Monday, May 17, 2010
Red Earth Collective assisted by the Soothsayers Horns are a London based multi-racial conglomerate operating out of Brixton, who blend Jazz, Afrobeat, Funk and Reggae and Dub into their own unique highly musical brew. They had a couple of singles out a year or two back with Johnny Clarke (Bad Boys) and Michael Prophet (Love Fire), and the Soothsayers had their own CD out around the same time. This album features the group, a popular live draw, remixed by Nick Manasseh.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Tracks like “Walk On” featuring Stacy Epps and “Gimme That Kinda” and “Again” are all diverse but maintaining a common goal: creating the absolute perfect post-millennium soul album. This record sounds like what would have happened if Soulquarians put out a full-length (how we can still dream). Stand out track “Buy Some Land, Put A House On It” starts off with heavy horns and creeps into a distorted genius of electronic sensibilities with the beauty of simple and effect songwriting. Strong melodies, strong hooks – and let the music dictate the rest.
The group’s brand of what they call ‘Future Soul’ (not sure if they coined the phrase but is befitting) is a refreshing re-interpretation of what the genre should look and sound like. During the ’70s when Motown was churning out classics from Marvin to Stevie and other places had Curtis Mayfield and more, seems to be a resurgence of that energy. It’s an exciting time for soul music simply proving that people that exclaim that there isn’t any good music out there just aren’t looking hard enough.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Minneapolis-born José James is blessed with the sort of honeyed baritone that would have made him a jazz star in whichever decade he emerged from. If that has you primed for the sort of anodyne crooner that’s resident in cocktail bars worldwide, though, think again. James found his way into the genre through the loops of Daisy Age-era hip hop acts like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest before discovering Ellington and Coltrane and enrolling on New York’s forward-thinking New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music Vocal Program.
Happily, his music reflects this, making a decent fist of reconciling the weighty history of his chosen idiom with a style firmly rooted in the modern.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Mostly written since his move to NYC in 2007, this collection of tracks is his response to the pacey East Coast environment - his musical postcard from the New York scene of today.
Gideon’s influences can seem appropriately caught in the cross-rhythms too, nodding to brazilian guitar virtuoso Toninho Horta and pioneering jazz composer Andrew Hill, as well as tutors of his Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn, and his mum, whose melodies Gideon likes to work into his own compositions sometimes.
But to get to the core of Perpetual, you have to you have to know something of the man at the centre. Gideon has received a cabinet full of awards, but they don’t tell us anything about his spiritual leanings, or his vital sense of family. It’s no surprise that an award like the Andrew Hill Award from the Amsterdam Trust points to an major influence from the American free jazz pianist on Gideon’s music, but it’s not just technique or arrangement that drives his music. It’s all about telling a story, and the emotions behind that story - and conveying them through a sublime chord progression is a gift Gideon definitely has, as the closing breakdown in the title track neatly demonstrates.
Whether he’s in a studio setting with José James, or with his 6 piece band, Gideon knows how to tap into the heart strings, pulling intervals and transitions out of the piano like an expert osteopath. Gideon might have written the tunes, but it’s his group that breathes life into them every performance. With Rick Rosato (bass) and Flin van Hemmen (drums) powering the rhythm section, Gideon finds himself mediating between them and the twin saxes of Lucas Pino (tenor) and Lars Dietrich (alto). The five of them can turn from powerfully expressive to dextrously lyrical in the space of a turnaround, and generate a charged atmosphere for singer Becca Stevens to thread her absorbing, wordless vocal lines. It’s clearly jazz, but in the hands of masters like these, it’s definitely content over style.
While the album title could lead to any number of long conversations by the bar, about endless cycles and anxieties of the infinite, Gideon takes solace in the fact that we’re part of a wider continuum, a bigger picture. “It’s good to know there’s always something around the corner,” he says. Perpetual might be Gideon looking to the bigger picture, but he knows how to make the most of the moment too.
Gideon on MySpace - Official Page - on Kindred Spirits -