Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Unity Sextet - The Unity Sext lp (2012)

The Unity Sextet is a special kind of band. Buddy Franco, Fats Young Jr., Cassius Farqhuar, Junior Oliver, Chuck Waldron and ‘Fat Thumbs’ Ronnie met in spring of 2011 whilst playing at different jazz festivals in different bands with different genres ranging from traditional to experimental jazz. Co-incidentally they noticed that they shared the same vision of an open-minded, eclectic jazz style, being upfront and modern whilst still keeping the respect for the past masters. They only later found out that they all hailed from the same region in south-west England. It was like it was meant to be...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ana Tijoux - Shock (single, 2012)

La Bala is Ana Tijoux’s highly anticipated follow-up to her 2010 GRAMMY nominated breakthrough debut 1977, which you may have heard Ana Tijoux’s “1977” recently on the hit TV show Breaking Bad, or seen her as the featured guest on NPR’s influential “Tiny Desk Concert” series.  Tijoux made her U.S. debut performing at SXSW in 2010 and has since toured the U.S. and Europe, with stops at New York’s Central Park Summerstage, San Francisco’s Outside Lands and Chicago’s Lollapalooza, plus a very special live performance during GRAMMY weekend with The Roots as her backing band.

 The lead single “Shock” is now available for free download in the US + Mexico as the iTunes “Single of the Week”.  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Quiet Nights Orhestra - Movin' (2011)

Great jazzy grooves from the Quiet Nights Orchestra – the second set from the group, and every bit as wonderful as the first! There's wicked blend of modes going on here – a bit of modal jazz, some clubjazz rhythms, a touch of Schema groove, and also just a hint of older jazz modes too – all wrapped together with a youthful, vibrant energy that really makes the whole thing sparkle! If you've ever dug work on labels like Ricky Tick, Schema, or some of the best older Compost material, you'll find plenty here to love – and it's great to know that there's folks like Quiet Nights out there, still putting out grooves like this. Sofie Norling sings these beautiful vocals on a few tracks, but overall most of the set is instrumental – with a nice mix of trumpet, trombone, saxes, and even some vibes. Titles include "Waves", "When We Fly", "Movin", "The Path", "Dreaming", "One More Try", "He Is My Music", and "Falling For You".

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jazzanova - Upside Down (2012)

After the first collection of remixes from 2003 (Remixed, JCR040-2) now's the turn for Upside Down, some of dance music finest key figures' interpretations of selected Jazzanova tunes from the last eight years. And be assured, the line-up is as massive as the Berlin's quintet worldwide reputation. From fellow Berliner Henrik Schwarz, Ye:Solar and Âme to Atjazz and Mr. Scruff from the UK, Motor City Drum Ensemble from Cologne, Glasgow's Midnight Mauraders and Soldiers Of House from Pretoria (South Africa) this is a top notch international heavy weight affair.

Inspired by these outstanding reworks of their original material Jazzanova member and DJ Alex Barck and Jazzanova Live! band member Stefan Ulrich (under his Neve Naive moniker together with Alexa Voss on vocals) also got upside down and delivered each a remix to this prosperous project. Besides these two brand new and unreleased remixes the ones by Soldiers Of House and Midnight Mauraders are as well first time available to the public.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Fond Farewell to ... Etta!

At last 
(Mark Gordon/Harry Warren)

My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song

Oh yeah yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you

And I found a dream that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known

Oh yeah yeah, and you smile, you smile
Oh, and then the spell was cast
And here we are in Heaven
For you are mine at last

Monday, January 16, 2012

Loka - Passing Place (2011)

Since their debut album Fire Shepherds in 2006, co-founder Karl Webb left the band, leaving Mark Kyriacou to carry the Loka banner. Mark re-grouped with members of the live Loka band (Tom Sumnall – bass, Ged Hawksworth – drums, Catherine Norman – keyboards and Ray Dickaty - sax) and went about sketching out ideas later to become Passing Place.
The result is their most confident and cinematic album yet. Less claustrophobic and inward than before, the new album has a wide-screen, rolling hills vista feel to it, perhaps most beautifully realised with Anglesey’s brass ensemble Seindorf Beaumaris Band on instrumental tracks such as "The Art Of Burning Bridges", "Exit" and "Sound Stars Make". There is a lot of top-level musicianship on show on "Passing Place", take the section "As The Tower Falls" and "The Tower", which share a certain jazz/rock high-energy propulsion with that of label-mates Jaga Jazzist, and shows Loka can do varying tempos effectively during the course a full-length. It is an album seeped in reflection, but containing a wide-eyed thinking of the days to come.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nicholas Payton - Bitches (2011)

 Nicholas Payton (born September 26, 1973) is a trumpet player from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is often considered a jazz musician, although Payton considers the label "jazz" inappropriate and refers to his music as "BAM", an acronym for Black American Music.
Bitches is a love story that musically chronicles the joys and heartbreak of relationship. A provocative and breakthrough recording on many levels, Nicholas played every instrument, composed all the songs, wrote all the lyrics, produced each track, and sings and plays trumpet throughout. He is accompanied by special guest vocalists Cassandra Wilson, Esperanza Spalding, N'Dambi, Chinah Blac and Saunders Sermons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Me'shell Ndegeocello - Weather (2011)

On Weather, Meshell sings of the ups and downs of love, one of her favourite subjects. Her heroines are marked by the void left by the loved one (Object”) or else, like a game of mirrors, pour out their heart about the hurt they have caused others. She does a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel”, dedicated to Janis Joplin, an extremely sad and somewhat sexist song, as well as Don’t Take My Kindness for Weakness” by Soul Children, a sixties soul band, whose message she has made her own. Her own lyrics are always concise, precise or allusive, full of images and poetry (“I want to be your answer”). “They’re like mantras, some phrases cast to the wind, images that pop into my mind. Then I add the music.” She also talks about the wider world on a few tracks. ‘Oysters’ is about “the change that everyone talks about but never comes”. Meshell explains that “Consumerism is gaining ground all the time. We all live to get a new car or a new computer, but what’s the point?” So, join the great world party? “Not for me,” she replies in Dirty World. “I live two hours from New York. I ran away from all the dirt. There’s a farm where I live, and healthy food. I love cooking – it’s not all that different from making music. You need ingredients, and the greatest pleasure is when you share it share it with others.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dj Jazzy Jeff & Ayah - Back for More (2011)

 Legendary party starter DJ Jazzy Jeff still packs dance floors across the world, but it's been awhile since he's issued anything new from the studio. Sporting a sound that picks up from the soulful, head-nodding vibes of his BBE projects, Jazzy Jeff has linked up with rising Toronto R&B singer Ayah to release this free, downloadable album, and the results are overwhelmingly impressive. Ayah (whose 4:15 EP was one of the strongest releases to emerge from a Canadian R&B singer in years) obviously found undeniable chemistry with Jazzy Jeff in his Philadelphia studio, penning inspirational and uplifting lyrics that complement Jeff's production style, who is assisted here by frequent Questlove studio cohort James Poyser, among other accomplished session musicians, such as Pete Kuzma, known for his work with Jill Scott. For Ayah, Back for More represents her highest profile offering and she struts into the spotlight rather than shirking from it, given the superior profile of her collaborator. The brassy "Notorious" oozes confidence and "One Life," featuring T-dot MC Tona, underlines her assertive persona. "Hold On" is a sly shout out to Slakah the Beatchild's "Enjoy Yourself" (a song she co-wrote), while the grittiness of "The Game" showcases her narrative skills. On much of Back for More, Jazzy Jeff's tasty formula involves subtly flipping familiar samples, fleshing them out with sumptuous instrumentation and then adding Ayah's impassioned vocals and sophisticated songwriting chops. Apparently, this is just the starter, in terms of the collaborations this duo have cooking. Be sure to hang around for the main course. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Betty Wright & The Roots - Betty Wright: The Movie (2011)

"BettyWright: The Movie" serves up 14 earthy, funk-drenched soul anthems, all of which were co-written by Wright and co-produced by Wright, Ahimir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots, and Angelo Morris. The album features guest performances by Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Joss Stone, and more.
Ms. Wright began singing at about the time she began walking: she started performing with Miami-based gospel The Echoes at age three and remained with them for the next seven years. She released her first single at age 13 and had her first bona-fide smash at 19: "Clean Up Woman," which has become Wright's signature song, vaulted to the top of the charts, earning her a gold record and the first of her fifteen eventual Grammy nominations.
From "Clean Up Woman" though the Grammy-winning "Where Is the Love", Wright scored eleven Top-30 R&B hits and made music business history by becoming the first female artist to earn a gold record on her own label, Ms. B Records, with 1988's Mother Wit.
Betty has been sampled by many including: Afrika Bambaataa, Color Me Badd, Lauren Hill, Tupac Shakur, and Snoop Dogg. She's toured with everyone from James Brown to Bob Marley, sung background vocals for the likes of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, has been mentor and vocal producer to Gloria Estefan, Joss Stone, even Beyonce, and has also served as vocal coach on P Diddy's MTV series "Making The Band".

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Seal - Soul 2 (2011)

[...] So Soul 2 is a rather inevitable follow-up, but it’s a welcome addition to the man’s catalogue: while it offers little in the way of surprises, these are 11 fine covers of fine songs by a fine singer. That Seal has a voice that can melt icecaps has never been doubted by his detractors – the problems with his material post-Seal (II) went deeper, to a basic songwriting level. Here, freed of the weight of his own emotions, he soars on a sublime Wishing on a Star (which manages to borrow its smoky backing from Sade’s Smooth Operator), and broods wonderfully on Let’s Stay Together. Later, he manages to take What’s Going On into new territories with a version that is remarkably close to rivalling Marvin Gaye’s original for jaws-on-the-floor first impressions – it’s a brilliant revision that pays tribute to Gaye while adding plenty of new appeal. An effortless cover of the Major Harris hit Love Won’t Let Me Wait shows off his evergreen vocals superbly – his 48 years haven’t dulled a single note [...]
- By Mike Diver (BBC Music)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sandy Barber - The Best Yet To Come (2011)

Born in New York City on June 8th 1955, Barber grew up and attended school just across the river in Englewood New Jersey. With the encouragement of her big family she was singing from an early age at any events that would have her. As a teenager she came second at the legendary ‘Talent Night’ at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. The Apollo was known throughout America as the premier venue of the African American circuit, and was infamous for its tough audience. Even stepping onto that stage was a challenge, but to finish in the top three was a serious achievement.

The appearance at the Apollo was heard by Chris Curry who arranged for Sandy to audition for David Jordan a producer who was working on a group called Rare Pleasure. He had a song called ‘Let Me Down Easy’ and felt that Sandy’s voice was perfect for it. The record released on Cheri Records became a club anthem – today probably better known for being sampled by David Morales on his hit ‘Needing U’ – with Sandy’s vocals perfectly capturing the songs pleading nature. Sandy didn’t enjoy working with a group and went out on her own soon after, a decision that was vindicated when a mutual friend introduced her to the producer, writer and record label owner Clyde Otis, who Sandy describes as ‘her mentor’. Otis liked what he heard and signed her immediately to the deal that would produce her album ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Fantastics - All The People (2011)

Freestyle Records big hitters The Fantastics! are back with a brand new exciting album: ‘All The People’. Never comfortable within tightly defined and rigid musical genres, The Fantastics! have always been pushing the boundaries and honing their eclectic style. ‘All The People’ sees this talented bunch dip their toes into a pool of soul-jazz, blues, latin, rock, ska, funk & fusion, laced with a distinctly progressive edge, performed with superb musicianship.  
Now in 2011 - featuring the stunning vocal talents of Sulene Fleming, who was bought up on a musical diet of Marvin Gaye and Ella Fitzgerald to The Kinks and Fleetwood Mac. Sulene worked with Ministry Of Sound, Soulheat Records, Cooker Records, and Ecko Records, as well as featuring on numerous compilations as well as writing and performing for numerous TV and film projects. 
The recent single ‘Somewhere…Finally’ was a Jazz FM ‘Single Of The Week’, and also featured on BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music and was ‘described by BBC London 94.9 presenter Robert Elms as ‘the song of the moment for me’ and had the band in to perform live on his show.