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Released on Leeds Jazz & Soul labelATA Records, the debut LP fromThe Lewis Express takes the rich legacy of the soul-jazz outfits of the 1960s as the initial blueprint of their sound. Taking inspiration from the likes of Ramsey Lewis, Young-Holt, Eddie Cano, Ray Bryant and Cannonball Adderley, they present a collection of tracks that range from introspective spy film themes to burning Brazilian jazz.

Reviews pending from Record Collector, Shindig!, Blues And Soul and ukvibe.org.

Primarily based in Leeds, The Lewis Express is comprised of many of the musicians that have graced previous ATA releases: George Cooper, Piano (Abstract Orchestra) Neil Innes, Bass (The Sorcerers, The Magnificent Tape Band, Tony Burkill), Sam Hobbs, Drums (Dread Supreme, Tony Burkill, Matthew Bourne) and Pete Williams, Percussion (The Sorcerers, The Magnificent Tape Band, Tony Burkill). Recorded over an intense two-day session by the band of the same name, "The Lewis Express" is a nod to the classic soul jazz recordings of The Young Holt Trio / Young-Holt Unlimited and Ramsey Lewis, from who this group take their name. But, delivered with a distinctly European feel. As with many of the classic Ramsey Lewis cuts, this album was recorded live, capturing the rich inter-relationship between the players.

Kicking off the album isLove Can't Turn A Man, a slow burner that introduces the piano of George Cooper as he works over a rock solid backbeat.Cancao De Momentois an up-tempo Brazilian Workout in the style of Milton Banana with rhythmic piano punctuated by percussion.Brother Move Onis probably the most recognizable as being in the soul jazz vein, with nods to such classics as Ramsey Lewis'The 'In' CrowdandSoulful Strutby Young Holt Unlimited, particularly the latter. Moving intoHawkshaw Philly(their nod to session music legend and leader of The Mohawks, Alan Hawkshaw) the band create what sounds like a rare library cut.Theme From The Watcheris a nod to the cinematic soul-jazz of the 60s, conjuring up the sort of imagery that coincides with the black and white spy thrillers, espionage and intrigue.Last Man In The Chain Ganghas a very strong Ramsey Lewis feel and offers some of the most powerful piano playing of the whole album. The final track,Straight Seven Strut, is the only vocal track of the album. The staccato swing and French vocals lend it some of the qualities of 60s yé-yé music but with a far jazzier backbone, spiced with percussive handclaps.

Abstract Orchestra

New Day (feat. Illa J)

Led by Saxophonist Rob Mitchell, Abstract Orchestra have been a consistent presence on the u.k. music scene, touring constantly in the promotion of their debut LP "Dilla" and steadily building a loyal and supportive fanbase.Inspired by the legendary live performances of The Roots with Jay-Z and the 40 piece orchestral arrangements by Miguel-Atwood Ferguson of the work of J Dilla, classic arranging techniques underpin modern loop-based structures, breathing new life into familiar material.The band itself is based on the classic jazz big band instrumentation of saxes, trumpets, and trombones and features the cream of the north of England's jazz scene, who collectively have played with Jamiroquai, Corinne Bailey Rae, Mark Ronson, Martha Reeves, John Legend & the Roots, Roots Manuva and Amy Winehouse.

"New Day" is the eagerly anticipated new single and features rapper and J Dilla's brother Illa J on vocals. Supported by a U.K. tour with Illa J throughout February, "New Day" takes the blueprint laid out on last years LP "Dilla" and expands it with Illa J's understated vocal delivery. Radio support anticipated from BBC6's Gilles Peterson who has been an advocate for Abstract Orchestra on both his BBC6 and Worldwide FM shows, as well as Huey Morgan (BBC6), Shawn Lee (Soho) and Dom Servini (Wah Wah 45s). "New day" is the first original work by Abstract Orchestra and builds on the foundations laid on their debut. Flutes and electric piano lay out a gentle pad, propelled forward by Joost Hendrickx's insistent drums. Occasional fragments of saxophones add an urgency to the insouciant groove laid out by the rhythm section as soft trumpets and trombones are gradually added to the flutes. This provides the perfect foil to Illa J's laid-back vocal delivery as he describes a typically relaxed Tuesday morning spent contemplating the day ahead. The B-side is the AO remix which takes the instrumental performances of the A-Side, chopping and fragmenting them and re-framing the original with a slightly harder edge, which should be popular with those DJs and listeners looking for something with a tougher sound.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: It’s been a long wait for this and it’s finally here! Illa J, Dilla’s younger brother performs the smoothest vocals over the top of Abstract Orchestras’ distinctive instrumental hip hop sound. Fans of Children of Zeus will love this!

Recently championed by Gilles Peterson on his BBC6 Music radio show, "Dilla" by Abstract Orchestra has been generating a buzz since it's inception in 2016.

Led by Saxophonist Rob Mitchell, Abstract Orchestra seeks to reflect the diversity of music sampled by Hip-Hop producers by presenting music that has the complexity of jazz, framed within the simpler structures of Hip-Hop. 

Inspired by the legendary live performances of The Roots with Jay-Z and the 40 piece orchestral arrangements by Miguel-Atwood Ferguson of the work of J Dilla. The band itself is based on the classic jazz big band instrumentation of sax, trumpet and trombone and features the cream of the north of England's jazz scene.

"Dilla" by Abstract Orchestra is a tribute to the work of the highly acclaimed and influential producer. Opener "Welcome to Detroit/The Diary" takes the the vocal sample from Isaac Hayes's "Man's Temptation" and places it against lush brass and driving beats while "Workinonit" transplants the original 10cc guitar samples from the Dilla original onto biting trumpets and aggressive saxes, underpinned as always by Joost Hendrickx's on point drumming. On "Stop" vocalist Anna Uhuru handles the Dionne Warwick vocal with assurance while the band lay down an arrangement that is reminiscent of the work of David Axelrod and Don Sebeskey.

The middle of the album revolves around 2 Dilla medleys featuring versions and sections of"Airworks", "ULove", "Last Donut" and "Welcome To The Show"."Raw Shit" sees Farfisa organ underpinning the insistent brass figures with the bass taking on an almost bassoon-like quality while "Official/Fall In Love" sees Anna & Akin provide a stunning vocal performance, trading lines over the delicate horn arrangement. "Fantastic" features the Rhodes intro of the original which is then taken up by the flutes and baritone sax. Inspired by the work of 20th century classical composers like Barber and Copeland the 2nd half of the arrangement takes on an almost orchestral feel with shades of Gil Evans.

"Love","So Far To Go","A.N.G.E.L.", and "Sun In My Face" provide interesting takes on these well known Dilla originals while album closer "Two Can Win"(recently championed by Gilles Peterson on his BBC6 Music show) acts as a showcase for the variety of Anna Uhuru's vocals, blending the style of the original Sylvers track with Minnie Ripperton style harmonies, 70's funk and Lalo Schiffrin/JJ Johnson film score vibes.

Let's face it 'Donuts' is probably the best cut up album there is, so how can you not love this?! Awesome.




STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: If I could think up a perfect record it would be this exact one. Dilla originals switched up by Abstract Orchestra brings a huge influx of jazzy hip hop beats. So good!


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