Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Talkin Loud Classics: Urban Species - Listen (1994)

Urban Species released their ground breaking classic album Listen to an eagerly awaiting public in May 1994. Described by Melody Maker as “Possibly the finest d├ębut of 1994” and “The best album Talkin Loud have ever put out” by Sky Mag, the album received universal acclaim and was an immediate success. Commercial chart success came with the hit singles Spiritual Love and Brother, firmly confirming their arrival and unprecedented exposure of a UK rap act.

The band was also finding success across Europe, most notably in France, where they even managed to eclipse their UK achievements. In the United States they developed up a following among New York’s underground scene, receiving considerable airplay. The album was released on London Records after a breathtaking performance at the New Music Seminar in New York, with a showcase that blew away both media and public alike. Over the next 18 months they would take their unique blend of Hip-Hop to places as far afield as the Far East and Africa, making many friends along the way.

[BBC Music]

'Spiritual Love' - 'Brother' - 'Listen' with MC SOLAAR -

Monday, March 29, 2010

Talkin Loud Classics: The Plot Thickens (1994)

Galliano was a London based acid jazz group, which started up in 1988. The group was the first signing to Eddie Piller and Gilles Peterson's Talkin' Loud label. The original members were Rob Gallagher (vocals), Constantine Weir (vocals), and Crispin Robinson (percussion). Other important members include Valerie Etienne, who participated in the recording of all their CDs, along with other musicians such as Mick Talbot on keyboards, Crispin Taylor on drums and Ernie McKone on bass guitar.

Galliano achieved the peak of its success in 1994 with The Plot Thickens, a major work that fuses the extreme harmonies and rhythms of jazz with up-to-the-minute urban soul on tracks such as Twyford Down, with its numerous changes of tempo, or Travels the Road and Long Time Gone.

Frontman Rob Gallagher continued to perform (as of 2006) as Earl Zinger. In the late 1990s, Gallagher broke Galliano up, and pursued his latest musical project, 2 Banks of 4.


'Long time gone' - 'Twyford Down' - 'Cold Wind'

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Talkin Loud classics: The Young Disciples - Road to Freedom (1993)

One of the most important albums to emerge from the acid jazz scene.

By David O' Donnell - BBC music AZ

Young Disciples' Road To Freedom encompasses many of the sounds that epitomised the emerging acid-jazz scene of the early ninties.

Young Disciples formed in 1990 when American vocalist Carleen Anderson relocated to London and met Marc Nelson and Femi Williams. After signing to Talking Loud records in 1991, the group released the singles Get Yourself Together and Apparently Nothin, the latter of which became a hit in the charts. Off the back of Apparently Nothing's success, their impressive debut record Road To Freedom was released.

Road To Freedom combined muscular funk with jazz and R&B influences, whilst also maintained strong links with British Hip Hop, and as a result Road To Freedom benefits from Masta Ace and Maceo Parker guest appearances.

These wide ranging influences, combined with Carleen Anderson's low, smoky vocals and the clever, unpredictable productions, means that a decade and a half later, Road To Freedom is still deemed to be one of the most important albums to emerge from the acid jazz scene.

"Apparently Nothin' - 'All I Have In Me' -

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Talkin' Loud 20th Anniversary

A tribute to the 20th anniversary of Gilles Peterson's Talkin Loud label -- featuring a selection of cuts hand-picked by Japanese DJ Toshio Matsuura! The cuts here definitely fall on the more cutting edge side of the Talkin Loud sound -- and Matsuura also has a good ear for some of the key remixes that came out on the label's 12" singles back in the day. Cuts include "At Les" by Innerzone Orchestra, "Strung Out" by MJ Cole, "Slack Hands (Aphex mix)" by Galliano, "Planet Plan (Yellow Productions mix)" by United Future Organization, "Brown Paper Bag (Photek rmx)" by Roni Size Reprazent, "Nervous Track" by Nuyorican Soul, "Blank Cells" by 4Hero, "Stolen Moments" by United Future Organization, "Freedom (free for all mix)" by Young Disciples, "Tryin Times (headstrong voc mix)" by Courtney Pine, and "Jacob's Ladder" by Incognito.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Skeletons - Smile (2010)

Benedic Lamdin is a musician, producer and engineer. He has produced a string of highly acclaimed LPs as Nostalgia 77 for Tru Thoughts; he also produces all the releases for his own label, Impossible Ark, including this one.

He says: "Skeletons is a made up band. I kid you not - it doesn't exist. These musicians never stood in the studio together, they just passed through my house or left some scraps of sound behind after sessions we were working on. This record is like a guy, pieced together and ready for the bonfire... Some of the music here started life as commissions for a library music company, pastiches and forgeries paid for by the current vogue for a certain style of African jazz. Once I'd done a few though I couldn't stop... to me the whole thing has been a self indulgent forgery, an act of mindless fun. If it sounds good then it's because I just enjoyed the music and enjoyed myself."

The Skeletons track, Positive Force, which appears on this album, was given an early airing on Impossible Ark: A Compilation in October, to immense acclaim and support from tastemakers including Ashley Beedle (X-Press 2/Ministry Of Sound Radio/RBMA), Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio 1), Craig Charles (BBC 6Music) and Snowboy; and excellent reviews from all corners, from i-DJ magazine through to Mercury Prize Recommends. Smile is the full album, and more than worth the wait.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yonderboi - Shallow & Profound (2001)

Features an emotional & melodic mixture of Downtempo, Trip-Hop, Lounge ,Easy listening and 60ties Bar-Jazz. With Shallow And Profound Yonderboi presents an album with an exceptional tightness although it was recorded when he was only 19, using simple methods and tools, and he impresses the audience with his mature musical understanding.
Yonderboi's manyfold influences vary from oldschool French Hip-Hop and nineties Trip-Hop to soundtracks of eastern European cartoons and cinema noir of the sixties. Yonderboi´s music transports his charming Eastern European identity with a special Hungarian flair.
Shallow and Profound is not shallow, but it is profound - a sensual, exquisite trip through a trip-folk dreamland. Absolutely stunning!

Yonderboi - Milonga Del Mar

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Souljazz Orchestra - Rising Sun (2010)

Since their creation in 2002 in Ottawa, Canada, The Souljazz Orchestra have become one of the most potent bands in their field. Drawing on the rough, raw grooves of the ‘60s and ‘70s and effortlessly fusing soul, jazz, Afro and latin rhythms within their music, they have moved forward the blueprint of Fela, Fania and the funk in entirely new ways, whilst keeping the vital analogue grit intact. As a live unit, the Orchestra have become an in-demand fixture at venues and festivals worldwide. Drawing on a wider canvas of styles than ever before, touching on spiritual jazz, deep African rhythms and Ethiopian modes, the Orchestra take their sound to new heights with stunning musicianship and virtuoso arrangements throughout. Long-time fan Gilles Peterson (BBC Radio One) has already acclaimed this album to be their best yet. The tracks themselves flow as a sinuous whole. The Souljazz Orchestra will be touring throughout 2010, starting with North American dates in March, followed by European dates in April.

Official - MySpace page -"Agbara" on UTube

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jhelisa - Galactica Rush (1995)

Leaving her Kentucky home for the musical hotbed of London -- via Los Angeles -- singer Jhelisa Anderson got her start with the Shamen in the early '90s. After cutting the well-received Boss Drum with the Scottish combo, she landed a deal with the Dorado label and recorded this stunning debut. The nine tracks groove nicely along on an urbane mix of club-soul and jazz-funk, and feature a wealth of vocal treats (both lead and backing) from Jhelisa. She also had a hand in writing all the tracks here, and demonstrates her solid grasp of deep grooves and inventive instrumentation throughout the album. Helped out by veterans of the London scene, like producer Lee Hamblin (Duran Duran, Coldcut) and keyboardist Matt Cooper (Us3) -- not to mention New York jazzer Greg Osby on soprano saxophone -- Jhelisa delivers an album sure to please fans of contemporary soul, hip-hop, jazz, and electronica's melodic fringes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Sweet Vandals - Lovelite (2009)

For their second album, the Sweet Vandals have served up a delicious menu of Hammond-drench funk, gently marinated in a soul sauce. Singer Mayka Edjole is a true soul diva and knows how to belt it out, while the rest of the band keep the grooves lean and tight.

Highlights include the pumped-up opener "Thank You For You" which will be a sure fire hit on the rare groove scene and is as funky as anything the Dap-Kings or the Bamboos have come up with.

On "What About Love" and "Every Woman Is A Diva" they up the soul factor with a track with a strong Dusty Springfield flavor.

The band's love of all things analogue mean that this was recorded using vintage equipment to give it that authentic swinging sound. The horn sections are never less than tremendous and the drumming is clean and tight. "Love Lite" was named after the Berlin venue where they have played and the Sweet Vandals are currently touring Europe at the moment. This long player cements their reputation as deep funk superstars and a force to be reckoned with.

The Sweet Vandals - Thank You For You

Monday, March 1, 2010

Herbie Hancock - Dedication (1974)

This is a unique experiment in the Hancock discography, recorded in Tokyo in just one day during a tour of Japan. Side 1 contains two introspective, complex solo acoustic piano tracks, "Maiden Voyage" and "Dolphin Dance," which are notable since they date from a period when Hancock was supposedly totally immersed in electronics. Side 2 has two even more unusual things — "Nobu," a one-man show recorded in real time with the sample-and-hold feature of an ARP 2600 synthesizer providing a rhythm section for Hancock's electric keyboards, followed by "Cantaloupe Island" with a pre-recorded synth bassline. Side 2 is a fascinating look-back at the charms and stringent limitations of mid-'70s analog keyboards, as well as a challenge to Hancock's on-the-wing inventiveness — and despite some inevitable stiffness in the rhythm, he comes through with some colorful work. This would be the first of several Japan-only Hancock albums from the '70s, an indication that Japanese jazz fans were (and perhaps still are) far more open-minded and free-spending than their American counterparts.

"NOBU" - "Cantaloupe Island" - The Official HH Site

Noel McKoy - Brighter Day (2009)

Back in the early 90s, Noel McKoy practically stole the show from stellar jazz saxophonist Steve Williamson at a Kate Moss-less Glastonbury, prompting at least one punter to opine that he was a superstar in waiting. A heavily blues-inflected voice had the gravely rasp of a young Bobby Womack, the well-regulated falsetto of an old Eddie Kendricks and, above all, an ability to invest each song he sang with adequate emotion.

Since that time, despite attention-grabbing collaborations with Acid Jazz organ grinder James Taylor as well as leadership of a group featuring his siblings, McKoy hasn’t tasted commercial success in line with his talent, which is increasingly rare for those who opt for the more musically demanding route of soul rather than the pop tart ways of RnB. A problem in the first half of Brighter Day is that classicism is writ very large on the sound, with the title track and Great Big Gap, fine songs as they are, sounding uncomfortably close to Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come and The Four Tops’ Sugar Pie Honey Bunch. The Motown signature, right down to the baritone sax deliciously chugging atop a sharply honed rhythm section, is down pat, but the licks are just a touch too familiar to really send the excitement dial into the red.

As the set unfolds, though, Mckoy the writer asserts himself convincingly on several well-constructed melodies, the highlight of which is Jealousy, a mid-tempo, Latin-tinged shuffle that has effective changes of key and an edgy string motif that vividly captures and reinforces the lyrical content. One could also mention the way that the surging verses of Skating on Thin Ice show the singer’s great tonal control and Tumbling Down is as pretty as it is catchy. It all amounts to a tantalising listen, for it’s hard not to think that several of these songs would have been better served by different, perhaps tougher, spikier arrangements.

Yet it’s also hard not to think that Noel McKoy is a great soul voice in need of adequate record label investment.

by Kevin Le Gendre - BBC music

Noel @ MySpace - "Brighter Day" live - "Jealousy" live @ the East Village Club