Review: It would be fair to say that Gregory Porter is a man on the rise. In the four years since he made his debut, the jazz singer-songwriter has become one of the most name-checked soul men on the planet. Take Me To The Alley, his first album for three years, sees him flexing his musical muscles more impressively than ever before. After opening with the beautiful Marvin Gaye style "Holding On", and Curtis Mayfield-goes jazz thrills of "Don't Lose Your Steam", the singer-songwriter runs through a series of up-tempo and down-tempo compositions that sit somewhere between classic soul and evocative jazz.
Review: This has sort of taken us by surprise but, yes, here you are, a' new Portico Quartet album! The British outfit have grown and grown since their early releases back in 2006, seemingly ahead of their time at every turn, and a new release from them is always seen as a breath of fresh air around Juno HQ. Jack Wyllie, Duncan Bellamy, Milo Fitzpatrick and Keir Vine return to Matthew Halsall's Gondwana Records, out of Manchester, with the trippy, explorative sounds of Untitled (AITAOA #2). Jazz doesn't really describe it fully enough, and ambient is way too loose a word for this smart and complex medley of harmonies, but those are precisely the first things you hear when Portico Quartet hit you speakers. Plenty of rhythm, energy and even a little bit of dread go into making this an experience from start to finish. Recommended!
Review: Even by the notoriously stargazing standards of early '80s jazz funk, Potter & Tillman's sought-after 1982 album Space Rapture is particularly intergalactic. Here reissued for the first time on vinyl since it slipped out on the duo's own private press imprint, Poet, the album remains a stunning set of tracks. While there are plenty of familiar jazz-funk and jazz-fusion tropes throughout - sleazy sax solos, meandering electric piano solos, loose-limbed drumming and occasional freestyle vocals - it's the mind-altering, spacey way in which these elements are combined that stands out. The album's futurist vibe is emphasized further by their decision to employ plenty of spacey analogue synthesizers throughout. It's this, as much as the quality of the duo's compositions, which hits home hardest.
Review: Esteemed composer Piero Umiliani released scores of music in his lifetime from the famous to the obscure, but his forays into jazz continue to be a delight for diggers the world over. Here Galaxy present Storia E Prehistoria, recorded under his alias Rovi and originally released in 1972. It's a stirring collection of music that touches on soundtrack themes throughout, capturing the sound of the era impeccably while sporting Umiliani's inimitable touch in the same breath. The album is full of sumptuous orchestrations of brass, keys, harp and more besides, each piece loaded with romance and cool as could only come from Italy.