Review: As any hardcore funk collector would tell you, Barbados-based Blue Rhythm Combo produced some seriously heavy records in the early 1970s. Between 1971 and 1975, they produced two albums for the obscure Merrydisc label and a smattering of blistering singles. This six-track collection from self-confessed vinyl geeks Jazzman gathers together some of their best work in one handy download package. There's much to enjoy, from the party-friendly horns and rhythms of "Get Down" to the laidback grooves of "Sister Jeanie". Sadly, their crazy cover of Paul Simon's "Mother & Child Reunion" is missing, but you can't have everything.
Review: Raw, unfettered funk from one of LA's hardest working live outfits, Ray Frazier and Shades Of Madness recorded a criminal amount of 45s... One of which - "My Baby's Hand" - regularly fetches the handsome sum of L1000 between collectors. Instantly triggering the biggest northern soul sensations (stomping beats, relentless super-tight grooves, show-stopping splashes of bold soul), this will resonate with, and unite all, funk and soul aficionados across the globe. Highlights include the strident string-led blues riff on the aforementioned "My Baby's Hand", the chop-slapping JB-echoing tightness of "I Who Have Nothing" and the lazier, luxurious swing of "Gonna Get Your Love". Jazzman have curated an exceptional document right here.
Review: An incredibly lush collection from Jazzman, who have crystalised the best of French jazz/funk pianist and band leader Jef Gilson into this excellent new compilation. Straddling all manner of genres, Gilson's career stretches from vibes-laden hard-bop ("Valse Pour Helene") to esoteric riffage a la Brubeck ("Accueil") and gorgeous and Axelrod-esque choral vocals ("Un Pas, Deux Pas, Cent Pas"). Also worth checking out is the murky, tense funk of "Espagnolade" and the magnificent, 11 minutes+ version of Pharaoh Sanders' "The Creator Has A Masterplan". This is a faultless collection of a much under-appreciated man's work, and might just be one of our favourite reissues of the year so far.
Review: A lost treasure from 1974, this exquisite re-release from Jazzman showcases the incredible Cali-funk and psychedelic soul of Gold. After initially intending just to re-release single "What About The Child", the Jazzman team set about trying to relocate the tapes of the whole album, which miraculously turned up in a shed in Las Vegas. Such efforts were clearly worth it, as the tight and ebullient funk of songs like "If You Can Dance", "Plastic Lady" and "Ain't That Funky Enough" sit right alongside the best of Bootsy, Earth Wind And Fire and The Temptations.
Review: Since first pitching up on Jazzman in 2011, eight-piece psychedelic jazz combo The Greg Foat Group has caused something of a stir. This second album for the crate-digging specialists is every bit as good as their debut full length, Dark Is The Sun. At times, it sounds like Ennio Morricone and Harold Budd making loose jazz-breaks, at others an almighty freak-out in the company of Afro-busting Blaxploitation detectives. There are quietly beautiful moments ("Girl & Robot With Flowers Part 3"), straight-up late night jazz movements ("For Breath A Tarry", "Cast Adrift"), and breezy, vibraphone-heavy '60s grooves ("The Girl & Robot With Flowers Part 5"). Throughout, it's beautifully played and lovingly produced, with Foat's impeccable piano playing taking centre stage.
For A Breath I Tarry (Francis Dosoo's Borrowed Breath remix) - (4:49) 81 BPM
Girl & Robot With Flowers (Cherrystones remix - part 4) - (4:20) 92 BPM
Review: Eight-piece psychedelic jazz combo The Greg Foat Group recently delivered the original of this single. It was an extended EP boasting a variety of incarnations of the tune "Girl & Robot With Flowers", and here we have the breezy 60s-tinged 'part 5' version. Also included are remixes: Linkwood's trippy trance version of 'part 2' and Cherrystones' breaks-heavy version of 'part 4'. Elsewhere Vakula provides a dreamy lounge style version of "Clear Skies" and Francis Dosoo whips out the mellow trumpets for "For A Breath I Tarry".
Review: Dr. Lloyd Miller, to give him his full title, has both been a student and player of jazz for many of his 72 years. He's won Composer's Guild awards, lectured and taught jazz at university level and even achieved his doctorate studying Persian music in 1972. He's also performed with the likes of Nat Adderly, Eddie Harris, Wynton Marsalis and Zoot Sims among others. With his A Lifetime in Oriental Jazz recently rediscovered by Jazzman, the label took the giant step of putting him in a studio with Malcolm Catto and Jake Ferguson of the Heliocentrics, who won much praise for their work on Mulatu Astatke's recent album. In just two hours, and despite having never met before, this quartet of songs were cut and in the can.
Not that they suffered from such constraints. The freedom and life captured on this release is palpable, most noticeably in the space given to the flute-like solos on opener "Electriconnee. The other players instinctively seem to know when to drop out and give Miller room, before joining in again on drums and double-bass. "Way Out East" is perhaps the most conventional work here, a straight piano-led vamp led by Miller, while "Gol E Gandom" clearly benefits from his years of dedication to Eastern scales which come out in force toward the end of the tune. "Ando Le" sees the addition of a zither-like instrument to the party, with the piano lines joining in and matching the eerie melody after a while. The contribution of Catto and Ferguson can't be praised enough, and they respond to Miller's lead with aplomb. Jazzman also deserve serious props for making this happen and getting this underrated titan of jazz into a studio at his ripe old age.