funk . soul . jazz . free jazz . broken beat

WEEK STARTING 20 Nov

Genre pick of the week Cover of Salute To The Sun by Matthew Halsall.

Matthew Halsall

Salute To The Sun

    Composer, trumpeter, producer, DJ and founder of Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall has always worn many hats. But at the heart of everything that he does Halsall is first and foremost an artist and a musician. A trumpeter whose unflashy, soulful playing radiates a thoughtful beauty and a composer and band-leader who has created his own rich sound world. A sound that draws on the heritage of British jazz, the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, as well as world music and electronica influences, and even modern art and architecture, to create something uniquely his own. A music that is rooted in Northern England but draws on global inspirations.

    Salute to the Sun is his first album as a leader since Into Forever (2015) and marks the debut of his new band. A hand-picked ensemble featuring some of Manchester’s finest young musicians: Matt Cliffe flute & saxophone, Maddie Herbert harp, Liviu Gheorghe piano, Alan Taylor drums and Jack McCarthy percussion as well as long-time Halsall collaborator, bassist, Gavin Barras who has been at the heart of Halsall’s bands for over a decade. For Matthew it was important to have a band based locally and able, pre-Covid, to meet and play each week, and who also performed a sold-out monthly basement session at Yes in Manchester. The album draws energy from these sessions and inspiration from themes and ideas that have inspired Halsall through the years (on albums such as Oneness, Fletcher Moss Park and When the World Was One) ideas of ecology, the environment and harmony with nature.

    “I feel Salute to the Sun is a positive earthy album. I wanted to create something playful but also quite primitive, earthy and organic that connected to the sounds in nature. I was listening to lush ambient field recordings of tropical environments such as jungles and rainforests and found myself drawn to percussive atmospheric sounds which replicated what I was hearing (bells / shakers / chimes / rain sticks) and I started to experiment with more wooden percussive instruments such as kalimba and marimba”.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Halsall's newest mindblowing feat of chilled nu-jazz groove takes the lysergic, heady lounge aesthetic we know and love and injects it with a shot of tropical flavour. Both warmingly familiar and boundary-breakingly progressive.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Limited edition double clear vinyl. *Faulty pressing, getting re-manufactured*

    2xColoured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    2xLP Info: Double black vinyl.

    2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

    One can hardly imagine the genre-busting, culture-crossing musical magic of Outkast, Prince, Erykah Badu, Rick James, The Roots, or even the early Red Hot Chili Peppers without the influence of R&B pioneer Betty Davis. Her style of raw and revelatory punk-funk defies any notions that women can’t be visionaries in the worlds of rock and pop. In recent years, rappers from Ice Cube to Talib Kweli to Ludacris have rhymed over her intensely strong but sensual music.

    There is one testimonial about Betty Davis that is universal: she was a woman ahead of her time. In our contemporary moment, this may not be as self-evident as it was thirty years ago – we live in an age that’s been profoundly changed by flamboyant flaunting of female sexuality: from Parlet to Madonna, Lil Kim to Kelis. Yet, back in 1973 when Betty Davis first showed up in her silver go-go boots, dazzling smile and towering Afro, who could you possibly have compared her to? Marva Whitney had the voice but not the independence. Labelle wouldn’t get sexy with their “Lady Marmalade” for another year while Millie Jackson wasn’t “Feelin’ Bitchy” until 1977. Even Tina Turner, the most obvious predecessor to Betty’s fierce style wasn’t completely out of Ike’s shadow until later in the decade.

    Ms. Davis’s unique story, still sadly mostly unknown, is unlike any other in popular music. Betty wrote the song “Uptown” for the Chambers Brothers before marrying Miles Davis in the late ‘60s, influencing him with psychedelic rock, and introducing him to Jimi Hendrix — personally inspiring the classic album ’Bitches Brew.’

    But her songwriting ability was way ahead of its time as well. Betty not only wrote every song she ever recorded and produced every album after her first, but the young woman penned the tunes that got The Commodores signed to Motown. The Detroit label soon came calling, pitching a Motown songwriting deal, which Betty turned down. Motown wanted to own everything. Heading to the UK, Marc Bolan of T. Rex urged the creative dynamo to start writing for herself. A common thread throughout Betty’s career would be her unbending Do-It-Yourself ethic, which made her quickly turn down anyone who didn’t fit with the vision. She would eventually say no to Eric Clapton as her album producer, seeing him as too banal.

    In 1973, Davis would finally kick off her cosmic career with an amazingly progressive hard funk and sweet soul self-titled debut. Davis showcased her fiercely unique talent and features such gems as “If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up” and “Game Is My Middle Name.” The album Betty Davis was recorded with Sly & The Family Stone’s rhythm section, sharply produced by Sly Stone drummer Greg Errico, and featured backing vocals from Sylvester and the Pointer Sisters.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd LP Info: Limited Light In The Attic 180g reissue in heavyweight paste-on board sleeve and biography insert.

    Betty Davis

    They Say I'm Different - Light In The Attic Reissue

      One can hardly imagine the genre-busting, culture-crossing musical magic of Outkast, Prince, Erykah Badu, Rick James, The Roots, or even the early Red Hot Chili Peppers without the influence of R&B pioneer Betty Davis. Her style of raw and revelatory punk-funk defies any notions that women can’t be visionaries in the worlds of rock and pop. In recent years, rappers from Ice Cube to Talib Kweli to Ludacris have rhymed over her intensely strong but sensual music.

      There is one testimonial about Betty Davis that is universal: she was a woman ahead of her time. In our contemporary moment, this may not be as self-evident as it was thirty years ago – we live in an age that’s been profoundly changed by flamboyant flaunting of female sexuality: from Parlet to Madonna, Lil Kim to Kelis. Yet, back in 1973 when Betty Davis first showed up in her silver go-go boots, dazzling smile and towering Afro, who could you possibly have compared her to? Marva Whitney had the voice but not the independence. Labelle wouldn’t get sexy with their “Lady Marmalade” for another year while Millie Jackson wasn’t Feelin’ Bitchy until 1977. Even Tina Turner, the most obvious predecessor to Betty’s fierce style wasn’t completely out of Ike’s shadow until later in the decade.

      Ms. Davis’s unique story, still sadly mostly unknown, is unlike any other in popular music. Betty wrote the song “Uptown” for the Chambers Brothers before marrying Miles Davis in the late ’60s, influencing him with psychedelic rock, and introducing him to Jimi Hendrix - personally inspiring the classic album 'Bitches Brew'.

      But her songwriting ability was way ahead of its time as well. Betty not only wrote every song she ever recorded and produced every album after her first, but the young woman penned the tunes that got The Commodores signed to Motown. The Detroit label soon came calling, pitching a Motown songwriting deal, which Betty turned down. Motown wanted to own everything. Heading to the UK, Marc Bolan of T. Rex urged the creative dynamo to start writing for herself. A common thread throughout Betty’s career would be her unbending Do-It-Yourself ethic, which made her quickly turn down anyone who didn’t fit with the vision. She would eventually say no to Eric Clapton as her album producer, seeing him as too banal.

      Her 1974 sophomore album 'They Say I’m Different' features a worthy-of-framing futuristic cover challenging David Bowie’s science fiction funk with real rocking soul-fire, kicked off with the savagely sexual “Shoo-B-Doop and Cop Him” (later sampled by Ice Cube). Her follow up is full of classic cuts like “Don’t Call Her No Tramp” and the hilarious, hard, deep funk of “He Was A Big Freak.”

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd LP Info: Limited Light In The Attic 180g reissue in heavyweight paste-on board sleeve and biography insert.

      EABS

      Discipline Of Sun Ra

        The creative process of the album revolved around two Sun Ra’s ideas - deconstruction and discipline. “He sent members of the Arkestra out to research individual players in Henderson group in the order to get the feeling right when playing their parts. Sun Ra told them they weren’t copying those pieces, they were re-creating them, and with the proper information they could know the spirit behind the original.”

        That’s how Herman Sonny Blount treated the music of the swing legend, Fletcher Henderson. EABS approached the composition of Sun Ra in exactly the same way. An equally important element with recording was a regime associated with the discipline and precision that the pianist from Saturn fought for, using a series of exercises-compositions entitled ‘Discipline’ previously used by Arkestra.

        Sun Ra was aiming to record timeless music that could still be alive in 1000 years, and with no hesitation, he managed to do it. The music from distant planets is infinite. “By infinity, Mr.Ra means creating jazz of the future, but also covering the past”.

        Duke Ellington & John Coltrane

        Duke Ellington & John Coltrane - Reissue

          The classic 1962 album Duke Ellington & John Coltrane showcased the rising jazz saxophone innovator performing alongside the long-established piano institution. While the pairing might have portended a dynamic clash of the musical generations, instead we got a casual, respectful, and musically generous meeting of like-minded souls. Similarly, while one might have assumed that Ellington would use his sidemen, instead producer Bob Thiele (who also produced similar albums for Ellington including pairings with Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins) chose to bring in Coltrane's own outfit for the proceedings. Consequently, the duo is backed here at various times by bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones, as well as alternates bassist Aaron Bell and drummer Sam Woodyard. The most surprising aspect of the Ellington/Coltrane date is how well suited Coltrane and his group are at playing what largely ends up being Ellington's own material. While he was certainly in the nascency of his more avant-garde period in 1962, Coltrane had a deep understanding of traditional jazz vocabulary, having played in a swing band in the Navy in the 1940s and studied the style of artists like Hawkins and Ben Webster while coming up in Philadelphia. Similarly, though an icon of the big-band era by the 1960s, Ellington had been on the upswing of a career resurgence ever since his dynamic performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival, later released as Ellington at Newport. His meeting with Coltrane was emblematic of his renewed creativity and was one of several albums he recorded in his latter life with theretofore unexpected artists, not the least of which his other 1962 date, Money Jungle with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach. Here, Ellington and Coltrane play a handful of well-known Ellington book numbers, including a supremely lyrical "In a Sentimental Mood" and a soulful, half-lidded version of Billy Strayhorn's "My Little Brown Book." Ellington even supplied the brisk original "Take the Coltrane," allowing plenty of room for Coltrane to let loose with knotty, angular lines.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP Info: Comes with bonus CD.

          For RE:WARM 004 the label heads to South Africa to welcome the amazing band, The Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are comprised of Donald Mbowane, Albinus Sobekwa, Elias Sekete and Philip Marokoane. However over the years there were a number of variations in the band. They released a number of singles and EP’s throughout the 1970’s on RPM and Buffalo but they finally released their greatest hits in 1978 on Buffalo. It’s from the greatest hits which was produced by Thomas J. Masingi that RE:WARM have selected three wonderful tracks that show off the band’s phenomenal talent. The hugely sought after track “Sea Waves” will take over the A side with “Brother” and “She’s Got To Know It Well” on the flip.


          Ipa-Boogie

          Ipa-Boogie

            Acid Jazz Records celebrate an exclusive licensing agreement with Albarika Store, the legendary record label that defined the sound of Benin and influenced the entire region of West Africa and beyond with this first exhaustive trawl of the archive and will see the label presented in a way that ensures its historical importance is recognized.

            ‘Ipa Boogie’ is a super rare LP from 1978 that almost never surfaces in good shape. Today even average condition copies can command £500 to £1,000 on the collector's market and for good reason. These are the only known recordings by this obscure band and they present the listener with some of the finest afro-boogie and afro funk that the extensive Albarika Store catalogue has to offer.

            Transferred from the original tapes and remastered by Grammy award-winning engineer Frank Merritt at The Carvery, the album is presented with beautiful artwork and packaging to match the sonics. This is the music as it should be heard.

            The title Pete Josef picked for his debut full-length just couldn’t be more appropriate: Like a found collection of analogue photographs, sepia-tinged and covering some beautiful, intense trip, the essence of “Colour” indeed lies in its manifold shades and hues, the colourfully rich and warm soundscapes the singer, songwriter and producer presents throughout the album. At home in various genres – from jazz to soul, from downbeat to outright pop –, Pete Josef just knows how to capture the warm glow of different spheres, how to present this special kind of light in various unique frames: “Colour” is comprised of 11 sonic snapshots, and one can tell right away how deeply personal they are, how much room he’s given these ideas to mature over time.

            It’s easily the soundtrack to this year’s Indian summer: “Colour” refracts and pools the warm afterglow of many years, and it burns brighter with each listen.


            FORMAT INFORMATION

            LP includes MP3 Download Code.

            Pete Josef

            I Rise With The Birds

              Five years have passed since Pete Josef’s debut album “Colour” caused a sensation worldwide amongst music lovers and critics alike. Since then, it’s hardly surprising that his steadily increasing fanbase have been awaiting its follow up impatiently. “I Rise With The Birds” will be released in October on Sonar Kollektiv and one can say without doubt that the wait was worth it. The album’s ten tracks offer gold until the last note of music, and an hour of food for thought about life’s ups and downs.

              The blue-eyed soul singer from Bristol has come to be a well-respected multi-instrumentalist and producer over the years merging jazz, soul, pop, and electronic music and collaborating with Manu Delago, Rag’n’Bone Man and Roni Size among others.

              Taking all of the production reins himself, he brings in long-time Bristol collaborators John Pratt and Ben Plocki (saxes), Nick Malcolm and Gary Alesbrook (trumpets), Rory Francis and Justin Fellows (drums, percussion), Roshan ‘Tosh’ Wijetunge (double bass), Luke ‘Typesun’ Harney (drums) and of course the voice of honey that so compliments Josef’s vocal on ‘Colour’ and beyond, Marie Lister.

              Most featured perhaps are Barney Sage (drum kit); the rhythmic backbone behind six of the ten tracks, and the virtuosic Austrian string players that provide so many highlights throughout; Bernie Mallinger (Violin, Viola) and Clemens Sainitzer (Cello). Notable contributions also come from new-found musical inspirations, Blythe Peppino (vocals), Bill Banwell (bass) and Miguel Andrews (drums). The result is a work of utterly beautiful, layered compositions with lush orchestral arrangements, subtle electronic textures and heartfelt performances.

              There is a broad and grand sense of scale to these songs, but they never lose the intimacy or devotion we’ve come to expect from Pete Josef.

              On the album’s creation, Pete explains: „This is an album about reconciliation, connection, and space and balance in life. I‘ve had a long and deep attachment to music, you might even say music has defined me. So a few years ago when I started to lose my way with it, I found it disorientting. I felt like I lost some of my soul. I stopped even listening to music, and so I put my energy into other things - I built stuff, I started a family and made a home, and I learned a lot about other things. And it was nice, healthy even, so intense is the art of music making. Happily, I rekindled my love, in a big part through making this album...and it has been a complete joy. I have travelled to record some very special musicians in the natural beauty of Carinthia, southern Austria, and I returned home to make music with some of my closest friends. I have loved once again being the artist, and playing engineer, performer, producer and arranger. This album has been my gift to myself at the dawn of a new chapter. I hope you will receive it as a gift too. So here‘s to reinvention, and finding love again.“ Throughout “I Rise With The Birds” placid and the jaunty moments balance each other perfectly.

              Launching with “Night Eyes”, the opener provides a wake-up call following a long night. With his most accomplished piece of work to date, Pete’s pedigree as a singer-songwriter comes into full bloom, with songs like “Friend On The Line”, “Lavender” or the bittersweet “Snatching Time”. On tracks such as the beautifully melodic “This Sun” Pete‘s soft vocals flowing effortlessly over a soulful river of sound, a perfect track for hazy summer evenings. Constantly shifting the dynamics, dancefloor ready tracks like “Mainframe” (co-written by Alex Barck from Jazzanova and Sebastian Damerius) or “Giants” show the versatility on display with this incredible album.


              Rahsaan Roland Kirk

              Blacknuss

                From its opening bars, with Bill Salter's bass and Rahsaan's flute passionately playing Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine", you know this isn't an ordinary Kirk album (were any of them?). As the string section, electric piano, percussion, and Cornel Dupree's guitar slip in the back door, one can feel the deep soul groove Kirk is bringing to the jazz fore here. As the tune fades just two and a half minutes later, the scream of Kirk's tenor comes wailing through the intro of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On", with a funk backdrop and no wink in the corner -- he's serious. With Richard Tee's drums kicking it, the strings developing into a wall of tension in the backing mix, and Charles McGhee's trumpet hurling the long line back at Kirk, all bets are off -- especially when they medley the mother into "Mercy Mercy Me". By the time they reach the end of the Isleys' "I Love You, Yes I Do", with the whistles, gongs, shouting, soul crooning, deep groove hustling, and greasy funk dripping from every sweet-assed note, the record could be over because the world has already turned over and surrendered -- and the album is only ten minutes old!

                "Blacknuss", like "The Inflated Tear", "Volunteered Slavery", "Rip, Rig And Panic", and "I Talk To The Spirits", is Kirk at his most visionary. He took the pop out of pop and made it Great Black Music. He took the jazz world down a peg to make it feel its roots in the people's music, and consequently made great jazz from pop tunes in the same way his forbears did with Broadway show tunes. While the entire album shines like a big black sun, the other standouts include a deeply moving read of "My Girl" and a version of "The Old Rugged Cross" that takes it back forever from those white fundamentalists who took all the blood and sweat from its grain and replaced them with cheap tin and collection plates. On Kirk's version, grace doesn't come cheap, though you can certainly be a poor person to receive it. Ladies and gents, "Blacknuss" is as deep as a soul record can be and as hot as a jazz record has any right to call itself. A work of sheer blacknuss!

                Little Barrie & Malcolm Catto

                Quatermass Seven

                Little Barrie And Malcolm Catto Team Up For Seven Tracks Of Breaks And Sci-Fi Fuzz For Maverick Producer Madlib's Label. Quatermass Seven, the meeting of minds between guitarist Barrie Cadogan, bassist Lewis Wharton and drummer Malcolm Catto represents a re-birth of sorts for Little Barrie, with these their first recordings since 2017’s Death Express and the untimely passing of their gifted drummer and friend Virgil Howe.

                As Lewis explains, the sessions played a part in the healing process, a way to re-connect through music without any intentions to necessarily come away with a finished record. “It was good to get in the studio again after such a long break especially as we didn’t go in with any agenda or expectations,” he explains. There was no preconceptions that we would make a new Little Barrie record, it was just an opportunity to work on some things Barrie had written for fun with zero pressure.” With most tracks recorded live with minimal overdubs, and produced by Malcolm at his Quatermass studios, The Heliocentrics’ main man brings new flavour to the band’s rhythm section by blending his power behind the drum kit and his expansive skills behind the mixing desk to take Little Barrie’s music forward into new territories.

                Recorded on Catto’s treasure trove of analogue gear, and mastered onto ¼” tape, the overall effect is guitar, bass and drums finding a sweet spot where genres collide, delivering a record that takes the influences of the past and pushes them towards somewhere more contemporary. “I definitely hear in Barrie’s songs a lot of common musical ground’” explains Malcolm. “It felt like a great thing to do, work with Malcolm while we’re figuring out what we wanna do,” Barrie concludes, “let’s just go in and do some playing and see what happens, and we came out with more than we ever intended.” Quatermass Seven delivers a dark, deep and expansive set of grooves, layered with frazzled and flawless guitar and flowing melodies, as well as pointing toward a future of exciting new musical opportunities. “Still here, so fine, just a little darker state of mind” sings Cadogan on ‘Steel Drum’, words which sum up hope in times of uncertainty, whilst unintentionally offering a perfect description of Quartermass Seven. 

                Rob Mazurek - Exploding Star Orchestra

                Dimensional Stardust

                Commissioned by the Chicago Cultural Center in 2005 to assemble a group representing the diversity of the city’s avant-garde, Mazurek began composing for what became his Exploding Star Orchestra (ESO). Including musicians from the often-segregated North, South, and West sides, ESO debuted in the urban epicenter of Chicago’s Millennium Park and, shortly after, recorded We Are All From Somewhere Else (Thrill Jockey, 2007). By the time of Galactic Parables Vol. 1, ESO’s 2015 triple LP on Cuneiform Records, Mazurek reflected to Pop Matters that “Exploding Star Orchestra is the conceptual, compositional and philosophical center of all my work... a life star of musical and visual and ideas."

                In 2018 JazzFest Berlin invited Mazurek to present a new iteration of ESO. Meeting the commission with the boundless ambition characteristic of his approach, he imagined a jubilee of musicians – true to ESO’s essence in their widely diverse backgrounds and voices, but more tightly arranged than ever before. Mazurek’s debut was an ecstatic and wholly original program that marked a pinnacle in his distinction as a composer and conductor of Contemporary Music. When he returned to Chicago, International Anthem took the opportunity to capture these new ESO compositions with a cast of collaborators from their collective constellation of artists. In the studio between August 2019-March 2020, Mazurek channeled his arrangements through 11 musicians – Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Jaimie Branch, Joel Ross, Mikel Patrick Avery, Tomeka Reid, Chad Taylor, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Macie Stewart, Angelica Sanchez, and John Herndon – and commissioned his long-time collaborator Damon Locks to do lyrics and vocals. After 3 months of rigorous post-production, editing and assembly, Mazurek completed Dimensional Stardust.

                Somehow swirling adventurous elements of avant-garde jazz and contemporary classical into the most universal attractors of pop music, the cosmic opera of Dimensional Stardust is a pure spiritual extension of Exploding Star Orchestra’s unifying ethos, and a peak in the prolific creative career of Rob Mazurek.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive 'Cosmic moment' blue and white splatter vinyl.

                Limited edition ruby red colour vinyl reissue of the smashing album from Germany's finest funk ensemble to celebrate its 5th anniversary. 11 cinematic deep funk instrumentals, celebrated b-boy breaks and vocal dancefloor killers with special guests Afrika Bambaataa, Charlie Funk, Deejay Snoop, DJ Hektek, Donald D., DeRobert, Nichola Richards, Peter Thomas, Guillaume Metenier & Shawn Lee.

                "The Mighty Mocambos' new album "Showdown" sets another cornerstone in their prolific career as a globally active instrumental funk outfit. While maintaining their organic approach of recording real musicians live on tape, the group has refined their trademark sound with a dramatic edge, a hard hitting production and ventures into less obvious musical territories. While highly enjoying themselves as the tight unit they are, The Mighty Mocambos invited an exciting list of guests to contribute to their musical "Showdown": German film composer icon Peter Thomas, hiphop godfather Afrika Bambaataa, rap legends Charlie Funk aka Afrika Islam (member of the original Rocksteady Crew) and Donald D (of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate), plus Nichola Richards, Shawn Lee, DeRobert from peer label GED Soul in Nashville, Zulu Nation MCs Deejay Snoop & DJ Hektek and organ genius Guillaume Metenier all joined the group for their new musical adventure."

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Limited edition ruby red colour vinyl reissue

                Oaagaada

                Oag-ada / A Swimming Trip

                We Jazz Records continues their 7" series with a new release by Oaagaada, a fresh quartet from the rural parts of Southern Finland. "Oag-ada / A Swimming Trip" appears on 30 October and presents the band's ability to create fiery and flowing jazz music with strong avantgarde leanings. Think Art Ensemble Of Chicago on their groovy mode and add a strong DIY mentality, four people in a room creating music in the now. The lows are low and the highs are high, with the trumpet firmly on the red, adding just the right amount of blurriness into the picture. Perhaps it's not "lo-fi jazz" per se, but rather music which is more concerned with other things than the cleanest of hi-fi imagery. This is "real jazz for real people".

                The quartet includes Tuure Tammi (trumpet), Sami Pekkola (sax), Tero Kemppainen (bass) and Simo Laihonen (drums). Laihonen has recently appeared on We Jazz Records with Stanley J. Zappa and previously with Black Motor, and more Oaagaada can be heard on the recent "We Jazz Live Plates" album "Lonna 2019".

                True to We Jazz style, the 7" single comes with old school heat-pressed labels and a plain brown paper sleeve.

                Quantic & Denitia

                Nowhere

                World-renowned British producer, musician and DJ Will Holland aka Quantic launches his own record label Selva Records with the release of new 7" single ‘Nowhere’ with Denitia. The smouldering soul track features Will on guitars and keys, Joe Blaxx on drums and an intimate vocal from Denitia.

                "We wrote ‘Nowhere’ hot on the heels of ‘You Used to Love Me’. The song has a minimal approach, leaving a lot of space for emotion. I think Denitia and I both had a new confidence about working together and were excited about the new sounds we were building. This song has a very particular energy that I love." - Will Holland, Quantic

                Quest Ensemble

                The Other Side

                  London-based trio Quest Ensemble present a distinctive twist on the traditional piano trio format. A collaboration between three powerful performers/composers, ‘The Other Side’ sees musical styles woven together into a lyrical tapestry of sound, blending improvisation with co-created original compositions. A truly unique ensemble in compositional process and performance style.

                  On 5th June, Quest Ensemble will release their sophomore album ‘The Other Side’. With nods to influences as broad as the contemporary minimalism of John Adams and Steve Reich, the experimental melancholic textures of Radiohead to the progressive jazz precision of Brad Mehldau, ‘The Other Side’ inhabits its own soundworld somewhere in the gaps between chamber, jazz, folk and contemporary classical music.

                  From the emotive ‘Moments’, the elasticated melodies of ‘Pendulum’, to the fluid lines and compelling urgency of ‘The Boatman’ and ‘Pedal Down’, Quest Ensemble’s compositions fuse layered melodies and rhythmic patterns to create contrapuntal webs of sound. The process involves sharing improvised ideas, building up layers of music on each instrument to create a patchwork of musical themes with a rich vein of surging Reichian rhythms underpinning each.

                  Fusing their backgrounds in western classical, Indian classical, jazz and improvisational technique, Filipe Sousa (piano), Tara Franks (cello) and Preetha Narayanan (violin) are all graduates of the Guildhall School of Music Leadership Programme.

                  In May 2014, Quest Ensemble released their much-lauded debut album ‘Footfall’, a collection of part-composed and part-improvised original compositions, steeped in the sense of place that inspired the sound and imagination of their stories. From an ancient leper hospice in Oxford to a stark urban underground rehearsal space, each piece poetically reflects a moment in time, a passing footfall.

                  Since 2009, Quest Ensemble have regularly worked with schools, colleges, youth and community groups across the UK, leading creative music projects with musicians of all ages and backgrounds, transferring their collaborative composition methods to community settings, enabling others to experience their way of working. Most recently, the trio were commissioned to create a show with visual artist Somang Lee that was premiered at Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal as a part of the Big Bang Festival 2018.


                  This is Ryuichi Sakamoto’s landmark 1981 album reissued for the first time in decades outside of Japan. The album is superb blend of Electro, funk and ambient. All remastered by Bernie Grundman with new introduction by British Journalist Anton Spice. Wewantsounds reissue of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s third solo album “Hidari Ude No Yume” (Left Handed Dream), originally released in 1981 on the Alfa label. Save for a small-scale Dutch vinyl release in 1981, it is the first time the album’s original Japanese edition is released outside of Japan (the European release on Epic Records included significantly different tracks and mixes).

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  2xDeluxe LP Info: Limited double LP indie exclusive edition with the 2nd LP featuring a full instrumental mix never released on vinyl.

                  By 1980 when this was originally released Pharoah Sanders was solidly entrenched with his own voice on tenor. The passing of John Coltrane and Sanders's fruitful years of playing with the prolific saxophone genius resulted with an unmistakable influence on his sound and explorations of the instrument. Beginning with "Greetings to Idris" the structure of the music is one that follows tradition yet opens up for the musicians to improvise within the arrangements. "Greetings to Idris" is in reference to the featured drummer Idris Muhammad who also played with Coltrane during his late period. Always interested in other instruments from other cultures, much like Trane, he incorporates the Japanese instrument the koto, a beautifully harmonic stringed instrument to counter his soft rich blowing on tenor with only wind chimes and a harmonium for a delicious peaceful bit of music on "Kazuko"(Peace Child) that has the qualities of a meditative offering. Most of the music, eight tracks, is composed and arranged by Sanders and demonstrates his leadership. There is one John Coltrane composition entitled "After The Rain" that gets the Tranesque treatment by Sanders that makes it hard for even the most discerning listener to distinguish between the original version and Sanders impression. It is a bluesy duet featuring only sax and piano and leaves you wanting to hear it over and over again because of it's simple and haunting melodies. Another song that Coltrane recorded entitled "Easy To Remember" has a gentle swing to it built around a classic quartet (drums, bass, piano, sax) like that employed by Coltrane that results in a superb standard. Sanders incorporates the use of another "foreign" instrument to jazz by working in a tabla and sitar on "Soledad " that takes center stage before Sanders joins in on the music. The result is a thing of genius as the East and West merge and interface for composition that is peaceful. Sanders music on this LP fluctuates between the tranquil sounds of his mellow horn to the outer limits where he left off with the explorations of Trane's late period. What separates this LP from others is that it is a group playing under his leadership where he gives all others close to equal billing. The uptempo, "You've Got To Have freedom" is one such song where Sanders gets out there on some of his solos but works within the group structure as the other musicians, most notably Eddie Henderson on flugelhorn, bring the music back home. There is a chorus sung much of the time throughout where the the proclamation ‘Ya gotta have peace and love, ya gotta have freedom’ is presented in Manhattan Transfer style but with much more soul. The use of vocalists is done again on the track entitled "Think About The One." The chorus features vocalese specialist Bobby McFerrin. This LP shows the different sides of Pharoah Sanders, a man always willing to explore the music, explore his soul and share it with you. The closing track "Bedria" is a mellow exploration of the various ranges of the tenor. It is a ten minute song that displays all the grace of his being, a gentle giant who can manipulate the horn to do extraordinary things, reverberating out and back in undulating waves of harmonic bliss.

                  Albert’s Favourites co-founder Adam Scrimshire is set to release his fifth album 'Believers Vol. 1’, featuring guests And Is Phi, Bessi, K.O.G., Omar, Xana & Faye Houston, Penya, Stac and Tamar Osborn. The album draws from Scrimshire's passion for jazz, soul and electronic music of all styles; from energetic Afro-disco through lushly orchestrated neo-soul to harmonious jazz experiments.

                  'Anadwo' opens the album, a bright, Afro-disco inspired groove written with Ghanaian artist K.O.G., and is possibly Scrimshire's most extroverted track to date. Regular collaborator Stac and Brighton singer and producer Bessi sing on snappy neo-soul tracks ‘Where Are We’ and ‘Lost In Space And Time’ respectively. And Is Phi brings an eclectic mix of jazz, poetry and improvisation to ‘Chance Me’ while ‘Transformation’ stars acclaimed saxophonist Tamar Osborn. Genre-defying quartet Penya feature on global-jazz epic ‘Tanto Tiempo’ and the incomparable Omar joins with Xana and Faye Houston on album highlight ‘Love Is Loving’. Cosmic-jazz instrumental ‘Peaceless Peace’ closes out ‘Believers Vol. 1’, ending a bold and positive album filled with creativity and joy.

                  “Writing and producing my last album, ‘Listeners’, opened the floodgates for me. I’ve written more in the last 18 months than in years. Practicing for the live band levelled up my playing and opened up possibilities in writing I couldn’t find before. Since then I’ve written more than two albums worth of “Scrimshire” songs. But I really wanted to try and focus the experience and separate between music that represented the positivity and optimism I’ve experienced in recent years against my more introverted and angrier instincts.

                  ‘Believers Vol.1’ represents warmth and hope. Everyone I worked with early in lockdown, seemed to want to express those longings for physical and emotional connection too. The whole album reaches out, I think it’s full of long embraces. But it is also, for me personally a love letter to black music and the black artists that shaped everything I care about sonically, from my very first memories of music until now. It draws from sounds I grew up around in the early to mid eighties, classic records from the seventies that I’ve never tired of, but important dance records from the late nineties and early 2000s that celebrated and subverted those ideas too.”

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  says: An eclectic mixture of soul, afro-disco and electronic synth funky-goodness, it’s hard to believe it has improvisation featured on the album as it’s so put together and effortless. This one is sure to get you moving.

                  T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou - Rep Pop Du Benin

                  Segla

                    Acid Jazz Records are proud to announce an exclusive licensing agreement with Albarika Store, the legendary record label that defined the sound of Benin and influenced the entire region of West Africa and beyond.

                    This is the first exhaustive trawl of the archive and will see the label presented in a way that ensures its historical importance is recognized.

                    ‘Segla’ is a hens’ teeth-rare Poly Rythmo album from 1978 that was originally released without a sleeve as ALS059. Recorded at EMI Lagos, Nigeria, as per most of the Poly Rythmo recordings for Albarika, the sound quality is from the tapes is dynamic and fresh.

                    Transferred from the original tapes and remastered by Grammy award-winning engineer Frank Merritt at The Carvery, the album is presented with beautiful artwork and packaging to match the sonics. This is the music as it should be heard.

                    Emma-Jean Thackray

                    Ley Lines

                    As a musician, composer, singer, producer and DJ, Emma wrote, recorded and played every note on the "Ley Lines" EP. Originally released in 2018 in a limited run of 500 copies, which flew off the shelves and became an instant classic.

                    "Ley Lines" was championed by DJs including Gilles Peterson and Jamie Cullum and earned Emma-Jean Thackray a nomination for Breakthrough Artist Of The Year at Jazz FM Awards and Jazz Album Of The Year at WorldWide Awards in 2019. It shines out as an unhurried, slightly melancholy body of work that feels a natural product of both its author and geography.Thackray's nuanced and highly expressive trumpeteering the work of true genuis - able to convey messages and emotions effortlessly. 

                    Originally self-released in 2016 and picked up by DJs such as Theo Parrish and Mr Scruff, ‘Walrus’ has achieved cult status among fans and shows the beginnings of Emma’s journey through her early experiments in fusing the brass-band sounds of her youth with psychedelic jazz grooves, establishing her trajectory as one of the most talented young musicians whose ambitions go far beyond narrow genre tags. It's no wonder two of Detroit and Manchester's most prolific outsider artists dug this girl - she's freakishly excellent! If you've a penchant for Moon Dog and Sun Ra you simply gotta get this down your ears pronto! Languishing in dissonance and awkward meter, melodies do occassionally permeate through the madness; and there's a slouchy, stoned, carefree atttitude to the piece which actually makes it a lot more enjoyable to listen to than one might expect! A leftfield masterpiece. 


                    “Easy rider, come and take me higher”. When the world seemingly crumbles around, music can provide an escape few other mediums can. For their debut self-titled LP, Velour effortlessly levitate you above the madness below, each track taking a new turn, cruising over hazy flecked skylines, bustling walkways and bleary eyed bedlam. A trajectory that takes in all of jazz’s vibrancies, blending elements of neo soul, broken beat and hip hop coupled with a much-needed sense of hope across nine deep, soul-searching tracks released via WOLF Music Recordings.

                    A style and sound taking influence from genres and moods, environments and experiences, Essen-based Velour stretch their legs for this, their first full length album. From the off, they nestle you under their wing with the rustling sax washes of opener ‘CLP’ before diving into an epic slo-mo burner, swooping down into the chaos as singer, Eva Czaya, wistfully narrates the scenes beneath.

                    Unafraid to shift pace within songs, the likes of ‘Pose’, sauntering from soulful summer groove into woozy late night affair, and ‘Tom's Garage’, that progresses from roadside recounting to grungy basement blowout, finished with a sample of jazz-tinged dusty beats, show that accomplished and adept heads rest on the shoulders of these relative newcomers.

                    WOLF Music mainstay Mr Fries continues to head up production for Velour, his trademark touch capturing the intimacy of Velour’s sound presenting it in a way that’s considered yet raw - nothing feeling rushed, nor cluttered. A separation and space that gives each element the room it deserves to breathe, with short interludes and skits providing the perfect bridge between tracks, guiding you through smokey jazz bars and twilight whisperings.

                    Moving through the album, Czaya at points wanders in a serene spoken dialogue, at others letting her voice loose, but always with an ethereal demeanour that comes off with natural ease. One of many highlights, ‘Anthony Davis’ shows off this celestial prowess whilst perfectly embodying Velour’s dream-like escapism. A pent up release of creativity, as moody bass tones mix with deft keys, rolling snares sit behind swirling saxophones.

                    The journey ends with ‘Luminate’, a transcendent closer laced with space-echoed vocals that reverberate around over-driven Rhodes and feverish drums. Cymbals crash, as modulated synths rise, building and building before easing you off into the night and on your way to a parallel universe.

                    As a body of work, ‘Velour’ is a shining example of the freedom, energy and enthusiasm of the new school of jazz that’s been captivating minds the world over. An instant on repeat staple - let go, feel the flow, it’s what we need in a time like this.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    says: Wolf switch things up a little from their trademark dancefloor fare as Velour wow us with their groove-laden take on new school jazz. Cool AF!

                    Shirlean Williams & The Tempo's Band

                    This Is A Song

                    Tramp fans certainly remember the name Nolla Mainor whose band Nola & The Soul Rockers contributed their song "Reach Down & Get It" for the second volume in the Feeling Nice series. This is her other 45, equally rare and for some people this two sider beats the quality of The Soul Rockers disc.

                    Amy Winehouse

                    12x7: The Singles Collection

                      A 7” singles box set comprising all of Amy Winehouse’s memorable singles from the Frank, Back To Black and Lioness: Hidden Treasures albums, will be released on 20th November. Featured tracks include ‘Stronger Than Me’, ‘Rehab’ and ‘Love Is A Losing Game’, all of which won the Ivor Novello Award for Amy in 2004, 2007 and 2008. The set also includes the Grammy Award winning ‘Body and Soul’, a duet with the legendary Tony Bennett. The singles will be housed in individual picture sleeves and pressed on black vinyl. The deluxe box also features a 20-page lyrics booklet and a set of art cards. 

                      Next in the compiler hotseat for seminal mix series ‘Back to Mine’ is the legendary DJ and producer Fatboy Slim. Having sold over 10 million records and embarked on a number of sold out arena tours, the esteemed record collector and all round great selector delves deep into his weighty collection at his home to create a heady journey of funk and soul. The collection opens with Dave Barker & Ansell Collins ‘Monkey Spanner’ – a reggae single released in 1971 from the Kingston based duo working for the infamous producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

                      There are a few rare finds, Donal Leace ‘Today Won’t Come Again’, Wind ‘Grooving With Mr Bloe’ and George Rene ‘Smokey Joe’s La La’. And the most recognisable for many no doubt is Betty Chung’s 1968 classic ‘Bang Bang’ thanks to the vocals of the Nancy Sinatra cover being sampled in the Audio Bullys rework in 2005.

                      The 1975 classic ‘Take Yo Praise’ from Camille Yarborough which Fatboy Slim used to sample the iconic ‘Praise You’ in 1998 is found in the first half of the mix, and not forgetting his group Beats International, which Norman sampled lyrics from the featured track ‘Jam Hot’ by Johnny Dynell for ‘Dub Be Good To Me’. A track that became the best-selling single in the UK in 1990.

                      And last but not least, two new and exclusive tracks ‘Fatboy Slim & Roland Clark ‘Sunset 303’ (If You Believe) and ‘The Voice Of Experience’ under his Yum Yum Head Food alias, known for producing his more ambient tunes including ‘Bird Of Prey’.

                      Fatboy Slim delivers an amazing selection of tracks which give us all a little sneak peek into the vibes generated from years of meaningful memories for this ‘Back To Mine’ series. From his house to yours, listening pleasure is guaranteed.

                      “Over the years there has been so much action back at mine, so many friends, lovers and lunatics who would congregate after the clubs had closed to laugh, share and swap ideas and tunes and generally put the world to rights… this is a collection from the soundtrack of those sessions” - Fatboy Slim


                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      says: A truly inspirational force, lovely human being, and unequivocally a contributing factor to my initial love of electronic music. Fatboy Slim, one of many great dance music ambassadors rightly delivers a career-spanning 'Back To Mine' compilation.

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      2xColoured LP Info: Indies exclusive yellow vinyl.

                      Various Artists

                      Mr Bongo Record Club Vol. 4

                        Curating the tracks for a Mr Bongo Record Club compilation is always such a pleasure. At a time when the expression "Music is My Sanctuary" has an even greater cathartic impact for many people, we set out to make this volume an extra special one - like an old favourite mixtape or playlist. For Volume 4 in this series we continue in the same mould as with previous editions, selecting current favourites and rare lost gems from the Brazilian, African, soul, funk, and disco genres. We present tracks from artists such as Azwon, Cindy & The Playmates, and Zé Roberto to name just a few. However, one main departure and progression to this edition is the first time inclusion of recordings by contemporary artists. These come from Matthew Tavares (of BADBADNOTGOOD fame), Wax Machine, and DJ Format & The Simonsound, which were originally featured on either limited private press vinyl releases or were previously only available digitally. We felt their inclusion was important and wanted to share these wonderful discoveries with a wider audience. They also complement, enrich, and fit perfectly with the flow and journey of the compilation. Here at Mr Bongo we hope you will enjoy this selection of seventeen eclectic songs (in tempo and style) as much as we do, whether they make you move your feet, take you on a trip somewhere, or trigger a happy memory.

                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                        2xColoured LP Info: Pink vinyl edition.


                        Independent Albums of the Year from @LoveRecsStores announced December 3rd. Keep ‘em peeled 👀 people.… https://t.co/uXMipJaov1
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