Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Chip Wickham ‎– La Sombra (2017)

Style: Soul-Jazz, Modal
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Lovemonk

1.   La Sombra
2.   Sling Shot
3.   Red Planet
4.   The Detour
5.   Pushed Too Far
6.   Tokyo Slow Mo
7.   La Leyenda Del Tiempo

Double Bass – David Salvador 
Drums, Vibraphone – Antonio Pax
Piano – Gabriel Casanova
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Alto Flute – Chip Wickham
Written-By, Arranged By, Producer, Mixed By – Chip Wickham

Twenty-five years into his career as a professional musician, saxophonist and flautist Chip Wickham has released his solo debut. La Sombra, recorded in Madrid with three excellent musicians from that city's jazz scene, is gorgeous.

Wickham hails from Manchester, in north-west England. The area is home to some distinctive musicians, most notably trumpeter Matthew Halsall and saxophonist Nat Birchall. Much of La Sombra shares the spiritual vibe that characterizes the music of both these men and takes inspiration, in Wickham's case, from players like Yusef Lateef and Harold McNair.

Wickham opens the album with the title track, a beautiful, wistful and meditative tune with Wickham's flute reminiscent of Gong flautist Didier Malherbe's work with Kevin Ayers. "Sling Shot" is an immediate contrast—a hard-edged, funky, tenor sax groover underpinned by David Salvador's attention-grabbing bass riff. The focus on irresistible, Blue Note-ish, grooves continues through "Red Planet" and "The Detour"—the latter featuring Wickham's breathless, attacking, flute playing. Calmness returns with "Pushed Too Far," the warmth of the flute complemented by Antonio Pax' lovely vibraphone. "Tokyo Slow-Mo" is even more laid-back, another lovely tune whose impact is heightened by Pax' delicate vibes, this time duetting with tenor sax.

La Sombra closes with its single cover tune: a version of "La Leyenda Del Tiempo," a song made famous by Cameron de la Isla. It's another up-tempo number and gives pianist Gabriel Casanova space for a fluid, lyrical, solo. On La Sombra Wickham and his friends show real strength, individually and as a unit. From the fastest groove to the most contemplative, slow-paced, melody there isn't a weak spot to be heard. A fine start to 2017.
Bruce Lindsay / All About Jazz

Little Annie ‎– Short, Sweet And Dread (1992)

Style: Dub, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Restless Records

01.   10 Killer Hurtz More (Remix)
02.   Miss The Light
03.   This Town
04.   Le Manger Hereux
05.   Watch The World Go Bye In Dub
06.   Watch The World Go Bye
07.   Bless Those (Little Annie's Prayer)
08.   Going For Gold
09.   I Think Of You
10.   I Think Of You Dub
11.   Give It To Me
12.   You And The Night And The Music
13.   Little Man
14.   Prisoner Of Paradise
15.   Everything And More
16.   If Cain Were Able

Vocals – Little Annie
Percussion – Somay Akpan
Programmed By – David Harrow
Instruments – Dave Curtis, Doug Wimbish, Keith LeBlanc, Richard Norris, Skip McDonald
Producer – Keith LeBlanc, Little Annie, Richard Norris, Dave Curtis

Little Annie's debut long-player features primarily spoken-word pieces performed against a deeply funky instrumental backdrop, which is provided by the fearsome Keith Leblanc/Skip McDonald axis -- some will recognize these two as the basis, with bass player Doug Wimbish, of the avant-funk supergroup known as Tackhead. In typical incestuous On-U Sound fashion, they are also the core members of a funky reggae crew called Strange Parcels. The upshot of all this is that this Little Annie album sounds, by turns, an awful lot like a Tackhead or Strange Parcels album with the addition of cold, laconic female vocals. Annie's lyrics are mostly quite clever and fairly interesting -- song titles like "If Cain Were Able" and "10 Killer Hurtz More" are a good indication of her mindset, and when, in a bored tone of voice, she invites the listener to "Give it to me gently/Give it to me fiercely/Give it to me phonetically," you know you're in good hands. But the real star of this disc is the bone-deep Leblanc/McDonald groove that underlies every moment and defies you to keep your attention on the words. The generous 75-minute length of the album begins to work against it after the twelfth track or so, but skip around if you get tired; this one is worth working for.
Rick Anderson / AllMusic