Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye remix) (9:14)
Guarapachanga (A Nicholson Miquifaye reprise) (5:56)
Review: The New York-based (U)nity is made up of Michael Valeanu, Axel Tosca Laugart, Chris Smith, Max Cudworth and Amaury Acosta. They formed the band in 2006 as a project to explore Afro-Cuban jazz, funk, soul and contemporary electronica. They say they've been influenced by everyone from Chucho Valdes to Art Blakey to Led Zeppelin to Kendrick Lamar, and you can definitely hear all of that in this jawdropping work. "Guarapachanga" is special in that it was the first song written by the band back in their days as music students at The New School. It's derived from the style known as guarapachangeo - the most advanced form of Cuban rumba, heavily improvisational and based on very complex rhythms and melodies. On this recording, (U)nity is graced with a guest performance by Grammy Award winner Pedrito Martinez, a master rumbero, one of the greatest conga players ever, an innovator who has left a permanent mark on Cuban music. Martinez is also a priest in the Yoruba religion and a historian of Cuban culture.
Over its eight and a half minutes, "Guarapachanga" twists and turns and journeys through a mind bending array of different tempos and modes, from Latin jazz to hip hop, ultimately ending with a trippy ambient soundscape. The whole thing is overlaid with free spirited melody, soul and the Afro-Cuban essence that is the band's lifeblood. The white-hot live playing gives it the feel of the best early-morning jam session, yet it packs a sonic punch that will make it sound incredible on a good sound system in the hands of adventurous DJs in the world-beat or spiritual-house vein. If you didn't know "Guarapachanga" was a contemporary work you might mistake it for a Loft classic; yet it's also as fresh and exciting as anything you'll hear this year.
Review: 1974's Coming Right At You, the sole album from 100% Pure Poison, has long been a sought-after jazz-funk gem. Soul Brother has previously reissued the rare (and increasingly expensive) LP, though this double 7" marks the first time most of these tracks have been available on wax since 2001. Check first opener (and title track) "Windy C", a superb chunk of lolloping, laidback jazz-funk that sits somewhere between Bob James and Cymande, before turning your attention to the slow-burn soulful delights of string-laden torch song "Puppet On A Chain". Over on the second 7", "No More City, No More Country" is a more hard-spun Blaxploitation funk affair, while "Hole In My Shoe" is a horn-fired slab of J.B's style funk-soul fusion.
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.
Osmar Milito E Quarteto Forma - "America Latina" (2:46)
Review: A tale of two sides, Azimuth's classic "Manha" should be recognisable to many; taken from their self-titled LP in 1975, its golden harmonies and lavish, lolloping Bob James style jazz are as timeless as they were 40 years ago. Flip for "America Latina". Conjured by prolific collaborator Osmar Milito (whose discography features the likes of Sammy Davis Jr, Spanky Wilson and Liza Minelli), its striking, sing-along charms are no accident... It was actually created for 70s Brazilian soap opera Selva De Pedra.
Review: Despite not releasing all that much in 2018, Canadian nu-jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD's reputation continued to rise. That was in no small part due to their eye-catching collaboration with Little Dragon, which resulted in the digital release of "Tried" back in September. Now the track has been given a deserved seven-inch single release by Ninja Tune. With LD lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano doing her best to channel the spirit of Minnie Riperton, "Tried" has a similarly languid, jazz/folk/soul fusion feel as some of the best works by Rotary Connection. BADBADNOTGOOD's admiration of the Charles Stepney-produced band comes through loud and clear through the choice of instruments and arrangements. For further proof, check the accompanying flipside instrumental mix.
Review: Kalita Records are proud and honoured to announce the first ever official reissue of the four choice tracks from Randolph Baker's privately pressed sought-after 1982 disco album 'Reaching For The Stars', plus an unreleased instrumental take of 'Party Life' sourced from the original 24-track analogue master tapes.
Originally recorded at Jim Morris and Rick Miller's Tampa-based Morrisound Studios, 'Getting Next To You' features both a mixture of both local Florida talent plus jazz superstar Nat Adderley and bassist John Lamb at their finest. Originally pressed in a limited run of just one-thousand copies, with no distribution and most copies being sold in the local city and on Randolph's own merchandise table at the back of live gigs, original copies have long been sought-after by both collectors and DJs alike, acknowledged as a true grail and masterpiece in the disco scene and deservedly demanding extortionate figures to those lucky enough to find their own.
Here, in collaboration with Randolph, Kalita Records have chosen to re-release the four choice tracks from the album: 'Getting Next To You', 'Jazzman', 'Callin' Me' and 'Party Life'. The former is an in-demand horn and chant-filled disco masterpiece, which, as Randolph explains, concerns unity and "everyone on the same level in other words, everyone just loving life". It is arguably the song that Randolph is most well-known for in the disco and funk scene and perfect for the modern discerning dance floor. 'Jazzman' is an instrumental track with prominent trumpet and saxophone solos working with funky basslines to produce a truly great jazz-funk groove. It was "a tribute to Nat Adderley and Duke Ellington's bass player, John Lamb, for being so generous and saying yes to the project". 'Callin' Me' is a soulful disco number featuring the lead vocals of Laurie Erickson and is "about being on the road and ensuring loved ones that you will always come back home no matter what. It was like a promise to ensure loved ones they didn't have to worry". Lastly, 'Party Life' is a joyous disco track with a strong funk bassline and horns. As Randolph recalls, it "was the joy like after an actor finishes a movie. There was nothing but joy. It's finished; let's celebrate big time. Where everyone in the studio yelled at the top of their lungs - The End!" Here, with access to the 24-track master tapes we have been able to include the original version plus an unreleased instrumental take, allowing us to focus on the infectious bassline and make it even more ready for the modern dance floor.
Accompanied by extensive interview-based liner notes and never-before-seen photos.
Review: Dedicated to the Hammond-heavy 1960s soul-jazz sounds of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Grant Green and Reuben Wilson, the Beat Bronco Organ Trio are a fresh outfit with classic inspirations. The Madrid threesome's debut single is something of a retro-futurist treat. We're really enjoying A-side "Easy Baby", a loose and languid fusion of ear-pleasing Hammond licks, laidback, breakbeat-driven drums and flanged jazz guitars that impressively increases in intensity throughout, culminating in a frenzy of sweaty drums and eyes-closed guitar solos. "Geriatric Dance", meanwhile, is even more up-tempo, with high octane Hammond and jazz guitar solos stretching out over a feverish funk drumbeat.
This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
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: Mr Bongos hit paydirt once again with their Brazil 45s series, with this 11th seven featuring a pair of Latin gems from Joao Bosco and Antonio Adolfo E A Brazuca that have never been pressed on 7" before. In original form, "O Ronco Da Cuica" was a certified highlight of the prolific Bosco's 1976 LP Galos de Briga, the supple bossanova groove truly blessed by some excellent vocal harmonies when the chorus hits. Those sample freaks in search of a killer break will however gravitate to the B Side jazz fusion bomb "Transamonica" from Antonio Adolfo E A Brazuca as it's packed full of them!
Review: It was two years ago when Finnish combo Bowman Trio (AKA trumpeter Tomi Nikku, double bassist Joonas Tuuri and drummer Sami Nummela) first rocked up on We Jazz to showcase their particular brand of "loft jazz". This fine single is the three-piece's first new material since the release of their eponymous debut LP in 2016. Both original compositions are pretty darn good, especially A-side "The Chase (Version 1)", where Tuuri's rubbery, "Bullit"-style bassline and Nikku's headline-grabbing trumpet solos brilliantly wrap themselves around Nummela's hybrid jazz/bossa-nova beats. The band opt for an altogether sunnier sound on flipside "The Hillary Step", an invitation to dance from the halcyon days of swing-time jazz that includes some killer stop-start sections and impeccable drum fills.
Review: Curiously, jazz singer turned disco diva Dee Dee Bridgewater's debut album, 1974's "Afro Blue", was only ever released in Japan. It's from this set that these two tracks are taken. A-side "Little B's Poem" is a superb slab of soul-jazz brilliance that sits somewhere between Nina Simone, Billie Holliday and the kind of sun-kissed, life-affirming classic jazz that was once all the rage in underground jazz clubs. Over on side B you'll find Bridgewater's version of "People Make The World Go Round", with her impeccable vocal rising above fluid pianos, brushed drums and snaking trumpet solos.
Review: Supreme musica popular Brasileira and bossa-nova vibes here on two tracks from Mr Bongo's leading Brazilian 45's lady, Claudia. "Deixa o Morro Cantar" features on Claudia's very first 7", released in 1965 by RGE Brazil. Her version of "Mas Que Nada" is said to be more of a jazzy/folk-funk take on the Ben classic. A relatively recent discovery made during the label's last trip to Brazil, Maria das Gracas Rallo was born in 1946 in Rio de Janeiro. She has become the most awarded singer outside of her home country and was most popular internationally in 1982 with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the musical Evita. Moreover, she has recorded over twenty albums and has amassed huge record sales throughout her successful career.
Review: Storied Latin-jazz artist, composer, producer, and DJ Nicola Conte lays down a marker for his upcoming fifth studio album Free Souls with this delightful 7" of the same name. Brandishing two gens from the album, Conte's channelling soul jazz at it's purest on the title track, with a rhythm and blues arrangement that provides the perfect backing for Bridgette Amofah's gliding vocal delivery. On the B Side, "Shades Of Joy" is equally as memorable with Marvin Parks' soft croon enveloped in the smooth double bass and horn section. On the basis of this, the forthcoming album should be one of Conte's finest yet!
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.
Review: The Brazil 45s / Mr Bongo outlet is back with its classic moves, coming through with some truly special soul blends out of the Brazilian golden era. Dalila and Neyde Alexandre feature in this latest 7", the former with 1968's "Canto Chorado", a slow-burning bubble of funky exotica - surely impossible to find in its original shade - and the latter with a funky little bomb from 1971 by the name of "Perplexidade" - surely the smoothest, sexiest soul number out this week! Lovely stuff.
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: Those with a deep knowledge of Berlin's Ghanaian ex-pat "burger-highlife" scene may already be familiar with Lee Dodou, a singer who recorded a number of classic singles and albums during the 1980s as part of bands Georg Darko and Kantata. He retired from music in 1991, but has been persuaded to return to action by the Philophon team. This comeback single is pretty impressive all told, with A-side "Basa Basa" - a triumphantly celebratory chunk of 1960s "concert party" highlife rich in punchy horn lines and Dodou's full-throated vocals - being joined on the flipside by the slower, synth-laden "Sahara Akwantou". Brilliantly, the label describes this as "kraut-life" due to its unique (and rather good) fusion of highlife and German kosmiche.
Review: Two outstanding Brazilian funk cuts straight out of 1971: "Esperar Pra Ver" is a laden with an immense orchestrated groove that's triggered by a lean, unforgettable bass guitar riff that matches Evinha's purring, slinky allure. "Que Bandeira" rolls with more of a poppy bossa flow with militant rim shots, swooning strings and a momentum that builds on every verse. Both tracks are taken from Cartao Postal, Evinha's third album that has been known to pass hands for as much as L500 in the past.
The Best Of My Love (John Morales M+M radio edit) (4:17)
Review: A highly limited RSD 45 taken from Ford's debut album on Spen's Quantize. "Here You Are" is an unabashed throwback to classic jazz sentiments and signatures; smoky, yearning and barbed with just the right amount of heartache. Flip for a remix from a true disco legend John Morales. With an editing, extending and remixing reputation that pre-dates even reel to reel machines, his M+M touch to "The Best Of My Love" is as polished and shiny as you'd want it to be.
Review: April Fulladosa grew up in Los Angeles, California. She begun writing songs at school when she was only 16 years old going onto write most of the tracks by 19 years of age for her sought after independent limited release 'Home Base' album from 1978. This single on new label imprint Reference Point showcases the talent of this lesser known artist who deserves to be heard by a brand new audience.
Seyoum Gebreyes & Wallias Band - "Muziqa Muziqa" (3:42)
Wallias Band - "Muziqawi Silt" (3:44)
Review: Destination Ethiopia: The Wallias Band are one of the country's longest standing troupes with over 20 years service to their name from the early 70s to early 90s and serious accomplishments such as being the first Ethiopian band to tour the USA. Here they're represented in all their full spread glory; "Muziqa Muziqa" has an almost northern soul dynamic with its speed and wily sax blasts from Seyoum while "Muziqawi Silt" is a much more measured, introspective affair. Beautiful.
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: For the latest missive on their excellent Jazz45 sub-label, Jazzman has decided to offer up two sought-after catalogue cuts from contemporary spiritual jazz maestro Muriel Grossmann, a sax player, singer and composer who already has a swathe of quality albums to her name. First up is an edited version of 2018 cut "Golden Rule", a wonderfully breezy and out-there affair that sees Grossmann add mind-altering sax solos to a heavily percussive, off-kilter backing track rich in jaunty pianos and slick double bass. On flipside "Okan Ti Aye" she layers up the drums and cymbals further while offering bolder, heavier sax motifs. The result is a track of rare drive and intensity.