Habbanera (Leo Mas & Fabrice alternate remix) (6:41)
Review: Over the years, Italian eccentrics 291out have proved tricky to pin down. While their releases are rooted in the spacey end of the jazz-funk spectrum, they also touch on film soundtracks, quirky electronica and meandering progressive rock. This time out they're operating on a Latin tinged jazz-rock tip, with crunchy guitars, fuzz-soaked horns, rubbery bass and eyes-closed electric piano motifs rising above a head-nodding groove. The band's included "Alternative Version" is noticeably wilder and more intense, with a looser beat and a greater number of mind-mangling horn solos. In terms of remixes, you'll find Italian veterans Leo Mas and Fabrice at the controls. Their A-side revision sounds a little like a jazzier take on Italian Balearic rock merchants Almunia, while their flipside "Alternative Remix" is a bounding, peak-time-ready jazz-house workout.
Review: Although best known as the lead singer of well-regarded Japanese funk-soul band O.A.S.B, Amy Akaoka has long dreamed up recording a salsa album in the style of '60s and '70s pianist and bandleader Larry Harlow. This tasty two-track 7" single is her first release in the style - the album will appear later in the year - and is as summery, breezy and life affirming as you'd expect. She begins with "Tu Jamas", where male backing vocals, jaunty pianos and her own passionate lead vocal ride a sweat-soaked salsa rhythm. Turn to the B-side for the horn-heavy delight that is breezy salsa shuffler "Solo Tu Amor". Naturally, both are hugely authentic to the style of salsa championed by Harlow.
Review: Astonishingly, Boogaloo's re-make of Pharoah Sanders classic "You've Gotta Have Freedom" is now 24 years old. It was originally included on the B-side of the jazz-loving Swedish hip-hop outfit's 1995 EP "Humongous Steps (Back Down To London)", but arguably became more widely known when it was reissued by G.A.M.M. on 12" in 2003. Here it appears on 7" for the first time, with the band's vocal version - a positive, life-affirming delight that brilliantly flits between sections faithful to Sanders' version and rapped section underpinned by live hip-hop breaks - being accompanied by an equally impressive instrumental take. If it's not already in your collection, this edition should be an essential purchase.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: Nicola Conte and Gianluca Petrella follow up last year's beautiful "African Spirits / New World Shuffle" with two more lavish instrumentals. "Sun Song" lives up to its name with wave after wave of heated musicianship from the belting harmonies to the light-touch keys. "Nigeria" taps deep into the source too as it drives us through the heart of Lagos with full horns and sweeping keys. Spiritual, sun-splashed and vital.
Review: For the second salvo on Cornhusker Records, the publicity-shy crew is treating us to a quartet of re-edits starting impressively with "Easily", a floor-focused rearrangement of a slap bass, woodblock and sax-heavy chunk of jazz-funk goodness, before turning a jaunty Mizell Brothers cut into a rolling house groover. The fun continues on side B, where the sweaty percussive Hammond funk of "Launchpad" is followed by head-in-the-clouds delight "Bring It", a subtle scalpel rework of a Clavinet-sporting Blaxploitation era disco-funk workout. Given the variety and quality on show, this has the feel of a record that might stay in your "playing out" box for a while.
Rubberband Of Life (feat Ledisi - radio edit) (4:22)
Rubberband Of Life (feat Ledisi) (5:46)
Rubberband Of Life (instrumental) (5:37)
Review: Amongst jazz aficionados, Miles Davis's Rubberband album is regarded as one of the genre's "lost classics". Although recorded in 1985, the set has never been released. We're promised it will finally appear later in the year. First, as a taster, we're treated to an EP that accompanies the legendary title track - a dexterous and squeezable chunk of '80s electrofunk blessed with some fine soloing from Davis - with three new "Rubberband of Life" versions. These feature vocalist Ledisi and re-cast the track as a dusty, Fugees style chunk of New York hip-hop soul. While radically different in the best possible way, all three versions (radio edit, extended and instrumental takes) prominently feature the legendary trumpet player's meandering lead lines.
Review: Matthew Halsall's Gondwana label is seeing a busy August what with the imprint flooding our jazz charts with reissues and, of course, new releases such as this wonderful collaborative effort from The Gondwana Orchestra and Dwight Trible. Trible's voice is like silk, running up and down the delicate waves of melodies from the collective, with "Colors" and "The Creator Has A Master Plan" both capable of making the toughest of audiences feel utterly uplifted. On the flip, "Love Is Everywhere" shines bright amid a flurry of flutes and intricate drum percussions, while "You've Got To Have Freedom" rides off a much smoother, deeper sort of vibe that's got a little funk at its core. Wicked.
Review: Manchester's Gondwana Records, run by Matthew Halsall, has been a constant source of good vibes and inspiration. Leaning on a jazz note, most of the material is centred away from the dance floor and yet there is always plenty of movement and joyous rhythm, particularly from Halsall's appearances. Here, we have a reissue of 2015's "Journey In Satchidananda", a majestic wave of jazz flutes, seductive piano keys, in what is an altogether dreamy sort of setting, which is further evolved on the supremely euphoric waves of the unbeatable "Blue Nile". At last, some contemporary jazz on 12" that has left us blown away..!
Review: Herbie Hancock has been responsible for many era-defining records over the years - "Rockit" being a particularly good example - but few of his compositions have been quite as game changing as "Chameleon". First featured on 1973 album "Head Hunters", the 15-minute epic was revolutionary in a number of ways, not least in its use of a killer 12-note bassline, "percussive" style guitar parts and loose-limbed funk beat. It remains one of the greatest jazz-funk moments of all time, as this timely reissue proves. This time round, it comes accompanied by another "Head Hunters" classic - Hancock's groovy, synth-laden re-recording of his own 1962 composition "Watermelon Man". Two stone cold classics for the price of one: what's not to like?
Review: Swedish house producer HNNY gave up DJing in 2016 but has still been working on music in the background, and we're glad he has, because the two cuts here for new label born out of a Stockholm audiophile bar, Hosoi, are lovely. A side "By" conjures a gorgeous mood with soft snares and what sounds like Spanish guitar strumming away beneath aching vocal coos. Flip over for "Hosoi", a dreamy downtempo groove with live sousing drum work and incidental chords that drift by on a warm breeze. This EP is a perfect tonic for those needing a break from busy modern life.
Review: Last year, Nunorthern Soul unveiled the first part of their Ryo Kawasaki retrospective. While that focused on selected works created by the Japanese jazz guitarist between 1979 and '83 - including a couple of strong nods towards disco - this follow-up looks at material recorded and released between '76 and '80. There's plenty to enjoy, from the Abbey Road-era Beatles-meets-Courtney Pine vibes of "Snowstorm" and George Benson-in-space trip of "Quasar Infection", to the freestyle, synth-laden jazz-funk madness that is "Nogie". Arguably best of all, though, is "Thunder & Sea Gypsies (Medley)", an impossible-to-pigeonhole journey that moves from krautrock style looseness to cosmic jazz via some thrillingly psychedelic wig-outs.
Review: Hot on the heels of "Mission" earlier this year, Shuya Okino's Kyoto Jazz Sextet troupe present another gem from last year's Unity album complete with a remix of the highest calibre. This time the cascading, Latin rhythm and frenetic horn leads of "Rising" are given the midas dancefloor touch by none other than Ron Trent. Maintaining the wily spirit of the original while coating in warm organ blasts and subtly bumping kicks, it's a precision translation that brings the original into a whole new context.
Review: As far as we know, Norwich has never been renowned as a hotbed of quality jazz. Norfolk trio Mammal Hands, then, could well be the city's greatest jazz export to date. They've already released three impressive albums in the last four years, and this fine EP will surely enhance their reputation further. The real killer is A-side "Becoming", a wonderfully positive, gently rising affair that sits somewhere between studious spiritual jazz and giddy, thrill-a-minute jazz-dance. That said, we're also enjoying the undulating horn lines, twinkling pianos and soft touch beats of "Refuge", not to mention the smoky, early morning lament of beguiling closing cut "Shimmer".
Review: Dynamite Cuts lives up to its name with this limited 7" from acclaimed Brazilian jazz singer Tania Maria. Two driving and dancey tracks pressed nice and loud for the first time on 45, "Fio Maravilha" is a busy arrangement made up of wild piano, big raw drums and Maria's impassioned, lung-emptying singing that whizzes along at pace. "Bedeu" has a little more Latin flavour, bossa nova swagger and space in the mix for the soul to shine through. Drop either one and take shelter, cause both of these cuts are bombs.
Review: For the third instalment of their record label, Social Joy invites the London based band, Natural Lateral, to step into the records label family with their first LP.. The name "Cogito Ergo Jam" meaning, "I think therefore I jam" sums up its essence and beautifully weaves together different strands of musical roots and forms. Echoing jazz legends like Azymuth, Roy Ayers and Lonnie Liston Smith but always in search of new musical territories, this release takes the listener into a feel-good and fiery sensation of musical freedom. Natural Lateral's tremendous energy in the studio is felt throughout on every track of the LP, giving these recordings a beautifully intimate insight into the phenomenal vision of the band.
Review: You can always rely on 5 Borough Breaks for some top shelf hip hop. The label's latest missive is a legendary one from O.C. - "Time's Up" is a rousing, hard hitting beat with an even tougher verse that rides on the booming kicks. It also samples Les DeMerle's "A Day In The Life" which just so happens to be pressed on the flip and yes, it is in fact a cover of The Beatles. Here though, it becomes a stirring big bang jazz cut that forms an impressive wall of retro sound that will inject realness and rawness into any party. Like always with this label, quantities are limited so move fast to get your fix.
Review: Founded in 2017, Ronin Arkestra is a fusionist jazz/electronica collective from Tokyo founded by broken beat keys-man Mark de Clive-Lowe. Given that the band includes some of the finest players in Japan's contemporary jazz scene - most notably members of Kyoto Jazz Massive, WONK and Sleepwalker - you'd expect this first outing on Albert's Favourites to be rather good. It is, of course, with the band sashaying between dubbed-out soundscape jazz ("Stranger Searching"), sun-bright jazz-funk influenced positivity ("Redeye Reprisal"), loose-limbed, semi-improvised intensity ("The Silk Road Prelude") and, most notably, an awe-inspiring 21st century re-imagining of John Coltrane classic "A Love Supreme".
Review: Most experts agree that Archie Shepp's 1972 album "Attica Blues" is one of the finest soul-jazz LPs ever made - a politically-charged affair that just gets better with every listen. This tidy seven-inch single from Mr Bongo offers up two of the album's standout moments. On the A-side you'll find the title track, a swirling, down-low mixture of belted-out female chorus vocals, surging orchestration, Blaxploitation style bottom end and an impassioned lead vocal from Henry Hull. Flipside cut "Quiet Dawn" sees Waheeda Massey take lead vocals over a more obviously jazz-centric backing track rich in wild sax solos from the effervescent Shepp. Like the A-side, it's simply essential.
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: M.A BEAT!'s Adrien Legay returns to Black Milk Music with his brand new project The Storm Watchers. Joined by Alexandre Weppe on Rhodes, Julen Moneret on double bass and Nicolas Gegout on tenor sax, their first forecast is a strong one; "Billy's Castle" is a bewitching, smoky brew of tension and soft release as the sax takes the lead of Legay's twinkling percussion. "The Pusher" has much more of an unpredictable narrative as we're hurled from horn hurricane to glistened keys and back again with a brilliant sense of pace. The storm's a-brewing and we suspect it's only going to get heavier...