Karate Boogaloo - "Do You Even Know What A Passport Is" (4:35)
Review: The second salvo from Aussie imprint College Of Knowledge offers up two sizzling sides of revivalist instrumental soul and funk from bands who've yet to make their mark outside of the Southern hemisphere. Surprise Chef, who helped launched the label earlier in year, handle side A, offering up a loose, percussive and hugely attractive number rich in mazy organ lines, fuzzy bass and classic funk guitar licks. Karate Boogaloo take a slightly more relaxed approach on the flip, layering fluid guitar solos and sustained, elongated Hammond organ chords over a bluesy soul groove.
Review: Rocafort Records has excelled itself once again with this release, a four-track journey into "oriental jazz" by a quartet of international musicians helmed by young Turkish pianist, composer and arranger Gokhan Surer. He describes his style as "world, fusion, jazz", which is a neat summary of the exotic, evocative and emotion-rich material on offer. Check first the warm occidental jazz shuffle of "Chimera" before recoiling in wonder at the Turkish strings, double bass, hushed percussion and jazz-funk style electric piano solos of "Dere". Over on side B, "Makam Rasta" is an inspired fusion of reggae, jazz-funk and Arabian instrumentation, while "Onbesli" is a rolling fusion cut underpinned by hip-hop style beats.
Review: Is there a more genuinely eclectic producer than Kalbata operating right now? We certainly can't think of one. Over the last decade and a half he's turned his hand to everything from dub, techno, dubstep and electro to Balearic beats, downtempo grooves and inspired musical fusions that simply cannot be categorized. His latest excursion - made in cahoots with five-piece Israeli band Tigris -falls into the latter category, offering up a brilliant blend of African and Caribbean rhythms, Turkish psych-funk organ solos, off-kilter electronics, wavy ambient chords and glistening guitars. It's hard to accurately describe but brilliantly produced and hugely entertaining. Don't sleep on this one!
Review: Founded in 1967 by singer/producer Carlos Oliva and other Cuban immigrants to the United States, Los Sobrinos del Juez were briefly one of the leading protagonists of the turn-of-the-'70s "Miami Sound" - a humid and intoxicating fusion of blues, rock, funk and dancefloor-focused Latin sounds. Their 1974 debut single "Harina De Maiz" - here reissued for the first time since - is a perfect example of that short lived style, offering up a mixture of wah-wah-guitar and psychedelic organ-powered Latin funk grooves and righteous Cuban vocals. On this edition it comes backed by the previously unheard "Corned Beef Hash", a swinging Latin-jazz number rich in vibraphone solos, jaunty piano riffs and plenty of hip-wiggling percussion.
Review: Since launching last year, Lil Static has offered up new, lightly altered editions of classic tracks from Jeru the Damaja, Kraftwerk, Run-DMC, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. Here they continue to serve up vital beats for break-digging DJs via classic cuts from Eric B. & Rakim and Mountain. The A side sports an edited version of 1986 cut "Eric B. Is President", a synth-bass propelled NYC hip-hop gem rich in unmistakable rap vocals and tight scratching. Over on side B there's a chance to savour Mountain's late '60s rock cut that provided the Eric B. & Rakim track (and so many others since) with its distinctive drum break, "Long Red". This edited version gives more prominence to the breaks, making it an ideal mixing tool for hip-hop DJs.
Review: The jazz and broken beat revival continues apace as we race through 2019, so original pioneers of the sound are rightly coming back into focus. Enter the Brand New Heavies, one of the key acts of the mid-eighties who sound as good on this brand new album as ever. It's littered with funk-licked pop, crystalline acid jazz and singalong songs that range from tender ballads to soaring soul. Angie Stone, Beverley Knight and other vocalists lend their tones along the way, but importantly TBNH is not a revival or self-satisfied celebration. Instead, it feels like a forward-looking and accomplished album that takes the band in subtle new directions.
Review: American funk band Breakwater is best known for their hit "Release The Beast," which gets a reissue treatment by Be With. Even if you don't know the name, you'll recognise the track's withering lead riff because it was sampled by Daft Punk for their iconic "Robot Rock". It's mad to think such a futuristic sound was created somewhere in Philly in 1979, but it was. The flip side houses the smooth and buttery "Let Love In", a feel good, deep cut funk gem with vocal harmonies, bulbous bass and hip swinging claps.
Review: Africa Seven's second tribute to the "funky sounds of female Africa" is packed to the rafters with gems. While some of the material may be familiar to those digging Afro-funk, disco and boogie - see Oby Onyioha's breezy boogie sing-along "Enjoy Your Life", the similarly awesome early '80s dancefloor pressure of Nayanka Bell's "Just A Boogie" and the gnarled disco-rock pressure of Christy Essien's "Nobody Can Stop You" - the vast majority of tracks are not only little-known, but also simply essential. Our picks include the disco-reggae bounce of Bebe Manga's "Lokognolo", Theodora Ifudu's Teena Marie style disco-boogie workout "This Time Around" and the spiraling heavy funk pressure of Diane Solo's "N'Ziketio".
Review: It seems so obvious you wonder why it doesn't happen more often: Stefano Torossi's "Feelings" album from 2000 was made up of track titles that convey certain situations and emotions that he masterfully reflects in the music. This new double 7" includes the highlights, such as the racing jazz and trumpet stabs of "Running Fast," the sustained and uneasy chords of "Fearing Much" and "Feeling Tense," which is actually a pretty lush bit of smooth jazz. "Walking In The Dark" rounds off the double pack with playful guitars and luxuriant synths that are pure soundtrack goodness. Ace.
Review: Stefano Tirone has been a stalwart of the Italian scene since making his debut on legendary Italian house label Calypso Records way back in 1992. Since then, his productions have become increasingly more jazz and soul focused, with a sizeable side order of groovy downtempo beats. His latest seven-inch single begins with "Try My Love", a hazy chunk of head-nodding jazz-funk/soul fusion rich in languid synthesizer solos, lazy grooves, hazy horns and soulful vocals. It's really good all told, though we'd argue that flipside "Odoya" - a wiggling chunk of Afro-tinged mid-tempo funk - is even better. Either way, it's another rock solid release from the effervescent Tirone.
Review: Clear the way when you see them coming through! Three albums deep since 2016, Jalapeno's in-house funk machine The Allergies wheel up with more brand new material. "Every Trick In The Book" shakes and slides with a wry psychedelic groove, a familiar vocal, big horns and lavish dollops of the feel-good flare the Bristol duo have made their signature. Need something spicier? Flip over for "Nuff Respect" where long-standing MC partner in vibes Andy Cooper steps up to cover one of the all time OGs: Big Daddy Kane. Back up and bow.
Review: Pal Joey is a legendary New York house producer. Whatever alias he assumes - and there are many - you can be sure of real quality, and this 7" features two of his best: As Soho he offers the jazzy keys and funked up house loops of "Hot Music" which samples Wynton Marsalis's "Skain's Domain". On the flip, he becomes Earth People and serves up pure house joy on "Dance" with its ebullient vocal yelps, party starting sax lines and timeless chords. It's the sort of celebratory, end of the night weapon that will send people home in absolute raptures.
Review: Ubiquity is back with another of its two part 7"s, this time from contemporary soul group The Soul Surfers. Experts at covering the greats, they recently turned their hand to a classic from The JB's, while this time out it is Kool & The Gang's classic "Summer Madness" that gets a deep-cut and sexy make over. Part 1 is a sensuous slow burner with downtempo drums and heavenly guitar playing, while part 2 has harder drum grooves and dreamy , psyched-out guitars. It's another ageless rework that you need in your life.
Review: Funk Night Records were quick to snap up some newly recorded material from Philly psych band Grimace Federation as soon as they heard it, and for good reason. These tracks were recorded during a weekend in a session with producer John McEntire and manage to sound raw and distorted yet seductive. "Dotsero" echoes the magic of Adrian Younge with its big horns and stirring soul, while "Starspots" is a more expansive track, with nebulous chords, busy drum playing and plenty of jazz elements making it a real cosmic voyage.
Review: At the time of his passing in 2017, the late, great soul star Leon Ware was working on a new album with long-time collaborator Taylor Graves. Although he never finished it, Be With has decided to put together a final posthumous album that contains the five songs he finished for the set - which, impressively, include cameos from the likes of Kamasi Washington and Thundercat - and six cuts from an obscure, Japan-only CD from 2013. It's a wonderful listen from start to finish, with the Latin-tinged soul-jazz of "For The Rainbow", the head-nodding boogie business of "Sigh" and the synth-laden, strangely swung brilliance of "Are You Ready" amongst the highlights.
Review: Few do funky soul jazz sessions as well as The New Mastersounds, who first formed in Leeds in 1999 and have gone on to be regulars at the Jazz Cafe as well as New Orleans' annual Jazz Fest. Late last year in Denver, the band linked up with vocalist Lamar Williams Jr (son of the late Allman Brothers bassist Lamar Williams) to record this high class album of soulful horns, live drums and heartfelt vocals, all finished off with percussion by Thievery Corporation's Jeff Franca. Digging deep into the history of funk while also looking to a new paradigm, "Shake It" is an album of feel-good emotions that make a lasting impression.
Review: With the state of world politics at the moment, we could all do with the occasional pick me up. Enter The Pharaohs who link with Chicago natives Spencer Jackson Family for "Bring Back Peace To The World", which gets a timely reissue on Ubiquity. It's a spiritual bit of jazz funk with sax lines to get you grooving, deep soul vocals that stir you from the inside out and gospel overtones that get anyone ready to rejoice. Each part is as essential as the other and despite adding up to just over five minutes in total, both cuts will no doubt enhance your mood.
Ebo Taylor - "Peace On Earth" (Monsieur Scott remix) (4:55)
Pat Thomas - "We Are Coming Home" (5:51)
Pat Thomas - "We Are Coming Home" (2 Paris Septembre re-edit) (4:51)
Review: Comet's ongoing "Highlife Re-Edit" series is perfect for those who want a little contemporary pizzazz alongside their Afro-disco grooves and dancefloor-ready highlife classics. Like its predecessor, the series' latest volume boasts cuts from highlife legends Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas. The former's punchy, breezy and trumpet-laden highlife-jazz cut "Peace On Earth" can be found on side A, alongside a dreamy Monsieur Scott version that drags the track further towards leisurely jazz-house territory. The Pat Thomas track showcased on side B is "We Are Coming Home", a righteous highlife/funk fusion effort rich in dense percussion and eyes-closed rock guitar solos. The accompanying 2 Paris Septembre Re-Edit brilliantly re-invents it as a bustling broken beat affair laden in shimmering synths and squelchy electronic bass.
Review: Recorded in 1983 and '84 respectively, "Feelings" and "Sidiku Buari & His Jam Busters" were the last albums recorded by Sidiku Buari, a New York based musician who turned to music after a promising career as an athlete in his native Ghana. He initially rose to prominence making highlife and afro-disco, but by the early '80s Sidiku was in full-on Afro-boogie and electrofunk mode, offering up tracks rich in colourful synthesizer lines, punchy electronic drums and righteous vocals in his native tongue. There's much to set the pulse racing across both slabs of wax, from the squelchy, club-ready brilliance of "Music" and "Anokwar (Truth)", to the slap bass propelled flex of "Minsumobo", dub disco grooves of "Karambani" and flute-laden breeziness of "Rhythm Of Africa".