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
Expanse / Sefi Zisling

Sefi Zisling - Expanse

Tru Thoughts

The Tel Aviv music scene has blessed us with some amazing musicians in recent years, none more impressive than trumpeter Sefi Zisling. His sophomore album "Expanse" is filled with warm cozy grooves and captures the spirit of 60s soul jazz groups like Jimmy Smith and Grant Green. Zisling recorded this in a live session with an array of talented musicians and they stay firmly in the pocket. "Happy Solar Return" is a nine minute afrobeat inspired number that features multi-instrumentalist Kutiman and fueled by Idan Kupferberg on percussion "Ongoing Morning" is a slow and dreamy ballad that showcases Zisling's clean tone. The finale is a sixteen bouncy soul groove jam session certain to get your toes tapping. Zisling embraces the groundwork of the pioneers before him while pushing the music forward. Ensuring that you're gonna have a funky good time.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

Downundaground / Various Artists

Various Artists - Downundaground

La Sape

The talent from Melbourne continues to flow like water from the faucet. They're the gift that keeps on giving and "Downundaground" is evidence of that. This sparkling compilation features up and coming Australian musicians directed by veteran instrumentalist Horatio Luna. For starters the JK Group is a band to keep an eye on. "Nutha One" is spirited jazz fusion with a funky groove and a touch of broken beat. Antiphon is another group to place on your radar. "Spartan" is cosmic funk with heavy synths and an infectious groove. Big Chief is a collective of musicians that was originally a side project of the rising group 30/70. Fronted by Horatio Luna, "Later That Day" is a ten minute journey of experimental jazz infused house. The only quibble is there's only seven songs yet each track is a potent recording. Make room in your daily rotation for this one. An impressive recording that's worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

Mathias Modica presents Kraut Jazz Futurism / Various Artists

Various Artists - Mathias Modica presents Kraut Jazz Futurism

Kryptox

In recent years Berlin has become a musical hotspot for creative musicians, specifically for electronic music. It's time to make room for Jazz as well. Mathias Modica's "Kraut Jazz Futurism" is proof of that. The sixteen track compilation features the emerging talent on the German scene showcasing their home grown influences. Karl Hector and The Malcouns might be the most familiar among the bands on this disc. Their brand of Krautrock: groove drenched afrobeat rhythms are on display here with "Orange Man". The Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra are an impressive 20 piece international collective led by Berlin composer Daniel Glatzel. "J Schleia" is a dynamic eleven minute odyssey that glides through various styles ranging from jazz to classical. "Free" (Get Yourself Together) is infectious psychedelic jazz rock by the Torben Unit band. "The Flood" is filled with cinematic soundscapes and classical arrangements courtesy of saxophonist and Composer Ralph Heidel. As far as compilations go this is an absolute gem that offers something for everyone. You'll feel as though you've entered a portal into a blossoming musical community. Enjoy your stay, you won't be disappointed.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

Lake / 3TM

3TM - Lake

We Jazz

Drummer Teppo Makynen one third of 3TM started out with the critically acclaimed "Form". They followed that up with "Abyss" serving as a prelude to their new release "Lake". Tenor sax man Jussi Kannaste and bassist Antti Lotjonen complete the trio. Together they navigate through nine thematic compositions centered around the elements of natural scenery. On the title track Kannaste's soloing is restrained yet ebbs and flows while Makynen's cymbal sound and subtle use of electronics creates an atmospheric landscape. "Suburban Portraits" opens with warped synths that comes and goes while Kannaste soloing navigates through the ambient terrain. There's little use for fireworks here, rather everyone simply surrenders to the needs of the song and in this case that's more than enough. Makynen has compose a compelling piece of work here that's pure bliss from start to finish.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

Th3rd / Brisa

Brisa - Th3rd

Bastard Jazz

Fukuoka, Japan based DJ/Producer Brisa has delighted us with an array of soulful house, drum n bass and other infectious grooves since his début lp "Elevation Perception in 2008. During that time he has become one of the première DJ/Producers on the scene today. On his latest full length release "Th3rd" he eschews his signature house arrangements for an assortment of electronic excursions encompassing various tempos. The opening track "Cloudnine" is a mid-tempo tune with warm melodic synths and vocals. "New Way" is a bombastic heater laced with restless drums and bass that we've come to expect from him. "DLMD" is another standout up-tempo track that sparkles with soulful rhodes wizardry and funky percussion. Brisa could've taken the safe route and released another "Wide Awake" lp. Instead he demonstrates his versatility as well as delivering another quality recording.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

Eglo Records Vol. 2 / Various Artists

Various Artists - Eglo Records Vol. 2

Eglo

Volume 2 of the new Eglo records compilation celebrates ten years in the game. Initially started by Alexander Nut and Sam Shepard aka Floating Points. Shepard has moved on but Nut has carried the mantle of consistency delivering timeless gems ranging from futuristic soul, broken beat, electronica and much more. There have been some notable contributions along the way from artists who have become household names. K15, Fatima and Steve Spacek just to name a few. Spacek is featured on six tracks and each one is marvellous but "If U Wan 2 Find Me" and the cosmic flavored "The Abstract Eye" are standouts. The aforementioned Fatima's career has been ascending from the start. "Phoneline" represents her earlier work with producer Funkineven and the bottom heavy beats of "Somebody Else" is from her latest lp. Australian artists Destiny71z and Natalie Slade are two of the emerging new talents signed to the label. "Foodprogramvoltage" is irresistible left of center house from Destiny71z that combines analog and electronic thumping beats. Slade's "Humidity" is laid back soul and a prelude to her upcoming debut lp which will properly showcase her soulful vocals. There's much more to digest here so you absolutely need this in your collection. Simply put Eglo has been one of the première labels over the last decade and there's no hint that will change any time soon.

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Reg Dancy, 01/20

2 Steps Away / The Pendletons

The Pendletons - 2 Steps Away

Bastard Jazz

Bastard Jazz consistently delivers quality recordings spanning a variety of genres since 2001. "2 Steps Away" the debut lp from The Pendletons is no exception. The duo of E Da Boss and Trailer Limon showcase their love of vintage boogie funk reminiscent of the eighties era that produced so many funk bands. Now armed with a full horn section to mesh with the band, they're set to take their sound to another level. The sublime "Blessings for the World" opens the album with an infectious groove augmented by gorgeous harmonic vocals and keys. Guitarist Jeff Locket's spirited plucking fuels "No Regrets" an uplifting boogie funk banger that would fit easily into a Shalamar or Dynasty catalogue. "19 Flavors" is disco funk at it's best ripe with a thumping rhythm, pulsating groove and vocals by Ishtar to top it off. The Pendletons are all about making that feel good music that slips into your body and forces you to move. If you don't you need to check your pulse.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

The Pale Queen / Rhi

Rhi - The Pale Queen

Tru Thoughts

Canadian singer songwriter and now London resident Rhi is back with her sophomore release. "The Pale Queen" is filled with haunting down tempo soundscapes and raw unabashed lyrics that made her debut "Reverie" such a success. "Plain Jane" is driven by brooding synths and a heavy bottom. Sensual whispers coat the hypnotic throb of "It Was Love". The tempo picks up a notch with the chill-hop flavored "The Tempter". Chilled out electronica combined with soft spoken vocals makes for the perfect sonic marriage. Rhi pulls it off with ease.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

Cogito Ergo Jam / Natural Lateral

Natural Lateral - Cogito Ergo Jam

Social Joy

Natural Lateral is a four piece band assembled organically out of frequent jam sessions at the Lazy Robot Studio in North London. The quartet's musical range flows between Brazilian rhythms, modal Jazz and a touch of fusion woven together. "Bossa Blue" kicks the disc off with infectious percussion and warm Brazilian melodies. "Days with Amber" is bluesy modal tune that features Oli Arlotto on sax. "Safe as Sound" is laid back Latin jazz funk laced with a melodic vibaphone groove. Aziz Mustafa, Ozan Nidayi, Malte From and Tim Balasubramaniam make up the rest of the band. Together they've created a relaxed atmosphere with free flowing rhythms that evolve into a deeply satisfying album.

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Reg Dancy, 12/19

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