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Brownswood-signed, sublimely talented vocalist Zara McFarlane is back, linking up with legendary producer Dennis Bovell for a new single picking up where she left off on 2017 album, arise. She carves out a soulful, reggae-and dub-influenced sound, marrying the rhythms of her Jamaican heritage with a finely-tuned jazz musicality. Delivering four different reinterpretations of the title cut from Augustus Pablo’s 1977 classic album, ‘East of the River Nile’, she sings the original’s Melodica Melody, her crystal-toned vocals as the track’s guiding force.

Since announcing her arrival with her 2011 debut, Until Tomorrow, she’s released 2014’s assured follow-up if you knew her, and 2017’s arise, where she took a further step in lacing together her different strands of musical upbringing. In that time, she’s also worked with house music icon, Louie Vega, collaborated with new york trumpeter, Leron Thomas, and supported iconic acts such as Hugh Masekela and Gregory Porter. She’s performed at iconic venue, the royal festival hall, as part of Orphy Robinson’s reinterpretation of Van Morrison’s astral weeks, and toured venues and festivals internationally, from Istanbul, to Vietnam and St. Lucia.


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”.



STAFF COMMENTS

Millie says: High energy Hip Hop at its finest, Swindle’s album No More Normal varies from Jazz to Hip Hop, Grime to R&B and just a bit of everything in-between. My personal favourites are ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Grateful’, articulate lyrics and boss beats create this confident and collaborative album.

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.

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!

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.

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.


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