Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Jessica Lauren ‎– Almería (2018)

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

1.   Kofi Nomad
2.   Teck et Bambou
3.   Amalfi
4.   Simba Like
5.   Chichourlette
6.   Bells Ring For Esmeralda
7.   Beija Flor
8.   Chocolate con Churros
9.   Argentina

Bass – 'Level' Neville Malcolm
Drums – Cosimo Keita Cadore
Flugelhorn – Yazz Ahmed
Keyboards, Vocals, Percussion – Jessica Lauren
Marimba – Mally Harpaz
Percussion – Phillip Harper, Richard Olatunde Baker
Vocals – Khadijatou Doyneh
Woodwind – Tamar Osborn
Written-By, Producer – Jessica Lauren

From Freestyle Records we have Jessica Lauren’s new album, ‘Almería’. The reference to the Spanish city gives you an idea of the cultural location of the this music but it doesn’t stop at Mediterranean influences. Each track explores a different aspect of world music and latin jazz and can easily switch from Brazil to Turkey and anywhere in between. 
The album opens with a lusciously recorded grand piano playing a deceptive introduction giving nothing more than movements of fifths. It’s not until the drums and vocals start that you get a sense of what is about to come. The piece slowly unravels to introduce double bass, baritone sax and rich percussion. Introductions have been made and we now experience the true sound of this collective. It’s a fun sound and although there’s a lot going on rhythmically, Jessica manages to keep her minimalist approach to composition with floating lines and hypnotic grooves. There’s some simple, emotive playing from Jessica here and great use of space. The vocals are sweet and soulful in a Angélique Kidjo kind of way. 
I enjoyed the extended technique of baritone saxophonist Tamar ‘Collocutor’ Osborn. The use of harmonics and micro tones on the bari sends the music further East and changes the geography from Afro Jazz to a more worldly sound. The solos tend to stay relatively diatonic which along with mostly common time rhythms, helps with the accessibility of the album. I would personally like to hear more harmonic contrast but then my ear likes to be taken on journeys in that way. 
Percussion has a big part to play on this album and the task is taken on successfully by Richard Ọlátúndé Baker, Phillip Harper and drummer Cosimo Keita Cadore. There’s a great mix of ethnic instruments, pitched percussion and polyrhythmic interplay. 
A stand out player is bassist Neville Malcoms. His tone and stability ground the group and adds bags of groove. 
There’s a nice 7 in a bar feel in the third track ‘Amalfi’ and the overall feel is reminiscent to the laid back latin jazz of the 1960’s and Henry Mancini’s film scores. 
The music spins between club like grooves (which are crying out for some inventive remixes), lesser known Blue Note albums of the sixties and the cultural melting pot of inner city London. Whilst not ‘staying put’ in any one genre, the mix of world music is refreshing and nicely produced. The fusion of styles mixed with a smattering of jazz and the keyboard led harmony is pleasant and conjures feelings of summer vibes which I think is the aim. 
Leaving the introduction to ‘Chocolate Con Churros’ allows us a more intimate introduction to the group. The ‘live’ sound and organic nature of this tune is a great addition to the album but perhaps feels more like a bonus track. Especially when followed by the atmospheric and structured last track, ‘Argentina’. This is a beautiful melody and the subtlety in Jessica’s touch is exquisite. Slightly let down by the recording quality compared to the rest of the tracks but its a nice closure to a fun and thoughtful album.
Jack Riley / UK Vibe

Herbie Hancock & Foday Musa Suso ‎– Village Life (1985)

Style: Fusion, Future Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Columbia, CBS

1.   Moon / Light
2.   Ndan Ndan Nyaria
3.   Early Warning
4.   Kanatente

Kora, Talking Drum – Foday Musa Suso
Synthesizer – Herbie Hancock
Producer – Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock
Recorded By – Dave Jerden, Tomoo Suzuki

This quiet, lovely record, in which the Gambian kora virtuoso Foday Musa Suso is given equal billing, was generally ignored when it came out, probably because it fit no one's preconceived idioms -- be they jazz, funk, MTV, or even world music. The only performers are Hancock on a detunable Yamaha DX-1 synthesizer and drum machine and Suso spinning his webs of delicate sound on the zither-like kora, vocalizing a bit and playing a talking drum -- all in real time in a Tokyo studio. The results are absolutely mesmerizing, with Herbie aligning himself perfectly within Suso's unusual, complex rhythmic conceptions and folk-like harmonies. On the 20-minute "Kanatente," Hancock does introduce some of his own advanced harmonic ideas, and he contrasts and interweaves them with Suso's deceptively simple lines in a splendid jam session that eventually ends in a dance that can only be described as Gambian funk. This music generates the same feeling of ecstatic well-being as an Indian raga -- and even hardcore jazz fans may find themselves seduced against their will.
Richard S. Ginell / AllMusic

Midlake ‎– Bamnan And Slivercork (2004)

Style: Folk Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Sinnamon Records, V2, Bella Union

01.   They Cannot Let It Expand
02.   Balloon Maker
03.   Kingfish Pies
04.   I Guess I'll Take Care
05.   Some Of Them Were Superstitious
06.   The Reprimand
07.   The Jungler
08.   He Tried To Escape
09.   Mopper's Medley
10.   No One Knew Where We Were
11.   Anabel
12.   Mr. Amateur

Performer – Eric Nichelson, Eric Pulido, Mckenzie Smith, Paul Alexander, Tim Smith
Recorded By, Mixed By – Midlake