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
Small Moments / Dan Kye

Dan Kye - Small Moments

Rhythm Section International

We're thrilled to see the return of Jordan Rakei's alter ego, Dan Kye. With Kye it's a return to the funky dance floor persona we couldn't get enough of with the 2014 debut "Joy, Ease, Lightness". With "Small Moments" he picks up where he left off and he hasn't missed a beat. Rakei came up with these compositions during the pandemic. This thumping eight track floor burner could be the perfect boost for any anxiety you may be experiencing. The momentum building beats of "Mogen" sets the table for Rakei's soft feathered vocals layered over warm chords. "Sober" is another winner heightened by Sheldon Agwu's percolating guitar rhythms. Rakei's proficiency with electronics and arrangements shines through on the instrumental banger "Focus". The combination of deep grooves, good vibes and Rakei's swaying falsetto will be irresistible to ignore. Quite a gap between releasesbut "Small Moments" is definitely worth the wait.

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Reg Dancy, 01/21

I Rise With The Birds / Pete Josef

Pete Josef - I Rise With The Birds

Sonar Kollektiv

Hard to believe it's been five years since "Colours", the debut from Bristol native Pete Josef debuted. The fact that it was such a strong debut combined with some notable side projects allowed us to enjoy his music long after the release. That wasn't all to the extended break however. Josef felt it was necessary to step away and focus on family. The break rekindled his love for music and that renewed passion is on display here. "I Rise With The Birds" is a brillant record filled with an array of soul, pop and folk compositions. Josef sits in the production chair and surrounds himself with some of Bristol's promiment musicians here and they rise to the task at hand. "Night Eyes" blossoms with melodic keys that stroke the heartstrings while Marie Lister's vocals are a perfect match for Josef. "Giants" has a little bit of everything, an infectious groove, soulful horns and swirling strings. "Mainframe" is equally worthy of dance floor spins. It's also co-written by Jazzanova's Alex Barck. The honey toned vocalist has struck gold again with a lp worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 01/21

Pyramid / JD73's Electrio

JD73's Electrio - Pyramid

Atjazz

"Pyramid" is latest release from JD73's Electrio. Formed in 2012, JD73's Electrio sound is steeped in Jazz fusion with sleek funk serving as the foundation. The trio is comprised of Dan "JD73" Goldman, bassist Hamlet Luton and drummer Gordon Kilroy. Goldman's rhodes playing is short and sweet and aims straight for the soul. "Stepping Up" is filled with gorgeous rhodes from Goldman layered on top of a languid mid tempo groove. "Subsonic" is an infectious funk toe tapper amplified by Luton's terrific bass groove. "4 On 4" gets an assist from the dancing electric violin rhythms that bob and weave around Kilroy's sparkling drumming. Goldman and company serve up a satisfying disc that aims to please jazz fusion enthusiasts.

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Reg Dancy, 01/21

Fly Moon Die Soon / Takuya Kuroda

Takuya Kuroda - Fly Moon Die Soon

First Word

"Fly Moon Die Soon" is the latest lp from Trumpeter Takuya Kuroda and his first on First Word Records. The Kobe Japan native and now Brooklyn resident's sixth full length release is more groove based than previous releases yet still navigates seamlessly between Jazz and funk. Kuroda's approach for this recording is more raw and organic, culimating in a warm and soulful project "ABC" is feverish jazz funk with a wicked bass groove. "Moody" also brims with heat. Kuroda's warm soloing glides along side engaging synth melodies. Kuroda also puts his stamp on two covers here. The Ohio Players "Sweet Sticky Things" receives proper justice but I really love what he does with Herbie Hancock's "Tell Me A Bedtime Story", injecting a dose of exuberant funk. Kuroda continues to grow with each release. In a short time he's compiled an impressive catalogue. I wouldn't say it's his best but you'll no doubt enjoy it as much as his other albums.

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Reg Dancy, 01/21

Girls FM / Girls Of The Internet

Girls Of The Internet - Girls FM

Drab Queen

Girls Of The Internet is a dance band collective lead by Tom Kerridge. "Girls FM", their second album evokes memories of 90s House and vintage Disco grooves. "Infinite Harmony", the lead single is filled with infectious electronic grooves complimented by soothing strings. "By My Side" is a slice of 80s funk with emotive vocals. "Shelter Me From The Storm" is punctuated by a combination of gorgeous chords, a heart pounding drum snare and soaring vocals from B Mela. "Time" is a mellow synth pop pleaser. Kerridge pays tribute to the Disco divas whose vocals graced many timeless dance tracks yet never received their due. There's plenty of tasty tunes here certain to grip your hips and move your feet. A well produced and thrilling release that captures the spirit of the past yet sounds right on  time today.

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Reg Dancy, 12/20

House Of Dreams / Thorne Miller

Thorne Miller - House Of Dreams

Stay True Sounds

The popularity of House Music in South Africa is unrivaled by any other country. Pretoria native Thorne Miller, one of the premier producers has made a significant contribution with a healthy catalog of quality EPs and remixes over the last five years to boost his status. "House Of Dreams", his first full length release embodies his signature sound of stripped down deep house grooves with a distinctive emotional vibe. Look no further than the title track, a pulsating tune enhanced by the soft and airy vocals of Jamie Fallon Smith. "The Sound Of Her Voice" is soothing atmospheric house layered with electronic rhythms. "Night Moves" just oozes with melancholic vibes punctuated by a driving house groove. Chances are you've grooved to a Thorne Miller track before and didn't even know it. This disc, highlighted by one superb track after another provides plenty of warmth and soulful goodness one graves in a dance track. It should also provide the accolades that Miller rightfully deserves.

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Reg Dancy, 12/20

The Vision / The Vision

The Vision - The Vision

Defected

The Vision is the brainchild of singer songwriter Ben Westbeech and DJ/Producer Kon. This was a project five years in the making. They first worked together in 2012 and a chemistry was established. We won't hold it against them that a follow up has taken so long only because this lp is so darn good. We're simply thrilled it actually happened. Westbeech adds his vocals to a couple of tunes here. The remaining vocal dutuies are placed in the very capable of hands of Andreya Triana. She's simply marvellous on "Missing", a thumping track with a wicked bass groove. Triana isn't the only guest vocalist here. The Detroit trio known as Dames Brown demonstrate that they're a vocal powerhouse to be reckon with as evidenced on the soul stomper "Down". Westbeech's vocals shine on "Time" which also includes sparkling vibes from Roy Ayers. The disc winds down with "Home". Triana sings about the long grind of being on the road that's coming to an end. Kon and Westbeech knock it out of the park with a wonderful lp loaded with infectious dance grooves. If this doesn't lift your spirits, check your pulse.

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Reg Dancy, 12/20

Moving Ahead / Gerardo Frisina

Gerardo Frisina - Moving Ahead

Schema Records

Schema records has become the home for infectious groove based Latin Jazz recordings and DJ/Producer Gerado Frisina is a major reason for that. "Moving Ahead", his latest release is loaded not only with Latin Jazz but Dub, electronica and Afro Cuban rhythms. Like his previous albums, Frisina has surrounded himself with an all star lineup of superb musicians. Ermesto Lopez's sizzling percussion is the ignition to "Marombo", a tune originally featured on last years EP. Lopez's percussion combined with Alfonso Deidda's baritone sax is simply hypnotic on "Face The Music". "Nalhl's Son" features Haruna Kuyateh on the Kora. Frisina discovered Kuyateh, a native of Gambia by chance while walking the streets of Milan where his playing caught his attention. It will certainly catch yours too. "Moving Ahead" is an instant party starter with fourteen tracks will have you moving and groovin. It evokes images of a bygone era of crowded dance floors and live jazz bands filling a room. You'll no doubt enjoy this album no matter how you consume it.

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Reg Dancy, 12/20

What It Is / Sly5thAve

Sly5thAve - What It Is

Tru Thoughts

Multi-instrumentalist Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka, aka Sly5thAve first caught our attention with his orchestral tribute to Dr Dre entitled "The Invisible Man". With "What It Is" he draws inspiration from BKLN1834, a residence in Brooklyn that doubles as an incubator for young talent. He took part in a number of jam sessions there among a roster of emerging artists, some of whom make their presnce felt here. There's much to like here starting with the title track, an up-tempo tune laced with heavy beats and well placed synths. Rapper Scienze laces the track with sharp verses while Lexus closes the track with her smokey vocals. "The Night" is a slow burning tune that features his orchestral skills as well as the sultry vocals from Melissa McMillan. Singer songwriter Denitia's feathery vocals are sprinkled on four tracks here. Among those tunes are "C-Side", an edgy tune with a touch of electronica and pop while "With You" is a blissful finale to an impressive disc. Sly%thAve's versatility as an arranger is evident as he delivers a genre bending release that’s definitely worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 12/20

Mellow Fantasy / Potatohead People

Potatohead People - Mellow Fantasy

Bastard Jazz

When it comes mellow soulful hip-hop, few do it better than the duo from Vancouver known as Potatohead People, Their third lp "Mellow Fantasy" delivers with another collection of neck snapping beats enhanced by an array of up and coming rappers and vocalists on the underground circuit. "What It Feels Like" provides plenty of bounce along with a touch of jazzy rhythms. Rapper/singer Illa J and Kapok's verses raise the track to another level. It should be no surprise of the connection between Illa J and the duo. Their signature drum style is a result of the influence Illa J's late brother, J Dilla has had on them. The good grooves continues with "Baby Got Work", a bumpin track that's tailor made for Dela La Soul's Posdnuosto jump on. "Break Even" is simply sublime thanks in part to Kendra's Dias's warm and soothing vocals. Everything these guys put out is worth your attention and this release is no exception.

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Reg Dancy, 12/20

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