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
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

Transit / Flofilz

Flofilz - Transit

Melting Pot Records

"Transit", the third lp from German beatmaker FloFilz is a moody soundscape of Jazz samples merged with mellow hip-hop beats. "Hoxton Hoops feat. K Le Maestro" showcases a blusey guitar sample that evokes sketches of Grant Green while gliding over a tasty drum snare beat. "You & Me" is one of only two vocal tracks. The piano driven soul jazz heater features rapper Barney Artist. "Camberwell" is another highlight that features Alfa Mist on keys. FloFilz creates a laid back vibe of meditative grooves spread across eighteen tracks that pulls you in from the start and never lets go. With two quality lps preceding this gem, he's definitely one to keep on your radar.

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Reg Dancy, 07/19

Atlantic Oscillations / Quantic

Quantic - Atlantic Oscillations

Tru Thoughts

"Atlantic Oscillations" is Will Holland's first release under his Quantic moniker since 2014's "Magnetica". Holland has blazed various cultures in his music, most notably immersing himself in Columbia for seven years. From there he relocated to the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn NY where he has resided for the last five years. Williamsburg has a growing club culture which inspired a number of tracks here. "You Used To Love Me" is a blissful tune with a heavy bottom that features the lush vocals of Denitia. The title track is an infectious soulful disco tune laced with swaying strings and rumbling piano. "Tierra Mama" featuring Nidia Gongora and The Marimba rhythms of "La Reflexion" capture the spirit of Columbia. Holland recorded the entire album with live musicians in his new studio. A wise choice considering the warm sound that permeates throughout the disc. The result is an thrilling merger of Pacific and Atlantic rhtyhms that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 07/19

Rogue Planet / Paper Tiger

Paper Tiger - Rogue Planet

Wah Wah 45s

Paper Tiger returns with their third lp. "Rogue Planet" picks up where "Blast Off" left off. That means more left of center sci-fi beats coinciding with their engaging brand of hip-hop. There's much to savor from this project whether it's rapper Raphael Attar displaying his lyrical dexterity on bangers such as "Lullaby" and the jovial "Old". There's notable guest appearances from Steve Spacek on "The Cycle"."Bioluminescent" features blissful vocals from Noya Rao bandmate Olivia Bhattacharjee. "Slinky" and "Posture Poseurs" are two of several notable instrumentals to keep your head on a constant nod. The Leeds based band find the right balance between electronica and soulful instrumentation and are growing with each release. It all adds up to a superb record that provides immediate satisfaction.

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Reg Dancy, 07/19

Demos (1973-75) Volumes 1&2 / Azymuth

Azymuth - Demos (1973-75) Volumes 1&2

Far Out Recordings

"Demos Vol 1 & 2" are Azymuth releases taken from reel to reel and cassette recordings from 1973-75. These recordings took place at the late Jose Roberto Bertrami's home studio in Laranjeiras, Rio De Janeiro. When he shopped these demos to various labels around Brazil he was turned away. One listen and it's clear that this vibrant mix of samba, jazz and rock was free flowing fusion that was ahead of it's time. There are brillant performances featured right from the start with "Prefacio". This spirited tune is highlighted by Bertrami's fiery work on keys and Ivan "Mamao" Conti's intense drumming. "Laranjeiras" and "Equipe" are slow burning soulful funk tunes. They pick up the intensity once again on tracks like "Duro de Roer" and "Castelo". Alex Malheiros funky bass builds a steady groove for Bertrami and Conti to let loose. Credit producer Joe Davis for finally bringing this project to light. It's certainly their most experimental work that stands tall alongside their classic recordings.

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Reg Dancy, 06/19

With Ralph Alessi / Terkel Norgaard

Terkel Norgaard - With Ralph Alessi

We Jazz Records

We Jazz Records is quickly becoming one of my favorite labels for avant garde Jazz. Drummer Terkel Norgaard not only is a skilled drummer but is a talented composer as well. "With Ralph Alessi" a nod to the New York City based trumpeter who shows why he's been one of the premiere trumpeters of the last two decades. Norgaard's group consists of some of the key players on the Copenhagen scene. Alessi shines right from the start on "One". Alessi's beautifully fluid tone fits in perfectly alongside the trio's melodic excursions. "Seventeen" is another highlight that features cascading piano melodies from Soren Gemmer. Norgaard's subtle brush strokes on "Twentyone" is the fuse that inspires everyone to dive into his harmonic canvas. The Danish trio along with Alessi sound as if they've played together for years. Beyond satisfying and an example of improvised brilliance.

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Reg Dancy, 06/19

The Mage / Greg Foat

Greg Foat - The Mage

Athens Of The North

"The Mage", pianist Greg Foat's ninth album is his first for the Edinburgh based label Athens Of The North. Foat's deft hand at composing and arrangements are in top form here as he weaves folk soundscapes with free jazz rhythms. "Of My Hands" is an atmospheric tune with soaring harmonies that features Trinidadian singer Kathy Garcia who originally recorded it forty years earlier. "The Magic Radish" starts out with a brooding bass line, hypnotic percussion and features Duncan Lamont on Tenor. Other notable contributors are veteran tenor Art Themen, guitarist Ray Russell, Malcolm Catto and the rising drummer Moses Boyd. Foat skillfully bridges the gap between the past and the present while solidifying his stature as a superb pianist and composer.

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Reg Dancy, 06/19

La Dotu Lado / Coladera

Coladera - La Dotu Lado

Agogo

And yet another winner from Agogo records. Singer guitarist and Belo Horizonte native Vitor Santana & Portuguese singer guitarist Joao Pires are the duo better known as Coladera. They're also joined by Cape Verdean master percussionist Miroca Paris. "La Dotu Lado" is a stirring collection of Lusaphone compositions inspired by Brazilian and Portuguese rhythms. The title track has a traditional bossa nova tempo highlighted by Santana & Pires unique guitar strumming and vocal harmonies. "Mandinga" is a swaying tune that features Aline Frazao on vocals. "Ceu Azulino" is filled with blissful flamenco rhythms. While their first lp failed garner much attention, this joyful release is a pleasure worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 06/19

Onda Nova / Lucas Arruda

Lucas Arruda - Onda Nova

Favorite Recordings

Vocalist Lucas Arruda continues to seamlessly merge Soul and Pop with Brazilian rhythms with his latest "Onda Nova". The soothing synths of "Dragoes E Tigres" combined with Arruda's vocals will sink into you like a warm summer breeze. "Soulshine" is a soul jazz number that's driven by a thumping bass groove and gorgeous harmonies. "What I'd Do For Love" is steeped in the Brazilian Pop/AOR tradition and features a Portuguese version as well. Arruda is carrying the torch set by Lincoln Olivetti & Robson Jorge. Their recordings were a staple of Brazilian funk from the late seventies through the eighties. This release ensures that Brazilian Soul Pop is in good hands.

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Reg Dancy, 06/19

Philantropiques / Guts

Guts - Philantropiques

Heavenly Sweetness

With "Philantropiques" French DJ/Producer Guts has composed a gorgeous blend of French and African tropical recordings. Guts invited a number of premiere African artists such as Vum Vum, Pat Kalla and Pinduca. The sun drenched grooves and horn rhythms of "Voyaging Bird" will instantly evoke images of warm weather and lazy afternoons on the beach. "Groove ma Poule" is a festive Jazzy Pop tune that features the Afro-soul duo Djeudjoah & Lieutenent Nicholson. "Li Dous Konsa" is filled with infectious Caribbean rhythms, notably Florian Pelliissier on keys. After showcasing his affinity with hip-hop on his previous releases this radical shift pays big dividends. Simply a superb record from beginning to end that captures the essence of the Southern Hemisphere.

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Reg Dancy, 05/19

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