Brian Auger - Back To The BeginningFreestyle
Brian Auger, initially earned acclaim as an emerging jazz pianist on the London scene in 1963. However once he heard organist Jimmy Smith his focus would turn towards the hammond B3. He has since solidified himself as one of the premiere organ players of the past four decades. "Back To The Beginning" showcases his early recordings where he seamlessly blended jazz with rock and soul. Auger's genre bending arrangements would influence dozens of musicians and DJs and along the way set the stage for what we know today as jazz fusion. The two disc set kicks off with "Blues Three Four" a modal jazz tune in a trio setting, one of Auger's early recordings in the piano chair. "Save Me", is an energetic funk and soul tune that features the powerful vocals of Julie Driscoll. "Whenever You're Ready and "Somebody Help Me" are psychedelic jazz funk floor burners. "Butterfly" is a solid cover of the Herbie Hancock hit, one of Auger's many admirers. This is a must have re-issue, and a great introduction to a remarkable career.
Reg Dancy, 12/15
Broke'n'English - Subject 2 StatusFat City Recordings
Let's get the gripes out of the way. Firstly, there are too many skits and interludes on this album for my tastes. Secondly, there are a couple of insipid, ballad-like tracks that let the side down. Right, now to the positives. Most of Subject 2 Status is actually very good, and it's hard to imagine most UK emcees being able to match the skill and flow of Manchester's Broke 'n' English, a.k.a. Strategy and DRS, when they're at their best. The high points, here, come on the tougher, up-tempo tracks, where they get a chance to display a rugged, but not aggressive, style that exudes energy and works to great effect. Case in point being 'Take It Low', a dynamite marriage of soulful chords, broken beats and smooth rhymes that deserves much success.
Tom Breslin, 04/07
Broken - Better Luck Next TimeMind Records
What strikes you first about “Better Luck Next Time” is the attention to detail in the press release and packaging; this is top quality. Doctor L has been a very busy man over the years working with the likes of Tony Allen, James Blood Ulmer and Nicolas Baby (Kaktus Hunters). This time he teams up with French vocalist Dom Farkas under his new Broken alias. Mixing up the deepest house grooves with soul, jazz and, yes, rock, is a bit of a shock at first but just like when you first heard Mos Def’s “Rock N Roll” it works a treat. Keep your eyes peeled for the 12” with four more tasty tunes.
Simon Harrison, 12/05
Brotherly - One Sweet LifeMusic At Monumental
After breaking onto the scene in 2005 with 'Put It Out' featuring Eska and following up with the excellent 'Searching' last year the duo of Rob Mullarkey and Anna Stubbs now come with their debut long player. As with the singles, both of which are included here, the album is a broken-soul affair and features guests Ty on the title track and Earl Zinger who graces 'Elevate' with his distinctive spoken word delivery. Although there's nothing here to quite top 'Searching' the set has some strong moments such as 'True', 'A Little Trouble', the funky 'DTs', and the blissful 'Raindown'. Well worth investigating.
Andy Allen, 05/07
Brown's Bag - Soul SatisfiedSoulchoonz
Brown's Bag aka Ward Brown, follows up his 2005 debut 'Labor Of Love' with 'Soul Satisfied', a collection of contemporary soul/R&B with strong seventies sensibilities. Whilst the production is a little smooth for my current tastes there's no denying the quality of Brown's vocals which particularly shine on the mellow groover 'You're Contagious' and the funky 'Me Around'. The real standouts for me though are catchy up-tempo Diskonauts Remix 'No More Lies' and the Markydisco Jazzy Remix of 'Things You Say', a slick stepper, both by Marc Mitchell (the original versions of which appear on 'Labor Of Love'). Both are destined to blow up big time on the modern soul scene over the coming months.
Andy Allen, 01/07
Brownout - HomenajeFreestyle Records
'Homenaje' is the debut album from the Austin, Texas based eight piece band Brownout. Their sound is most definitely rooted in funk but with plenty of Latin and Afro-beat influences thrown in for good measure. The majority of the tracks here are aimed directly at the dance-floor but my personal favourites are the mellower cuts particularly the string laced psychedelic soul of 'Brown Wind And Fire'.
Andy Allen, 02/08
Brownswood & FYE Presents - We Made This Vol.1FYE
Hard to imagine that for a short period that this compilation was actually available for free. This was made possible by the contributors to the Brownswood message board forum. While it’s now available at a very modest price, it’s a worthwhile purchase for there is much to savor here. For starters there’s the funky synth laden “Dancing On Ice” by Mr Beatnick. “Alethia” is a warm atmospheric up-tempo pleaser by Surra. In addition, there are a number of burnin’ house tracks here, most notably “I have seen” by Red Rackem and “Roma” by K Schrieber. Arguably the best track here would have to be “Say Something” by Scrimshire feat Inga Lill Aker, a soothing mid-tempo nu-jazz tune armed with cool rhodes playing and the beautiful voice of Inga. The disc mellows out with the melodic “Wonky” by bassist Rich Brown who knows how to lay down a groove. This is a solid compilation that has a little something for everyone and is certainly worth checking out.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Bryan Corbett - Pressure ValveWoodland Records
Those in the know may have checked out Corbett’s “Corbenova” album that was released in 2003 but I have to admit he was unknown to me until Woodland released the excellent three track EP at the end of 2004. All three tracks from the EP are featured here and still sound as good as ever. The rest of the album is a real mix of Nu-Jazz, where Corbett plays flugelhorn and trumpet, over some beautiful breaks and beats. Not only that but also featured are the lovely vocals of Lizzy Parks, a name you really need to watch out for in 2006.
Simon Harrison, 12/05
Bryony Jarman-Pinto - Cage and AviaryTru Thoughts
"Cage & Aviary" is the début from singer/songwriter Bryony Jarman-Pinto. Bryony collaborates with fellow Tru-thoughts label-mate Tom Leah aka Werkha as producer. Werkha's electronic prowess blend seamlessly with Jarman-Pinto's organic approach to her compositions. The result is an impressive union of jazz, folk and subtle elements of electronica. "Saffron Yellow" is stripped down to percolating guitar rhythms, percussion and Jarman-Pintos's emotive vocals. "Sun Kissed" has a slow burning jazz vibe heightened by warm keys and horns. "Emerge" brims with subtle use of the high hat drumming and well placed synths. Hard to imagine that Jarman-Pinto experienced some writer's block while writing this tune before she had a breakthrough. That aside, Jarman-Pinto's lyrics, along with her hypnotic vocals provide plenty of emotional depth while embarking on topics about love, life and other thought provoking topics. A superb début from a new voice you should get familiar with.
Reg Dancy, 09/19
Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall [Live]World Circuit Records
Oh just listen to ‘Chan Chan’ kick in on CD one and they’ve got you in the palm of their hands, pure magic. Produced by Ry Cooder, from a concert in 1998 as the group made their American debut, even though they were in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. This is very much a moment in time as they never all played together again and sadly members like Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González and Company Segundo were soon to pass on. Double CD, 16 tracks, music just doesn’t get any better than this.
Graham Radley, 12/08