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A primer on London’s bright-burning young jazz scene, this new compilation brings together a collection of some of its sharpest talents. A set of nine newly-recorded tracks, We Out Here captures a moment where genre markers matter less than raw, focused energy. Looking at the album’s running order, it could easily serve as a name-checking exercise for some of London’s most-tipped and hardworking bands of the past couple of years. Recorded across three long, fruitful days in a North West London studio, the crossover between each of the groups speaks to the close-knit circles which make up the scene.

Surveying the way that London’s jazz-influenced music had spread outside of its usual spaces in recent years, this album bottles up some of the vital ideas emanating from that burgeoning movement. Giving a platform to a scene where mutual cooperation and a DIY spirit are second-nature, it’s a window into the wide-eyed future of London’s musical underground.

Ubiquitous, much-lauded saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings is the project’s musical director. His own recent projects span from South Africa-connected, spiritually-minded jazz players Shabaka and the Ancestors to Sons of Kemet, who match diasporically-connected compositions with viscerally-direct live shows. His entry on the album, ‘Black Skin, Black Masks’, is typically difficult-to-define: with an off-kilter, shifting rhythmic backbone, repeated phrases – mirrored between clarinet and bass clarinet – shape the track with an alluring hue. His input ties together a deft, genre-agnostic sensibility that’s shared through all the players on the record.

Theon Cross – who’s also part of Sons of Kemet with Hutchings – starts his track, ‘Brockley’, with the solo, distinctive low rumble of his tuba. Winding and mesmeric, it sees tuba and sax lines winding together in rhythmic and melodic parallels. Ezra Collective – whose drummer and bandleader Femi Koleoso has toured with Pharaohe Monch – run a tight, Afrobeat-tipped rhythm on ‘Pure Shade’, with the final third changing gear into a melodic, momentous closing stretch.

Joe Armon-Jones, whose ludicrous chops on the piano have seen him touring with the likes of Ata Kak, showcases earworm-like, insistent motifs on ‘Go See’, balanced with a playful, improvisatory approach with room for ad-libbing and solos a-plenty. Taking a softer tact than many of the other entries, Kokoroko – whose guitarist Oscar Jerome has been making waves with his solo material – spin a lyrical, steady-paced meditation on ‘Abusey Junction’, matching chanted vocals with gently-played guitar.

Nodding to spiritual jazz influences, Maisha’s ‘Inside The Acorn’ is a wandering, explorative rumination, balancing delicate washes of piano and percussion with sharp interplay between flute and bass clarinet. In contrast, Nubya Garcia’s ‘Once’ is taut and carefully-poised, her tenor sax guiding a carefully-built energy to an explosive conclusion. And finally, Triforce’s ‘Walls’ is a performance in two parts: starting with Mansur Brown’s languorous, lyrical guitar, the second half switches up to a low-slung, g-funk-tipped groove.

STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: The trusty Brownswood label at the rescue again to point out all the new music you should be listening too, We Out Here is a collection of London’s blooming and ever-growing young musicians Jazz scene. This captures the vibe and hub around upcoming Jazz, elements of traditional raw Jazz elements matched with swooning percussion. The contemporary style reaches back into its essential past and is shone in a new era of up and coming artists.

Joe Claussell Feat. Daymé Arocena

Yambu (Sacred Rhythm Mix)

Venerated NYC club icon Joe Claussell gives Cuban sensation Daymé Arocena the remix treatment in his inimitable style. A trailblazing disciple who consistently keeps on giving after well over 25 years service to the church of house. Claussell’s Sacred Rhythm Fusion Mix of "Yambu" is a stirring cut bound to lift dancefloors into heavenly heights. Underlined by a fierce rhythm section featuring bata drums, congas and the shekere, the NYC legend applies the emotive resonance of Arocena’s vocals, masterfully arranging her phonic touch as part of a hypnotic groove. When the full chorus bursts into life during the latter half of the track it's joined by weaving sax and vibing horns. Pure Claussell, through and through, it's up there with his (much sought after) remix of Amadou Et Mariam's "Bara" and will become equally collectable in my honest opinion.

STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Another fine moment from the Body & Soul mainstay. If you can't afford the currently very high price for "Bara" then this'll more than suffice. Infact, this one hasn't been caned at Dekmantel yet - so IMO it's better! ;)

The second Hello Skinny album, "Watermelon Sun" conjures images of the languorous, dreamy escapism its title suggests. Channelling influences including UK jazz, New Jersey house and Chicago footwork, it’s the melodies – played on trombone, tenor sax and the keys – which are the bright-shining, consistent thread throughout. The solo project of esteemed drummer Tom Skinner (whose other recent projects include Sons of Kemet and Owiny Sigoma Band), the album features influential trombone player and composer Peter Zummo (a friend and collaborator of Arthur Russell, who’s recently released new material on Glasgow’s Optimo label). Over the past thirty years, dance music has splintered off into a myriad web of different styles and tribes. But in the beginning, things were different: starting with New York’s late ‘70s disco boom, the city’s fertile club scene co-mingled hip-hop, R&B, punk and the avant-garde. For Hello Skinny, that open-minded attitude serves as inspiration for "Watermelon Sun". Recorded in free-form, improvised live sessions, it sees that broad-minded club lineage channelled through London’s genre-blurring, jazz-influenced vanguard.

Connecting via a mutual friend, Skinner went to see Zummo at his house on Staten Island, New York in 2014. A performer and composer of minimalism and contemporary classical since the late ‘60s, he also played on cultish disco singles like Arthur Russell’s “Kiss Me Again” and “Go Bang”. Strongly influenced by hearing Zummo explain his open-form approach to composition, Skinner approached the recording sessions with written material – a clutch of riffs, melodies and basslines – as the jumping off point for open-ended recordings. Rejecting the kind of improvisation where each player takes their turn to solo, he embraced a group-oriented approach. Or as he puts it, 'I like improvising where it doesn't sound like improvising.' Weaved through with loose, colourful melodies, the record deftly shifts tempos – from the off-kilter club banger of “Mr P.Z.” to the slow-build, yearning sounds of “iDEATH” – in a way that reflects Skinner’s experience behind the drum kit. He often plays unconventional rhythms, in 5/4 rather than the 4/4 norm, in a way that’s not showy or trying to be challenging. 'I try and write things that feel natural,' he explains. 'It might be in 5/4, but it doesn't immediately sound like it, so it can be quite rhythmically accessible in that way. I'm really interested in rhythm and how you can construct rhythms in different ways.' 

As a drummer, he’s been a ubiquitous presence working with scene-leading saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings as well as the likes of Dave Okumu (The Invisible) and Eska. Part of a generation bridging time-earned musicianship with wide-open influences – from electronic music to hip-hop and pop – he’s part of killer live outfit Sons of Kemet and has toured with acts including Matthew Herbert, Kano and Mulatu Astatke. Arriving at a moment when blurred genres and disparate styles are increasingly being embraced in UK venues and clubs, the moment is ripe for an album which embraces that open-minded attitude. Informed and shaped by the collaboration with Zummo, it bridges internet-mutated dance music with a continent-spanning jazz sensibility – reimagining that underground New York legacy for London in 2017.

Zara McFarlane

Peace Begins Within

    Following the release of her much-lauded third album Arise, Zara McFarlane announces new single ‘Peace Begins Within’. Exploring the musical possibilities of her British-Jamaican identity, it’s seen her – backed by some of London’s best and brightest musicians – bridging the lines between soulful roots reggae and inclusive, open-ended UK jazz.

    The track is a cover of Nora Dean, a Jamaica-born vocalist who put her name to a spate of sweetly-sung roots and lovers rock in the ‘70s and ‘80s. With Zara putting her spin on the 1971 original, the format of the single nods to that heritage: with a dinked centre (requiring adapter), it also comes backed with a reggae version on the b-side. Tracing the musical heritage of the Caribbean, it’s another side to her interconnected vision of the diaspora.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: Zara McFarlane’s amazing single ‘Peace Begins Within’ is a masterpiece of jazz essence matched with reggae influenced notes. Unique and soulful, it’s a beautiful song as is the rest of her full album, Arise.

    Tracing the musical heritage of the Caribbean, Zara McFarlane explores her interconnected vision of the diaspora.

    On Arise , Zara McFarlane returns to a buoyant UK jazz scene with a head-turning third album. Exploring the musical possibilities of British-Jamaican identity, it’s a cultural exchange that’s born of London’s current musical climate. Released on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, it sees her working with much-feted drummer and producer Moses Boyd. Both rose through London’s Tomorrow’s Warriors programme, a finishing school for many young vanguards of the live, ascendant jazz scene springing up across the UK capital. Sharing Caribbean family heritages, it’s a product of their joint exploration of the meeting points between jazz and the rhythms of Jamaica; reggae, Kumina, calypso and nyabinghi, shaded with hints of the psychedelic.

    Zara’s breakthrough 2012 track, a jazz cover of Junior Murvin’s ‘Police and Thieves’, provided a jumping off point to further explore the blurred, colourful territory in between jazz and roots-reggae. Covering Nora Dean’s ‘Peace Begins Within’, she breathes a syncopated groove into a soulful, reggae classic. A beautifully poised version of the Congos’ Fisherman teases out the poignant lyrical content of the 1977 classic. Meanwhile new, original compositions from Zara, like ‘Fussin' and Fightin’’ and ‘Freedom Chain’, combine a deep, reverberating bass with a steady-stepping roots rhythm. Album opener ‘Ode To Kumina’ touches on the kumina tradition brought to Jamaica by indentured labourers from The Congo in the later part of the 19th Century. Part of Zara’s deeper research into her Caribbean heritage, it alludes to a deep-rooted culture encompassing music, dance and religion.

    Similarly, ‘Silhouette’ arose from that same research; in this case, however, it was about how records and documents often get lost in Jamaica. “It kind of came out of the idea of black history and blackness and feeling like you're trying to find yourself,” she explains. “Trying to be proud of your history and who you are. And never forgetting the things that brought you to where you are.” Alongside drummer Moses Boyd on production, the album features a stellar line up of some of the key players on the London scene Binker Golding on tenor sax, Peter Edwards on piano, Shirley Tetteh on guitar, Nathaniel Cross on Trombone and an unusually restrained turn on Clarinet from Shabaka Hutchings. Shared between all of them is a tendency to find the common points between different musical ilks: from US hard bop jazz, to dub and London-rooted hybrids and permutations, the band on Arise reflect the musical diversity of their home. Boosted by new platforms, like East London showcase Church of Sound and a newly-refreshed Jazz Café, the record surfs the momentum currently propelling jazz-influenced music in the UK.

    For Zara, Jamaica’s musical legacy is deeply intertwined with her sense of the place itself. Spending whole summers in the hills of Jamaica, it’s the sounds and smells which she most vividly associates with her stays there. In particular the local sound systems which were an everyday feature of the local area; be it in shops or bars, each of the small local shacks would have a sound system where they’d play music through the day and evening.

    “From where my nan used to live, in Cauldwell there's a sound system almost opposite her house,” she says. “So you feel this boom of the bass, and then all the smells of the hills and the greenery of Hanover. When you land in Jamaica and you go to walk off of the plane, the heat and the smells hit you and it feels like home away from home for me. When I hear Jamaican music, these are the senses that come.”

    Compiled by DJ, record collector and label boss Gilles Peterson, the tastemaking Brownswood Bubblers series returns. Released on vinyl for the first time, the idea remains the same – shining a light on new and under-the-radar talent. The roll-call of artists who’ve appeared on the Brownswood Bubblers series is impressive. Boasting alumni like Flying Lotus, Dam-Funk and Floating Points, the compilations have long championed the rising stars of underground music. The first edition since 2014, Brownswood Bubblers 12 picks up where 11 left off – by looking to the acts set to make waves in 2017 and beyond. With a whole three years having passed since the last Bubblers was released, too much exciting music has amassed to fit onto one release. For that reason, it’s been split into two parts – making room for the whole, expansive spectrum of new sounds, this first part will be followed by a second in the coming months. The new compilation arrives as Peterson’s independent label Brownswood Recordings – from which the series takes its name – kicks off celebrations for its 10th birthday. With two compilations, Brownswood 10 and Brownswood 10 Versions, celebrating the label’s shapeshifting legacy, the return of Brownswood Bubblers is a welcome look to the future.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Gilles delivers the latest instalment of brilliant bubblers series with a tasty survey of the soulful end of the electronic spectrum. Hihglights include the spiritual jazz stylings of Wildflower, Poppy Ajudha's seriously soulful "Love Falls Down" (a big hit with our Millie) and the street poetry of God Colony.

    Various Artists

    Brownswood Bubblers Twelve Pt 1 & 2

      As featured in the Piccadilly Records End Of Year Review 2017 Top 20 Compilations. Comes with an EXCLUSIVE End Of Year CD sampler. Click HERE for more info.

      Following overwhelming demand, Brownswood Bubblers Twelve parts 1 and 2 are being combined for a deluxe double CD edition.

      Compiled by DJ, record collector and label boss Gilles Peterson, Brownswood Bubblers Twelve is here. Combining the two parts released across two vinyl editions, the idea remains the same – shining a light on new and under-the-radar talent.

      The roll-call of artists who’ve appeared on the Brownswood Bubblers series is impressive. Boasting alumni like Flying Lotus, Dam-Funk and Floating Points, the compilations have long championed the rising stars of underground music. The first edition since 2014, Brownswood Bubblers Twelve picks up where the last one left off – by looking to the acts set to make waves in 2017 and beyond.

      With a whole three years having passed since the last Bubblers was released, too much exciting music has amassed to fit onto one release. For that reason, it was split into two parts – making room for the whole, expansive spectrum of new sounds, they were divided across two vinyl releases. Now, they’ve been brought together on a bumper CD edition. The new compilation arrives as Peterson’s independent label Brownswood Recordings (from which the series takes its name) tails off celebrations for its 10th birthday. Plus, they draw draws on two talents, in Broadstrokes and Skinny Pelembe, who’ve been nurtured through Peterson’s Future Bubblers programme – an Arts Council-funded scheme, it’s about helping new artists into the industry.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Millie says: Gilles Peterson has gone and made the most perfect dreamiest compilation that I could ever have wished for. Brownswood Bubblers Twelve is host to a huge wave of talented artists on this comp, a right mixture of music from jazzy notes, smooth R'n'B and world beats. I’ve found new artists I wouldn’t have reached otherwise, so thanks Gilles; this is ace.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xCD Info: Includes a free EOY 2017 CD sampler.

      Compiled by DJ, record collector and label boss Gilles Peterson, the tastemaking Brownswood Bubblers series returns. Released on vinyl for the first time, the idea remains the same – shining a light on new and under-the-radar talent.  The roll-call of artists who’ve appeared on the Brownswood Bubblers series is impressive. Boasting alumni like Flying Lotus, Dam-Funk and Floating Points, the compilations have long championed the rising stars of underground music. The first edition since 2014, Brownswood Bubblers 12 picks up where 11 left off – by looking to the acts set to make waves in 2017 and beyond. With a whole three years having passed since the last Bubblers was released, too much exciting music has amassed to fit onto one release. For that reason, it’s been split into two parts – making room for the whole, expansive spectrum of new sounds, this first part will be followed by a second in the coming months. The new compilation arrives as Peterson’s independent label Brownswood Recordings – from which the series takes its name – kicks off celebrations for its 10th birthday. With two compilations, Brownswood 10 and Brownswood 10 Versions, celebrating the label’s shapeshifting legacy, the return of Brownswood Bubblers is a welcome look to the future.

      The jazz voice of a generation, José James released his debut LP ‘The Dreamer’ in 2007 on Brownswood Recordings. It was crammed with smoky, low-slung jazz grooves blessed with Jose’s rich baritone vocals - magnificent self-penned works nestling alongside uniquely crafted cover versions of John Coltrane, Rashaan Roland Kirk and even West Coast hip hop institution Freestyle Fellowship. Pursuing the same deeply soulful vocal jazz tradition exemplified by Babs Gonzales, Billie Holliday, Joe Williams and Leon Thomas, ‘The Dreamer’ quickly cemented Jose’s stature and raw talent within the worldwide jazz community, and beyond.

      Since ‘The Dreamer’ José has performed in maybe 30 countries, worked with some of the best, wisest and finest artists in the world such as Chico Hamilton and Junior Mance and he has built a community of friends and fellow music-lovers all over the globe. This global community helped shape his sophomore record: ‘BLACKMAGIC’. Working alongside the likes of Flying Lotus (Warp/Brainfeeder), Moodymann, DJ Mitsu, Taylor McFerrin, he proved that he was perfectly at ease riding FlyLo’s bumpy sketches, or indeed morphing Benga’s dubstep anthem ‘Emotions’ into a killer live jazz workout. Now signed to Blue Note Records, Jose is about to release his 6th studio album entitled ‘Yesterday I Had The Blue: The Music Of Billie Holiday’. 


      Brownswood are celebrating 10 years with a compilation of 10 cover versions - one for each year of its existence. Sourced from Brownswood artists past and present, it’s testament to the independent label’s diverse, multifarious legacy. Brownswood Recordings was born at a time which, in a strange way, was perfectly primed for independent record labels. Picture the scene - it’s 2006, and record sales continue to plummet to new, dispiriting lows. The veterans of the music industry grapple to comprehend the new, depressing reality facing them. With such little money to be made, only the most dedicated - driven by sincere passion, ill-thought-out optimism and, frankly, a plain disregard for economic reality - would choose to start a record label. It’s into this environment which Brownswood emerged. Founded by Gilles Peterson, it followed his departure from iconic label Talkin’ Loud, a subsidiary of major label Mercury, which championed artists ranging from Roni Size and 4hero to Omar. By 2006, however, Gilles felt increasingly stifled. As purse strings tightened in the major label world, he sought an outlet where he could freely support the varied, divergent musical currents which continued to pique his interest. Starting with little fanfare, the label started slowly. Its first signings were as eclectic as you’d expect: Ben Westbeech’s bass-weighted soul music, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ third album of (in their words) “death jazz”, followed by the delicate meditations of Elan Mehler’s jazz quartet. Since then, the label’s sonic trajectory has remained just as tough to pin down - from Mercury-nominated Ghostpoet’s debut to Mala’s re-configuring dubstep with Cuban sound system culture, it affirmed its place as a platform for artists to grow or do something different. This collection of covers is the perfect vehicle for the ever restless, open-ended musical policy of the label. With a solid grounding in jazz, there’s Emanative’s beefed up Sun Ra stargazing (in a previously unreleased mix), Daymé Arocena’s take on a Patrick Forge-discovered, latter-day Dingwalls classic and Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ explosive version of Art Blakey. Elsewhere, there’s British-Kenyan outfit Owiny Sigoma Band’s previously unreleased cover of Can’s “Vitamin C”, reworking hazy krautrock with their nyatiti master Joseph Nyamungu. Mala’s ‘Cunumicita’, meanwhile, sees the dubstep talisman re-framing one of Peru’s traditional touchstones.

      As Cuba looks to become more connected to the rest of the world, Havana Cultura affiliate and Gilles Peterson associate Daymé Arocena returns with an ambitious second long player of soulful sounds. Rooting her compositions in Cuba’s classic rhythms, Daymé encompasses the rich, diverse musical make-up of her home whilst looking outward too - to the world she has spent the last two years traveling. It’s her most polished, fully realised project since meeting her mentor (and record label head), Gilles Peterson, in 2012. Benefiting from Gilles’ expansive vision as a DJ, broadcaster and promoter, Daymé has been nurtured to this point by the Havana Cultura project – a platform for contemporary Cuban creativity driven by Havana Club rum. First, there was 2014’s Havana Cultura Mix album, which introduced her to working with electronic producers for the first time. She then accompanied Gilles in his journey through rumba culture for the expansive Havana Club Rumba Sessions project, which produced a feature-length documentary along with an album – using her distinctive vocals – of rumba reimaginings and sample pack. As a solo artist, she released her debut album Nueva Era to critical and popular acclaim in 2015, with an EP of cover versions, titled One Takes, released in early 2016. On "Cubofonia" inspiration comes from the different rhythms and styles native to the Carribean island - from Guantánamo’s fast-paced changüí, to ubiquitous guaguancó and ‘70s-style ballada. Sung mainly in Spanish, Daymé drops into English and even tries out a little French when the mood takes her. Produced alongside Soundway artist Dexter Story, with string arrangements from Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, this is heritage music for modern-day citizens of the world. Ambitious, hardworking, and hungry for cultural exchange, it feels like 2017 could be a monumental year for Daymé. She possesses a clear sense of her music’s intermingling influences: “We don't have this native culture,” she explains. “We don't have indigenous people, like Maya or Quechua. They made a country with people from everywhere – that’s what makes Cuban culture so different.”

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Patrick says: Brownswood continues to push the envelope for smooth, soulful and jazz inflected sounds with this gorgeous sophomore LP from Cuban songstress Daymé Arocena. Alive with the rhythms of her homeland, "Cubafonia" glides between groovesome ballads and soul-jazz dancers without missing a step. Caliente!

      The release of a triple vinyl set with a selection of twenty-three emblematic tracks celebrates eight years of musical research and experimentation featuring Cuba’s musical avant-garde under the curation of Gilles Peterson with the backing of the Havana Cultura project.

      In 2008, DJ and globetrotter Gilles Peterson was approached by the melomaniac at the helm of Havana Cultura – an initiative to showcase and support Cuban creativity by Cuban rum maker Havana Club –, inviting him to Cuba to check out Havana’s underground music scene with a view to making an album. While some might associate Cuba simply with salsa or Buena Vista Social Club, there was a new generation of artists teeming with new sounds, waiting for an opportunity to reveal their talent to the world.

      That first trip was the beginning of what has now been an eight-year-long collaboration between Peterson, his Brownswood Recordings label and Havana Club’s cultural platform. It first resulted in the release of Havana Cultura: New Cuba Sound, an acclaimed double album that included original productions and a compilation of existing tracks across a range of genres reflecting contemporary Cuba’s musical diversity: jazz, hip hop, reggaeton and plenty in between.

      From there, the first edition of Havana Cultura Sessions, a solo release from Danay Suarez – a standout talent in the sessions for New Cuba Sound – came next, followed by Havana Cultura Remixed, joining the dots – with remixes from Louis Vega and 4 Hero – between Cuba and global club culture. After that, 2011’s Havana Cultura: The Search Continues was the next attempt to dig deep into the different corners of the island’s contemporary music scene. Joining Peterson on that trip was dubstep pioneer Mala, who took recordings and sessions with Cuban artists as the basis for Mala in Cuba, an album marrying together UK soundsystem culture with the deep rhythmic possibilities of Cuba.

      On Havana Cultura Mix – The Soundclash!, the project was opened up to fledgling electronic producers through a remix competition for unsigned beatmakers. Top entries were chosen from mixes submitted online, with winners being flown to Cuba to collaborate with some of the island’s finest artists. The Havana Cultura Sessions EP by Daymé Arocena, which followed, was the first solo release by a vocalist and choir leader who had been too young to record when Peterson and the Havana Cultura team had first encountered her stunning voice.

      Finally, 2016 saw the release of Havana Club Rumba Sessions – Peterson returned to Cuba with old friend Crispin Robinson, who guided him through the rumba traditions running deep through all of the music which has followed it. The album saw the three central rhythms to rumba – guaguancó, yambú and columbia – remixed and reimagined by a diverse range of producers from around the world.

      With a new album by Arocena on the way, the Havana Cultura album series continues to be a vital route into the best that the contemporary Cuban music scene has to offer.

      “At Havana Club, we’re proud of our Cuban origins. Havana is one of the world’s most buoyant cultural scenes – particularly when it comes to music – and we were eager to give a bigger voice to a generation of young artists whose work is decidedly modern, yet firmly anchored in the richness of Cuba’s musical tradition,” explains François Renié, who runs the initiative at Havana Club.

      “The Havana Cultura project gave me the chance to go deep in a country that had intrigued me ever since I was digging for Latin records as a young DJ,” recalls Gilles. “From the first release up to now, it’s been about taking that spirit of the Buena Vista Social Club to show a new generation of artists and opening it up to as big an audience as possible. Picking the tracks for this anthology, I wanted to show modern Cuba alongside the remixes, putting it in the context of a global club culture.”


      The borders between London’s musical tribes have always been porous. For Yussef Kamaal, the sound of the capital – with its hum of jungle, grime and broken beat – has shaped a selftaught, UKtipped approach to playing jazz. In the states, the genre’s longrunning to-and-fro with hip hop – from Robert Glasper to Kamasi Washington – has reimagined it within US culture. On Black Focus, Yussef Kamaal frame jazz inside the basssaturated, pirate radio broadcasts of London.

      Taking inspiration from the anything-goes spirit of ‘70s jazzfunk, on albums by Herbie Hancock or the Mahavishnu Orchestra, it’s a loose template with plenty of room to experiment. The pair, made up of Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams (aka Henry Wu), have had little in the way of formal training. Instead, their musical tastes – and approach to playing – are indebted to Thelonious Monk’s piano as much as the drum programming of Kaidi Tatham.

      “It's all about the drums and the keys,” Williams says. “Not to take anything from anyone else, but that's where it all originates from: the chords, the rhythm of the chords and the drums.” Born out of a oneoff live session to perform Williams’ solo material for Boiler Room, it soon became a project in its own right. Coming together as Yussef Kamaal, they played a series of live shows where little more than a chord progression would be planned before taking to the
      stage.

      Bringing that unspoken understanding to the recording sessions (engineered by Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics), the unplanned, telepathically spawned grooves retain the raw energy of their live shows. “It's not so much about complete arrangement, it's more about flow,” Dayes says. “A lot of the tracks are just made spontaneously – Henry will be playing two chords, I'll fill in the groove and we'll just leave the arrangement naturally.” Both hail from South East London, crossing paths in 2007 as teenagers playing their first pub gigs around Peckham and Camberwell. Dayes drums for cosmicallyinclined, afrobeat outfit United Vibrations, while Williams – on top of drumming and playing keys in different incarnations over the years – has made waves with his solo, synthdraped house 12"s for muchfêted labels like 22a and Rhythm Section.

      Moving in the same circles but never playing together previously, rhythm underpins an innate musical understanding. As Williams explains, “The way we approach it is all about the energy and the feeling. We just get in there and we feel it out.” Drawing influence from all corners of London’s shapeshifting musical makeup, the sound of Black Focus is distilled – or focused – down to the core interlock between drums and keys.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      David says: The purists might argue that this isn't strictly jazz, I'm happy to argue back. It might use elements of broken beat and house on its journey but jazz is the final destination.

      Shabaka And The Ancestors

      Wisdom Of Elders

      Tradition shapes your work. For saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings, that’s something he’s long understood. After years spent in the orbit of London’s jazz circuit, he examines and reimagines his influences with a dexterity that’s unique. Drawing out the vision underlying his new album, he says, “I see energy as being a form of wisdom to be passed down through the ages.” Unpicking the album’s title, he continues, “When we study the music, the lives, the words of our master musicians we obtain a glimpse of that artist’s essential energy source. This is the core vitality of the individual which leads them to utilise the musical specifics of their chosen genre in a way that mirrors their inner source of power. This is an intuited wisdom that’s handed to us from the legacies of our elders.” The album is a document of sessions combining Hutchings with a group of South African jazz musicians he’s long admired. His connection to the group was Mandla Mlangeni (bandleader of the Amandla Freedom Ensemble), whom he’d flown there to play with over the past few years. Recorded across just one day, the group drew on their South African lineage – heroes like Zim Ngquwana and Bheki Mseleku – to bring their own slant to the American jazz lineage being reconfigured in Hutchings’ compositions themselves. Going beyond the jazz greats Hutchings cites, influences are drawn from plenty of other sources: Caribbean calypso, central African song structures and Southern African Nguni music all play a part. Bringing together those ideas with the contributions of his bandmates is, he explains, crucial to what he sees in the role of an album artist. “Even though I wrote all the music, for me, the leader of the project isn’t the person who writes all the music but the one who has a vision for how certain musical elements will be combined.” Born in London, moving to the Barbados from the age of six to 16, his tenor sax has become a regular sight on stages around London and beyond since his return. Receiving awards from Jazz FM and the MOBOs for playing in – and often leading – groups like Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, Melt Yourself Down and Sun Ra Arkestra, he’s part of a generation whose idea of jazz is pointedly unrefined. That’s to say, "Wisdom of Elders" comes from an artist interested in the indefinable gaps more than fitting into boxes. 

      Anushka

      Distorted Air EP

        THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2014 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

        Brighton-based duo Max Wheeler (producer) and Victoria Port (singer/songwriter) are a classic British concoction of jazz-inflected heady dance floor thrills. While Victoria’s melodies bring the sweetness, the tracks have the low-end weight to please DJ mavens like Karizma and Brackles on Rinse and Moxie and Annie Mac on Radio 1.

        The results could be described as a UK Funky Lorde. The ‘Distorted Air’ EP forthcoming on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, is full of Victoria’s songwriting on fractious romance, ever the well-spring of transcendent pop with sweet female attitude. There’s relationship breakdown on ‘Broken Circuit’ or the claustrophobia of ‘World In A Room’. All of which brings to mind 1998 Talkin’ Loud signing MJ Cole and his bedroom produced classic ‘Sincere’ which traded on a similar brew of jazz, musicality, connection with the living dance floor and the pull and push of love.

        Zara McFarlane

        More Than Mine / Lions Of Chiaroscuro

          THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

          Brownswood Recordings is proud to present a limited edition 7” single by Zara McFarlane in celebration of Record Store Day 2012.

          The record features the track ‘More than Mine’ (taken from her critically acclaimed album “Until Tomorrow”). The flip ‘Lions of Chiaroscuro’ a mash up of Steve Reid’s classic ‘Lions of Judah’ and Zara’s ‘Chiaroscuro’, as recreated by futuristic jazztronica act Emanative for Gilles Peterson’s charity The Steve Reid Foundation which aims to assist ailing musicians.

          Originally from Dagenham, Zara has been making waves in the UK jazz scene in recent years, having collaborated with numerous distinguished artists including Denys Baptiste and Orphy Robinson. In 2006 she featured on the Jazz Jamaica All Stars’ album ‘Motor City Roots’, which further asserted her status as a poised, versatile and elegant songstress. In 2011 Zara released her debut album ‘Until Tomorrow’, a collection of original songs composed over the course of a decade. Backed by a band of esteemed musicians including pianist Peter Edwards, double bassist Nick Walsh and saxophonist Binker Golding, Zara has developed a mature and replete album of confident and personal songs. Citing Nina Simone as a major influence on her music, Zara’s music can be found nestled between Erykah Badu and Diana Reeves, whilst maintaining her own original sound.

          ‘More Than Mine’ begins with Peter Edwards’ brooding piano, soon joined by Zara, who conjures a dejected image of herself, as she compares herself to another woman. As the song develops, Zara’s graceful vocals subside and Edwards’ understated and soothing piano is joined by Binker Golding’s tenor saxophone. The rousing melee of brass seems to buoy Zara, and a renewed confidence ensues as she begins to mock her rival, turning the song from one of lament, to one of celebration.

          The B side of the single ‘Lions of Chiaroscuro’ begins with Zara’s soft vocals and is soon carried by animated organ riffs and Nick Woodmansey’s untamed drumming – doing justice to Reid’s original work. As trumpet - by Ahmed Abdullah (the composer of the track who also played on the original version), is introduced and actuated by the organ, adding to the verve of the song, all held together by Zara’s vocals. Produced by Emanative, this track is exclusive to this 7” and is as much an experiment in sound as it is an ode to Steve Reid, who continues to inspire a new generation of Jazz musicians.

          Proceeds from the sale of this 7” will be donated to the Steve Reid Foundation.

          Limited to 150 copies for the UK and Eire.


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