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
Still Water / Nathan Thomas

Nathan Thomas - Still Water

Futuristica

Singer songwriter Nathan Thomas first captured our attention when he layed his honey vocals down on Rapson's 2018 house banger "Heat". Soon afterwards we got a taste of his forthcoming lp when the warm and mellow "SunBlind", the first single also premiered in 2018. At that point our appetite yearned for more and our patience eventually rewarded with "Still Water". The superb ten track lp delivers with an array of delicious down tempo soulful compositions. Evidence can be found with the title track, a sublime recording with sketches of jazz and hip hop with production from Simon S. "Peacemakers" blossoms with Marc Raspson's signature sound of wicked beats and hypnotic keys. "Namaste" is filled with tasty guitar rhythms, sweet vocals and lovely songwriting. Quite simply it's another winner from the Futuristica family. Thomas’s warm vocal harmonies and heartfelt lyrics has the makings of a promising career. A brilliant debut from an emerging talent.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

Source / Nubya Garcia

Nubya Garcia - Source

Concord

Amongst the new wave of UK jazz phenoms, tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia is one of the hardest working musicians. Whether it's the two EPs she has released or the numerous appearances she's made with her talented contemporaries. Whatever the occasion she has made her presence felt. While on tour she managed to find the time to write the material that would ultimately lead to "Source". Not only is it her official full length debut but it's also released on the infamous Concord records. With a legendary company behind her she lives up to the challenge with ease. The lp opens up with "Pace". Garcia's haunting melodies overlapping a hybrid of rhythms punctuated by bassist Daniel Casimir and drummer Sam Jones. The title track is a dynamic manifestation of afro Caribbean rhythms and sound system culture. Garcia's hearty tenor floats over the atmospherics created by drummer Jones. Joe Armon-Jones spirited forays on keys takes the track to greater heights. It's simply twelve minutes of pure orchestrated bliss prone to repeated listens. "Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be" demonstrates Garcia and her bandmates are equally at home with a ballad, each adding a gentle touch. "Source" is far from a traditional jazz record and for that we're thankful. Garcia's rich improvisational skills combined with her deep musical heritage makes for a satisfying listen, not to mention a force to be reckoned with.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

Convincing Delusions / Mekbuda

Mekbuda - Convincing Delusions

Ubiquity

Mekbuda is the latest group to emerge from the burgeoning Russian Jazz scene. Their release "Convincing Delusional" is an experimental ride filled with a touch of cosmic jazz. The opening track "KSpacey" is layered with exotic melodies. Keyboardist Alex Petrov and trumpeter Igor Shilov play with a rhythmic urgency that trickles down to the rest of the band. "Distant Shining" is a serene and tranquil space odyssey. "The Space Of Variations" is a ambient composition highlighted by gorgeous flute melodies layered on a hypnotic groove. Despite only six tracks each one is dynamic and showcases their compositional chops. An impressive release that fits in nicely alongside the new generation of jazz musicians.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

Be The Change / Jarrod Lawson

Jarrod Lawson - Be The Change

Dome

2020 has taken a toll on all of us but few have expressed that emotional angst quite as beautifully as Jarrod Lawson. "Be The Change" is his latest release and first for Dome records is nothing short of brilliant. Lawson's tenor vocals are equally matched by his lustrous keyboard arrangements and songwriting. The title track sets the stage with a gorgeous piano melody and a romping groove. Lawson's plea to start with ourselves in order to make real change is punctuated by his soaring vocals. Lawson's pairing with Moonchild's Amber Navran feels like a match made in heaven on the melancholy "I'll Be Your Radio". The Latin tinged "How Long" begins with percolating percussion and flute. The piano eases in before Lawson's silky vocals take over, calling out for accountability from our elected leadership. The gap between albums was wide but this one was certainly worth the wait. It's easily one of the best of the year.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

The Quiet Ones / The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones - The Quiet Ones

Humble Recs

You may be familiar with Marc Brown and Chris Franck from their work with the group Smoke City and Da Lata. Each focused on their own solo material before getting back to form The Quiet Ones. Their shared love for African and Brazilian music is spread all over this project. "Ninguem" featuring Carlo Alexandre and Amarina Sena is sublime and filled with sun drenched Brazilian melodies. You're forgiven if you thought for a minute you were listening to Seu Jorge on this track. "I Need Your Love" is filled with psychedelic guitar rhythms. "Malamba" featuring vocalist Sergio Perere is filled with the rich Afro Brazilian traditions of sparkling guitar and percussion. Jordanese vocalist Lama Zakharia is a delight on the exotic "Mawjood". Brown and Franck have assembled musicians from London to Brazil to Senegal. They pay proper respect to the traditions by creating a modern Brazilian gem that's deeply satisfying.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

Ambrosia / Byron The Aquarius

Byron The Aquarius - Ambrosia

Axis Records

Fans of Byron The Aquarius might be a bit surprised when they set their ears to his latest release. While "Ambrosia" has elements of house it's also bursting with jazz fusion as well. The disc kicks off with "New Beginnings". Brazilian native Chocolat's percolating bass gives the track a little Latin flavor while Rasheeda Ali's tasty flute adds a heavenly melody. Trumpeter Dashill Smith's graces the aptly titled "Space & Time". In addition to the five original compositions there are some notable remixes on tap. Produced by Detroit techno pioneer Jeff Mills who matches Byron's mastery of infectious grooves with an array of talented musicians. "Ambrosia" is evidence that Byron is more than just an esteemed DJ/house producer.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

Ill Considered 3 / Ill Considered

Ill Considered - Ill Considered 3

CNM LDN

In a short time, Ill Considered has built a reputation as a unit delivering inspired meditative as well as spiritual jazz compositions. Although "Ill Considered 3" contains material written specifically for this recording, the group still manages to stretch out and improvise on the fly. By doing so they've captured the spirit of the live performances they've become known for. Each recording here starts out with warm, if somewhat loose melodies before they begin to push the boundaries. None more so than saxophonist Idris Rahman. "Djinn" begins with Leon Brichard's simmering bass groove along side Vincent De Boer's mystical brushes that create a mood of an ethereal passage. Rahman's sax is warm yet powerful and full of raw emotion. "Delusions" pushes the tempo into high gear with the help of percussionist Satin Singh. Rahman's melodic flourishes coat every composition and they are a thing of beauty. There's a lot going on with these recordings and each member brings their own unique set of skills to the table. This is essential listening that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 11/20

Dreams Fulfilled / Nimbus Sextet

Nimbus Sextet - Dreams Fulfilled

Acid Jazz

Led by pianist Joe Nichols, the Glasgow based jazz band Nimbus Sextet unload an array of engaging soul jazz recordings. The core of the band, Nichols, drummer Alex Palmer and bassist Mischa Stevens came together while attending Edinbough University. By 2018 the band evolved into a sextet, which brings us to their debut"Dreams Fulfilled". They bust out of the gate with the searing groove of "Trap Door", riped with blazing horns and melodic keys. Nichols along with Saxophonist Martin Fell sereanades us with warm mellow melodies on "Klara". Guest guitarist Luca Pisanu adds adventurous rhythms to the contemporary piece "Seance". An impressive debut for this talented group that will garner plenty of attention.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Love Rising Up / Jersey Street

Jersey Street - Love Rising Up

Ubuntu Music

"Love Rising Up" is the latest from Manchester based group Jersey Street and their first release on Ubuntu music. Fronted by vocalist Dawn Zee their music fuses jazz, house and soul. It has been awhile since we heard from them but based on this recording, the wait was well worth it. The disc kicks off with the title track, ripe with lush strings an irresistible house groove topped off by Zee's vocals soaring over the melodies. "No One Can Take Your Place" is another banger filled with polished jazz orchestration. The pace winds down with "Open Your Mind", a slice of mellow infectious soul jazz. Zee's nuanced vocal chops combined with superb musicianship is unmistakable throughout these engaging recordings. The fact that the group made a considerable amount of preparation towards production and arrangements is evident through the first listen. An exceptional album from some of Manchester's finest that shouldn't be missed.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Neighbors / Church Andrews & Matt Davies

Church Andrews & Matt Davies - Neighbors

Health

Church Andrews & drummer Matt Davies collaborate on the experimental project "Neighbors". Church Andrews is the moniker for Kirk Barley and this is the follow up to the "CA1" lp he released in 2016. "Roadtrip" is filled with wobbly synths and oft-kilter beats. "Elixir" is a cascade of warped beats and spacey electronic textures. "Temporal" exudes a bit more warmth and provides a hint of Barkley's other projects under his namesake. Together Barkley and Davies explore the limitless possibilities between electronica and the drums. The result is a wide array of tone altering moods and sound sculpters definitely worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Misunderstood / Georgie Sweet

Georgie Sweet - Misunderstood

Futuristica

When vocalist Georgie Sweet dropped the lead single "Half Human" in 2018, it provided a sneak peak into a potentially promising lp. It's safe to say that with "Misunderstood" the promise has been fulfilled in spades. Gergie's debut is filled with warm soulful hip-hop beats and jazzy vibes topped off with her blissful vocals and heartfelt compositions. There are many gems to sort through but "What I Had Done" is a great place to start. Produced by Marc Rapson, the track features a catchy hook aligned with an infectious hip-hop beat built on top of an irresistible groove. Sweet's cool harmonies are the icing on the cake. "Sorry" the second single also produced by Rapson blossoms with a slow burning tempo and warm chords. A live recording of the tune from Futuristica HQ is featured here as well. "Flower", produced by Theo Howarth is a soulful electronic gem with exotic melodies augmented by Sweet's ethereal vocals. Other notable producers on hand are K15, Mecca 83 and Simon S himself. With nary a weak tune in sight this marks another triumph for the Futuristica label in 2020, not to mention an outstanding debut. For Ms Sweet, the future looks very bright.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Captured Spirits / Mammal Hands

Mammal Hands - Captured Spirits

Gondwana

"Captured Spirits" is the fourth album the Norwich trio known as Mammal Hands. Saxophonist Jordan Smart, pianist Nick Smart and drummer Jesse Barrett merge classical jazz and electronica into a distinctively polished and engaging sound. Highlights include "Spiral Stair" where Nick Smart's melodic fingers strike a chord with brother Jordan's soft yet hearty tone. "Riddle" is filled with dazzling improvised interplay between the Smart brothers. Jordan's euphoric keystrokes set the bar for Nick's melodic phrases and create some wondrous moments. Let's not forget Barrett here, his drumming ranges from the orchestral to the understated whisper thereby setting the table for the Smart brothers to soar. Together the trio create a mood of euphoric orchestral soundscapes that provide a joyful spark throughout. A sparkling showcase and another gem from the Gondwana record label.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Dialectic Soul / Asher Gamedze

Asher Gamedze - Dialectic Soul

On The Corner

"Dialectic Soul" is the debut from drummer Asher Gamedze. The Cape Town, South African resident garnered much attention when he appeared on Angel Bat Dawid's album "The Oracle" last year. From the first note on the fiery "State Of Emergence" you're immediately pulled into Gamedze's consciouseness. Gamedze's intense drumming dynamics set the tone for Buddy Wells wailing Tenor that echoes the people's voices rising up to oppression. "Slyabulela" strikes a softer tone with Nono Nkoane's soothing vocals filled with poignant lyrics gliding on top of Wells and Robin Fassie-Kock's melodic trumpet. "Eternally" is pure fire with bassist Thembinkosi Mavimbela's thunderous bass rhythms keeping everyone on top of their game. Gamedze's pulsating cymbals heighten the intensity and create a canvas for Wells and Fassie-Kock to swing. This triumphant debut is about reclaiming the soul of all fellow human beings during these trying times. Gamedze taps into the spirit of Coltrane as well as the activism of Miriam Mabeka and the result is a collection of exceptional compositions that inspires hope for all of us. What a recording. You need this as much as any recording you'll purchase this year.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Y-Otis 2 / Otis Sandsjo

Otis Sandsjo - Y-Otis 2

We Jazz

Berlin based Swedish saxophonist Otis Sandsjo made quite a splash with his 2019 release "Y-OTIS". With "Y-OTIS 2" he continues to push the boundaries and defies genres. Bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Tilo Weber return while Dan Nicholls takes over for Elias Stemeseder on keys and synths. Along with a few guests they collaborate on a stunning colection of adventurous compositions that drift beyond jazz. "Tremendoce" starts off with Per "Texas" Johansson and Jonas Kullhammar trading engaging flute melodies before accompanied by Eldh's inticing bass groove. The theme is set with boundless melodies from each musician taking on a life of their own before coming back together as one. Sandsjo sprinkles his creative horn rhythms throughout giving everyone freedom to explore yet still making his presence felt. Nicholls majestic piano rhythms set the mood on "Abysmal". Sandjso injects an inspired solo midway through as the tempo shifts into high gear. "Atombahn" brims with boundless energy from Sandjso while Nicholls spacey synths elevates the track to another dimension. An ambitious recording filled with innovative compositions. This band is quickly making a name for themselves in a huge way.

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Reg Dancy, 10/20

Mysticism Of Sound / Nat Birchall

Nat Birchall - Mysticism Of Sound

Ancient Archive Of Sound

Nat Birchall has established himself as one of the titans on the Tenor and his latest release provides further evidence of that. "Mysticism Of Sound" builds on his impressive body of work of spiritual jazz compositions. Birchall plays all instruments here and demonstrates that he's up to the task. "Celestial Spheres" embarks on a spiritual journey that finds Birchall channeling the spirit of Sun Ra through his tenor and soprano sax soloing. "Dance Of The Sun God" is a delightful interplay with Birchall's horns rhythms and cymbal exchanges. The celestial synth rhythms of the Korg Minilogue figure prominently on "Inner Pathway" and "Outer Realm". Birchall hits the mark once again with a disc rich in inventive harmonies and meditative vibes that will certainly delight any spiritual jazz enthusiast.

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Reg Dancy, 09/20

I'm Here Now / Lack of Afro

Lack of Afro - I'm Here Now

Bastion Music Group

If there's one thing you can count on from Adam Gibbons, the man behind Lack Of Afro is you know he's gonna bring the funk. "I'm Here Now", his latest release leaves no doubt. Armed with an array of talented vocalists and rappers, all Gibbons has to do is lay down an infectious groove and you have yourself a superb string of tunes. "You Could Do Better" featuring Camila Recchio & Wax is classic soul with wicked wah wah guiter rhythms and strings. New York rapper Kenzo knows what to do with "Bad As Self" and that's spit razor sharp verses over the head nodding groove."Wait For Me" is slow burning soul feating Mica Miller. "I'm Here Now" is an instant party starter with all the ingredients for a funky good time. All you need to do is show up, clear the floor and press play.

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Reg Dancy, 09/20

Marcos Valle JID003 / Marcos Valle, Ali Shaheed Mohammad & Adrian Younge

Marcos Valle, Ali Shaheed Mohammad & Adrian Younge - Marcos Valle JID003

Jazz Is Dead

The Jazz IS Dead series, lead by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Mohammed strikes again with the legendary Brazailian vocalist Marcos Valle taking center stage. What Younge and Shaheed Mohammed do so well capturing the emotion of Valle's sound while blending it with their analog 70's soul influenced arrangements. The studio sessions harken back to the days when artists completed a recording in one or two takes and that's more than enough for the veteran vocalist to shine. "Queira Bem" is filled with sun drenched rhodes and sparkling percussion. Valle's vocals float over the rhythm like a warm summer breeze. "Viajando Por Al" is a seductive bossa duet. "Nao Sala Da Praca has a percolating groove that's tailor made for Valle. The dusty analog approach from Younge and Shaheed Mohammed are a match made in heaven for one of the vocal Kings of Brazil. Simply a superb release worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 09/20

S8100 - Nervous Breaks and Galactique Beatstrumentals Selected and Edited by DJ Kensei / Sauce81

Sauce81 - S8100 - Nervous Breaks and Galactique Beatstrumentals Selected and Edited by DJ Kensei

Ultra Vybe Records

DJ Kensei is a legendary DJ who's career spans back to the eighties. He's best known for his hip-hop mixtapes during the nineties as well as his abstract project Indopepsychics. he selected some tracks from sauce81's album "S8100" and officially re-edited them for this 12" as "S8100 - Nervous Breaks & Galaaactique Beatstrumentals" Selected & Re-Edited by DJ Kensei". DJ Kensei puts his stamp on these tunes and transforms them into an a stimulating collection of hip-hop, funk and house grooves. The disc kicks off the brooding hip-hop grooves of "Departure". "Moonlight" follows up with the same tempo, this time with Sauce81's swaying falsetto vocal harmonies. "Escape" is a body shaking boogie tune. "5D" is instrumental funk with warped synths. There's plenty of grooves to make you move here and is definitely worth checking out. Kensi takes a pile of tunes and turns them into gold.

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Reg Dancy, 08/20

Universal Beings E&F / Makaya McCraven

Makaya McCraven - Universal Beings E&F

International Anthem

"Universal Beings E&F Sides" presents fourteen new tracks from the critcally acclaimed 2018 release from drummer Makaya McCraven. One of the reasons these sessions were so special was the collaboration of emerging UK musicians playing alongside US musicians from the Chicago based label International Anthem. The roster resembles an all star lineup with Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, bassist Tomeka Reid, guitarist Jeff Parker, harpist Brandee Younger and others. "E&F" is a mixture of live recordings and studio sessions arranged by McCraven. "Half Steppin" is a searing tune highlighted by Soweto Kinch's alto sax rhythms and Kamaal Williams on keys. In addition McCraven's infectious broken beats make this track enjoyable either on the dance floor or any other setting. "Kings and Queens" features the dynamic interplay between McCraven and Hutchings while Junius Paul's funky double bass takes the track to greater heights. "Universal Beings E&F Sides" showcases a community of like minded musicians creating genre bending music with strands of hip-hop, jazz and much more. Their talents are in the capable hands of McCraven who weaves it all together into a marvelous artistic gem.

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Reg Dancy, 08/20

Can You see What I'm trying To Say / Vibration Black Finger

Vibration Black Finger - Can You see What I'm trying To Say

Jazzman

Vibration Black finger is the brainchild of guitarist/composer Lascelles Gordon. "Can You See What I'm Trying to Say", a quote from Saxophonist Marlon Brown gives a nod to the obscure spiritual jazz recordings of the seventies. Gordon has compiled edits and recordings over the years from DATs, reel to reel and cassettes. In addition several recordings were made with fellow members Ben Cowen and Diana Gulkind. The opening track "Empty Streets" is just one of two tunes recorded live in studio and it's a beauty. Ebony Rose's haunting vocals glide over a hypnotic bass and flute rhythms. "Acting For Liberation Pt 1" is eleven minutes of celestial vibes shaped by spacey synths, horns and electronics. "Liberation Pt 2" is a reprise faeturing the vocals of Maggie Nichols. Gordon's second release offers a window into his vision. The result is a wonderful arrangement of sonic and spiritual vibrations past and present. Jazzman records never disappoints and this is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 08/20

Roos Jonker & Dean Tippet / Roos Jonker & Dean Tippet

Roos Jonker & Dean Tippet - Roos Jonker & Dean Tippet

Sonar Kollektiv

Roos Jonker & Dean Tippet are a singer songwriter team from Amsterdam. They've been collaborating as a duo since 2009. Their warm and compelling vocals caught the attention of Benny Sings, eventually becoming members of his group "We'll Make it Right". Now the duo present their deeply melodic release on Sonar Kollektiv. On the Bossa flavored "The One" they blend folk and minimal pop over a sweet guitar rhythm. "Script" is a swaying lullaby that finds their vocals floating over a soft piano melody. Jonker is featured on "Dean", a blissful jazz pop arrangement with wah wah guitar rhythms laced with subtle piano and harp. Jonker and Tippet's vocals are hypnotic separately. Together they're simply mesmerizing. Without raising their vocals beyond a whisper they create ten alluring compositions that linger long after the song is over. This is a sheer delight that will certainly stroke your heartstrings.

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Reg Dancy, 07/20

Blue to Red / Chip Wickham

Chip Wickham - Blue to Red

Lovemonk

Flautist and Saxophonist Chip Wickham explores the celestial realms of the universe with his latest release "Blue To Red". Wickham's spiritual path through Indian and Middle Eastern culture has been paved by legends like Alice Coltrane and Yusef Lateef. In addition his recent collaborations with Matthew Halsall has also molded his musical journey. The disc kicks off the ethereal title track, augmented by the heavenly harp of Gondwana Orchestra's Amanda Whiting. "Route One" features Dan Goldman's dazzling Rhodes melodies, which are an effective foil for Wickham's flute phrasings and Whiting's harp. Goldman's blissful keys sets the tone on the tranquil "Cosmos". The rhythm section of drummer Jon Scott, bassist Simon Houghton, Whitng and Goldman are splendid throughout. Wickham's flute rises to the occasion and provides the listener on a glorious ride through six engaging compositions. This is another spiritual jazz triumph that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 07/20

Symphonie Pacifique / Greg Foat

Greg Foat - Symphonie Pacifique

Strut

At first glance at "Symphonie Pacifique", the new release from pianist Greg Foat is the bright and colorful art work. One listen and these thematic compositions appear to mirror the cover art as well. There are more upbeat compositions here than previous releases yet still maintain his usual brillance. Evidence is immediate with the title track, a joyful tune filled with exuberant lush soundscapes. "Yonaguni" is another highlight due to the two cellists on board and the choral vocals. Foat's joyful melodiic flourishes takes the tune to greater heights. On "Island Life" he shifts the tempo down a bit and creates a cinematic gem filled with lavish harmonic textures. "Lament for Lamont" is a melancholy tribute to composer Duncan Lamont. The rhythm section of bassist Phil Achille and drummer Moses Boyd make for a first rate ensemble. Foat is proving to be a gifted composer as every track is a joyful listen. He continues to expand his musical vision and incorporate new elements.  Simply a tremendous record that you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 07/20

Mordechai / Khruangbin

Khruangbin - Mordechai

Dead Oceans

When the trio known as Khruangbin burst out the gate with "Con Todo El Mundo" in 2018, there was a collective praise. Their stylistic formula of psychedelic funk and vocal harmonies became an instant hit. Their sophomore lp "Mordechai" picks up where their debut left off. The opening track "First Class" is symbolic of their sound. An atmospheric tune filled with tight melodic guitar grooves and a thumping bass. "Time" has a touch of a boogie groove. The guitars are scaled back a bit but the groove is infectious nonetheless. "Connaissais de Face" has a slow burning tempo that serves as a canvas for a whispering vocal dialogue between two people. If you loved the first record then you can rush out and grab this one. There's little doubt these grooves will get their hooks in you. You won't resist.

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Reg Dancy, 07/20

Elevation / Muriel Grossmann

Muriel Grossmann - Elevation

Jazzman

Saxophonist Muriel Grossmann has been releasing quality recordings since the early 2000s. Her blend of spiritual jazz compositions evokes images from the recordings of Coltrane's special quartet and Pharoah Sanders to modern day premier musicians Nat Birchall and Matthew Halsall respectively. "Elevation" combines some of her work from her 2016 album "Natural Time" and her 2017 album "Momentum". Grossman's regular band is in top form as each member pushes the other. The title track finds them launching into action. Guitarist Radomir Milojkovic rhythmic explorations are clean and light yet the result is quite powerful. "Rising" picks up where the opener leaves off. Drummer Uros Stamenkovic's propulsive playing keeps everyone on their toes. Bassist Gina Schwarz playing is melodic and delicate. Front and center is Grossmann who's spirited soloing is hypnotic. She pulls you in and commands your attention from start to finish. In summary this is a recording you can lose yourself in and emerge deeply satisfied. The compositions are first rate and engaging. It's hard to imagine why Grossman isn't more well known. Let's hope this release goes a long way to rectify that.

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Reg Dancy, 07/20