Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Joe Armon-Jones ‎– Turn To Clear View (2019)

Genre: Jazz, Reggae
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Brownswood Recordings

1.   Try To Walk With Me
2.   Yellow Dandelion
3.   Gnawa Sweet
4.   Icy Roads (Stacked)
5.   (To) Know Where You're Coming From
6.   The Leo & Aquarius
7.   You Didn't Care
8.   Self:Love

Bass – David Mrakpor, Mutale Chashi
Drums – KwAkE BaSs, Moses Boydtt
Guitar – Oscar Jerome
Trumpet – Dylan Jones
Tenor Saxophone – James Mollison, Nubya Garcia
Backing Vocals – Luke Newman
Vocals – Asheber, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Jehst, Obongjayar
Producer, Arranged By, Written By, Keyboards, Synth, Backing Vocals – Joe Armon-Jones

If Ezra Collective are the break-out stars of the booming contemporary London jazz scene, the band’s keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones is perhaps its cult hero. ‘Turn To Clear View’, his latest album, is lithe and deftly arranged. Over eight tracks, this solo record snakes between funk, dub, bass music and hip-hop – yet always retains the jazz-focused grooves to which its author is inextricably linked. 
His piano work is exemplary on songs such as ‘Gnawa Sweet’, ‘Icy Roads (Stacked)’ and ‘(To) Know When You’re Coming’. As light hi-hats, muted kick-drums, saxophone and trumpet solos weave in and out of the arrangement, it becomes clear that Armon-Jones knows the importance of collaboration, ceding space for each instrument to shine.

Los Angeles-based vocalist Georgia Anne Muldrow is exceptional on ‘Yellow Dandelion’, which, with its gospel funk motifs and lyrical affirmation that “healing truth lives in power”, sounds like it belongs in the ‘70s. The song’s chorus is infectious and Muldrow’s voice is honeyed and soothing. 
The heart of this record can be found in the track ‘The Leo & Aquarius’ . It’s a soulful and textured song, UK rap artist Jehst delivering emotional bars flecked with humour: “I would kill for my daughter / like Arnie in Commando”. 
On the penultimate track, ‘You Didn’t Care’, frequent Armon-Jones and Ezra Collective collaborator Nubya Garcia plays a lung-busting saxophone solo that evokes jazz greats such as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Art Pepper; the likeness is in her sheer depth, length and range. It’s also the most upbeat track on the album, marrying modern club music with grooves reminiscent of laid-back ‘60s soul and bebop.

As ‘Turn To Clear View’ builds to a fitting climax; ‘Self:Love’ is a worthy end to the album. London-based Nigerian artist Obongjayar, with his distinctive vocal melodies, repeats “Be Yourself” over playful, dubby basslines. Lyrics such as, “You keep running from your skin / Everyday you’re someone different / You don’t know where you begin” convey Obongjayar’s ideas of self-love over stripped-back, playful and exciting production. 
If anything, ‘Turn To Clear View’ feels too short, as if Armon-Jones has more in his pocket to offer. The accomplished pianist has made a record that would make both jazz aficionados and those new to the genre feel at ease. ‘Turn To Clear View’ showcases both the cross-pollination and multiculturalism of London, while distinguishing Armon-Jones as an artist whose tastes are as varied as they are exceptional.
Dhruva Balram / NME

Seigen Ono ‎– NekonoTopia NekonoMania / MTM 29 (1990)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label:  Crammed Discs, Made To Measure ‎

01.   A Person And The Photography
02.   An Apple In The Freezer
03.   Enishie
04.   Nekonotopia Nekonomania
05.   My First Wish
06.   It's Denise
07.   A Person And The Photography
08.   1989
09.   I Think Of You
10.   Planador
11.   Caramba
12.   Berliner Nächte Part-1
13.   Berliner Nächte Part-2
14.   Berliner Nächte Part-3
15.   Berliner Nächte Part-4
16.   I Think Of You

Guitar – Hiroyuki Miyano
Percussion – Tomohiro Yahiro
Saxophone – John Zorn
Twelve-string Guitar, Synthesizers – Seigen Ono
Written-By, Producer, Mixed By – Seigen Ono

Mick Harvey ‎– Delirium Tremens (2016)

Style: Chanson, Lounge, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mute

01.   The Man With The Cabbage Head
02.   Deadly Tedium
03.   Coffee Colour
04.   The Convict's Song
05.   SS C'est Bon
06.   I Envisage
07.   A Day Like Any Other
08.   A Violent Poison (That's What Love Is)
09.   More And More, Less And Less
10.   Don't Say A Thing
11.   Boomerang
12.   The Decadance

Written-By – Serge Gainsbourg

Mick Harvey isn’t finished with Serge Gainsbourg yet. The Australian musician wrestled with the Frenchman’s back catalogue for the first time in 1995 with Intoxicated Man, and then again in 1997 with Pink Elephants. Now here he is with the third volume, Delirium Tremens (better known as the DTs, or alcoholic shakes), and we’re told to expect a fourth come the end of the year, which, one assumes, will continue the now rich tradition of bibulous nomenclature. By the end of 2016 that’ll be nearly sixty covers that we know about, all of one man’s oeuvre. Four volumes is quite a body of work, that, lest we forget, is four times more studio albums than the Sex Pistols managed. What must it feel like to spend such an exhaustive amount of time as the conduit for another? Perhaps Harvey has an insight into how William Roache feels having played Ken Barlow all these years. 
We’re told to never criticise a man until we’ve walked a mile in his moccasins; well Harvey has run a marathon in Serge’s frayed espadrilles and must have a better idea than most how his musical brain works. And yet, Gainsbourg’s back catalogue is so diverse, so clever and so full of surprises, that it makes it improbable that another person could fully comprehend or even second guess a genius. Yes, a genius, a proper one of those. Serge I mean. Perhaps this is one of the reasons Harvey keeps coming back for more. 
“The whole project has just been enormous fun to be honest,” he said, which is as good a reason as any to embark on an undertaking like this one (and God knows there are enough artists making records and not having fun). “Many of the songs I have recorded are ones I had hoped to translate the first time I approached this material but I just thought they would be ones that were too hard to translate. But once I sunk my teeth into the task I found they were no more problematic than most of the songs from the first two albums.” 
It is the choices that are perhaps the most interesting things about this new volume. Kicking off with the prog absurdity of ‘The Man With The Cabbage Head’ (‘L'Homme à tête de chou’) - taken from the concept album of the same name where the protagonist goes mad in a hotel and beats a woman to death with a fire extinguisher - it’s a fine marker ahead of a whip through some of Gainsbourg’s more obscure (but no less great) moments from his three decades as a recording artist. And as a writer for others too. 
‘Chanson Du Forçat’ for instance - called ‘The Convict’s Song’ here - is taken from the soundtrack of La Pacha recorded with Michel Colombier; grill most Gainsbourg aficionados, and they’re unlikely to mention it among their favourites. ‘I Envisage’ (‘J’envisage’) written with Alain Bashung, is another track even the most devoted Gainsbourg fan might not know (I have to hold my hand up here). ‘A Violent Poison (That’s What Love Is)’ (‘Un Poison Violent C’est Ça L’amour’) comes from the motion picture soundtrack for Anna - Serge’s lesser known seventh album that fell between Percussions and Initials B.B.. Even a Gainsbourg geek will find it hard to keep up here, and while these kinds of tribute collections are often a fine way to introduce newcomers to the music of another, Delirium Tremens actually throws the gauntlet down to connoisseurs and challenges them to up their game. 
The other great thing about this collection is there’s a rambunctiousness and an anarchy in the way they’re recorded. Where he might have approached previous sacre monstres more gingerly in the 90s, here there is an energy that comes from the confidence of experience. In that sense, Harvey makes each song here his own. The only disappointment is the hymnal take on ‘The Decadence’ (‘La décadanse’), that entirely dilutes the eroticism of the original. Eleven great tracks out of twelves is a handsome return though, and the listener must surely delight in the fact that Harvey isn’t done with Gainsbourg just yet. And after some of the gems he’s uncovered here, some of us are far from finished with him yet either.
Jeremy Allen / The Quietus

Bonfim – An Extended Play Record of Assembled Sounds for Different Kinds of Moods (2019)

Genre: Funk, Jazz, House, Hip-Hop
Format: FLAC
Label: Not On Label

1.   Apresentação
2.   U Know U Can (Dance)
3.   Alfa Romeo
4.   Dilettante
5.   Big Ben Boy (Where Are U Peggy Gou)
6.   Bonfim

Bonfim são Hugo Passos e Pedro Tenreiro
Misturado por Zé Nando Pimenta.
Produzido por Bonfim.
Gravado na Sala do Tenreiro, no Sotão do Expeão, na Discoteca do Sérgio, no Escritório do Passos e na Cave do Kiko.