by Juno Plus
Artist: Mulatu Astatke
Title: Mulatu Steps Ahead
Format: 12″, CD, Digital
Buy From: Juno Records (vinyl, CD), Juno Download
Generally accepted as the father of Ethio jazz, Mulatu Astatke releases his first studio album in over twenty years through Strut. Mulatu Steps Ahead signals somewhat of a new approach for the veteran who also engages with western jazz in favour of his more familiar, native style that has made him such a pioneering artist during the 60s and 70s.
Having been making jazz music for the last 50 years, Mulatu has worked with some of the greats of the jazz world. On this album, he recorded with members of the Either/Orchestra in Boston, the Heliocentrics and some of the UK’s leading jazz and African players whilst also adding contributions by traditional Ethiopian musicians in Addis. The album follows on from the success of both the acclaimed Inspiration Information collaboration and recent Strut compilation, New York – Addis – London.
Mulatu Steps does not focus on his roots however, signified by the fact that much of it was recorded in the US. The result is a more traditional sounding jazz record than we are used to from him, although that’s not to say there is less intrigue and personality woven in. In fact, each track on the album tells its very own unique story. Opener “Radcliffe” reflects on his time as a lecturer at Harvard University, “Assosa” adapts traditional music from the Assosa tribes of north-western Ethiopia, “Mulatu’s Mood” re-works a Mulatu jazz fusion composition from the early 1990s into a new swinging Afro high life arrangement and “Derashe” deals with the traditional diminishing scales of the Derashe people of Southern Ethiopia. Although different from his previous work, Mulatu Astatke continues to keep jazz fresh, contemporary and up to date whether it’s African or American. Let’s just hope it’s not another twenty years until his next studio album.
Review: Tom Jones
by Juno Plus
Artist: Compiled and recomposed by And.id
Title: Mobilee Back To Back Vol. 4
Genre: Tech-House, Jazz
Format: CD and Digital
Buy From: Juno Records, Juno Download
Ever since Mobilee Records burst onto the scene in 2005, it quickly entrenched itself as the solid benchmark label for deep, driving, hypnotic tech grooves. Similar to how techno fans for the last decade anxiously await the annual Kompakt Total compilations, Mobilee’s Back to Back compilations and DJ-mix series have already attained such status and anticipation with its consistency and mind-busting originality.
Musical phenom and jazz aficionado, And.id (Andreas Dimitriadis) compiled and recomposed Back to Back’s fourth installment. Disc 1 contains choice cuts from the Mobilee class of 2009 including label stalwarts Anja Schneider (co-founder of Mobilee), and GummiHz, along with seasoned producer but Mobilee newbie, Dan Curtin. Newcomer to watch, Hector’s thumping groover “Got Fringe” is here as well as Pan-Pot’s eerie “Confronted” – quite possibly the tech track of 2009.
The real kicker is disc 2, a mind trip of its own, consisting of jazz interpretations of classic Mobilee tracks as arranged and performed by And.id and B.A.N.D- a group of studio musicians and graduates from the renowned Berklee College of Music. And.id manages to creatively push the envelope by re-inventing early anthems such Sebo K’s “Horizons”, and Anja Schneider and Sebo K’s “Rancho Relaxo”. One of the highlights has to be And.id’s remaking of his own track, “First Talk” with its opening pounding kick drum that punctuates into an all-out percussive affair as the piano, bass and brass jump in and out of your ear.
If that weren’t enough, the original versions of the “jazzified” tracks are also included on disc 2 to remind us how far the techno mould has been reshaped. Also included is a free digital download code for an exclusive live mix produced by And.id featuring unreleased tracks and edits. Next year’s Back to Back vol.5 has its work cut out now that the bar has been raised a couple of (jazz) octaves higher by this release.
Review: Steve Phillips
by Juno Plus
Featured DJ Chart: Reggie Dokes (January 2010)
Detroit producer Reggie Dokes puts together his hottest tracks of January in our first featured chart for 2010. In what is arguably the most varied Juno Plus chart so far, Reggie takes us on a fascinating stroll through his world of music, with some classic John Coltrane jazz nestled alongside Jus Ed’s stripped down house and the latest R&B club anthems.