What can we say, it's the second volume of BBE's exclusive From The Archives series. Enough said, really. But, to be honest, a release like this deserves attention and respect from us all given that this label has created whole generations of music lovers and makers, both in and out of the UK. Much like first instalment, there is so much great material on here that many of us haven't had access too previously, and this goes for tunes like Ron Trent's endless voyage that is "Ori Space", or The Rebirth's "Caterpillar" - a giant of a downtempo anthem - and even the Brazil-infused drums and vibes of the carnivally-minded "Finding The Peace" by Skymark. This has quality stamped all over it and you'll be stuck to find any better broken beat out there on the endless planes that are our charts. Recommended, of course.
After a painfully lengthy hiatus on the solo material front, Koka Mass Jazz aka Konstantin Katsarski reigns supreme once again except this time the man's up on Greece's Timewarp label. We didn't expect this either given his sensibility for jazz music but this new LP, Elephunky Trip, strangely fits like a hand in glove with the imprint's usually more experimental sound archive. "Play The Game" opens with sultry blues vocals and laid-back sort of style, melting nicely into the instrumental jazz-funk of "At This Moment", before turning on the funky pop vibes again with "Getting Better", featuring Boyan Levchev on the vocals. Tiffany Blu is back on the ones and twos on "Summer Soul", a rude little tune that gets sexier by the bar, and there's more funk to be had with the likes of Krista featuring on yet another two dope cuts.
It would be fair to say that Anthony Joseph is an artist of many talents. Over the years he's collaborated with a multitude of top-notch musicians and producers, performed some breathtakingly good poetry and written some damn fine books. "People of the Sun", his latest album, is another triumph. Inspired by Port of Spain's legendary annual carnival, the set sees Joseph wrap his own politically charged spoken word vocals around some joyously positive music bristling with Caribbean musical references. There are naturally nods towards calypso and soca, not to mention plenty of typically tropical instrumental flourishes (steel drums, pedal steel, chiming metallic percussion), though the influence of soul, jazz-funk and, most notably, contemporary jazz is arguably much stronger. Either way, it's a terrific
The STUFF quintet are back with a roaring new LP, this time on the Gondwana label, entitled Old Dreams New Planets - tip alert! Going even further into the fusion abyss than their debut album back in 2015, the group have put together nine endlessly experimental cuts that span pretty much the entirety of the hard-core continuum...and more, much more. Tunes like "Strata" or "Delta" are undefinable in terms of genre names and they manage to fuse all sorts of different influences, from dubstep to house and plenty of 'balearic' vibes. In fact, there isn't a tune on here that we couldn't imagine vibing out to on a beach, staring way, way out into the horizon. "Fulina" is a wonderful example of their hybrid nature, slowing down and speeding up while at the same time maintaining a constant aesthetic and vision. Among the producers who mash things up, these guys are the best out there.
Germany's Web Web outfit are, inarguably, making some of the finest contemporary jazz around at the minute, often expanding into outernational terrains, such as this latest album for Compost, Dance Of The Deamons. "Land Of The Arum Flower", like much of the album, feels like a well-balanced blend of Mulatu Astatke, for the enigmatic tonalities, of Sun Ra's unpredictability, and much of the session jazz found on imprints like Strata East. Enchanting and psychedelic are two words that spring to mind when hearing the depth and details of tunes like "Agowu" or "Maroc Blues", but the point here is that you are getting some of the only jazz to tap into the African music as well as this. In fact, we'd categorise this as Afro first and foremost, served with a rhythmic sequence of instruments and compositions that are traditionally at the 'jazz' end of the spectrum. Worth a good old listen and, yes, it comes highly recommended.
Brandon Coleman clearly revels in the background. Being a talented songwriter and arranger, along with killing it on the keyboard and organ, he has been at the back-end of groups like The Next Step and The Western Transient, pushing the boundaries of funk and broken beat to their very limits. He's back with his second solo LP this time, coming through on Flying Lotus' mighty Brainfeeder, and everything about this release feels utterly on-point - yessah! Taking a couple of notes and steers from the Daft Punk dynasty, along with the USA's lust for funk, Coleman's vocoder voice runs like silk across many of these playful and innovative boogie tunes, hitting us with some Cali vibes - and sunrays - from the moment "live For Today" melts into the waves of "All Around The World" and, eventually, into the longing, utterly seductive flow of "Sexy" and "Thereas No Turning Back". What is most impressive is Coleman's single-minded vision, coming through with an album that has one single sound and vision running through it. Excellent stuff.
Nelly Simon and ChinChin cofounder Juergen Kausemann's ZoulZoulectric let rip with their second long player and once again it's a vibrant, far reaching affair that digs deep into the timeless musical melting pot to create a powerful alluring fusion of funk, jazz, swing and all things in between. A party from start to finish, highlights include the smoky dulcets and late night upbeat momentum of "He Killed Capoty", the ballroom swoons and toe to toe duet of "Too Late To Tango", the delicate introspection and gentle jacks of "Bad Days", a brand new sleazy funk take on their awesome Nancy Sinatra cover "These Boots Were Made For Walking" and the loose limbed feels and woozy horns of "Black African Jack". Complete with a range of remixes, too, this is an exceptional sophomore that adds to their already strong funk cannon.
Allo allo allo, what's all this then? Dominic Servini and Scrimshire's Wah Wah 45s look back over their ever extending vaults and draw for a wide warm range of treasures. From the slinky glides and sleazy funk of P.Unity's opener "Booboo" right the way through to the final delicate charms of Maze Hill's beautiful ballad closer "I Can Be Your Light", this collection runs the entire groove gamut the London label flexes. Highlights fire off in all directions; Envee's broadsword funk mix of Honeyfeet's "Sinner", Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet's staccato space jazz take on Max Romeo's "Chase The Devil" and the pant swinging late night funk of Luna & Bazis' "Fatal Attraction" are just a few dope examples. Say allo...
American vocalist, songwriter and Grammy Award winner Macy Gray presents Ruby - which is her 10th studio album and follows up 2016's collection of jazz covers. A diverse yet coherent collection of styles all feature here, plus the lead single with Meghan Trainor titled "Sugar Daddy" alongside Bianca 'Blush' Atterberry, Tommy Brown and Thomas Lumpkins. The artist herself says she is pleased with the album: it features a lot of live instrumentation mixed with samples, also incorporating pop, soul, R&B and all the jazz elements that she grew up listening to. Gray has stated that it is a very different album on this occasion though - very pop, but 'gritty and grimy and dirty'. And we concur.