Review: During the mid 1970s, several American labels recorded and released albums in limited qualities as part of a scam to cheat the IRS out of tax dollars. While most of these albums were forgettable, a few - including this genuine gem - have become must-have collector's items. Reality was a hastily arranged studio band featuring a wealth of brilliant musicians, who recorded the Disco Party album in under 24 hours at some point in 1976. As this first ever digital download release of the rare set proves, the music the one-off band recorded was unflinchingly heavy, with the assembled cast laying down eight tracks of deep funk, proto disco-funk and horn-heavy jazz-funk instrumentals that sound like unused recordings from a Blaxploitation movie soundtrack. A genuine must-have for serious disco freaks!
Review: Lascelle Lascelles has a long musical pedigree: he was playing house at London's Wag club back in the late 80s, and went on to co-found Brand New Heavies before joining NME darlings Compaq Velocet. But what we have here is the second long-player (following on from 2017's 'Blackism') from his Vibration Black Project, for which the primary inspiration here is Afrocentric 70s freeform jazz from the likes of Sun Ra. As such, some of the tracks will be a little out-there for some, while others are really just short skits. But it's an album that's definitely worth approaching with ears and mind open, its finest moments sitting somewhere between trip-hop and 40s noir soundtrack vibes.
Review: For their latest full-length exploration of the world of spiritual jazz - the label's seventh, in total - Jazzman has decided to focus on artists and performers whose Islamic faith influenced their work. Given that many jazz greats were early converts to the spiritually charged Ahmadiya school of Islam - Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal and Yusuf Lateef included - there's plenty of fine material for Jazzman to explore. Highlights naturally come thick and fast, with standouts including the Persian jazz-fusion of Emmanuel Abdul-Rahim's "Kalamari Suite", the haunting flutes and intoxicating bongo rhythms of Sabu and Sihab Shahib's "Nus", and The Lightmen's celebratory epic, "All Praises To Allah (Part 1 & 2)".
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: Jazzman have surpassed their own reputation for digging skills with this latest reissue. Apparently the reason that this early '70s album is so rare is because it was made as some sort of tax scam and was never intended to actually reach the general public at all! The most baffling thing is though, is just how good the album is: ten tracks of authentic soul and funk played by a band of Bronx-based musicians who were literally playing like no one was listening. Thankfully, they are now.
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: The Sign Of Four was a famous Sherlock Holmes mystery, and although we don't know if this shady act was referencing it, it would take some Sherlock-style supersleuthing to find out more. That's because when sourcing new vintage releases, in the words of DJ Fryer, at Jazzman they always dig deeper! "Jumping Beans" is a bonkers distress signal from from outer space, beamed straight into a 1960s recording studio helmed by Miles Newbold. Meanwhile "Samba Electronico" is a more down to earth - but still frenzied - retro Latin jazz workout!
Review: Here's a challenge to all you crate diggers out there, according to Jazzman's DJ Fryer they always dig deeper! The results show in this excellent double LPs-worth of vintage prime cuts that sound surprisingly dance-floor friendly rather than quaint. Highlights include the intense funk assault of "Wake Up", the classy, shimmering "Teacherman", the emotional "Lost In The Crowd", the puny "Rollercoaster" and Ashley Beedle's re-edit of "Keep Her Happy".
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.
Review: Now here's something you don't see every day - a 1960s Norwegian psychedelic Christian rock album! Jazzman Records specialise in reissues of obscurities from the 60s and 70s and here they've really excelled themselves. The story goes that, having noticed that the kids were turning their back on Christianity in favour of Rock 'n' Roll, Oslo priest Olaf Hillestad began combining jazz, folk and er, church music in order to win 'the kids' over. Thus, That's Why was born. The album is a surprise as, if you're looking for classy, quirky folk similar to the soundtrack of The Wicker Man you're in luck. If you're looking for a Christian fix too however, it might be wise to employ a translator!
Review: Billed perfectly as a mix of "esoteric, modal and deep jazz from the European underground", this follow up to Jazzman's 2008 collection of Spiritual Jazz focuses on the wilder side of the art form between the years 1960 and 1978. Starting with the bop-meets-choral beauty of "Communion" by Erich Kleinschuster, much of the meditative music on offer simply shimmers. The eastern/Balkan riffola on Michael Garrick's "Temple Dance", the scratchy funk of Barney Wilson's "Africa Freakout" and the cinematic wash of Heikki Saramanto's "Duke & Trane" are just some of the highlights from this heavenly and very essential 11-track collection.
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.