Review: Call Me: Jazz from the Penthouse presents previously unreleased live recordings from jazz pianist Jack Wilson and his quartet. Wilson is best known for working with majors lie kAtlantic and Blue Note and here worked with a then-young Roy Ayers in Seattle in the hot summer months of 1966. The tracks take in some classic standards as well as some of the days pop hits. The grooves flow freely, the vibes are perfect accompaniment for dinner time listening sessions and the group features Von Barlow on drums and Buddy Woodson on bass. A fascinating 24 page booklet is also included for extra context.
Review: Expansion's latest must-check seven-inch mines Roy Ayers' 1983 album "Lots Of Love", a sparkling post-disco set that combined the vibraphonist's usual jazz-funk flavours with colourful synthesizers and genuine boogie flavours. "Everybody" on the A-side is particularly potent; a lolloping synth-boogie head-nodder rich in life-affirming synthesizer squelches, rubbery jazz-funk bass, fluid Ayers vibraphone solos and background vocals that sneakily reference "Everybody Loves The Sunshine". Flipside "And Then We Were One" is if anything even more summery in feel, with mazy synth and vibraphone motifs dancing atop a killer jazz-funk groove. It's a little more up-tempo than the A-side, but arguably a little less addictive.
Review: When it comes to offering up seven-inch singles of tracks taken from classic or sought-after albums, Dynamite Cuts has an impressive track record. They're at it again here, this time mining Roy Ayers and Wayne Henderson's 1978 jazz-funk/disco fusion masterpiece "Step Into Our Life". On the A-side you'll find the languid, loose and groovy title track, a memorable affair in which dueling vibraphone and trumpet solos make merry atop a head-nodding, toe-tapping jazz-funk groove. Flipside "For Real" is a little more energetic and loved-up, with touchy-feely vocals, husling slap-bass and sci-fi synths to the fore.
Pharoah Sanders - "You've Got To Have Freedom" (Opolopo Tweak) (7:12)
Roy Ayers - "We Live In Brooklyn Baby" (Opolopo Tweak) (6:05)
Review: The latest missive on GAMM is something of a biggie. It features two superb reworks of classic cuts by Pharoah Sanders and Roy Ayers courtesy of Opolopo, a house producer whose cuts always have plenty of synth-fired funk and lashings of soul. He brilliantly transforms Sanders' "You've Got To Have Freedom" into a rubbery, Latin-tinged house number, underpinning the original jazz cut - complete with righteous vocals and killer trumpet solos - with an ace new bassline and beefed-up beats. He takes a different approach on his revision of Roy Ayers' "We Live In Brooklyn Baby", re-casting it as a rolling and chunky house number full of suspenseful string parts, twinkling pianos and Ayers' titular vocal.
Review: This is the second part of Virgin Ubiquity: Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981 and is again packed with tracks that are far more than unreleased findings from the cutting room floor. Each one serves as another feather in the bow of the virtuoso Ayers, who combined jazz, funk, soul and disco in magical and unique ways throughout his career. In doing so he laid down a precursor to acid jazz and hip hop. These are tracks that show off his dynamic, liquid rhythm sections and mellifluous keys, as well as the vocal talents of a range of collaborators who touch on soaring and sensuous highs as well as more gravel and earthy lows. Essential.
Review: Second time around for "Virgin Ubiquity", a killer collection of previously unreleased Roy Ayers recordings that first appeared in stores way back in 2003. Focusing on the period between 1976 and '81, much of the material joins the dots between jazz-funk, soul, disco and boogie. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the weighty, horn-heavy release of the Merry Clayton voiced "What's The T" and heady "Oh What A Lonely Feeling", to the languid vibraphone solos of mellow groover "Green and Gold", jazzy bliss of "Mystic Voyage (Version)" and the stomping, disco era street funk of "I Am Your Mind". In a word: essential.