Review: The latest on-point release from reissue specialists Wewantsounds is a much-needed new edition of Billy Brooks' hard-to-find 1974 set, Windows of the Mind. The album has long been sought after by record collectors, partly because one of its tracks (the superb 'Fourty Days') provided one of the stand-out samples on A Tribe Called Quest classic 'Luck of Lucien', but mostly because it's exceptionally good. For proof, check the bombastic fusion of Blaxploitation funk and big-band jazz that is opener 'Rockin' Julius', the effortlessly slick and fluid jazz guitar solos of 'Coolin' It', the swinging late night jazz-club tidiness of 'The Speechmaker', and the car-chase soundtrack craziness of 'Good News Blues'.
Review: Here's something to seriously set the pulse racing: a limited-edition quintuple "Brazil 45s" boxset curated by the effervescent DJ Format, and featuring ten tracks unearthed on his most recent crate-digging trip to South America. In keeping with his much-loved style, most of the material can be loosely described as "psyche break-beat", all of which was initially recorded and released in the 1960s and '70s. That means a blend of hallucinatory Brazilian funk and soul rich in sweaty, often densely layered drums, booming basslines, trippy vocals, eccentric production, mazy Hammond organ lines and rousing horns. The quality bar is set so high that picking individual highlights is tough; suffice to say, you need all ten tunes in your life (and in your record box).
Review: Swiss imprint We Release Jazz (an offshoot of the more eclectic WRWTFWW) seems to specialize in reissuing rare and hard-to-find European and Japanese albums. Their latest release falls into the latter category. Originally recorded at Avatar Studios in New York in 1999 and released in Japan only the following uear, Ryo Fukui in New York is undoubtedly a little-known gem. With just bassist Lisle Atkinson and drummer Leroy Wlliams for company, it sees the virtuoso Japabese pianist offer up superb takes on bop and modal classics by such luminaries as Charlie Parker, George Gershwin and Cole Porter. The album also boasts an incredible re-make of his own 'Mellow Dream' that's infinitely better than his already impressive original recording.
Review: Earlier in the year, Japanese label HHV delivered a vinyl reissue of Ryo Fukui's final album, 2016's touching tribute to the jazz club in Soporo he co-founded, Showboat. Now Swiss imprint We Release Jazz have offered up the very same album on CD, at a price that will be far more attractive to listeners on this side of the world. It's worth picking up because in our opinion A Letter From Showboat should be considered a contemporary piano jazz classic. Fukui is on fine form throughout, and it's his fluid and expressive solos that make the album sing. The late pianist's accompanying musicians make their presence felt at just the right time, too, with their best work coming on the album's more up-tempo workouts (think 'Speak Low; 'Soultrane' and 'Sonora').
Review: It's 52 years since Thelonius Monk played the show at a California high school which makes up this new long player on Impulse. It happened after a 16 year old student at the school held a concert to raise some money for its International Club, and some how managed to persuade Thelonious Monk's manager that his charge should be the headliner. Monk obliged and turned up with his quartet, and in this recording you can hear every single detail from the creaks of the piano bench to Ben Riley's swishing hi-hats on 'Ruby, My Dear.' The backstory alone makes this one an essential purchase, while of course the music itself isn't too shabby, either.