Review: Kicking around for ten-plus years in the inter-continental jazz scene is German ensemble The Bahama Soul Club who breathe new life into their project with a new album, Bohemia After Dawn! It presents the outfit's fifth studio LP which this time finds its spirit through the coastlines of Algarve where it was recorded. Drawing deep inspiration from the multicultural verve of young worldly folk drawn to the bohemian coasts of the most southwestern part of Europe - where hippiesque hedonism, infinite musical diversity, and offbeat enchanted lifestyles fuel the scene - downtempo percussion, subby beats and strong vocals ultimately meet in tracks like "Castelejo (Hommage E Vitor Hugo)". Highly relaxed, uber-cool and with a surprisingly fresh and sweet summer sound, Bohemia After Dawn delivers a unique blend of soul, jazz, funk, blues, bossa nova and multicultural sounds.
Review: Still reeling from the Linkwood & Foat self-titled collaborative LP released on Athens Of The North earlier this year, Greg Foat, a versatile mainstay in the UK jazz scene, brings in bandmates Moses Boyd, Art Themen, Clark Tracey and Phil Achille to create Symphonie Pacifique. Ebbing and flowing between ambient soul and liquid jazz in the live and improvised "After The Storm", there's lounge time flamenco in "Pointe Venus" to pastoral acid in "Man Vs Machine". Amid cinematic scores and library music you'll find heavy piano chords in the album's hit "Yonaguni" alongside dedications to the late Duncan Lamont ("Lament For Lamont") and 20th century French painters (Henry Valensi) in the cover art. Magnifique!
Review: Familiar to labels like Smalltown Supersound and Ninja Tune, legendary Norwegian eight-piece Jaga Jazzist arrive on Brainfeeder with a deep dive into post-rock, jazz and psychedelic themes and synth wave influences. Presenting their first studio album since 2015's Starfire, Pyramid is the result of a reclusive two week recording session deep in the Swedish woodlands, resulting in the group's first ever self-produced record. With the 14-minute-long and classically jazz "Tomita" the crowning track on Pyramid, find some pumping night drives in "Apex" to the retro-active yet futuristic jazz-electro-funk of "The Shrine" or the spacey, new age synth and cosmic jazz in "Spiral Era".
Review: Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids unveil their new album Shaman! with a tribute to jazz pianist Cecil Taylor! Originally formed in the '70s as part of Cecil Taylor's Black Music Ensemble, the group has disbanded and reformed over the last decades, with 2020's Shaman! incarnating a fresh Pyramids ensemble; find Ackamoor on sax, original member Dr. Margaux Simmons on flute, Bobby Cobb on guitar, Sandra Poindexter on violin, Ruben Ramos on bass, Gioele Pagliaccia on drums, and Jack Yglesias on percussion! A most accomplished long player, Shaman! completes a triptych of albums for Strut that dates back to 2016's We All Be Africans, with Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids transitioning from the political and social commentaries of 2018's acclaimed 'An Angel Fell' into more introspective themes. With some striking artwork from Japanese artist Tokio Aoyama, Shaman! has been described by the group itself as personal statement on love and loss, mortality, the afterlife, family and salvation - our tips include anything over 10 minutes.
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.
Review: With a new album on the way before the end of the year on Strut, their new home, Nubiyan Twist unleash two tracks to whet the appetite. 'Tell It To Me Slowly', featuring the almost crooner-style vox of Nick Richardson, is a near-broken soul-jazz workout that's likely to find favour with the likes of Gilles Peterson and Snowboy, while the Nubiya Brandon-sung 'Sugar Cane' takes us into laidback, late-night jazz pastures. Both cuts may be a little polite-sounding for mainstream club tastes, but the specialist spots - and the jazz-dancers - will lap them up.