Review: "The dampness of the rainforest, the hostility of the mangrove ultimately did not suit him. So he left his natural environment for the tranquillity of a freshwater body". So goes the (translated) back story of this new EP from Laurent Bardainne. The 'he' in question is a Tiger who ventured across Europe, Asia and America and apparently picked up various musical styles along the way. Whatever you make of that, the tracks here are gold: "Marvin" is smooth jazz fusion with percolating drums, "Porsche 944" has a joyous lead sax and more crisp boom bap drums, while "Aout" is a soaring bit of heartfelt soul Daptone might put out. The Drop Vibes rework of "Porsche 944" features a vocal roller and closes things in fine fashion.
Review: Following their surprise reunion and Strut-release album We Be All Africans last year, Idris and The Pyramids return... This time on Max Weissenfeldt's Philophon imprint. Laying down a spiritual arrangement so frenetic and full of its own life it takes up two parts, Idris's sax plays duet with Philophon's own vocalist Guy One. Gutsy, raw and full of surprises, it's another out-of-body experience from the longstanding jazz troupe.
Review: Black Cash & Theo AKA Thelonious Beats are Galaxy Sound Co's most experienced editors, having served up already nine excellent offerings on this label. Their latest careful bit of studio splicing work is again a cosmic and mind expanding jazz funk fusion with righteous grooves and life-affirming riffs. The A-aide is a sweet and seductive sound that comes up from below to sweep you off your feet and carry you away to the stars, then 'The Moving Finger' is a little more rooted on planet earth with its knotted bass riffs, glowing harmonies and rickety lead guitar riff, all finished off with some spiritual sax work.
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: Last year, saxophonist Laurent Bardainneunveiled his first work with four-piece band Tigre D'Eau Douce, an EP of contemporary jazz and soul-jazz mutations on Heavenly Sweetness called "Marvin". This fine debut album builds on those rock-solid foundations, offering up a 12-track set in which Bardainne's headline-grabbing sax solos rise above bustling backing tracks that variously touch on jazz-funk, atmospheric 1960s film soundtracks, trad jazz, soul-jazz and wonderfully loose-limbed dancefloor jazz. It's a combination that consistently hits the spot, with evocative closing cut "Star Five", featuring a Gil-Scott Heron-esque spoken word vocal by Anthony Joseph, amongst the many highlights.
Review: The beautiful South Pacific sea is the overriding theme for this cult, hard to find album from Haruomi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki and Tatsuro Yamashita. It is a perfect fusion of early electronics and exotic sounds that transport you to the ocean in question in an instant. Standout cut 'Cosmic Surfing', was later included on the debut album from YMO, Yellow Magic Orchestra, appears for the first time on this album. This is a long awaited reissue from Light in the Attic and as ever with this are, it has been mastered beautifully, presented perfectly on a fitting clear blue vinyl and even includes a poster.
Review: In 1979, a year after he co-founded Yellow Magic Orchestra, Haruomi Hosono joined forces with acoustic guitarist Takahiko Ishikawa and keyboardist Masataka Matsutoya to record "The Aegean Sea", a gloriously sunny set of jazz-fusion, disco and jazz-funk cuts shot through with Mediterranean musical influences. It's the kind of thing that would now be considered "Balearic", so it's little surprise to see the set getting a European reissue for the very first time. There's much to admire throughout, from the funk-fuelled dancefloor cheeriness of "Reggae Aegean Woman" and Bob James/Jimmy Smith-influenced bliss of "Image", to the sun-baked gorgeousness of "Day Break" and thrillingly jaunty "Atlantis".
Salvation (Act III: Upon Whose Shoulders We Stand)
Theme For Cecil
Virgin (Act IV: 400 Years: The Clotilda)
The Last Slave Ship
Review: Those familiar with the catalogue of Idris Ackabor and the Pyramids will tell you that there's always been something special about the long-serving band's inspired blend of spiritual jazz, space-age sounds, Afro-jazz and extra-percussive polyrhythms. Even so, new album "Shaman!" is particularly awe-inspiring. Constructed as a four-act musical journey stretched across two slabs of wax, it adds a wealth of intriguing additional musical ingredients (think dubby soul-jazz, Afrobeat, jazz-rock and free-jazz) to their already highly seasoned sound soup with predictably tasty results. It takes a few listens to really get to grips with (there's a lot going on, despite the set's obvious accessibility), but it's such a good album that you'll want to fully immerse yourself as many times as possible.