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
In The Cut / Jake Najor and The Moment of Truth

Jake Najor and The Moment of Truth - In The Cut

The Redwoods Music

"In The Cut" is the debut of Jake Najor and the Moment of Truth. Najor has been a presence in the Southern California music scene for over twenty years. The San Diego based band's ten track release is filled with gritty funk and soulful instrumentals. Najor sets the tone with spirited yet restrained drumming throughout. The opening track "High Costa" finds the band funkin at a fever pitch. Nick Costa's guitar playing is on point and Matt La Barber plays a thumpin bass. The band down shifts the tempo on the following tracks. "Gettin it" is laid back funk with a tasty organ melody courtesy of Tim Felten. "Funkin For Jamacha" is another funky number this time with the brass taking center stage. For those who can't get enough of groups like The Meters and Booker T and MGs you'll certainly enjoy this.

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Reg Dancy, 05/19

The Loop / Shafiq Husayn

Shafiq Husayn - The Loop

Eglo

 Laid back psychedelic California soul courtesy of Shafiq Husayn, one third of Sa-Ra Creative Partners. "The Loop" is filled with breezy melodic compositions he's worked on over the past decade. Shafiq has assembled a number of notable collaborators to raise his tracks to another level. Vocalist Jimetta Rose co-wrote and performed on a number of songs here but the breezy jazz infused "May I Assume" featuring fellow vocalist Fatima is a standout. Other highlights include "It's Better For You" featuring the infectious raspy vocals of Anderson Paak. Hiatus Kiayote's poly-rhythmic sound fits like a glove on "Cycles". Despite the A-list of guests it's the sonic brew of musical styles molded into an eclectic soulful sound that makes Shariq's music so joyful and addictive. Long overdue but definitely worth the wait.

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Reg Dancy, 05/19

Two Tribes / Various Artists

Various Artists - Two Tribes

Agogo

"Two Tribes" showcases the collaboration between African and European artists who reside in Europe. The compilation features a number of brillant musicians starting with composer/guitarist Andrea Benini' afro-funk banger "Jawa". Ghanaian singer Blay Ambolley's "Walk For Ground" receives an injection of beats courtesy of the Aldubb remix. "Titon To" is a high energy percussive driven tune by Finnish-Beninese group Trio Toffa. "Mozambique" is another up-tempo highlight by the native Mozambican vocalist Selma Uamusse. The disc wraps up with DJ Raoul K's fifteen minute pulsating "Just a Moment To Find A Way To Sun Day". Raoul K combines West African rhythms with European production stylings and the result is a long playing Afro-house gem. Agogo records always manage to emerge with a treasure chest of global gems and this compilation is no exception.

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Andy Allen, 05/19

Gueta / Liquid Saloon

Liquid Saloon - Gueta

Raw Tapes

Liquid Saloon is a trio of up and coming musicians based in Tel Aviv, Israel. "Gueta" is inspired by afro-beat rhythms and experimantal jazz. Drummer Amir Bresler drives the beat on the title track which also features local instrumentalists such as Nital Hershkovits and Rejoicer on keys. Eyal Talmudi's melodic clarinet solo towards the end is an added bonus. "Polaroid Banana" is a funky highlight laced with warped out synths and tasty percussion. Fellow Tel Aviv resident Jenny Penkin's blissful vocals are a delight on the slow fusion burner "Won't Be Led By Fear". An impressive debut filled with vibrant rhythms and wicked grooves that shouldn't be missed.

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Reg Dancy, 05/19

A Promise / The Cinematic Orchestra

The Cinematic Orchestra - A Promise

Ninja Tune

The Cinematic Orchestra's first release in twelve years is inspired by life events that stir our consciousness past and present. Like their previous releases "To Believe" flourishes in their blend of Jazz, soul and ambient soundscapes. Add to that an incredible A-list of vocalists who take these emotive compositions to another level. So where do we begin? Starting off with the title track where the velvet falsetto of Moses Sunmery is enough to make your heart flutter. The pulsating beats of "A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life" are highlighted by poignant lyrics from Roots Manuva. "A Promise" puts the finishing touch on a splendid album. Heidi Vogel stylizes her heavenly vocals with long lush notes over the eleven minute track that builds a crescendo with each passing minute. Twelve years is a wide gap but this superb record was well worth the wait. Each track is emboldened by elegant orchestrations that unfold patiently, allowing the songs to breathe while building to a glorious finale. Simply put you need this record in your rotation to enjoy repeatedly.

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Reg Dancy, 05/19

A State of Flow / Ishmael Ensemble

Ishmael Ensemble - A State of Flow

Seven Songs

Led by saxophonist, band leader and Bristol resident Peter Cunningham, Ishmael Ensemble's nine track lp is celestial jazz meets electronica filled with atmospheric soundscapes. "Full Circle" pulls you in instantly with the glorious harp rhythms and pulsating drums topped off by the emotive vocals of Holysseus Fly. "Siren" starts out with a funky bass lick before diving into a flurry of broken beats, horns and synths that build toward an exhilarating crescendo. "The River" is a meditative tune that's elevated by trumpeter Yazz Ahmed's warm effortless tone. Overall "A State Of Flow" is a bold and adventurous release that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 04/19

Silver Vibrations / Roy Ayers

Roy Ayers - Silver Vibrations

BBE

BBE has done a masterful job of shining a light on the Roy Ayers archive in recent years. The latest installment "Silver Vibrations" features a few more hidden gems worth checking out. There's an unedited version of "Chicago" that still sounds relevant today thanks in part to the thumping bass groove. "Lots Of Love" is a boogie tune that was part of a solo release by Roy on his own imprint from the early eighties. "D.C. City" is one of the stronger tracks here. It features Roy at his best blending jazz and funk with soulful vocals. Tracks like "Keep on Movin'" don't measure up to the standard we're used to hearing from him. That being said, there's enough here to remind you why you fell in love with the Ubiquity sound in the first place.

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Reg Dancy, 04/19

The Paralian / Andrew Wasylyk

Andrew Wasylyk - The Paralian

Athens Of The North

Andrew Mitchell aka Andrew Wasylyk is a multi-instrumentalist. "The Paralian" is a blend of ambient jazz and british folk soundscapes. While in Arbroath Scotland for an extended residency Wasylyk came in touch with a 19th century Erard Grecian harp. Along with a grand piano on hand he wrote a number of tunes to reflect the tranquility of the harbor town. "Greendrive #2" is a dreamy tune that evokes images of the east coast of Scotland. "Welter In The Haar" is a highlight that combines blissful Fender Rhodes and strings.  "Adrift Below A Constellation" features soft brass rhythms as well as Wasylyk's warm vocals. Arbroath sounds like the place to escape from all the noise and this is the ideal soundtrack to bring along with you.

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Reg Dancy, 04/19

My Soul Sensation / Nicole Willis & Banda Palomita

Nicole Willis & Banda Palomita - My Soul Sensation

Persephone

The songstress Nicole Willis returns with a new album and a new band. "My Soul Sensation" marks a more modern sound and she sounds right at home. The band Banda Palomita is comprised of members from Finland, Senegal and Brazil. They demonstrate their ability to create tasty laid back grooves to complement Nicole's soaring vocals. "Save Me" is a mellow RnB tune with a sprinkle of synths and percussion. "Reparate" is a mid-tempo boogie tune and "Free" is a dance inspired funk burner filled with infectious electric guitar. Willis has shown time and again that she can belt out classic soul tunes with the best of them. This refreshing release shows she's a delight in any style.

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Reg Dancy, 04/19

Heritage / Mark De Clive Lowe

Mark De Clive Lowe - Heritage

Ropeadope

Pianist/Producer Mark De Clive Lowe explores his ancestry with his latest release "Heritage". De Clive Lowe consulted with his family to gain a deeper understanding of his Japanese roots and the results are his most personal work to date. "Bushido 1", meaning "The Way of the Warrior" begins with a splash of piano aligned with Josh Johnson's simmering alto sax. De Clive Lowe's melodic excursions takes the listener on a mystic voyage. "Memories of Nanzenji" is a meditative tune that is awash in Brandon Combs expressive cymbals. De Clive Lowe and Johnson's playing is free flowing and spiritual. "Niten-Ichi" begins with a slow burning piano that quickly evolves into a high energy free for all that includes Teodross Avery on Tenor sax. "Heritage" is the first of a two part project. Based on De Clive Lowe's brilliance here, there's no doubt that part two will be as equally rewarding as this one

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Reg Dancy, 04/19

Abyssinia & Abyssinia Rise / Te'Amir

Te'Amir - Abyssinia & Abyssinia Rise

Tru Thoughts

Drummer/producer Te'Amir is another artist to emerge from the deep well of Los Angeles. "Abyssinia & Abyssinia Rise" marries jazz and funk with Ethiopian rhythms. A release shaped in large part to Te'Amir exploring his Ethiopian roots. Among the highlights are "Habesha", a haunting piano driven hip hop track that features Rebekah Raff on harp. "Randal In Addis" is filled with spirited Afrikan horn rhythms courtesy of Randal Fisher. "The Quest" blends Ethiopian jazz inspired instrumentation and soulful vocals from Dustin Warren. A bit disappointing that it's under 25 minutes but this LP is a delightful listen. Te'Amir is someone to keep an eye on.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Driftglass / Seed Ensemble

Seed Ensemble - Driftglass

Jazz re:freshed

Just when you thought the burgeoning UK jazz scene couldn't get any better along comes another group to blow your mind. Seed Ensemble is a ten piece collective led by alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi. "Driftglass" is filled with afro-futurism, poetry and protest brought to life by an array of uber talented musicians. The title is named after a short story by Science fiction writer Samuel R. Delany. "Afronaut" features thought provoking poetry from Xana. Sheila Maurice-Grey's glorious trumpet phrasings is just a nod of a strong horn section that includes Theon Cross on Tuba and Chelsea Carmichael on Tenor sax. Drummer Patrick Boyle keeps the beat at a fever pitch. "Wake" (for Grenfall) features lyrics by Langston Hughes sung by Cherise Adams-Burnett. The sobering tone and vocal harmonies juxtaposes images of injustice past and present. "Interplanetary Migration" is a spirited melting pot of jazz and afro-beat plus spoken word from Mr Ekow. Between working in other groups like Kokoroko and Nerija, Kinoshi has created something special here. She has composed a superb collection of music that makes a statement. The result is one of the best albums of the year

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

A Quest Called Tribe / Medline

Medline - A Quest Called Tribe

My Bags

French producer Medline's latest release "A Quest Called Tribe" pays tribute to A Tribe Called Quest. Medline adds a gentle touch along with a melodic soul jazz groove to some of our beloved recordings from the legendary hip-hop trio. For starters the classic "Relaxation Electrique" is transformed into a sublime number with soothing vibes. "Jazz (On A Du)" is a medley of well chosen Tribe treats. "Trouver une Voie" channels "Find A Way" from the Love Movement lp. A delightful reminder of just how treasured these tracks are. Not to mention the creative possibilities when placed in the right hands. Medline's cool rhythmic arrangements will ease any concerns. A superb record worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Forgotten Ones / Culross Close

Culross Close - Forgotten Ones

Esencia Records

Anthony Kieron, better known as K15 is firmly entrenched as a premiere producer of soul and house. With his London based quintet Culross Close he's starting to stretch out as a musician as well. The six track ep "Forgotten Ones" is a myriad of Cosmic compositions that transcend genres. The disc begins with the heavenly keys of "Fractured" a soothing intro that's a precursor for what lies ahead. The title track, one of the highlights here is filled with blissful vocal harmonies. Kieron's rhythmic rhodes are complimented by enchanting cymbals from drummer May Goode. "The Tiniest Lights Still Shine" is another winner. It's an infectious tune with a bass n drum groove with Nathaniel Jiddu's spacey moog synths on top of it. This is an inspiring and imaginative piece of work that will transport you to a spiritual mental space. The only quibble is there's only twenty five minutes of music here but essential listening nonetheless. We've come to expect nothing less than from Kieron and this is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Your Lifestyle / Alphabets Heaven

Alphabets Heaven - Your Lifestyle

Wotnot

Brighton based musician Alphabets Heaven's latest release "Your Lifestyle" is filled with laid back beats and atmospheric vibes. Similar to most beat tapes there's a lengthy tracklist (nineteen) but only two tunes exceed three minutes. The disc begins with the warm acoustic guitar rhythms of "Nylon". From here you're pulled into a journey of mellow moods that glides the disc along at a leisurely pace. Along the way you'll no doubt dig notable beats like "Laces", "Follow" and "Tote Bag". Like all the great beat makers Alphabets Heaven knows where to pair the right sample with the perfect beat. As a result it's the perfect mixtape for a long drive to ease your mind.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Poison Fruit / Ivan "Mamao" Conti

Ivan "Mamao" Conti - Poison Fruit

Far Out Recordings

It's hard to imagine that "Poison Fruit" is Ivan "Mamao" Conti's first release in over twenty years. Although the legendary drummer is one third of the infamous group Asymuth, don't expect this to be your typical Asymuth album. Instead "Poison Fruit" is filled with experimental house beats and electronic rhythms. That's due in part to London based producer Daniel Maunick. Mamao was introduced to Maunick by his son Thiago Maranhao who serves as co-producer. Tracks like "Encontro" will sound right at home with the traditional Asymuth sound. While "Bacurau" opens with explosive percussion rhythm riding a bass driven house groove. The title track goes deeper into experimental left-field house with spacey synths. As a bonus there are some superb remixes from notable DJ/Producers like Glenn Astro, Max Graef just to name a few. Samba flavored jazz fusion combined with samples and electronics pays dividends here. Mamao and Maunick connect the dots and emerge with a splendid record.

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Reg Dancy, 03/19

Farmarama / A Man Called Adam

A Man Called Adam - Farmarama

Other Records

Sally Rodgers and Steve Jones better known as A Man Called Adam return with their long awaited new release entitled "Farmarama". Like their previous releases "The Apple" and "Duende" their compositions embrace the Balearic sound we've come to expect from them. Their passion for an assortment of genres from disco to pop and house come into play here with impressive results. Evidence lies in the opener "Mountains and Waterfalls". This tropical dance track is filled with catchy loops and samples layered over an infectious percussion and horn riffs. The title track is a post-disco boogie tune with a thumping bass groove and a melody to lose yourself in. "Paul Valery at the Disco" features futuristic synths wrapped around a hypnotic groove that's bound to take you on a psychedelic trip. An engaging record that's filled with blissful as well as reflective moments. Rodgers and Jones emotive beats and rhythms will keep your head nodding from one track to the next.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

If Music Presents: You Need This - World Jazz Grooves / Various Artists

Various Artists - If Music Presents: You Need This - World Jazz Grooves

BBE

Over the past fifteen years If Music's label head Jean Claude has built a well deserved reputation by securing quality obsure vinyl recordings. His latest "You Need This World Jazz Grooves" is no exception as he joins forces with fellow record collector Victor Kiswell. Kiswell has traveled the world in search of rare gems and returned with some quality gems here. Among the highlights are the spoken words of Billy Bang Survival Ensemble on "Illustration". "Timbuktu" is a infectious jazz tune brimming with explosive horns and percussion from Dutch Clarinet/Composer Theo Loevendie Consort. "Itwenty Five" is a tender ballad from atloist South African exile Joe Malinga. Jean Claude has delivered yet another impressive compilation. As the compilation title says, "You Need This"!

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

II / Alder Ego

Alder Ego - II

We Jazz Records

Alder Ego is a quartet formed by Helsinki based drummer Joonas Leppanen. Leppanen and his Finnish bandmates demonstrate a fluid rapport right out the gate on "Leviathan". Leppanen's splashy cymbals create colorful soundscapes for Ilkka Uksila's melodic vibes. Together they leave plenty of space for trumpeter Tomi Nikku and Saxophonist Jarno Tikka to stretch out. Uksila's soft vibes massage the gorgeous soloing from Nikku on "Flight". "Solitude" is another where Nikku and Tikka's soloing dance around Teemu Akerblom's subtle bass licks. This band doesn't break any new ground but they excel with the freedom of superb compositions from Leppanen. As great as this recording sounds I bet they're even better live. Now that would be a treat.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

The Putbacks / The Putbacks

The Putbacks - The Putbacks

Hope Street Recordings

Melbourne's fertile music scene is the gift that keeps on giving. The Putbacks have been around for a minute but this is their first proper release. Produced by Paul Bender (Hiatus Kaiyote) their self-titled debut is filled with delicious 70s flavored acid soul funk and heavy guitar rhythms. "The Ways" is dark psychedelic funk that meshes perfectly with the raspy soulful vocals of Bilal. "Hold On" is slinky instrumental organ grinding funk with hypnotic chords. "No Man No" is a mellow groove with heavenly strings courtesy of Miquel Atwood Ferguson that channels early Charles Stepney recordings. Each of the sixteen tracks here packs a punch and serves up uncompromising gritty funk just the way we like it. After backing Emma Donovan a few years back they're ready to take center stage. If you like 70s groups like the Meters and early Stax recordings then you're gonna love this.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

Natural Sci-Fi / Steve Spacek

Steve Spacek - Natural Sci-Fi

Eglo

Steve Spacek explores mellow cosmic funk with his second official solo release "Natural Sci Fi". The initial stages of production for this lp began in 2005 but it was put on hold while he worked on various projects. Since then Spacek has added a few wrinkles, notably the appearance of rapper Oddisee and vocalist Natalie Slade. Oddisee's effortless flow fits seamlessly on "Take Ova" while the title track is long spacious laid back funk. It's a bit disappointing there's only eight tracks but at least it ends on a high note. "Plain Site" is a dreamy tune where Slade's soulful vocals mesh beautifully with Spacek's signature falsetto over a slinky funky groove. A solid release that will leave you wanting more but will satisfy you nonetheless.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

Naming & Blaming / The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra - Naming & Blaming

Hope Street Recordings

Hailing from Melbourne, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra return with their long awaited sophomore lp. Over the last decade they've established themselves as a formidable group in the Afrobeat arena largely from their mesmerizing live performances. They pull no punches right from the start with the uplifting yet fiery "No Passport". "Fight So Hard" is a mellow extended tune brimming with soulful sax and lively percussion. The title track "Naming & Blaming" rides a slow burning groove that also features MC One Sixth and singer Lamine Sonko. The band's strong opinions regarding politics and social justice are wrapped around hypnotic grooves and infectious rhythms. It's a lethal combination that makes them one of the premier ensembles on the scene today paying proper respect to the Afrobeat culture.

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Reg Dancy, 02/19

Madvillain Vol 1 / Abstract Orchestra

Abstract Orchestra - Madvillain Vol 1

ATA Records

The Abstract Orchestra made quite an impression with their debut lp "Dilla". With their sophomore release MF Doom is their source of inspiration. "Madvillain Vol. 1" finds the jazz based Orchestra seamlessly incorporating hip-hop into their compositions while exploring 70s soundtracks. "ALL CAPS" starts out with simple kick snare drum beat and soothing horns before seguing into mind bending improvisation and swinging. "Raid" is a funky fender rhodes driven tune surrounded by blissful horns and strings. Bandleader Rob Mitchell's arrangements navigate between the production of Madlib and the film scores of Quincy Jones. The results are deeply satisfying and definitely worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 01/19

Real Time / Richard Spaven

Richard Spaven - Real Time

Fine Line Records

Richard Spaven's subtle yet exploratory drumming has become identifiable from the first few notes of his records. As satisfying as his debut "The Self" has been, "Real Time" may be even better. There's much to savor from the nine track lp starting with the lead single "Faded". Jordan Rakei's blissful vocals float above gentle atmospheric textures. Rakei shines again on the Andy Bey original "Celestial Blues", aided by Stuart McCallum's sparkling guitar playing. "Loved One" is a beautiful tune filled with ambient soundscapes and vocal harmonies. Spaven's working band of guitarist McCallum, bassist Robin Mullarkey and Oli Rockberger on keys have a chemistry that's apparent throughout the disc. Add the soulful vocals of Rakei and you have a winning formula. They emphasize an ensemble approach filled with jazz infused instrumentation combined with superb songwriting. Simply put this is an exceptional record worthy of repeated listens. Highly recommended

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Reg Dancy, 01/19

Hard Work Not Hype / Monty Luke

Monty Luke - Hard Work Not Hype

Dogmatik

"Hard Work Not Hype" is the debut  of Detroit based DJ/producer Monty Luke. Luke previously was the label manager for Carl Craig's Planet E imprint but appears ready to step out with his impressive debut. The opening track "City Lights" is filled with pulsating drum programming and emotive synths. "Move" is a shimmering electro tinged house gem while "Willie Maze" is a chilled out down-tempo delight. Luke symbolizes the new generation of Detroit producers carrying the torch for deep house and electronic music. This deeply satisfying release shows the future is in good hands

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Reg Dancy, 01/19