Review: While he enjoyed a brief career as a musician in the 1960s, by the time he recorded debut album "Down On The Road By The Beach" in 1983 Steve Hiett was better known as one of the world's leading fashion photographers. In fact, it was at the suggestion of a Japanese gallery owner that he got back in the studio to record what has long been regarded as an impossible-to-find Balearic gem. Hiett's reverb and delay-laden Peter Green style guitar passages take centre stage throughout, winding in and out of languid grooves and ambient electronics to create what some have called "the ultimate desert island disc" - a record of such lazy, sun-kissed beauty that it sounds tailor made for drowsy days waking up on the beach.
Review: In 2017, Jaimie Branch emerged from Chicago's spiritual and experimental jazz underground with a debut album of rare inventiveness. Two years on, the avant-garde, improvisational trumpeter is finally ready to offer up a sequel, "Fly Or Die II: Bird Dogs Of Paradise". It sees Branch wrap distinctive trumpet refrains - some played in a traditional manner, others mutilated by effects units - around a myriad of off-kilter and improvised backing tracks. While much of the instrumentation is from the jazz playbook, a number of tracks make great use of xylophone, mbira and other exotic but melodic percussion instruments. The album's standout moment, "Prayer For Amerikkka (Part 1 & 2)" sees her go even further, with vocalists and beat poets narrating a politically charged, future spiritual jazz anthem.
Review: Since turning up in the Windy city a few years ago, spiritual jazz singer, clarinetist and composer Angel Bat Dawid has become a stalwart of Chicago's vibrant avant-garde scene. Here he delivers a debut album that should, if there's any justice at least, propel her towards international superstardom. Both her melancholic clarinet lines and distinctive singing feature prominently throughout, alongside sparse percussion, occasional Afro-futurist synthesizer motifs, harp and guitars - all of which Dawid plays herself. It's a virtuoso display that more than confirms her status as one of the spiritual jazz scene's most authentic voices.
Review: For the third instalment of their record label, Social Joy invites the London based band, Natural Lateral, to step into the records label family with their first LP.. The name "Cogito Ergo Jam" meaning, "I think therefore I jam" sums up its essence and beautifully weaves together different strands of musical roots and forms. Echoing jazz legends like Azymuth, Roy Ayers and Lonnie Liston Smith but always in search of new musical territories, this release takes the listener into a feel-good and fiery sensation of musical freedom. Natural Lateral's tremendous energy in the studio is felt throughout on every track of the LP, giving these recordings a beautifully intimate insight into the phenomenal vision of the band.
Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: Ubiquity is back with another of its two part 7"s, this time from contemporary soul group The Soul Surfers. Experts at covering the greats, they recently turned their hand to a classic from The JB's, while this time out it is Kool & The Gang's classic "Summer Madness" that gets a deep-cut and sexy make over. Part 1 is a sensuous slow burner with downtempo drums and heavenly guitar playing, while part 2 has harder drum grooves and dreamy , psyched-out guitars. It's another ageless rework that you need in your life.
Review: Dynamite Cuts lives up to its name with this limited 7" from acclaimed Brazilian jazz singer Tania Maria. Two driving and dancey tracks pressed nice and loud for the first time on 45, "Fio Maravilha" is a busy arrangement made up of wild piano, big raw drums and Maria's impassioned, lung-emptying singing that whizzes along at pace. "Bedeu" has a little more Latin flavour, bossa nova swagger and space in the mix for the soul to shine through. Drop either one and take shelter, cause both of these cuts are bombs.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !
Review: Swedish house producer HNNY gave up DJing in 2016 but has still been working on music in the background, and we're glad he has, because the two cuts here for new label born out of a Stockholm audiophile bar, Hosoi, are lovely. A side "By" conjures a gorgeous mood with soft snares and what sounds like Spanish guitar strumming away beneath aching vocal coos. Flip over for "Hosoi", a dreamy downtempo groove with live sousing drum work and incidental chords that drift by on a warm breeze. This EP is a perfect tonic for those needing a break from busy modern life.
Review: You can always rely on 5 Borough Breaks for some top shelf hip hop. The label's latest missive is a legendary one from O.C. - "Time's Up" is a rousing, hard hitting beat with an even tougher verse that rides on the booming kicks. It also samples Les DeMerle's "A Day In The Life" which just so happens to be pressed on the flip and yes, it is in fact a cover of The Beatles. Here though, it becomes a stirring big bang jazz cut that forms an impressive wall of retro sound that will inject realness and rawness into any party. Like always with this label, quantities are limited so move fast to get your fix.
Review: Since he released his first album 11 years ago, bandleader, trumpeter and composer Matthew Halsall has proved to be one of British jazz's standout talents. In recent years he's delved into soul-jazz and big band jazz territory, so it's intriguing to find that "Oneness" is a much more spiritual, pared-down and minimalistic affair. Using a mixture of droning Indian instrumentation, languid and leisurely harp motifs, selective horn solos, melancholic trumpet lines and occasional traditional jazz instrumentation, Halsall has conjured up a series of meditative pieces that count among his most beguiling works to date. It may surprise a few listeners, but many more will find it enchanting, otherworldly and emotion-rich.
Review: Joe Armon-Jones has been a driving force in the resurgence of contemporary jazz and now makes something of a victory lap with this new album on the always essential Brownswood. It's a very modern mix of bass and dub, du jour club culture and his own jazz styles featuring peers like Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Frankly, the whole record is silky, starry-eyed and sublime and the excellent artwork also hist at the cosmic subtleties of this album, but our picks of the bunch are the neo-soul, summery stroll through the park vibes of "Yellow Dandelion", "Gnawa Sweet" which glows with mellifluous Rhodes chords and the uncompromising yet accessible sax and big brass action of album highlight "You Didn't Care".