Review: The latest volume in BBE's J Jazz Masterclass series is something of a stone-cold classic: then young Japanese pianist Makoto Terashita's 1983 album-length collaboration with legendary tenor saxophonist Harold Land. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time that the sought-after set has been reissued since, making it something of a must-have for serious jazz fans. Both players are clearly audible throughout the LP, with the accompanying bassist and drummer generally kept low in the mix. It's an approach that pays dividends from start to finish, with highlights including the poignant and picturesque "Dear Friends", the epic dancefloor flex of "Dragon Dance" and the raucous, high-octane thrills of "Crossing".
Review: Heavenly Sweetness has described this sophomore full-length from genre-straddling musician/producer/vocalist Leroy Thomas as being like "Miles Davis meets the Beastie Boys". While that's partly accurate - several of the tracks blend hip-hop beats and crunchy rock guitars with jazz instrumentation and spacey electronics - Cliquish is awash with other influences, too. Some will hear the influence of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the energetic funk-rock of "Asako", while "Mandy Jo" and "Snicka Bar" feel similar in sound and ethos to the work of Outkast and Plantlife. As for "Calm Down", it's classic soul-jazz with a smoky, contemporary twist. Yet for all the genre-fusing eccentricity, Cliquish holds together impressively, thanks in no small part to Thomas' distinct vision.
Review: Jazz-man Greg Foat has always been more open-minded and eclectic than many give him credit for, delivering nods to pastoral folk, movie soundtracks and library music amongst his more jazz-focused output. Even so, "Photosynthesis" is still a curveball, featuring as it does drowsy and mostly leisurely soundscapes that move from Radiophonic Workshop influenced weird-outs and mutant lounge music, to stoned horizontal grooves and post trip-hop soundscapes. Interestingly, some of the album's standout moments come laden with woozy electric pianos and the kind of hazy, slow motion guitar motifs that evoke mental images of long, drawn-out sunsets.
Review: Cheick Tidiane Seck's latest album is something of an all-star affair. It sees a banquet's worth of guest musicians (including fellow African music legend Manu Dibango) help the Malian music maestro send "an Afro-Jazz prayer" to the late, great Randy Weston - a musician whose unique Pan-African vision influenced so many of his contemporaries. The resultant set is vibrant and alluring, with Seck and company underpinning Weston's fluid jazz piano motifs with dense, heavy, intricate and often delightfully polyrhythmic rhythms. There are some more atmospheric and intoxicating numbers present, too - the version of "Timbuktu" is stunning, as is the bluesy "In Memory Of" - but the album's greatest calling card remains it's energetic and effervescent approach.
Review: A true Japanese jazz holy grail album; this 1975 album was made solely as a business card for an influential businessman and only a few hundred were known to be pressed. The quartet comprises a group of students who never shared a stage with each other and only formed for this one album yet the album sounds as if they've been playing together for decades. Deep modal jazz, frenetic, fizzy and energetic, these five tracks are some of the most coveted and sought after songs from the Japanese jazz golden age. This is an incredible piece of curatorial work from BBE.
Review: On his previous album, 2017's "Inspirations", veteran jazz vocalist Dwight Trible joined forces with Manchester bandleader Matthew Halsall to cover some of his favourite songs. Two years on, the Los Angeles-based artist returns with a set of mostly new compositions recorded with a backing band including broken beat veteran Mark de Clive-Lowe on keys (thrillingly, fellow LA resident Kamasi Washington also features on title track "Mothership"). It's an impressive album, all told, with Trible's soulful, impassioned vocals and conscious, hard-hitting lyrics providing a constant source of inspiration on tracks that are variously impressively spiritual, intensely psychedelic, delightfully uplifting and seductively soulful.
Review: During the 1950s and '60s, Tubby Hayes was one of Britain's leading jazz musicians - a saxophone, flute and vibraphone player who gained international recognition within the jazz scene (a rarity for British musicians in that period). By 1969 his health was diminishing, but he was still capable of writing and recording incredible music - as this previously unheard album shows. Re-discovered last year in the Decca Records vaults, the set has been hailed as a "lost classic" by jazz scholars and compared favourably to legendary albums by John Coltrane, Miles Davis and others. This hardback "deluxe" edition contains extensive liner notes telling the remarkable story behind the previously unreleased LP, as well as alternate takes and interpretations from Hayes and his top-notch trio of accompanying players.