Monday, April 30, 2012

30 April - International Jazz Day

In November 2011, during the UNESCO General Conference, the international community proclaimed 30 April as "International Jazz Day". The Day is intended to raise awareness in the international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people. Many governments, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private citizens currently engaged in the promotion of jazz music will embrace the opportunity to foster greater appreciation not only for the music but also for the contribution it can make to building more inclusive societies.

Why International Jazz Day?
  • Jazz breaks down barriers and creates opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance;
  • Jazz is a vector of freedom of expression;
  • Jazz is a symbol of unity and peace;
  • Jazz reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities;
  • Jazz fosters gender equality;
  • Jazz reinforces the role youth play for social change;
  • Jazz encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones;
  • Jazz stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies. 

Daví - Reptile (single) and free ep (2012)

Twisted Jazz regulars will already know about our deep love and respect for Daví's superlative single That Thump (New music in yo ear) released last year, quickly becoming one of our favourite tracks of 2011. This spring Daví returns with a new single out on May 1st, it's called Reptiiiiile, produced by another TJ brainfeeder, Flying Lotus. 

Furthermore, a new ep will be released for free on May 12th. You can listen to a sampler right here

Malia - Black Orchid (2012)

British jazz vocalist Malia was born into a family of mixed African and English heritage in the small East African country of Malawi, which borders Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. Growing up with only the two local radio stations (one in the native tongue, the other in English) and her father’s Beatles-heavy record collection, Malia was not exposed to a large variety of music. She did not develop the intense desire to sing and create music until her early teens, when for political reasons her family was forced to relocate to London. In this new land of plenty, Malia took great interest in the rich musical landscape that surrounded her, immersing herself in the dance-oriented new wave style that dominated the English music scene. Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday soon came into her world and transformed her life and world view, encountering influential black voices for the first time. She set her mind to becoming one of them one day. After finishing school Malia took work as a waitress while she organized a band to accompany her, singing ballads and jazz standards in bars and clubs around London. She came to a stylistic turning point in a New York café when she heard a pop-jazz track sung in French that had been produced by Berklee School of Music graduate Andre Manoukian. Malia was so entranced by the enticing mix of pop and jazz sensibilities that she contacted Manoukian to solicit his help. The pair fell in love with each other’s musical ideas and potential, and set to work on Malia’s debut album, Yellow Daffodils. Though the release features English lyrics, Malia gained enormous notoriety among French audiences. Her subsequent releases, Echoes of Dreams (2004) and Young Bones (2007), found favor among jazz fans across Europe thanks to Malia’s unique, smoky vocal timbre and sensitive interpretation. Her records have climbed international soul and jazz charts as she maintains a busy touring schedule, appearing on some of the continent’s most important stages.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Apples - Fly On It (2012)

The Apples are a musical metropolis, evoking international urban landscapes, built on traditional foundations, breathing hectic traffic, perpetually expanding, creatively progressing.
They not only balance upon, they frantically run up and down the tightrope that stretches between the composed and the impromptu. Between the planned frame of a piece and the blank canvas that gives the players the space to reinterpret on the spot. The feeling that it could flow in any direction at any time and still keep a strong point of reference for the beholder’s ears, feet, soul and booty.
 The decks/horns/bass/drums/effects Nonet formed in 2002. Students at Jerusalem’s Rubin Academy of Music joined with Southern Tel Aviv’s burgeoning underground scene and Haifa’s creative jazz/ethno mentality and together began exploring spontaneous, groove-based, jazz flavored danceable improvised music.
The unconventional lineup unleashed stream-of-consciousness performances that combined heavy big band shouts with tight funk sensibilities and the instinctive weaving of a dj set.
 True-to-form packed full of horn stabs, cuts n scratches, oddball samples, electronic effects and heavy heavy grooves-Fly On It was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and finds the band closer than ever to capturing their signature explosive live sound on tape.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

VA - The Karindula Sessions: Tradi-Modern Sounds from Southeast Congo (2012)

In the south-eastern part of the Congo, young local musicians are creating their own tradi-modern style of music, which they call Karindula, a word which also designates the main instrument they use - a giant banjo made out of an oil barrel, a goat skin,  four strings, and an empty bag of powdered milk. After introducing the now-famous electrified traditional music of Congolese capital Kinshasa, Congotronics producer Vincent Kenis travelled to the mining city of Lubumbashi to record and film four Karindula bands during a 3-day mini-festival. Their wild, raw and dynamic performances are documented on this +90 min DVD & audio CD.

THE KARINDULA SESSIONS from Crammed Discs on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ig Culture - Soulful Shanghai (2012)

With ‘Soulful Shanghai’ IG draws a lineage directly from the civil values of jazz musicians like Harry Whitaker’s Black Renaissance and Roy Ayers’ We Live In Brooklyn, to present day music styles via the rhythms of hip hop, electro, house, and other drum machine a.

“I’m an OG,” says IG. “It feels right to me to link the music from musicians like Harry Whitaker, Gil Scott Heron, and the Mizells. They should be household names, but the younger generation don’t necessarily know who these people are.”

Musically, ‘Soulful Shanghai’ mixes it all up while still making sense. Selected vocalists ID 4 Windz and John Robinson, both of east coast hip hop duo Scienz Of Life, Georgia Anne Muldrow conspirator Eagle Nebula, and New Jersey residents Bilal Salaam and K Banger lock IG’s skewed beats together. The hip hop swagger is punctuated by plenty of live jazz tracks, with dedications to the Mizell brothers and Harry Whitaker keeping the swing spiritual. Perhaps the centre-piece of the album is the live rework of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, with a 2012 lyrical update by Niles ‘Asheber’ Hailstones, reminding us that images of riots stay
, and they keep happening round the world, round the clock, from decade to decade. 

Esbjörn Svensson Trio – 301 (2012)

Following the posthumous release of Leucocyte in 2008, only months after the untimely death of pianist Esbjörn Svensson, it seemed as though that album would represent e.s.t.’s final studio statement. Now, nearly four years later, 301 has emerged. It was recorded during the same sessions, whilst the Swedish trio were touring around Asia and Australia. The disc is named after the 301 Studios in Sydney.
This is no sweeping-up of studio off-cuts. This is one of e.s.t.’s greatest albums, and even arguably their ultimate work, in every sense of the word. It represents a colossal achievement, as they take their final bow. The 2007 material might be extremely varied in tone and approach, partly out of necessity, doubtless governed by the available recordings, but this circumstance works to the album’s advantage. It’s a summation of where the trio had been, and also of where these perpetually evolving players were heading next. [...]

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jessica Lauren Four - S/T (2012)

As well as her own releases on labels like SoulJazz Records and M.E.L.T 2000, Jessica's keyboard skills have augmented the live performances and studio recordings of world renowned artists such as Jean Carne, Tom Browne, Dexter Wansel and James Mason, Japan's United Future Organisation, UK soul diva Juliet Roberts, as well as Jessica currently being a core member of Nick Woodmansey's space jazz outfit Emanative.
Jessica Lauren Four is an intoxicating cocktail of her many diverse influences including blues and soul, jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms, combined with ambient dance music, always interesting, absorbing and surprising.
Highlights of the collection include WhiteMountain which is a spell binding and hypnotic blend of 21st century jazz sensibilities, combined with ambient dance music minimalism and is a first rate lesson in the 'less is more approach' to music making.
Renowned vocal sensation Jocelyn Brown makes two contributions on the album, the first being the rolling, rhythm & blues romper stomper Happiness Train, Joycelyns second appearance on this collection, I Believe is gospel influenced soul with Jessica's tender piano and organ work underpinning Jocelyn's quite outstanding and touching vocal performance.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ebo Taylor - Appia Kwa Bridge (2012)

“I wanted to go back to a highlife feeling with this album,” explains Ebo Taylor. “The songs are very personal and it is an important part of my music to keep alive many traditional Fante songs, war chants and children’s rhymes.”

‘Appia Kwa Bridge’, released this April, is a strident return from the Ghanaian highlife guitar legend. Featuring six new compositions, his sound is more dense and tightly locked than ever with Berlin-based musicians Afrobeat Academy, a rock solid unit since regular touring worldwide following his ‘Love And Death’ album in 2010, including a string of dates for WOMAD. Jochen Stroh works his analogue magic once more from his base at Berlin’s Lovelite Studios.
 The album features a number of special guests within the credits including incomparable drummer Tony Allen, original Africa 70 guitarist Oghene Kologbo and conga maestro Addo Nettey a.k.a. Pax Nicholas. Representing the younger players, keyboard genius Kwame Yeboah, son of Ghanaian legend S.K. Yeboah, makes full use of Lovelite’s famed collection of Farfisa and Wurlitzer organs.

Ebo Taylor’s ‘Appia Kwa Bridge’ is released on Strut as a 1CD, 2LP and digitally . He will be touring worldwide from May 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ayah & Slakah the Beatchild - Keep Up (2012)

Ayah & Slakah the Beatchild team up once again to create a beautiful and breezy piece of dance floor soul for your listening pleasure. Catch them if you can, and you're certain to enjoy where the magic takes you!
"When we can, we love giving music away for free simply for the pure love and desire to spread real music, uninfluenced by a label, industry or pop culture, but if you like this one, please purchase it, thank you.", says the duo on their bandcamp site.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cecilia Stalin - Step Like A Giant (2012)

A massive return to form from Cecilia Stalin – and proof that she's got way more to offer than just some amazing vocals! The set's not just great on the vocal tip, but also in terms of the arrangements, too – a 21st Century recasting of jazz modes, criss-crossed with the best bits of the European underground – served up with a vibe that's especially heavy on London flavors, too! Music crackles right from the start – and Cecilia wrote and arranged the whole set herself, while also singing these beautiful lyrics that blend old school vocalese with contemporary soul – the kind of groove that we first loved when we discovered her singing with Koop about a decade ago – but even more focused and mature here! The set features a few great remakes – "Step Like A Giant", "Afro Blue (Roots)", and "Favorite Things" – all showing her love of John Coltrane – plus the tracks "Cinematic Favorite", "Quinox", "Aisha", "One", "Shining Star", "So Blue & Green", and "My Naima".  


Fanny Franklin - Get Wet (2012)

The first solo set from funky soul songbird Fanny Franklin – and it's a great one! Fanny was the original singer for Orgone and she's been an in-demand voice for a few years now – collaborating with contemporary and legendary figures from Shawn Lee to Dennis Coffey – so it was about time she stepped out front, right? Right! The best part is that she's doing it on her own terms. Classic funk & soul-inspired songcraft, played with a youthful and modern spirit, by excellent musicians. We've loved her voice since we first heard her with Orgone, so to find out now that she also has the goods as a songwriter and primary creative engine, that feels like a total win! Tracks include "Rivers", "Get Wet", "Gasoline", "Good Stuff", "Pushin", "My World", "Open Your Eyes", "All The Pretty Girls", "Dug Up", "Yes You Do" and "Keep On Runnin".  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chicago Underground Duo - Age of Energy (2012)

This year marks a milestone for the Chicago Underground Duo.  It is their 15th year together as a band. In celebration of this momentous occasion they have released a new record on a brand new label.
Age of Energy is Chad Taylor and Rob Mazurek’s sixth release as Chicago Underground Duo and the twelfth release in the Chicago Underground catalog.
 Developed during 2009 when the duo toured the east and west coasts, most of the material on the record was recorded live with very few overdubs.   Thematically, Age of Energy is concerned with the balance between controlled and uncontrolled experiences. Computers, keyboards and drum machines pulse alongside ancient instruments like the African Mbira. ‘Winds and Sweeping Pines’ opens with Chad and Rob playing synthesizers and electronics, gradually as the piece develops, Chad switches to drums and Rob switches to cornet and they improvise over a blistering bass vamp in classic Chicago Underground Duo style. ‘It’s Alright’ is a piece making extensive use of electroacoustics, starting with a drone which incorporates extreme high and low frequencies. The electronics are overdriven with results of both known and unknown nature. ‘Castle In Your Heart’ is based on a traditional Shona song from Zimbabwe and constitutes the only acoustic composition. ‘Age of Energy’  alternates between a 21/8 and a 12/8 rhythmic cycle over a dissonant pedal point. This track was also recorded live in the studio, without any overdubs.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again (2012)

 Most obviously, Kiwanuka's music fits the post-Amy Winehouse vogue for faux-vintage soul. It signposts its retro intentions from its opening seconds – the first thing you hear is a jazzy flute in a style not dissimilar to that of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. In fact, there's jazz flute all over the shop, along with saxophones blowing free solos and string and brass arrangements that so obviously recall the early 70s – not just Bill Withers or Terry Callier, but Van Morrison's Moondance and Nick Drake's Bryter Layter – you listen in fear that the whole thing might suddenly grind to a halt because the miners are out and the power stations have shut down.
 Home Again's strength lies in the fact that it manages to tick a lot of boxes without sounding like it set out to tick a lot of boxes. It seems a faintly ridiculous thing to say about an album that's so clearly busting a gut to sound 40 years older than it actually is, but it feels natural rather than forced or calculating. That's partly down to Paul Butler's production. It's perhaps a bit much to coat Kiwanuka's vocals in a thin layer of distortion – a kind of sonic equivalent of distressing furniture with sandpaper – with the implicit accompanying suggestion this music has recently been unearthed in the vaults of Blue Thumb or Cadet Records rather than recorded on the Isle of Wight last year with the bloke out of the Bees, but there's something beguiling about its warm, live sound. Mostly, though, it's down to Kiwanuka's voice and songs. The former is rich and fluid, the latter balance a sure grasp of an immediate melody against chord sequences that shift in ways you don't quite anticipate. Listening to Tell Me a Tale or I Won't Lie, you're struck by the way they manage to sound both comfortingly familiar and slightly unexpected, an impressive trick to pull off.[...]

- Alexis Petrides (The Guardian

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lee Fields & The Expressions - Faithful Man (2012)

Since the late sixties Lee Fields has amassed a prolific catalog and has played and toured with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, and many more. With a career spanning 43 years, it’s mind-blowing that the music he’s making today with Brooklyn’s Truth & Soul Records is the best of his career. While drawing comparisons to The Moments, The Delfonics, The Stylistics, and—of course—James Brown, Faithful Man is able to create a space of it’s own due to the group’s desire to interpret and further the formulas of good soul music rather then imitate them. Chalk that up to Truth & Soul producers and co-owners Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels. These are the same individuals that co-wrote, produced, and played on Aloe Blacc’s global smash I Need A Dollar, and have provided the back drop for records by Adele, GhostfaceKillah, and Jay-Z to name a few. “The older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul” said DJ Oliver Wang about Fields in an NPR feature. Faithful Man is the next step towards perfection. A step that will find Lee Fields & The Expressions finally being bestowed the contemporary soul music crown.

Ahmad Jamal - Blue Moon (2012)

Pianist Ahmad Jamal (a man even Miles Davis credited as a big influence) is now 81 — and he remains a genius at the art of motivic improvising, repeating a catchy theme (so listeners don't lose the plot) while transforming it with fresh melody. Here, Jamal combines eloquent originals with dazzling makeovers of American standards (Laura, Invitation, Gypsy and the title track), in the inspired company of Wynton Marsalis sidemen Reginald Veal (bass) and Herlin Riley (drums), with an incandescent Manolo Badrena on Latin percussion. Jamal's Autumn Rain opens the show with his trademark grandiloquent chords over a ticking rimshot groove, turning to rolling keyboard-length runs and a funk feel. Blue Moon is a classic firework display of silvery runs and arpeggios full of hints of the tune, the original I Remember Italy is a delicious, tender melody, and the jazz standby Woody 'n You is as vivacious a Latin dance as anything Jamal might have recorded in his early years. Sometimes his virtuosity takes Jamal over the top, but this session looks set to be one of his classics.

By John Fordham (The Guardian

Dr. John - Locked Down (2012)

New Orleans legend Dr. John's Nonesuch debut, produced by Black Keys guitarist and uber-fan Dan Auerbach, distills half a century of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee's picaresque musical history, melding his shamanistic stage persona with the authority of a consummate studio musician, the cosmic conjurer with the street-savvy poet. The ten new songs on Locked Down, written by Dr. John with Auerbach and a handpicked crew of backing musicians, combine incantatory chants ("Ellegua") and often politically charged raps ("Revolution") with candid and soulful reflections ("My Children, My Angels"), swaggering R&B ("Big Shot"), and a healthy dose of hypnotic, simmering funk ("The King Of Izness"). As with much of what this multiple Grammy-award winning singer and composer has recorded over the last five decades, the Big Easy is the musical and spiritual jumping-off point, but these new tracks incorporate a world's worth of influences, from gospel and blues to psychedelic rock and Afro-beat.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Quantic & Alice Russell (with the Combo Barbaro) - Look Around The Corner (2012)

The first full collaborative album from musical soulmates Quantic and Alice Russell, two of the UK’s best loved independent artists.

The combined talents of singer Alice Russell and producer/musician Will Holland (aka Quantic) have always been a match made in heaven, and the vibrant sound of this beautiful album is a fresh blend of pure sweet soul and blues, with overtones of gospel and folk music and the added Latin swing of the Combo Bárbaro.
Pushing the concept of their previous work together, they wanted to have a Latin undertone to the style. Rather like the soul records made in Miami and New York in the 70s, or the disco from the Bronx, it has the accent of Latin players but still a lot of the blues and soul sound; Chicago’s Chess label was a big influence from a production aesthetic.
The record features Mike Simmonds (Alice Russell’s regular strings guru who joined them in Colombia from London for the recording), as well as the revered pianist Alfredito Linares, bassist Fernando Silva and conga player Freddy Colorado, all from the Combo Bárbaro. Wilson Viveros, from coastal town Buenaventura, was an invited drummer – more known for playing timbales for Guayacan, Fruko and Joe Madrid, he is also an incredible kit drummer. Also on drums for some songs was Larry Joseph, a talented Jazz drummer who resides and plays in Cali. Alfredito is the instrumentalist star of the show, sprinkling his magical and charismatic brand of bluesy, boogaloo piano over the album.

Monophonics - In Your Brain (2012)

The new record from San Francisco based band Monophonics entitled “In Your Brain” sits on the fuzzy psych side of soul and funk. Paying homage to innovators of psychedelic soul such as Sly Stone, Norman Whitfield and Funkedelic’s George Clinton the 6 piece outfit displays their ability to put a moody stamp on each composition whether its an original or cover. Touching on everything from cinematic soul, heavy funk, 60’s rock and spaghetti western laced with yellow sunshine acid, the album is sure to leave you tuned in and turned on

[Film] Charles Bradley: Soul of America (2011)

Starting off on his 62nd birthday, Charles Bradley: Soul of America follows the extraordinary journey of singer Charles Bradley during the electrifying and transformative months leading up to the release of his debut album "No Time for Dreaming."  Despite being abandoned as a child, a period of homelessness, the devastating loss of his brother and constant poverty, Charles never gave up on his life long dream to be a professional singer. With the help of producer and Grammy-winner Gabriel Roth (Daptone Records) and musician Tommy Brenneck, Charles moved away from the James Brown covers he'd been performing for nearly half a century and focused on finding his own unique voice. Earning himself an opening spot on tour for Sharon Jones, the biggest artist in the Daptone stable, Charles delivered the most impassioned performances of his life...