Review: Canada's premiere afro-Latin fusionists Souljazz Orchestra return with their ninth album, Resistance, which arrives a decade after they first announced themselves to the world with the dazzling debut Uprooted. That album was issued on their own Funk Manchu Records, but the collective are firmly within the Strut Records bosom these days with Resistance their fourth album for the UK stronghold. Never a band to tread water, this 10 track collection finds the Souljazz Orchestra exploring new territory on record, explicitly the French Caribbean and Francophone West African influences that have been key to the band from their earliest days. What's most impressive here is the band's sheer versatility with saxman Ray Murray, percussionist Marielle Rivard, drummer Philippe Lafreniere and keyboardist Pierre Chretien all taking on lead vocal duties as Resistance progresses.
Review: 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.
Kele Bila (Stop Fighting) (feat Ahmed Sosso - dub) - (8:45) 118 BPM
African Paradigm (All Chapters) - (28:27) 72 BPM
Review: With three previous long-players under his belt in a production career that dates back over 10 years, Mr Raoul K should need little introduction to Afro-house lovers by now. That said, though, for this latest album the emphasis is very much on the 'Afro' side of that equation, as he explores an assortment of tribal rhythms and vocal chants. As a result, you're unlikely to hear many of the tracks here cropping up in house sets; you can, on the other hand, expect the likes of Gilles Peterson, Rob Da Bank or Mr Scruff to be in raptures.
Review: One of Africa's most influential and enduring musical figures, and big time player in the Ethio-Jazz scene, Mulatu Astatke presents the To Know Without Knowing LP, an inspired work and second collaboration with twelve piece global-funk-machine, Black Jesus Experience. Laced with cool jazz and lounge vibes to wax poetics in both "A Chance To Give" and "Living On Stolen Land" find more laid back, alluring and sultry numbers in "To Know Without Knowing", with hotter rhythms coming through "Ambassa Lemdi" and the cocktail vibes of "Blue Light". Afro-beat free fusion and soul.
Review: Spain's Fabrice Henri, AKA Guts, returns to French label Heavenly Sweetness with a seven-track EP showcasing his trademark blend of world music, jazz, electronic and hip-hop influences. The title track is a sprightly Afro-funk jam that gets a light-touch house makeover on the Poirier Remix, while a rawer funk sound characterises 'L'Origine Du Monde'. Latin/Afro house vibes are the order of the day on the two rubs of 'Mucagiami', 'Corner' is a straight-up Afro workout, while last but by no means least there's 'Nou Menm', a jazzy funk/soul cut with Afro percussion and a spoken, French-language male vocal.
Review: Gold-Plating the sound from a legend of the New York scene, Grammy-winning remixer Louie Vega delivers us a sweetly refined compilation of Luisito Quintero's percussion music! With tributes to deceased heroes such as Fela Kuti and Tito Puente, plus his own version of Ray Barretto's classic "Acid", this compilation offers a veritable treasure trove for percussion fans that encompasses everything from Afrobeat and bossa nova to Latin jazz. Check out the bongo-based percussions of "Four Beat Mambo" to the outlandish carnival-style energy of "Quintero's Jam". Hot summer nights and the city...can you feel it!
Review: With a primary focus on soul, disco and funk from around the world, London's Kalita Records are ecstatic to present the first ever official re-release of Cameroonian singer Jeannette N'Diaye! The 1981 disco hit "Makom Ma Bobe" has long circulated diggers circles as a sought-after Afro-disco number that originally appeared as one of three tracks from the Mut'a Mbamba single from back in the day. Now, some 40 years after its original release, enjoy a remastered version that brings a whole new level to its fidelity, coming packed with a sweet contemporary alternative b-side from Mr 'Edit' Mendel.
Review: On this fine EP from the Sterns Edits camp, Ben Gomori and SMBD (AKA Gilles Peterson favourite Simbad) take it in turns to rework cuts from 1980s Nigerian star Segun Adewale. On the A-side, Gomori gets to work on "Atewo-Lara Ka Tepa Mo'se", wrapping Adewale's original vocals and glistening juju guitar solos over a rolling, Ron Trent style Afro-deep house groove. It's super-sweet and wonderfully summery, suggesting we'll be hearing it in more than a few DJ sets over the next few months. Simbad, meanwhile, serves up two versions of "Ojo Je": a hustling, polyrhythmic disco excursion (the "SMBD '85 Raw Disco Mix") and a far deeper and more trippy excursion rich in warm sub-bass, reverb and delay-laden vocal snippets and ricocheting synthesizer motifs (the superior "Rascal Dub").
Review: German funk-soul-Latin-jazz combo Bahama Social Club team up with Ethiopian-Cuban vocalist Arema Arega here, and the result is an EP that's purpose-built for sashaying around outdoor terraces as sweltering days turn inexorably into steamy nights. Three mixes to choose from: in its Original form, 'Mango' is a lounge-y, Latin-y soul/disco cut, the Club Des Belugas Bossa Remix takes us down the bossa nova route and TheEEs Reggae Mix similarly does what it says on the tin. We suspect the latter rub is likely to pick up the most non-specialist plays, while the other two are sure to find favour with the likes of Peterson, Scruff and Snowboy.
Review: Oumou Sangare's most recent album, 2017's Mogoya, was a fine collection of heartfelt songs in the traditional Malian wassoulou style. Here, it's given the remix treatment, with an impressive cast list of producers taking it in turns to provide their own distinctive interpretations. We were naturally drawn to some of the contributions from high profile producers, with the Tony Allen style Afrobeat rub of "Yere Faga" by Natureboy (AKA DJ Nature) and Auntie Flo's sublime version of "Djoukourou" - all gentle West African beats, sparkling synthesizers and life-affirming vocals - hitting home particularly hard. St Germain's warming Afro-house take on "Fadjamou" and Sampha's bass-heavy, 8-bit interpretation of "Minata Waraba" are also superb.