Review: Two new slices of disco edit heaven from Swedish remix king Beatconductor, courtesy of the GAMM label. Herbie Hancock's fusion disco epic "Saturday Night" gets rejigged with a DJ-friendly, Salsoul-style drum intro before launching into its samba-soul main section, while Afro-Cuban jazz king Mongo Santamaria has his piano-led gem "Espiritu Libre" again remixed with a percussive intro built in to allow for perfect mixing.
Review: During the British jazz-dance scene's late '70s and early '80s boom, there were few DJs that the dancers loved more than Colin Curtis. Still DJing today after 50 years behind the decks, Curtis was a natural choice to put together Z Records' first compilation dedicated to jazz-dance, jazz-funk and fusion sounds. The album is something of a stunner, all told, full of deep selections, floor-burning favourites and high-grade workouts. There's naturally plenty of Latin jazz flavours on show, high-octane thrillers (See Eric Kloss's "The Samba Express"), swinging jazz-funk (check the superb Charles Earland track) and the kind of extended wig-outs that just make you want to bust some serious shapes.
Review: Way back in 2010, Tom Jenkinson decided he'd had enough of working on his own as Squarepusher, and formed a band. The result was the Shobaleader One, an outfit seemingly inspired - in part, at least - by mask-wearing dance-pop robots Daft Punk. The album that followed, d'Demonstrator, took some of Jenkinson's influences - electro, IDM, jazz - and fused them with art-rock, synth-pop, jazz-funk and a dash of '70s psychedelia. On this belated follow-up, Jenkinson has decided to flip the script, eschewing new compositions in favour of recording 11 covers of vintage Squarepusher material. Given his involvement in both projects it's no surprise that these full-band interpretations work well. It's a smart move financially, too, as the band will be touring Europe later in the spring.
Review: 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 Astatke has worked with some of the greats of the jazz world. On this album, he recorded with members of the Either/Orchestra in Boston, with members of 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 past roots however, indeed much of it was recorded in the States. The result is a more traditional sounding jazz record than we are used to from him. But that is not to say there is less intrigue and personality woven into it though. In fact, each track on the album tells its very own 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.