Music Reviews

Show: New reviews | Artists beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9 | Compilations
It Is What It Is / Thundercat

Thundercat - It Is What It Is

Brainfeeder

Bassist Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat returns with his fourth album "It is What It is". Like his previous lps this record is a neighborhood effort with Flying Lotus on hand once again as producer and brother Ronald on drums. Bruner sings about love and loss, specifically the loss of his friend and collaborator Mac Miller. "Innerstellar Love" is a dreamy and ethereal tune to escape from the ups and downs of the world. "Black Quails" is instant funk with a thumping bass plus assistance from co-writer/vocalist Steve Lacy (The Internet) and funk icon Steve Arrington. "King Of The Hill" has a glorious thematic intro before seguing into a bass/synth cosmic gem. Throughout the disc Thundercat's soothing falsetto takes center stage relying less on soloing but rather on the strength of engaging compositions. Despite the fifteen tracks the disc breezes along at a crisp pace with only a few tracks exceeding three minutes. Quite an enjoyable album that showcases the artistry of this talented bassist.

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Reg Dancy, 05/20

About Time  / Malcolm Strachan

Malcolm Strachan - About Time

Haggis Records

Trumpeter Malcolm Strachan may be familiar to some as a founding member of the funk and soul band The Haggis Horns. In addition he's worked with a number of acts including The New Mastersounds, Mark Ronson and Lou Donaldson to name a few. With his solo debut "About Time" Strachan returns to his roots with straight ahead jazz. On "Mitchell's Landing" Rob Mitchell's baritone is the yang to Strachan's ying as their melodic soloing make the perfect partners. The Latin tinged "Better Late Than Never" is another delight that's filled with sizzle, thanks in part to George Cooper on Piano and a glorious horn section that also includes Atholl Ransome on Tenor and Dabby Barley on Trombone. Strachan has certainly absorbed the stylings of 60s soul jazz as evidence on the toe tapping "Time For A Time". "Just The Thought Of You" is a lovely ballad to cool down to. The title says it all, "About Time" is what fans will be saying upon listening to this superb recording.

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Reg Dancy, 05/20

Road Trip / Beat Bronco Organ Trio

Beat Bronco Organ Trio - Road Trip

Rocafort

The Madrid based Beat Bronco Organ Trio isn't just another organ jazz trio. Instead they specialize in psychedelic funk and soul and demonstrate with aplomb over 10 tracks on their new release "Road Trip". They ease their way into this session with the aptly titled "Easy Baby". Once Lucas De Mulder's wah wah rhythms lure you in Gabri Cassanova's organ grinding grooves take over. Renowned Reedsman Chip Wickham jumps on two tracks here, "Squirtly" and "Electro PI". Drummer Antonio Paz Alvarez sets the tone with a wicked drum snare beat while De Mulder and Cassanova take full advantage trading head swiveling rhythms. Wickham's melodic flute phrasings is the missing ingredient of an otherwise tight knit group. This trio swings through this set with precision and dynamics while displaying a flair for a good groove. Come along for the ride, you're certain to have a good time.

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Reg Dancy, 05/20

See In The Dark / Deborah Jordan

Deborah Jordan - See In The Dark

Futurisica Music

It's simply a pleasure to have a brand new full length release from singer songwriter Deborah Jordan. Whether it's her own recordings or appearing on other Futuristica releases, her angelic vocals have always felt like a gift from above. As superb as her previous recordings are her latest release "See In The Dark" is simply brillant in every way. Every song here is worhty of repeated listens but it's best to start at the beginning. "Spirit Of The Earth" starts out with soft fluid piano from K15 aligned with heavenly strings. Jordan's vocals layered on top completes the mediatative masterpiece. "Be There(Call My Name)" begins with the caress of soothing rhodes followed by funky drum programming. Jordan's lyrics are comforting as she assures that she will be there when they need her. The hip-hop flavored rhythms of "Machine" demonstrates that Jordan equally at home on a beat driven track as she is on a ballad. Speaking of ballads, the finale "I'll See you Again" is riveting tribute to her Mother, who recently passed away. Nailing the production behind her is K15, Mecca 83 and Tris Browne. "See In The Dark" is moving, spiritual and evokes messages of positivity. The music flows with heartfelt sincerity. Without a doubt it's one the best recordings you'll hear this year.

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Reg Dancy, 05/20

Broth / On-ly

On-ly - Broth

La Sape

The Melbourne based label La Sape has been very busy this year. Among their projects are the JK Group, Horatio Luna and Godtet among others. Another impressive project has emerged courtesy of pianist and instrumentalist Joshua Smeltink aka On-ly. On-ly's latest lp "Broth" is an exploration of psychedelic fusion and hypnotic grooves. On-ly's approach to his compositions are a bit unorthodox but pleasing nonetheless. "Cante Hondo" is a trippy stew of moogs and synths. "Get It" is a twelve minute journey of atmospheric jazz funk loaded with synths and percussion. "Double Edge" is mellow spaced out funk. Overall "Broth" is a tasty treat of avant garde jazz funk along the lines of Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" with a touch of Weather Report that's definitely worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 05/20

The Young Ones / JK Group

JK Group - The Young Ones

La Sape

Saxophonist Josh King stretches out on his own with the release of "The Young Ones". King taps into a more jazzier sound combined with Dilla inspired beats and house rhythms in contrast to the soulful hip-hop oriented sound of the Melbourne based group 30/70 of which he's an active member. "Seeds" is an infectious up-tempo banger with crackling percussion courtesy of drummer Ziggy Zeitgeist. It's essential jazz funk with elements of house that's irrestiblea. "Nutta One" is another up-tempo heater filled with spacey soundscapes. King's tone on the horn is big and broad as evidence on the slow burning "Jazz Muggie". On "23" the band dives deep into a samba groove and stretches out. Zeitgeist's powerful rhythms provide the canvas for King's horn and Lewis Moody's gorgeous piano melodies. King makes a potent impression with his debut and demonstrates the ability to lay down a groove in a myriad of styles. It's an impressive album that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 05/20

Visions / Matthew Tavares & Leland Whitty

Matthew Tavares & Leland Whitty - Visions

Mr Bongo

Keyboardist Matthew Tavares formely of BADBADNOTGOOD is joined by former band-mate saxophonist Leland Whitty on the deeply satisfying "Visions". Tavares and Whitty are joined by bassist Julian Anderson-Bowes and drummer Matthew Chalmers to round out the quartet. “Visions” is filled with meditative and spiritual compositions that are open and atmospheric. “Through The Looking Glass” is spiritual jazz highlighted by Whitty’s flourishes on soprano and Tavares modal approach on keys. The intensity kicks up on “Woah” before Tavares slows down the pace with his fluid piano phrasings. Whitty exchanges his sax for flute and the soft tone compliments Anderon’s gentle guitar strokes on the sublime “Visions Of You”. The quartet came together and completed this album in one take. It’s a triumph from these like minded musicians to compose such a heartfelt and spiritual record.

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Reg Dancy, 04/20

Producer's Choice / The RAH Band

The RAH Band - Producer's Choice

Atjazz Record Company

Richard Anthony Hewson aka The RAH band returns with his latest release “Producer’s Choice”. Hewson’s career dates back to the sixties when he worked with a wide array of musicians from the Beatles and Diana Ross to Herbie Hancock. Hewson founded the RAH band in 1977 and hasn’t released anything since his “Perfumed Garden" ep in 2015. “Producer's Choice" features some of Hewson’s biggest tunes. Among the highlights are “Downside Up” a boogie tune with jazzy horns and synths originally released in 1981. The aforementioned “Perfumed Garden” has been transformed into a breezy mid tempo tune that will heighthen the excitement for what's next. "Messages from The Stars" harkens back to the days of eighties flavored boogie funk. It’s a successful evolution of Hewson's prime cuts that will certainly please long time fans and impress newcomers as well.

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Reg Dancy, 04/20

Alex Attias presents LillyGood Party Vol. 2 / Various Artists

Various Artists - Alex Attias presents LillyGood Party Vol. 2

BBE Music

Alex Attias is not only a premier DJ and avid record collector, he’s a superb producer as well. Attias has crafted remixes for a number of artists over the years and his DJ sets, specifically his Lillygood parties are not to be missed. Of course not everyone can make it to Switzerland, Attias’s home base for his parties so the next best thing is to press play to his latest BBE release “Lillygood Party Vol. 2”. This twelve track release is packed with soulful funk and house bangers certain to fill a dance floor or ignite a house party. There isn’t a weak track in sight here so you’re in for a treat. “Playground” is irresistible deep house layered with gorgeous chords from Martin Iverson aka Atjazz featuring Saral Jazz. Yam Who’s rework of Dwayne Morgan’s “Everything” features soulful spoken word over lush deep house grooves. “Children Of The World” is a signature Louie Vega production filled with gospel inspired vocals and infectious percussion. As far as compilations go, this latest version of “Lillygood” is as good as it gets. Vol. 1 was good but Vol. 2 is on another level.

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Reg Dancy, 04/20

Outlaws / Ludivine Issambourg

Ludivine Issambourg - Outlaws

Heavenly Sweetness

“Outlaws” is a tribute to Hubert Laws performed by fellow flutist Ludivine Issambourg.  Issambourg has been a fixture in the French jazz scene for years and has also performed with the Paris based band Antiloops. The compositions here capture the spirit of Laws music during the late seventies and early eighties. Which amounts to mellow instrumental jazz inspired rnb. Among the highlights are the opening track “Undecided”, a sun drenched track filled with gorgeous Rhodes from Eric Legnini who also chips in with arrangements. Issambourg’s phrasings layered on top of Legnini’s keys is pure bliss. Issambourg and company does Harvey Mason proud with a flawless cover of “Modaji”. A classic that Laws also performed on.  An impressive tribute that should meet Laws approval and will certainly satisfy his fans as well.

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Reg Dancy, 04/20

Leve Leve Sao Tome & Principe Sounds 70s 80s / Various Artists

Various Artists - Leve Leve Sao Tome & Principe Sounds 70s 80s

Bongo Joe Records

"Leve Leve" is the brain child of French dJ Tom B. He's been collecting music from Brazil and various countries for twenty years. Upon collecting Angolan music he came across the Island music of Sao Tome and Principe, two small islands off the coast of Gabon in central Africa. The sixteen track compilation is filled with uplifting compositions that will instantly transport you to the island. "Conjunto Equador Mado"is filled with warm vocal harmonies and sparkling guitar that fuses the rhythms of Sao Tomean with rebita, inspired from Angola. "Africa Negra" unites an assortment of rhythms such as Socope, Puita and danca-congo. The album title is a phrase frequently used among the islanders that means "Take it easy". These high energy compositions will inspire you to do exactly that.

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Reg Dancy, 03/20

Lowdown / Crowd Company

Crowd Company - Lowdown

Vintage League Music

"Lowdown" is the third full length album from Crowd Company. The UK funk & soul band return with a high energy eleven track release certain to grip your hips and move your feet. Among the highlights are "Stories", armed with soaring horns, sultry vocals and an irresistible groove that pushes the entire band. "You Ain't Ready" is another heater, slightly slower in tempo but a floor burner nonetheless. "Change Your Mind" is slowing burning soul that will inspire you to dim the lights and hold someone tight. Produced by Alan Evans (Soulive), a talented drummer who knows a thing or two about rhythm and groove. In a crowded (no pun intended) funk and soul field, Crowd Company is proving they can hang with the best of them. This potent release is evidence of that.

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Reg Dancy, 03/20

Scheming / The Jazz Defenders

The Jazz Defenders - Scheming

Haggis Records

The Jazz Defenders are a quintet from Bristol led by pianist George Cooper. Their ten track release is filled with engaging hard bop recordings. On the opener "Top Down Tourism" Cooper displays a melodic and deliberate style as he's accompanied by Nicholas Dover's assertive tone on Sax and Nick Malcolm on Trumpet. Matt Brown's dynamic drumming and cymbals pushes everyone on the Latin flavoured "Late" They slow down the pace on "Rosie Karima" and perform a beautiful ballad. throughout this set the band channels the spirit of 60s Blue Note recordings. These compositions show they can hold their own with anyone.

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Reg Dancy, 03/20

DJ Andy Smith Presents Reach Up Disco Wonderland Vol.2  / Various Artists

Various Artists - DJ Andy Smith Presents Reach Up Disco Wonderland Vol.2

BBE

DJ Andy Smith returns to BBE with another instalment of Disco heaters. "Disco Wonderland Vol.2" picks up where Vol.1 left off and features unreleased gems and remixes from Smith himself. "Lost Without You" is infectious boogie funk from Will Sessions & Amp Fiddler. "Star Cruiser" from Gregg Diamond under his Bionic Boogie moniker is classic 70s string laden Disco. "You Don't Know" was a staple in every club in the mid eighties as a première dance track. The Crissy Kybosh remix gives it new life. Smith's compilation is filled with eighties flavour and Disco lovers will spring to their feet upon hearing these tracks again. For those unfamiliar with them, you're in for a treat.

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Reg Dancy, 03/20

Sonar Kollektiv 21 years...Feel / Sonar Kollektiv

Sonar Kollektiv - Sonar Kollektiv 21 years...Feel

Sonar Kollektiv

It's no stretch to say that the label from Berlin as known as Sonar Kollektiv has been one of the most admired labels over the last twenty years. So it seems proper to salute them for all the quality recordings they've blessed us with. "21 years" features thirty plus tracks that have stood the test of time and hearing them again is simply a breath of fresh air. It's a superb collection of their own compositions as well as re-releasing recordings from artists they've been drawn to over the years. What's more is this is the first of two compilations so expect another batch of thirty more recordings soon but let's focus on these for now. The disc begins with "Oh Africa", the infectious 2013 dance track from Alex Barck, one of the founding members of Jazzanova. "Make It Good" is another floor burner that evokes happy memories from The White Lamp which featured Pete Josef. There's a load of unreleased gems as well. "Charizo Pancho" is a splendid simmering samba treat from Marlow & Truby. For those drawn to slower tempos there's the sublime "Paradiso" from Lars Barkuhn. "Feel Like a Feel" is melancholy folk from Paul Bryan aka Sergio Sa. We've just scratched the surface for there's so much to savor here you could spends weeks combing through it all. Believe me you'll be glad you did. As far as compilations go this will be hard to beat.

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Reg Dancy, 03/20

Travesseiro Feliz / Ricardo Richaid

Ricardo Richaid - Travesseiro Feliz

Far Out Recordings

"Travesseiro Feliz" is the début of Far Out recordings latest signing Ricardo Richaid. Richaid displays his chops on electric and acoustic guitar as well as an adept use of electronics and synths. He receives sparkling percussive contributions from Marcos Suzano, multi-instrumentalist Jose Ibarra and others. The opener "Maracas Enterprise-Frio da Manha" starts out as a searing psychedelic tune filled with explosive horns before the tempo shifts into a sublime guitar driven folk. Richaid's vocals are out front on "Largado Nu", which erupts with electric guitar rhythms before shifting into a softer acoustic bliss. "O Velho Cai" is a warm stripped down tune that features Liza Machado on vocals. Richaid absorbs all of influences from the deep well of Brazil and applies his crafty arrangements into an impressive début. The talent here is obvious and we're looking forward to hearing more from him.

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Reg Dancy, 03/20

La Busqueda / Karmasound

Karmasound - La Busqueda

Phuture Shock Muzik

Barcelona based producer and multi-instrumentalist Damian Botigue aka Karmasound has demonstrated a flair for fusing various styles with infectious grooves. Starting with his 2018 EP "Probabilidades" was a mashup of Latin vibes spread across broken beat and funk rhythms. Now with his full length début "La Busqueda" he takes the energy up another level. Botigue turns up the tempo with "Dando Vueltas", a splash of piano melodies and synths layered over blistering conga rhythms. "Instantes" is another vibrant piano driven tune complemented by spirited percussion tailor made to fill a dance floor. "Se va" is a mellow tune that allows you to catch your breath but is equally satisfying. With a foundation of early Latin Jazz fused with the forward thinking sounds of today, Karmasound's full length début is invigorating and a flat out winner.

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

Night Dreamer Direct to Disc Sessions / Seu Jorge & Roge

Seu Jorge & Roge - Night Dreamer Direct to Disc Sessions

Night Dreamer

Seu Jorge & Roge have built a friendship going back 25 years. Although they grew up together in Rio De Janeiro and wrote songs they've never recorded together until now. Due to scheduling conflicts they didn't have time for rehearsing so the recording for this duet was done in one session. Based on the results that's all they needed. This stripped down acoustic recording is accompanied by two percussionists, Peu Meurray and Pretinho da Serrinha. Roge's falsetto vocals lead off on "Meu Brasil" followed by Jorge's regal baritone against the backdrop of sweeping brushes and percussion. Their vocals intertwine seamlessly on "Pra Voce Amigo". "Onda Carioca" is a festive composition with a tasty guitar groove that culminates the recording. Seven splendid songs performed by two of Brazil's finest vocalists. A delightful album that shouldn’t be missed.

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

Rainer Trueby Presents Soulgliding / Various Artists

Various Artists - Rainer Trueby Presents Soulgliding

BBE

"Soulgliding", the compilation courtesy of DJ/Producer Rainer Trueby is a breezy collection of late seventy early eighties mellow grooves and boogie tunes. It's a gorgeous compilation of hidden gems from familiar artists as well as the obscure. A nice reminder that among the synth heavy party jams there were plenty of melodic compositions worthy of repeated spins today. The dreamy soundscapes of Peter Brown's "Without Love" sets the mood with meditative rhythms. "Lady Of The Night" is mellow soul jazz courtesy of LA composer Les Hooper. "It Ain't No Big Thing" is an infectious mid-tempo boogie from Donna McGhee. "Dust To Dust" is sublime spacey soul from Cloud One, the moniker created by Patrick Adams. There are other highlights throughout here that make this a musical paradise you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

The Anthology / Omar

Omar - The Anthology

Freestyle

While scanning the thirty plus track listing for "The Anthology" from Omar, I couldn't help but think how many artists would've rolled out a "Greatest Hits" while barely having half the catalogue that he has under his belt. With that said this is a great opportunity to rejoice in the stunning collection of music from the Don of UK Soul. From early favourites like "There's Nothing Like This", The Anthology is a lovely trip down memory lane with timeless recordings. "Best By Far" is an underrated record if that's even possible. it's left-field soul that's still sounds brand new. Let's not forget the notable duets he has shared the mic with over the years. "Be Thankful" with Erykah Badu, "Who Chooses The Seasons" with Carleen Anderson and of course "Feeling You" with Stevie Wonder. That's not all, "Pass It On", a mid-tempo funky number featuring Terri Walker is one of two new tracks here along with "Long Time Coming". Seriously, you should have most of these songs already but if you don't then you need this this in your collection now. This is simply a great selection from the Man who is still at the top of his game. Salute!

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

Maria Maria / Milton Nascimento

Milton Nascimento - Maria Maria

Far Out Recordings

Far Out recordings presents "Maria Maria" a classic recording from Milton Nascimento. Originally recorded in 1976, it features some of Brazil's most revered musicians such as the late Nana Vasconcelos and Joao Donato. The concept of "Maria Maria" came from a show conceived by himself and songwriter Fernando Brant based on the composite life story of the daughter of a black slave called Maria. Nascimento wrote the music while Brant wrote the lyrics but they both collaborated on the title track. This cinematic production is filled with spoken word interludes bridged between Nascimento's smoothing vocals and folk flavoured compositions. Highlights include "Trabalhos" and "Os Escravos De Jo", the latter is a spirited composition that features Toninho Horta on guitar along with vocalists such as Nana Caymmi, Fala de Belem and Beto Guedes. Nascimento's love of cinema is brought to life here and is falsetto vocals lifts these compositions to another level. For long time fans these previous hard to find recordings are a must have. For newcomers this is a great introduction for one of Brazil's most treasured vocalists.

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

Starts Again / Tawiah

Tawiah - Starts Again

First Word

Singer songwriter Tawiah has been a staple in the South London music scene with numerous guest appearances and a couple of EPs under her belt. Her heavenly vocals has taken lead for The Cinematic Orchestra, Eric Lau and many more. "Starts Again" is her full length début and sounds nothing like what she's done before. That being said the ten track lp is a brilliant stripped down session that weaves together her musical outlook while chronicling her life journey. "Recreate" starts out with a rumbling drum beat and a bass heavy groove. "Borders" is a soul pop tune filled with a joyous chorus that spreads her message that her love has no boundaries. "How Much Left" floats with warm string arrangements courtesy of Miquel Atwood Ferguson. Co-Produced by Sam Beste and notable contributions from Sharlene Hector, Rahel Debebe Dessalegne among others. This is a superb outing from an ultra talented vocalist.

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

11th Street Sekondi / Gyedu Blay Ambolley

Gyedu Blay Ambolley - 11th Street Sekondi

Agogo

Ghanian legend Gyedu Blay Ambolley has been a staple of West Ghana since his début in 1973. The seventy two year old vocalist and saxophonist follows up his acclaimed 2017 release "Ketan" with "11th Street Sekondi", named after the area he grew up in West Ghana. Ambolley has performed alongside legends such as Fela Kuti and Ebo Taylor. The nine track touches social and political topics while blending genres better known within the region as Highlife. "I No Dey Talk I Do Dey Lie" is a slow burning funk with soulful horns and afrobeat rhythms. "Sunkwa" begins with a flurry of horns and a funky guitar groove. Ambolley's vocal style is more like his signature rap style known as Simigwa. Factor in his baritone voice and Tenor sax prowess and you're in for a treat. "11th Street Sekondi" is warm, funky and engaging. Ambolley's career, already filled with accolades is showing no signs of slowing down.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

All Rise / Michele Manzo

Michele Manzo - All Rise

Darker Than Wax

Italian native multi-instrumentalist Michele Manzo's release "All Rise" flows from boom bap beats to laid back grooves. He demonstrates an ability to blend drum progarmming with live instrumentation seamlessly. "Crackablackalacka" is neck snapping hip-hop featuring Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow. "Train From Cali" is an mellow instrumental that oozes with warm vibes. Nicolas Ryan Gant's elevates the funky track "The Best" with his smooth vocals. A solid offering from the talented musician/producer that's certainly worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

Batik / Gabriele Poso

Gabriele Poso - Batik

Soundway Records

Percussionist Gabriele Poso returns with "Batik", his first release on Soundway records. He first appeared on Osunlade's Yoruba records label in 2008 and has recorded for Infra Com, BBE, and Agogo as well. Poso along with his Organik trio compose a brillant album ripe with Afro-Cuban rhythms merged with jazz and house. The title track kicks off the disc with Poso on vocals alongside a heavenly chorus layered over a potent groove, tropical beats and moog synths. "Equitoreal" also makes a splash with thunderous percussion, hi hat rhythms and a sensual house groove. "Goldfish" is a blissful instrumental that will instantly create images of blue skies in the Caribbean. Poso lends his vocals on most of the recordings while enlisting renowned vocalists such as Nailah Porter, Nina Rodriguez, Quetzal Guerrero and Sofia Rolio. DJ/Producer Kiko Navarro provides the right balance of beats and programming to make you want to dance or simply kick back and listen. Poso is developing into one of the premier percussionists on the scene today and this album is evidence of that.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20