro-Futurism about the music with Cross skilfully manipulating his sound via the subtle use of electronics. 
“Radiation” boasts a beguiling stop-start groove underpinned by the leader’s virtuoso tuba bass lines. If Cross was a footballer he’d attract the plaudit “wonderful skills for a big man”, for such is the inventiveness and agility with which he plays the so-called “lugubrious” or “cumbersome” tuba. Boyd deliberately keeps things simple here, all the better for Cross to demonstrate his abilities as he combines with Garcia’s melodic sax motifs. This core trio of Cross, Boyd and Moses is a highly effective unit capable of building a juggernaut like momentum capable of taking jazz back to the dance floor. 
“Letting Go” features more tuba pyrotechnics from Cross, but often it’s his work in a rhythmic context that impresses as much as his playing as a soloist. Again his low register rumble combines well with Garcia’s wispy tenor sax melodies and Boyd’s implacable grooves as the piece gradually gathers momentum, before fading once more to close with the sound of Garcia’s unaccompanied sax. 
The group is expanded to a quintet for “Candace Of Meroe” with Francis, Zaitz and Doyle added to the line up as Garcia sits out. Boyd’s drums and Doyle’s percussion unite to create a percolating groove enhanced by Zaitz’s chicken scratch guitar and Cross’ extraordinary vocalised tuba lines, sounding almost like an electric bass. There’s a more overtly African influence about this joyously celebratory piece. Francis adds a powerful and incisive tenor solo, followed by Cross on the tuba. 
The core trio bring an edgy, restless energy to the grime inspired “Panda City” with its rumbling tuba, taut drumming and earthy tenor augmented by synthesised sounds and beats. 
“CIYA” sees the group expanded again with Cross and Boyd joined by Francis, Zaitz and Nathaniel Cross on a Theon composition arranged by Ahnanse and Nathaniel. This slinkily seductive piece has more of a conventional soul jazz feel about it with Francis adopting a softer sound on tenor and combining effectively with Nathaniel’s trombone. Solos come from Francis on tenor, Nathaniel on rounded, warm sounding trombone, Zaitz on subtly distorted guitar and Theon on tuba. 
The album concludes with the suitably incendiary “LDN’s Burning” with the core trio in rumbustious form. Cross’ rollicking tuba lines combine with Boyd’s boisterous drum grooves as Garcia delivers captivating sax melody lines that again draw on Kemet style Afro-Futurism. The closing section features an extraordinary dialogue between the leader’s tuba and Boyd’s drums. 
“Fyah” is a consistently exciting, and undeniably impressive album, that combines an edgy, urban, contemporary urgency with supreme musicality. The interplay between the core trio of Cross, Boyd and Garcia is exceptional throughout with all of the guest performers also making telling contributions. It’s easy to see why there has been such a buzz about this circle of London raised musicians and anybody who has enjoyed Cross’s contribution to the music of Sons of Kemet will find much to satisfy them here. One suspects that the trio of Cross, Boyd and Garcia also represent a hugely exciting live act. Catch them if you can. 
Ian Mann / The Jazz Man

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Shabaka And The Ancestors ‎– Wisdom Of Elders (2106)

Style: Avant-garde Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Beat Records

Tracklist:
1.   Mzwandile
2.   Joyous
3.   The Observer
4.   The Sea
5.   Natty
6.   Give Thanks
7.   Nguni

Credits:
Alto Saxophone – Mthunzi Mvubu
Artwork – Mzwandile Buthelezi
Bass – Ariel Zamonsky
Drums – Tumi Mogorosi
Percussion – Gontse Makhene
Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Nduduzo Makhathini
Tenor Saxophone – Shabaka Hutchings
Trumpet – Mandla Mlangeni
Vocals – Siyabonga Mthembu
Mixed By – Dilip Harris

This recording is the culmination of the triangular experiences of tenor man Shabaka Hutchings and his personal destiny. Born in London, his family relocated back to their native Barbados, where Hutchings was raised in a musical environment until his teen years. Returning to London, he became a fixture on the free jazz scene, and while on holiday to South Africa, was drawn back to the primordial source of inspiration. Recorded over one day with no rehearsal, Wisdom Of Elders explores and expands upon traditional Nguni rhythms, while injecting blues, spiritual hymns, and Caribbean calypso. Accompanied by the best players from Capetown; this session transformed into a tribute to those who have played jazz in the townships, especially saxophonist Bheki Mseleku, a major influence on Hutchings, and an inspiration for this production. This is an intended throwback to the era when African jazz was played as a spiritual path to resistance and creative survival. 
The bass opens the blistering "Mzwandile," which is the tribal name bestowed on Hutchings, vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu then commences his incantations, allowing Hutchings to weave his horn into an intro for the rest of the band, accented by propelling percussion and spatial piano work from Nduduzo Mahathini. Having raised the temperature at the outset, "Joyous," has a soothing effect, featuring local legend Mandla Mlangeni on trumpet, who carries on an honored tradition of South African trumpeters. Altoist Mthunzi Myubu joins Hutchings on solos, as they rise up in one voice. 
"The Observer," is dedicated to a Barbadian calypsonian from Hutchings' youth, and is presented as a melancholy blues; vocal chanting invoking hope and redemption amidst the sadness. The township connection is evident on "The Sea," as the repetitive bass pattern and dual saxophones invoke the master Abdullah Ibrahim, and his extended forays into cerebral jazz. Strategically placed midway through the record, this is a soaring aural orison. 
There is a slight undercurrent of reggae syncopation in "Natty," as Hutchings reaches into his mixed bag of influences, yet remains anchored in the ritualistic concept initiated. The provoking drums and sax exchange in "Give Thanks," is centered around these two instruments exclusively, both taking turns on solos and maintaining the fiery tempo. They end as they commenced, with a bass intro on "Nguni," but this time the mood is tempered as the vocal chants slowly bring it up to a crescendo. This final track is in honor of the Swazi, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, and Bantu people of southern Africa, whose history and lineage reach back to the dawn of time, and whose influence on jazz is monumental. 
Creating from an abiding space beyond the instruments, compositions, and arrangements, Shabaka Hutchings' African sojourn tuned him into a higher energy source, and he plays his music from that dimension. Of course, a lot of the credit goes to the accompanying musicians on this project, for they were his enthusiastic guides and accomplices on this spiritual endeavor. This is music of the utmost caliber, performed with an unrefined attitude, taking jazz back home. 
James Nadal / All About Jazz

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

The Fatima Mansions ‎– Viva Dead Ponies (1990)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Radioactive, Kitchenware Records, MCA Records

Tracklist:
01.   Angel's Delight
02.   Concrete Block
03.   Mr. Baby
04.   The Door-To-Door Inspector
05.   Start The Week
06.   You're A Rose
07.   Legoland 3
08.   Thursday
09.   Ceausescu Flashback
10.   Broken Radio No. 1
11.   Concrete Block
12.   Look What I Stole For Us, Darling
13.   Farewell Oratorio
14.   The White Knuckle Express
15.   Chemical Cosh
16.   Tima Mansio Speaks
17.   A Pack Of Lies
18.   Viva Dead Ponies
19.   More Smack, Vicar

Credits:
Accordion – Kenny Davis
Bass – Hugh Bunker
Drums – Nick Allum
Guitars – Andrías Ó Grúam, Nick Allum
Keyboards – Cathal Coughlan, Nick Bunker
Vocals – Cathal Coughlan
Additional Vocals– Dame Alison Jiear
Written-By – Cathal Coughlan
Producer – Cathal Coughlan, Ralph Jezzard, Tíma Mansió

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Moonchild – Little Ghost (2019)

Style: Contemporary R&B, Neo Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: eOne, Tru Thoughts

Tracklist:
01.   Wise Women
02.   Too Much To Ask
03.   The Other Side
04.   Sweet Love
05.   Strength
06.   Everything I Need
07.   Money
08.   Nova
09.   Get To Know It
10.   What You're Doing
11.   Come Over
12.   Onto Me
13.   Whistling
14.   Still Wonder

Credits:
Cello– Danica Pinner
Violin – Eliza James, Rebecca Schlappich, Lila Crosswhite
Piano, Electric Piano, Synth, Bass , Flugelhorn, Drum Programming, Ukulele, Synthesizer – Andris Mattson
Alto Saxophone, Piano, Electric Piano, Synth, Drum Programming, Bass, Clarinet – Max Bryk
Vocals, Lyrics By, Electric Piano, Synth, Bass, Tenor Saxophone, Drum Programming, Flute – Amber Navran
Arranged By (Horn Arrangements) – Amber Navran, Andris Mattson, Max Bryk
Producer, Music By, Recorded By, Mixed By – Moonchild

Tall Black Guy ‎– Let's Take A Trip (2016)

Style: Soul, Neo Soul, Jazzy Hip-Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: First Word Records, Sweet Soul Records

Tracklist:
01.   A Train Is Coming.....
02.   One Device, One Method, One Thing
03.   Rockin From Beginning To End
04.   This One Is For The Ladies And Gents
05.   The Kids Are Listening Interlude
06.   80's Babies - Don't Box Me In
07.   Beware Of The Groove
08.   Come With Me And Fly
09.   Is There More To Life
10.   I Will Never Know
11.   Mario Smith Speaks On
12.   Things Deeper Than My Skin
13.   Peace And Love

Credits:
Written-By, Mixed By – Terrel Wallace

Over the course of two albums—one under the alias “Yusef Rumperfield”—Detroit producer Tall Black Guy has forged his own distinct path through hip-hop, even if his mix of hard drums and obscure samples aren’t breaking new ground. On Let’s Take A Trip, TBG stays the course, offering up a soundtrack for escape. 
He makes that concept clear from the jump: The cover sports an animated locomotive with TBG hanging from its left side, and two song titles—“A Train is Coming,” “Come With Me and Fly”—reference travel. The journey is musical as well; on “This One Is For The Ladies And The Gents,” TBG and trumpeter Miles Bonny bridge the gap between J Dilla and Sade, offering a mellow vibe with adequate knock. The same goes for “Rocking From Beginning to End”; its blend of boom-bap and floating keys would slot in perfectly on adult contemporary radio, or in the background of a coffee shop. 
Musically, Let’s Take A Trip is dialed into yesteryear; on “Beware Of The Groove” and “I Will Never Know,” TBG pays homage to Midwestern funk and neo-soul with the help of vocalists Mario Sweet and Moonchild. Taken in full, Let’s Take A Trip is another success for one of indie rap’s best-kept secrets, and another step in the right direction for a formidable talent who’s still building his name. The sounds may be familiar, but the ability is clear. 
Jesse Fairfax / bandcamp daily