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Swindle

No More Normal

    Bridging distinct but closely connected music scenes can open new possibilities. On ‘No More Normal’, Swindle confidently grasps the different sides to the UK music scene. Boasting roots in the boundary-pushing world of Grime & Dubstep, this album marks the next step in the London-raised producer’s expanded vision for his music. It fuses different disciplines together in new and electrifying ways. He connects a group of peers sharing creative common ground, one that centres around the fertile space between UK Jazz, Grime and Hip Hop. The results span from lush, strings-laden soul to voicebox-heavy p-funk – often in the course of one song. “It’s a class photo of 2018,” he says. “I need everyone in this picture.” It incorporates an all-star cast of MC’s in Kojey Radical, Ghetts, D Double E and P Money, to instrumentalists Yussef Dayes, Nubya Garcia, Riot Jazz, and singers such as Etta Bond, Eva Lazarus, Daley and Kiko Bun.

    The album was built over a three year period. The opening track “‘What We Do’ became the track that set the scene for each studio session, a way of Swindle explaining what he was setting out to achieve. Featuring an (on paper) unusual combination of R&B singer Daley, Grime legends P Money & D Double E, and an opening speech from Bristol-based spoken word artist, Rider Shafique - “It describes the narrative of the record overall and helped set the agenda for what followed - I made a lot of tracks that were really good that at the end of the day didn’t fit this project”. The resulting work has a pervading sense of triumph against the odds, and a celebration of togetherness at this moment of fragmentation that manages to feel both optimistic and nostalgic. A record that could have only been made in today’s multicultural Britain. “No More Normal is the idea of us doing our thing, our way, with no rules or limitations. It is jazz influenced as much as it is grime influenced. It’s London influenced as much as it is LA influenced. I can work with D Double E and Nubya Garcia, these records are my imagination brought to life in musical form”.

    “No More Normal” follows a spate of projects where Swindle’s taken on the role of producer for other artists. That’s included Kojey Radical, for his single ‘Water’; Joel Culpepper, whose ‘Woman’ live session for Colors has clocked up 4M Youtube streams and counting, D Double E with three tracks on his debut album ‘Jackum’ and Mahalia’s EP ‘Seasons’. It follows years of graft spent staking roots in the underground, from early output on Butterz, to the Trilogy of Funk triple EP released last year. The debut singles "Reach The Stars" & "Coming Home" saw support from all the heavy hitters - Target, Jamz Supernova, Annie Mac, Julie Adenuga, and Gilles Peterson.

    An appreciation of jazz and funk has coursed through Swindle’s music since the very start. ‘No More Normal’ continues that love affair. Growing up in south London, he built his first studio in his bedroom when he was 14. Excluded from school for having “way too much energy” his early steps into music were aided by his blues guitarist father, who gave him lessons on the guitar and whose record collection – made up of soul and jazz touchstones - provided vital inspiration for his debut LP "Long Live The Jazz", released on Mala’s Deep Medi label in 2013. The follow up in 2015, “Peace, Love & Music”, was created in studio sessions all over the world, and, accompanied by an explosive live show, was further testament to the ambition and scope of this singular artist.


    Compiled by DJ, record collector and label boss Gilles Peterson, the tastemaking Brownswood Bubblers series returns.

    The latest outing for Brownswood Bubblers follows in typically eclectic fashion, showcasing a treasure trove of fresh talent whose music spans boogie-dripped soul, UK hip-hop and Afrobeat. As ever, it’s artists who float in the orbit of Peterson and his Brownswood label, featuring the likes of Emma-Jean Thackray, Sonnymoon and Oscar #Worldpeace. A must-buy for anyone in search of an easy primer on some of the most exciting new names to emerge in the last year.

    Debuting in 2006, along with the founding of the Brownswood label itself, the roll-call of artists who’ve appeared on Brownswood Bubblers speaks for itself. It boasts alumni like Flying Lotus, The Invisible, Hiatus Kaiyote, Dam-Funk and Floating Points. A platform for underground music’s rising stars, each edition is a time capsule of that year’s most exciting musical discoveries.

    Brownswood Recordings is the independent record label founded by DJ, record collector and broadcaster Gilles Peterson. Started in 2006, it’s a platform for new artists and music creatives, as well as an outlet for established acts to do something different. Restless and open-minded, the label has championed independent, eclectic music from the UK and beyond.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: The thirteenth Brownswood edition unearth yet more talented artists and shine a light on those that needed to be discovered! They all bring something to the table whether it's broken-beat jazz, Afro-Caribbean rhythms or a snippet of soulful R&B. A beautiful mixture complied by Giles Peterson, as always.

    There’s something universal in the appeal of an escape – of finding somewhere to relax and explore your ideas. It’s a feeling which connects together the different parts of Maisha’s debut album. A deep record which provides grist for serious spiritual rumination, the music prompts internal reflection as much as it reflects the surrounds which shaped it. Each of its tracks provokes a feeling of intense revery which is timeless, on the one hand, but realised through a confluence of sounds and circumstances which are undeniably of the present.

    The six-piece group, led by bandleader Jake Long, bring a fresh slant to the weighty spiritual jazz tradition. Their 2016 debut EP was released through Jazz Re:freshed (whose weekly shows and record label are an institution for forward-thinking jazz), and were part of We Out Here, Brownswood’s early 2018 record which documented London’s genre-bending, jazz-influenced underground. They’ve been featured on Boiler Room, supported the Sun Ra Arkestra, and played at Church of Sound, a live series that’s quickly become a staple of the emergent scene.

    The album’s title alludes to a small, secluded park which bandleader Jake Long would often retreat to, whose peaceful surrounds were the setting for regular moments of reflection. It’s also a reference to London. Or to be more specific, the side of London which has helped nurture him and his peers: rehearsal rooms, friend’s houses and intimate venues. Its band members, Amané Suganami, Twm Dylan, Tim Doyle, Yahael Camara-Onono, Shirley Tetteh and Nubya Garcia, the latter of whom played a part in shaping the early sound of the band, are musicians who’ve come through the same circles as Long.

    It was recorded across three days in mid-2018. The songs have grown out of their live sets over the past year or two, where each of them would take shape in rehearsals to then be tweaked as they worked out different approaches to them in their performances. It’s an organic kind of refinement, and one that’s audible in the music: songs unfold slowly, each of their parts given time to breathe, building up to crescendos which are patiently earnt.

    It’s possible to trace a personal geography of music, place and memory just through the album’s track titles. On ‘Osiris’, the track’s beguiling melodies are framed in terms of Egyptian mythology, imagery prompted by old books that Long found in his grandparents’ house; ‘Azure’ hints at the blues forms winding their way through the track’s textured wandering; ‘Eaglehurst Place’, where a tense, rhythmic groove drives the track forward, is reference to a house share with musical peers like Joe Armon-Jones, Femi Koleoso and Rosie Turton.

    Spiritual jazz is a tradition that’s leaden with its own traditions, histories and stories. Maisha carve out out their own style through that weight of expectation: they take stock of that history, channelling the greats like Pharoah Sanders, while filtering their own influences – which range from jazz to Afrobeat – through every part of their musical process. It’s a sound which rests on trance-inducing rhythms, instinctive musical interchange and repeated, deeply enriching melodic refrains. It’s a combination which has made for their own singular sound.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Emily says: A gorgeous fusion of spiritual jazz with afrobeat and west african rhythms, inspired by the likes of Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. Sometimes loose and contemplative, sometimes driven and danceable, all sewn together with an impressive level of musicianship.

    Auntie Flo joins the Brownswood roster to deliver his third and most ambitious album to date. The Glasgow-raised producer, of Goan-Kenyan heritage, has often featured collaborators from different spots he’s visited, and this new record takes that approach to another level. Contributions come from a globetrotting cast of friends, including Laurie Pitt, of Glasgow’s Golden Teacher, Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Mama nDiack, UK producer and singer Andrew Ashong and Cuban percussionist Yissy Garcia.

    It arrives as the natural companion piece to his Radio Highlife show on Worldwide FM, the online station run by Brownswood boss Gilles Peterson. Regularly touring to DJ in various cities around the world, it’s a pursuit that’s gone hand-in-hand with the global slant of his music - with the local radio often being his first introduction to new cities. It follows in the path of Glasgow’s Highlife club night which he co-founded, playing music from West Africa and Latin America which broke out of the city’s house and techno mould. Likewise, his own music has always been laced with percussion, ideas and inspirations that reflect a far-reaching perspective.

    His previous long-players, "Theory of Flo" and "Future Rhythm Machine", were released on the Glasgow-based Huntleys & Palmers imprint. His dancefloor-minded singles have found a home on labels like Sofrito, Kompakt and Mule Musiq. His music, his DJ sets and the influential club night have drawn acclaim from publications like The Guardian, FACT and The Wire. "Radio Highlife", in many ways, marks the zenith of this producer's career thus far, and should be investigated by all lovers of far-flung music. Recommended. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: Really nice to see this artist find his stride. One of the first to embrace what now seems to be standard practice in dance music. Auntie Flo's electronic-afro hybrids laid the blueprints for many other ideas. "Radio Highlife" is the high water mark of his discography.

    Skinny Pelembe has corralled together a cast of talented friends for his new EP. It’s the second release from the Doncaster-raised, multi-talented producer-cum-bandleader since signing to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label in February. This one’s a group effort, with each of its tracks featuring a different artist, each of them an act he’s met through music or through linking with Brownswood’s talent development programme Future Bubblers two years ago.

    The EP touches on hip-hop, psych-rock and jazz-influenced sounds, continuing in the gloriously magpie-like approach of his earlier releases. Each of its songs started as a rough idea which was then fleshed out and re-imagined with his collaborators. He says that the title of the EP comes from some advice which he left for himself on an old notebook. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: Skinny Pelembe's new EP on the Brownswood label hits all the right spots, the perfect balance of jazz and hip hop. The EP collaborates on each track with female vocalists whose lyrics will take you to cloud nine. Beautiful!

    This debut album, by prodigious keys player, composer and producer Joe Armon-Jones, is buoyant, celebratory and welcoming. With a background in jazz, he draws from influences in dub, hip-hop and soul. Different traditions are infused and commingled together. Soulful brass arrangements are coloured with carefully-tuned atmospherics; individual flashes of brilliance are bound into the album’s bigger picture.

    He’s part of London’s young, jazz-influenced music scene. Drawn from that same close-knit circle, the album features the likes of Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia and Oscar Jerome. It’s playing with those – along with Ezra Collective, which he co-founded, and touring with the likes of Ata Kak and Pharoahe Monch – which has honed his playing and grown his ideas.

    It’s made for a record with an unmistakable depth. He draws on deep musical understanding, making music which is warm and has a feeling of joy. A document of his vision for bringing together his different influences, it’s also a testament to hard-earned, head-turning musical virtuosity.

    Toshio Matsuura Group

    Loveplaydance - 8 Scenes From The Floor

    On ‘LOVEPLAYDANCE’, legendary Tokyo DJ and producer Toshio Matsuura charts a new direction. Casting musical cornerstones in a fresh light, the Toshio Matsuura Group features Tom Skinner (drummer for Sons of Kemet and Owiny Sigoma Band amongst others) as its musical director, as well as some of the UK’s most exciting jazz-influenced musicians. Drawing on years of surveying and curating different corners of music, Matsuura deftly combines this talented pool of players into one singular, wide-ranging album.

    A co-founder of Japan’s United Future Organisation (aka U.F.O.), this new record sees Matsuura reconnect with longstanding friend and collaborator Gilles Peterson. Releasing the album via Brownswood Recordings in the UK, it’s a continuation of a relationship which started as a bridge between London’s then-blossoming jazz scene and Tokyo’s new musical vanguard of the early ‘90s. This album continues that two-way dialogue between Japan and the UK.

    The project is focused on covers, putting classic or influential tracks in a new context, spanning a cross-section of Matsuura’s taste. On ‘Black Gold of the Sun’, Cuban vocalist Daymé Arocena fronts a new take on the Rotary Connection classic, along with a band – guided by Tom Skinner – that features her prodigious Havana-based players. Elsewhere, Byron Morris and Unity’s ‘Kitty Bey’, a Dingwalls classic, is knocked into a tight, high energy new shape (by a band that includes Yussef Dayes, Yazz Ahmed and Nubya Garcia.)

    The scope of the music reflects the breadth of Matsuura’s interests. It ranges from Bugges Wesseltoft’s Detroit-influenced, dancefloor-minded jazz, stretched out into a more meditative contemplation, to Flying Lotus’ LA-rooted, Brainfeeder beatmaking, translated from laptop-to-live, given a new, equally idiosyncratic lease of life. Elsewhere, Carl Craig’s iconic ‘At Les’ is taken in a looser direction, the overtones of euphoria cast in a different hue.

    They’re touchpoints which hint at interests in the different, diffuse corners of electronic music, and how they connect to jazz and improvisation. Coming to this project from the perspective of a DJ, producer and curator, it’s an album that shows his grasp of the bigger picture. This album shows him finding the threads which connect those different scenes together, exploring a to-and-fro – between live, played instruments, and the possibilities found in laptops and samplers – which has long been a backdrop to music aimed at dancefloors.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: Brownswood yet again producing the best jazz around, the twist of classic jazz presented in a contemporary way is fab! A favourite of mine has to be the Flying Lotus cover Do The Astral Plane!

    Skinny Pelembe

    Spit / Swallow

    The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and the sweet smell of mary jane is all over the northern quarter. In other words, it's the perfect time to enjoy this new 7" by Brownswood's latest signing Skinny Pelembe. Born In Johannesburg, raised in Donny and now based in LDN, SP flirts with jazz, broken beat, soul and hip hop to give us something suitably original. "Spit / Swallow" spans pastoral pop, psychedelic textures and hip-hop-tipped, chopped and spliced guitar, interlacings samples with rolling drum breaks and echoed falsettos. B-side ‘Toy Shooter’ follows in similar fashion, bridging psych-rock exaltation with beat-head, synth-jamming production. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Patrick says: Hazy, wavy and totally stoned, this latest Brownswood 7" serves us summer on a plate, finding the middle ground between psych-pop and soul.

    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.

    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.

    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’. 


    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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