Review: Tastemaking US jazz label International Anthem serves up this special 7" from Angel Bat Dawid in response to Emma Warren's 2019 book "Make Some Space", which told the story of London DIY music space Total Refreshment Centre. Featuring clarinets, keys and drum machines, both tracks are hugely conversational, with emotional pain and power ebbing and flowing through both originals pieces. A-side "Transition East" overflows with ideas and narrative while "No Space For Us" is more cautious and subdued, but both leave a lasting impact. The track features Angel with Ben LaMar Gay and Brazilian talents Edbrass Brasil, Romulo Alexis, Tadeu Mascarenhas, Nancy Viegas and Germano Estacio.
Review: Touchingly, the A side of latest single from Ruby Rushton is a tribute to de facto bandleader Tenderlonious' father, who spent many years working in Nepal. Entitled "Sun Khosi", the track is a brilliantly summery blast of percussive, Afro-fired jazz fusion laden with sweat-soaked horn blasts, snaking Latin trumpet lines, deep Rhodes notes and inspired alto flute solos from Tenderlonious. B-side "Chrysalis" was composed by keys-player Adrian Shepherd and was influenced by the style of one of his inspirations, jazz pianist John Taylor. It's up-tempo, bold, hugely enjoyable, electric piano-heavy and sits somewhere between jazz-funk and the kind of jazz-fusion fare made famous by Azymuth.
Review: Last time we heard from Gotan Project founder Philippe Cohen-Sohal, he was releasing the first solo album under his given name - a wholehearted tribute to the French "chanson" sound entitled "Paradis Artificiel(s)". He's changed tack on the follow-up, "Mind Food", revisiting and reworking a range of unreleased tracks he wrote and recorded two decades ago while daydreaming of writing film soundtracks (something he has since done on a number of occasions). The results are predictably impressive, with Cohen-Sohal and a handful of guest musicians and vocalists (Scritti Politti's Green Gartside included) offering up a selection of timeless songs and instrumentals that mix and match neo-classical orchestration, hot-to-trot jazz rhythms, downtempo soul and occasional nods towards both samba and bossa-nova. It's the kind of sumptuous, well-crafted album that the word "timeless" could have been invented to descrive.
Review: Acclaimed pianist Greg Foat is a mainstay of the current UK jazz revival thanks to works on Jazzman and Athens of the North. He draws on soul and library music for his inspiration and serves up lush symphonies that are rich in detail, layer and emotion. This new album, which makes use of pedal steel for the first time, goes even more widescreen in its approach and includes powerfully uplifting tracks like "Anticipation" as well as more sensual and slower groovers and languid movers like "Island Life." It is the sound of an artist and composer at the very peak of his powers.
Review: After spending so much of their career to date releasing on Jazzman, it's interesting to see The Greg Foat Group make their way over to Athens Of The North for this cool and deadly new record. "The Dreaming Jewels" keeps the grooves simmering low down - all the sweeter to sink into. Just lock in on "Eric's Breakdown" and ask yourself if the track needs any more than that sweet conga flex. "The Door Into Summer" is a beautifully mellow jam too, all sultry Rhodes and sax to signal the start of lazy days. There are more tender moments and some breezier affairs, but the vibe remains chilled throughout this wonderful set from an accomplished band.
Review: As part of his Gondwana label's 10th anniversary, masterful Manchester trumpeter and contemporary jazz trendsetter Matthew Halsall has put together a special deluxe edition of his beautiful "Colour Yes" album with thick reverse board sleeves, silver block letter foiling and two printed inner sleeves. First released in 2009, the album showcases Halsall's deeply emotive style across the 8 achingly good, supremely spiritual tracks that glow with gorgeous piano playing, gently lilting drums and his own fantastic leads.
Review: This release marks something of a departure for Athens of the North, a label predominantly known for reissuing ludicrously rare funk and soul sevens. For starters, it's a brand new album, written, performed and produced by jazzman Greg Foat and Warren Hampshire, who's best known for being a member of The Bees. Then there's what it sounds like. While there are nods to the organic, immaculately produced soul of Rotary Connection, for the most part Galaxies Like Grains of Sand is a luscious fusion of hazy, Cinematic Orchestra style jazz, folksy downtempo compositions, and the blissful, head-in-the-clouds bliss of new age influenced ambient. Surprising or not, it's an utterly beguiling album
Review: Like many of her previous Black Earth Ensemble projects, Nicole Mitchell's latest album was directly inspired by the work of African American science fiction author Octavia E Butler, and in particular the latter's "Earthseed" concept: an egalitarian philosophy and spiritual practice that promotes independent thinking, community action and acceptance of change in a dystopian world. Mitchell's musical interpretation, which was written with vocalist and musician Lisa E Harris and recorded at the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Fullerton Hall back in 2017, is impressively experimental in tone, mixing elements of free-jazz and spiritual jazz with nods towards opera, spaced-out electronica, neo-classical and the storytelling structure of musical theatre. A brave, important and undeniably impressive work.