Review: On his previous excursion for Far Out Recordings, legendary Brazilian artist Marcos Valle offered up a string of samba-soaked Latin jazz and jazz-funk gems. Here he flips the script by offering up a set of songs that recall the boogie-fired brilliance of his disco-era output. There's much to admire throughout, from the warmth of cheery opener "Olha Quem Ta Chegando" and the Azymuth style samba jazz-funk shuffle of "Odisseia", to the glassy-eyed sweetness of "Alma" and the slow and seductive grooves of "Distancia". Best of all, though, is "Vou Amanha Saber", a rousing disco-funk outing rich in weighty grooves and surging horns.
Review: Jazzman's dusty-fingered diggers recently did a deal to reissue some of the "holy grail" albums released by Austin-based Fable Records in small numbers back in the early 1970s. Forty Seven Times Its Own Weight's "Cumulo Nimbus" is the first of these. It's a pleasingly warm and evocative set of tracks from the one-album combo that offers an enjoyable and cutting edge fusion of hard-wired jazz-funk, post-modal fusion, horizontal slow jams and low-slung goodness that pairs free-jazz style solos and spiritual grooves with just the right amount of funk-fuelled instrumentation (see "Jig"). The set includes both dancefloor-friendly and laid-back fare, with the jaunty title somehow managing to tick both boxes at once.
Review: Ahead of a fresh album due later in the year, Nat Birchall fires up his quartet and returns to the Jazz45 series with a second seven-inch salvo for the Jazzman offshoot. A-side "Obeah Man" is wonderfully sweet, soulful and breezy, with Birchall and company layering jaunty spiritual jazz style piano riffs and snaking solos (think Clarinet, sax, trumpet etc) over a warm, loose and bustling groove. They continue on a similar vein on the slightly bolder flipside cut "Seeking", where bandmembers trade solos atop a classic jazz style bassline and fizzing drums. That forthcoming album should be killer.
Review: During the 1970s, Sanifu Al Hall Jr decided to form a group dedicated to blending jazz, soul and cutting-edge electronic sounds. The brilliantly named Cosmos Dwellerz Arkestra never released any music during the period - not commercially, at least - with this fascinating 12" marking their belated debut. "Love Thoughts", which was committed to tape in 1977, is undoubtedly intergalactic, offering a spiritually-minded mix of spiraling jazz-funk synths, woozy horn solos, stoned drums and toaster-hot bass. On the flip you'll find an interesting curio: an extended 1967 radio interview with Sanifu Al Hall Jr in which he discusses his musical story and approach to life.
Review: Soul Jazz has previously dug deep into the back catalogue of American flautist Lloyd McNeill, reissuing a number of albums including two made with his acclaimed jazz quintet. Their latest rummage through the vaults has resulted in the reissue of one of his most sought-after sets - 1976 private press LP "Treasures", original copies of which now change hands for significant sums online. It remains a fine album, all told, with McNeill's breezy, ear-catching flute solos rising over backing tracks that are variously sublimely sun-kissed (the bright pianos and cheery madrigal mood of "Salvation Army"), suave and swinging ("As A Matter Of Fact") and effortlessly soft and seductive (the unfurling beauty of "You Don't Know What Love Is").
Review: Founded in 1981, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble has been responsible for some sublime albums over the years. They built their reputation via a swathe of sets dedicated to free jazz and inspired improvisational workouts, but "Be Known: Ancient/Future/Music" is a little more structured and polished, with clear influences from spiritual jazz and African music. It's a blend that consistently produces impressive results, from the chant-along soul-jazz spirituality of "Be Known" and loose-limbed madness of "Blew It", to the tribal drums and soulful vocals of "Wish I Knew" and the slow-burn vibes of simmering late night cut "Ntozake".
Review: Finnish jazz scene heavyweights Timo Lassy (saxophone) and Teppo Makynen (drums) are old studio buddies. They've released a number of collaborative singles, but this self-titled set is their first joint album. After kicking off via the slow-burn ambient jazz creepiness of "Fallow", the pair shuffles through sparse but engrossing cuts that combine Lassy's meandering headline-grabbing saxophone solos with Makynen's ambidextrous drum rhythms and melodic percussion parts (think xylophone, marimba, kalimba etc). It's very experimental in nature and closer in spirit to free-jazz than some of their collaborative work, though the results are uniformly impressive and strangely alluring.
Review: The buzz around this sophomore set from Bahrandi-born British jazz musician Yazz Ahmed has been palpable. One critic even described it as a "modern jazz masterpiece", and it's easy to see why. While rooted in numerous now traditional jazz styles, it also mines the jauntiness of jazz-funk and draws huge influence from Arabic musical culture. As a result, La Saboteuse is packed full of intoxicating, beautifully performed highlights. Check, for example, the gently foreboding movements of the trumpet and clarinet-laden "Jamil Jamal", the trippy ambient electronica/jazz fusion of "The Space Between The Fish and the Moon" and the skittish, vibraphone-heavy epic that is "Organ Eternal". Simply essential.
Review: Formed in 2017, the Sokratis Votskos Quartet is fast becoming one of the leading lights in Greek jazz. Later in the year they'll be releasing a brand new album on Jazzman, from which this tasty double A-side is taken. "Almopian Etude" is a veritable humid summer breeze of a track: a loose and languid fusion of spiritual piano motifs, languid double bass, bustling drums and alternately snaking and intoxicating horn solos. B-side "Sevenates" is an altogether funkier proposition, with cyclical saxophone motifs increasing in intensity over a jumpy, piano-driven rhythm track. It's not exactly jazz-funk, but it's certainly travelling in that direction. Either way, it's ace.