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
Shake It / The New Mastersounds

The New Mastersounds - Shake It

Color-Red

With twenty years in the game The New Mastersounds need no introduction. They continue to be pioneers of funk and soul and their new release "Shake It" doesn't disappoint. As the title suggests they've shaken things up a bit by shedding the fusion from their previous recordings for a grittier funky sound. Acclaimed soul singer Lamar Williams Jr joins the band for this session and immediately puts his stamp on these body shaking recordings. "Let's Go Back" kicks off with Eddie Roberts down south bluesy guitar riff before morphing into New Orleans funk along with soaring vocals from Williams Jr. "Taking Me Down" flourishes with Afrobeat rhythms and lively percussion from Thievery Corporation drummer Jeff Franca. "Kings & Queens" is another heater with funky horns and a soulful rhythm section. From slow burners to high energy grooves NMS have added another jewel in their  crown with another jam packed lp.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

Sonkei / Ronin Arkestra

Ronin Arkestra - Sonkei

Albert's Favourites

Ronin Arkestra is a Tokyo based collective led by multi-instrumentalist Mark De Clive Lowe. De Clive has assembled some of the première players in Japan's jazz scene for this date. "Sonkei" is filled with rich and engaging compositions driven to greater heights thanks to Wataru Hamasaki on sax and De Clive Lowe on keys. Drummer Nobuaki Fujii from the amazing group Sleepwalker keeps the rhythm at a fever pitch and creates a canvas for everyone to paint figures of color and passion. "Onkochishin" and Cosmic Collisions are evidence of that. The latter finds De Clive Lowe alternating between synths and electronics playing off the explosive horn section. "Circle of Transmigration" is a delight that finds Hamasaki delivering breezy flute melodies The creativity flowing through this session soars from start to finish and leaves you thirsty for more. An exceptional piece of work that belongs every spiritual jazz fan's collection.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

Crush  / Floating Points

Floating Points - Crush

Ninja Tune

Sam Sheppard aka Floating Points latest release "Crush" was made during a five week period during 2017. Whereas his previous release "Elaenia" was a five year process. No matter the length of time the work of art he continues to release is majestic. Sheppard's utilization of electronics while encompassing a myriad of styles pays dividends once again starting with the opener. "Falaise" brims with intensity, filled with electronic experimentation and strings reaching a climatic fever pitch. "Last Bloom" ratchets up the tempo while providing atmospheric soundscapes. "Environments" starts out melodic and dreamy before shifting the tempo into overdrive. Best you laced those dancing shoes tight. The recordings for this release are more suited for the dance floor as opposed to ambient landscape of "Elaenia". Nonetheless, this is another set of mesmerizing work from Mr Sheppard who continues to push his music forward and beyond.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

Birds / Da-Lata

Da-Lata - Birds

Kartel Music Group

"Birds", the fourth lp from London collective Da-Lata is destined to warm your soul with warm tropical Brazilian vibes. Originally formed in 1988 by Christian Franck and Patrick Forge, "Birds" is mainly Franck's project with a few long time contributors along for the ride. Among the highlights are the aptly titled "Sway", a blissful Afro-Brazilian tune laced with sparkling percussion and guitar rhythms plus soothing vocals from Vanessa Freeman. "Memory Man" simmers with warm Bossa Nova rhythms and the soulful vocals of Syren Rivers. "To B" is a stripped down acoustic tune with Franck on guitar and warm vocal melodies once again from Freeman. "Thunder Of Silence" is an up-tempo number with an irresistible groove and a funky horn section that features the unmistakable vocals of Bembe Segue. Ten tracks that will sink into your body and fill you up with good musical feelings, "Birds" is a gorgeous recording that shouldn't be missed.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

Revolutions / Resolution 88

Resolution 88 - Revolutions

Legere

"Revolutions", the third lp from the London based band Resolution 88 is drenched in 70s inspired jazz funk. Tom O'Grady's melodic arrangements elevate the band's sound from the traditional raw funk and soul band. Things get off to a rousing start with "Pitching Up". The track opens up with Tiago Coimbra's funky electric guitar while O'Grady's swirling Rhodes plays well off Alex Hitchcock's tenor. "Runout Groove" has a simmering drum and bass groove. Ric Elsworth's spirited drumming sets the tone for O'Grady's wizardry on rhodes and Coimbra's hypnotic bass. "Tracking Force" jams at a frentic pace as each member flexes their musical chops. Clearly the band found inspiration in Herbie Hancock's ground breaking "Head Hunters". While they didn't craft the blueprint for jazz funk they're doing a superb job at carrying the torch.

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Reg Dancy, 11/19

Rainbow Deux / Leon Ware

Leon Ware - Rainbow Deux

Be With Records

"Rainbow Deux" is the final opus from one of our most treasured songwriters, the late singer Leon Ware. The album was completed around August of 2016, six months before his transition. Co-produced by Taylor Graves, a notable songwriter in his own right. The two were close friends as well as Los Angeles residents which placed them at the center of the talented L.A. musical eco system. Hence the cameo appearances from Kamasi Washington and Thundercat among others. When it came to sensual romantic songwriting no one did it better than Ware. Just go back and listen to Marvin Gaye's "I Want You" in addition to countless other contributions throughout his career. There's plenty to savor here with quality recordings throughout this lp. "For The Rainbow" is a sultry tune that opens with sparkling keys and percussion, setting the table for Ware's buttery falsetto vocals. "The Darkest Night" is a mid-tempo stomper with an infectious head nodding groove. The sun soaked sounds of "Samba Dreams" and "Wishful Thinking" are a reflection of Ware's affinity for Brazilian rhythms. The latter is a gorgeous number filled with wind swept strings and melodic guitar rhythms. The irony here is that "Rainbow Deux" is easily one of his best albums he has ever released. Graves production is top notch and his keyboard arrangements superb. Just thinking of him gone is sad but this record will serve as a reminder of his greatness.

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Reg Dancy, 11/19

Next To Nothing / Hector Plimmer

Hector Plimmer - Next To Nothing

Albert's Favourites

South London beat maker Hector Plimmer's brand new lp "Next to Nothing" is a hauntingly beautiful album filled with ethereal moods and ambient soundscapes. Plimmer's flair for abstract beats and rhythms was apparent on his debut "Sunshine". With this release his arrangements flow like a suite with each track complementing the next. The title track opens the album with Emma Jean Thackery's soloing over the hums of Ego Ella May and other harmonies. Andrew Ashong adds hypnotic vocal patterns over Plimmer's infectious Rhodes on "Somebody Else". The spacey overtones of "Joyfulness" are complemented by the blissful vocals of Alexa Harley. "Stack" featuring Pie Eye Collective is a polyrhythmnic gem and one of many engaging instrumentals. This is an adventurous recording that you'll find irresistible. Bring it along with you on long drives or simply to vibe out. It will be worth it.

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Reg Dancy, 11/19

Too Much / Dego

Dego - Too Much

2000black

Dj/Producer Dego has consistently delivered infectious soul infused dance tracks that defy any genre via his 2000black imprint. With his third full length lp "Too Much" the grooves are a bit subdued compared to previous releases yet pack plenty of punch to shake your hips and move your feet. Once again he's enlisted an array of esteemed vocalists to take his compositions to the next level. Highlights include "A Strong Move For Truth" featuring West London vocalist Nadine Charles. "Just Leave it" featuring House vocalist Lady Alma is another foot stomper. Instrumental tracks like "Unknown Faults", "You Are Virgo" and "Ogawa Okasan Said Just Play" capture the essence of the disc with funky extended grooves complemented by tasty synths. This is what we've come to expect from Dego. He weaves various cultures of soul, bruk and boogie into his signature sound that's noticeable from the first note. Prepare to get your groove on.

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Reg Dancy, 11/19

So Far / Ego Ella May

Ego Ella May - So Far

Tru Thoughts

"So Far" is the debut of South London native Ego Ella May. The ten track lp features three previously released songs from the "Zero" ep back in 2015. May also displays a flair for clever song-writing. Evidence of that lies with the gorgeous "Tea and Sympathy" where her lush emotive vocals float over the hypnotic hip-hop inspired beats courtesy of producer Wu-Lu and Budgie. "Underwater" and "Come On" are dreamy slow burning tunes with the latter featuring Kojey Radical. Of course the title track is the sweetener which kicks off the disc. May's seductive vocals lure you in and from that point you're willingly along for the ride. Each song is a blissful journey through the art of story telling. Four years after hitting the scene, "So Far" is certainly worth the wait.

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Reg Dancy, 11/19

By Special Arrangement / The Bamboos

The Bamboos - By Special Arrangement

BMG

With "By Special Arrangement", The Bamboos dive into the vault to deliver an alternate take on their classic soul compositions. Guitarist, songwriter and producer Lance Ferguson knew he wanted to do something different so he enlisted Ross Irwin for string arrangements and the results are reminiscent of early Stax Blues and soul recordings. Of course the lead vocals of Kylie Audist sound great in any style. Her soaring vocals capture you instantly with the opener "Keep Me In Mind". She plucks the heart strings on ballads "I Don't Wanna Stop" and "Stop" as well. "I Got Burned" is another slow soul burner that features Tim Rogers on lead vocals. Ferguson's echoing guitar compliments the swaying strings. Ferguson and company aren't resting on their laurels. They're pushing the boundaries while solidifying their status as one of the première funk and soul acts on the scene today.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Fluid Motion / 30/70

30/70 - Fluid Motion

Rhythm Section

If by now you're not aware of the deep well of talent emerging from Melbourne you better ask somebody. It began with Hiatus Kiayote and others but 30/70 is quickly serving notice as a band to be reckoned with. "Fluid Motion", their third lp is filled with strong poly-rhythms and funky eclectic melodies topped off by the endearing vocals of Allysha Joy. The quintet is a collective of musicians with their own separate projects yet make notable contributions to these compositions. The title track begins with Horatio Luna's languid bass groove and Josh Kelly's hypnotic sax merging while summoning the rest of the group to add their ingredients to the simmering stew of sublime funk. "N.Y.P." is nocturnal bliss that begins with Jarrod Chase's soft rhodes melody that serves as the foundation for Joy's soothing vocals before the tempo builds to a restrained pitch. "Backfoot" is an all for one jam session with the focus on delivering infectious funk. This band is on the rise and this superb record is worthy of repeated listens. Highly recommended.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Little Ghost / Moonchild

Moonchild - Little Ghost

Tru Thoughts

"Little Ghost", the fourth lp from Moonchild picks up where "Voyager" left off. That means plenty of warm melodic mid-tempo compositions and hypnotic vocals. Lead singer Amber Navran along with Max Bryk and Andris Mattson collaborate on heavenly harmonies as well as horn and string arrangements. Like the previous release their lyrics paint colours of love and passion. The opener "Wise Women" is a funky number with swaying horn arrangements. "Sweet Love" follows suit with warped beats and chords that melt into your body. The aptly titled "Whistling" adds another layer of gorgeous melodies to their repertoire. This band has rapidly made a name for themselves by delivering yet another brilliant album. Navran's vocals are food for the soul. Pure bliss from beginning to end.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Afrotunes - Best Of Juju Vol 2  / Ojo Balingo

Ojo Balingo - Afrotunes - Best Of Juju Vol 2

BBE

Originally released by Tabansi records in 1985, "Afrotunes - Best of Juju Vol. 2" sheds light on Juju music from Ojo Balingo. Based on this release, Balingo is a Nigerian Juju artist cut from the same cloth as King Sunny Ade. Balingo's style of Juju is a form of Yoruba music filled with various percussions and wah wah guitar rhythms. The album flows as a medley with Balingo's roaring poetic lyrics over a spirited guitar groove combined with infectious drumming. This is a journey into a forgotten genre that's worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Non Zero Sum Game / Thatmanmonkz

Thatmanmonkz - Non Zero Sum Game

Shadeleaf

Sheffield resident Scott Moncrieff aka Thatmanmonkz has become a sought after DJ and producer on the strength of numerous house bangers for a number of labels. In 2016 he dropped his LP debut "Columbusing", a mash up of RnB, hip hop and House. Now he's back on his own Shadeleaf label with his follow up LP "Non Zero Sum Game". Monkz demonstrates a deft hand at multiple styles of House with sterling results. Among the highlights are the raw stripped down heater "Easy Still" featuring A Brother Is (better known as Pete Simpson). This is the track you'll find true house heads working up a sweat at the club at 2am showing no signs of slowing down. From there Monkz seamlessly weaves from the infectious Afro House of "Sawa Sawa" to the sensuous disco flavoured "Them Thangs" featuring the vocals of Ms Fae. "LVNLMTD" is another highlight that's filled with lush string arrangements that make it a sophisticated gem. If you're not familiar with Monkz then this is the perfect introduction to his work. After you're done with this essential recording I suggest you check out his earlier work as well.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-83 / VA - J Jazz Volume 2

VA - J Jazz Volume 2 - Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969-83

BBE

J Jazz Volume2 picks up the marvellous Volume 1 left off. "Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984" is the second instalment of rare Japanese recordings compiled by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden. The duo once again compiled a list from their personal collection. They figured we would enjoy them as much as they do and they were right. There's much to savour with nearly 120 minutes of quality recordings. The disc kicks off with the brilliant "Dragon Dance". The late Tenor sax legend Harold Land was performing in Japan when he received an invitation to record with pianist Makoto Terashita. The result is a spirited up-tempo hard bop delight. "Mother Of The Future" is seventies inspired jazz funk from the Electro Keyboard Orchestra. "Fallout" features the New Herd, a popular big band. Higgins and Peden have tapped into a gold mine of obscure recordings largely forgotten. Thanks to their contacts in Japan and BBE for shinning a light on these hidden gems.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Togetherings / The Blassics

The Blassics - Togetherings

Painted Dog Records

The Blassics are a Finland based band that started out as a small instrumental funk band led by Juha Sarkola and Tuure Tammi in 2010. Since then they've grown into a nine piece outfit and added several albums to their catalogue. Their sound has also stretched out to incorporate elements of afrobeat and jazz to their energetic funk brand. The opener "In A Sincere Way" sets the tone with their trademark of afrobeat rhythms meets jazz inspired funk. "Hagerun Geleba" is a long playing instrumental jam session with Tammi leading an impressive horn section. "Nurona Biihatu" resonates with mellow tropical vibes. Ethiopian Vocalist Miki Mac vocals aren't overpowering but he has a warm tone and fits seemlessly with this  band. This is a strong album with six long playing progressive tunes wrapped in a afrobeat groove that's certainly worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 09/19

Cage and Aviary / Bryony Jarman-Pinto

Bryony Jarman-Pinto - Cage and Aviary

Tru Thoughts

"Cage & Aviary" is the début from singer/songwriter Bryony Jarman-Pinto. Bryony collaborates with fellow Tru-thoughts label-mate Tom Leah aka Werkha as producer. Werkha's electronic prowess blend seamlessly with Jarman-Pinto's organic approach to her compositions. The result is an impressive union of jazz, folk and subtle elements of electronica. "Saffron Yellow" is stripped down to percolating guitar rhythms, percussion and Jarman-Pintos's emotive vocals. "Sun Kissed" has a slow burning jazz vibe heightened by warm keys and horns. "Emerge" brims with subtle use of the high hat drumming and well placed synths. Hard to imagine that Jarman-Pinto experienced some writer's block while writing this tune before she had a breakthrough. That aside, Jarman-Pinto's lyrics, along with her hypnotic vocals provide plenty of emotional depth while embarking on topics about love, life and other thought provoking topics. A superb début from a new voice you should get familiar with.

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Reg Dancy, 09/19

Everything Is Broke / Muito Kaballa

Muito Kaballa - Everything Is Broke

Switchstance Recordings

"Everything Is Broke" is the debut album from Cologne based multi-instrumentalist Muito Kaballa. The eight track lp fuses a variety of styles including afro beat, Brazilian with a touch of electronics. Kaballa plays all instruments on all but two tracks here. Among the highlights are "Lugar Ao Sol" Kaballa lays down an infectious African groove augmented by various horns and drum programming. "The Easy Way" is mellow Caribbean inspired bliss filled with vocal harmonies. "Tin Tin" is a stripped down bongo driven tune that features Jan Michael Lauber on Trumpet and Ina Scheuermann on Tenor sax. Kaballa provides a pleasing take on African music specifically and world music overall.

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Reg Dancy, 09/19

25 Years Of Paper Part 1 & 2 / Various Artists

Various Artists - 25 Years Of Paper Part 1 & 2

Paper Recordings

"25 Years Of Paper Recordings" highlights the consistency of proper deep house and Disco from the prominent label. "Part 1", curated by Crazy P starts out the Balearic banger "Downtime". "Stratocaster" is another party stomper armed with hypnotic synths. "Part 2" equally has a surplus of gems courtesy of label boss Ben Davis better known as Flash Atkins. Some of honorable mentions are futuristic house heaters like "Honningen by Rave Enka and "Soulfood" from Max Mortimer. "Something Better" by Jamie L is a moody atmospheric floor burner. There's over thirty tracks here from a deep catalogue for you to savor. Whether you're familiar with all of them or not, you'll no doubt find many of them worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 09/19

Kings Left Behind / Ikebe Shakedown

Ikebe Shakedown - Kings Left Behind

Colemine Records

Another bundle of instrumental funk from the Brooklyn based band Ikebe Shakedown. "Kings Left Behind" is a collaborative effort with each band member taking part in the production. The opener "Not Another Drop" sets the tone with raw psychedelic soul layered with infectious wah wah guitar rhythms. The slow burning "Mary's Corner" is reminiscent of cinematic Western soundtracks. "No Going Back" is another winner. While the bongo and wicked guitar licks get you in the mood to groove, the brass adds the final touch of an instrumental treat. There are several parts to this band but they all come together as one. That's what makes their releases such an essential listen.

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Reg Dancy, 08/19

IF Music Presents You Need This - A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3 / Various Artists

Various Artists - IF Music Presents You Need This - A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol. 3

BBE

Jean Claude, the founder of the London record shop IF Music continues to resurrect hidden gems from every corner of the universe. With "A Journey Into Deep Jazz Vol 3, he blesses us with an eclectic collection of tasty treats from all parts of the globe. Among the highlights are "24 Caret" from Gazor Szabo. The legendary Hungarian guitarist incorporates folk with deep jazz over a scintillating fourteen minutes that's filled with melodic passages. "Manteca" features a flurry of piano melodies courtesy of the underappreciated Phineas Newborn Jr. "Hasla La Victria Siempre" is infectious Latin Jazz from Copa Salvo. Ten solid tunes that will certainly fill your jazz appetite. As Jean Claude says: "These rare jazz nuggets need to be given their day in the Sun". We couldn't agree more.

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Reg Dancy, 08/19

Kalba / The Rail Abandon

The Rail Abandon - Kalba

Wah Wah 45s

"Kalba" is the debut from Issac Birituro and Sonny Johns better known as The Rail Abandon. Biritur, a xylophonist from Ghana and Johns is a singer/songwriter/producer from Leeds. "Kalba", named after Birituro's home town in Ghana. The opener "Yesu Yan Yan" is a spirited tune that channels the spirit of Ghana thanks to the vibrant vocal harmonies and birituro's xylophone melodies. "Fur Svenja" is a warm folksy tune woven by Leafcutter John's guitar rhythms and Sonny John's vocals. Birituro's xylophone aligns beautifully with the string melodies featured on "Nye Fo Chen". Recorded in St Mary's Church, these emotive compositions take on a spiritual vibe that builds throughout the lp. This is a collaboration that was meant to happen. A duo from different paths come together to compose a brilliant record that will lift your spirits.

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Reg Dancy, 08/19

Sempre / Marcos Valle

Marcos Valle - Sempre

Far Out Recordings

Marcos Valle returns with another collection of samba tinged boogie tunes. "Sempre" is Valle's fifth release on the Far Out label. This vibrant recording is heightened by prominent Brazilian musicians like Asymuth bassist Alex Malheiros and percussionist Armando Marcal among others. The opener "Olha Quem Ta Chegando" is infectious samba boogie laced with funky guitar and brass arrangements. "Odissela" is a funky synth laden instrumental. "Alma" is a mellow sun drenched head nodder. Valle's vocals are in peak form and the production is in the capable hands of Daniel Maunick (son of Incognito frontman Bluey). This is another impressive release from the resurgent vocalist that will please long time fans and attract newcomers as well.

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Reg Dancy, 08/19

Listeners / Scrimshire

Scrimshire - Listeners

Albert's Favourites

Adam Scrimshire's fourth full length release is a triumph ripe with brilliant haunting recordings. "Listeners" takes you on journey of blissful soundscapes fusing soul, jazz and electronica. The title suggests that he's more of a listener as he allowed his collaborators freedom to express themselves by sharing their own stories. Those collaborators are a collection of some of our prominent artists on the scene today. "Life Is Valuable" is an electronic soulful tune that features the husky vocals of James Alexander Bright. The rising multi-instrumentalist Emma Jean Thackray's warm vocals and trumpet phrasings are a delight on "Won't Get Better". The disc wraps up with the glorious composition "Thru You" featuring the incomparable Georgia Anne Muldrow. My minor quibble is there's only nine songs but rest assured that each song is a delight worthy of repeated listens. All of Schrimshire's recordings have been superb but this may be his best yet. Highly recommended.

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Reg Dancy, 08/19

Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen / Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen

Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen - Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen

We Jazz Records

Tenor saxophonist Timo Lassy and drummer Teppo "Teddy Rok" Makynen have collaborated for years on the Finnish Jazz scene but this is their first lp as a duo. Makynen demostrates not only is he a wonderful drummer but a top notch composer as well. Makynen's adventurous compositions provide a challenge for Lassy to stretch out and he delivers. "Liberty pt1 & 2" opens with Lassy delivering fiery free flowing solos. Makynen is equally up to the task with explosive cymbal work as well. On "Telemagenta" Makynen lays out a spirited groove with changing patterns while Lassy's restrained yet powerful phrasings paint vibrant colors. "Dark Cyan" is a highlight among many that displays Makynen's affection for electronic music and the boundless directions he can take his music. Makynen's explosive polyrhythms combined with Lassy's spiritual playing make for an extraordinary record. Thirteen tracks with each centering around three minutes and all of them packing a punch. Yet another sterling release from the brilliant We Jazz record label. As far as duos go they don't get much better than this. Let's hope an encore arrives soon.

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Reg Dancy, 07/19