Various Artists - Panama!: Latin, Funk & Calypso on the<br>Isthmus 1965-75Soundway Records
Soundway presents its first collection of music from Central America, specifically Panama City, and what a way to kick of the series. Those not familiar with Soundway should take note now and start hunting down their excellent back catalogue. This compilation is based around the sounds of the clubs and bars of Panama City and Colon with influences imported from Jamaica, Trinidad, Europe and South America to create their own unique brand which have not been singled out before. This is simply an awesome selection of rare Jazz, Funk and Soul which has never been released outside of Panama until now. Also included are extensively detailed liner notes and pictures to give us an insight in to this exciting decade in music.
Simon Harrison, 03/06
Various Artists - Pearls of CubaSyllart
Part of a four part series of double CDs devoted to the classic era in Cuban music, this edition focuses on the sonero (literally singer of 'son' which incorporates improvising on a theme) tradition and is as comprehensive a selection from the period covered, 1939-1957, as one could wish with remastering and sound quality near flawless considering the age of the recordings. Key labels such as the legendary Panart company of Havana have been judiciously selected and some of Cuba's seminal singers, groups and instrumentalists are on display. Arguably the greatest male sonero was Benny More and we have no less than five songs to showcase his talents, with 'Rumberos de ayer' typifying his prowess. Cheo Marquetti is less well known outside the island, but vastly gifted and sings the praises of the musical craft on the aptly titled 'Sonero' while the evergreen 'Oriente' is given an near-definitive rendition. Of the female vocalists, Celia Cruz before prolonged exile in Mexico a and the United States was lead vocalist with Sonora Matancera and is showcased while Celina Gonzalez continues to perform in Cuba well into her seventies. Here her classic 'Yo soy el punto cubano' is performed with husband Reutilo. Instrumentalists are not forgotten on this compilation and the flute tradition is rooted in the son. One of its principal exponents is Fajardo and the tasty 'Vamos a gozar' sounds just as fresh as if it had been recorded yesterday. Pianist Alfredito Valdez and master trumpeter Felix Chappotin contibute with pieces also. This is a beautifully illustrated as well as selected compilation with extensive sleeve notes (English and French) and original album covers and artist photos that give a true flavour of the era. If the following releases are up to this standard, there are many musical treats yet to await us. Indispensable.
Tim Stenhouse, 05/08
Various Artists - PhusedIn Phusion Music
At first glance you could be mistaken for thinking this was a funky house compilation but don't be put off by the 'fashionable' pretty couple on the cover because this CD includes some of the best broken-soul cuts of recent times. It kicks off in fine style with Mark De Clive-Lowe's 'Heaven' featuring Bembe Segue before moving into the killer Math Union Remix of 'Juice' from Season featuring Ernesto, the Brooklyn Remix of 'Brothers On The Slide' by Patchworks Ginger X Press and Champion Soul's 'Holdin' On' (Spymusic Remix). Other worthy inclusions are 'Disney' from Channel Two featuring Kim Hill and DJ Spinna's Vocal Mix of Roy Ayers' 'Holiday' but my favourites are 'Be The One' by L'Aroye featuring Humphrey, the U-Key Disco Mix of Doob's 'Princess' and 'You Say' by Moodorama, which are all new to me. So the moral of the story is never judge a book by its cover!
Andy Allen, 10/06
Various Artists - Pound For PoundJazzy Sport
Fellow listeners to Benji B's Deviation (1xtra) radio show will have noticed that the words 'Jazzy Sport' are now synonymous with exemplary Hip Hop, up-to-the-minute Nu Jazz, boundary-breaking Broken Beat, and killer live Disco to boot. Pound For Pound is the perfect demonstration of why this is so, delivering gem after gem from the likes of DJ Mitsu the Beats (alongside Maspyke's Hanif Jamil), Bembe Segue, Masaya Fantasista, Cro Magnon and Grooveman Spot (who has even roped-in Hip Hop heavyweight Jeru The Damaja for a slice of the action). These guys are not messing around - Japan's Jazzy Sport is consistently raising the bar and the challenge for others is to try to keep up. This is essential listening - don't sleep!
Tom Breslin, 04/07
Various Artists - Pound For Pound 2 - Jazzy Sport Top TeamJazzy Sport
Jazzy Sport is now synonymous with cool as you like, under the radar beats in all forms and the ‘Pound for Pound 2’ compilation is a simple, no messing demonstration of exactly why that is. We’re treated to new Soul, Latin-Jazz Funk, mid-tempo Detroit House, Tech-House, and lashings of Hip-Hop (some in English, some in Japanese and some purely instrumental), from the likes of Ras G, Cro-Magnon, Ta’raach, Gagle, DJ Mitsu, Grooveman Spot and Jazztronik (whose wonky, electro-Samba stormer, ‘Warp’ is just superb). My highlight comes in the shape of ‘The Digital Church’, a groovy, head-nodding soul number from London’s very own Leon King (this man deserves to be a star) that sounds like Jazzy Jeff producing Dwele at his best. All in all then, a great collection that manages to maintain the quality of the first ‘Pound for Pound’ set, released back in 2006.
Tom Breslin, 10/08
Various Artists - Pure Fire! A Gilles Peterson Impulse CollectionImpulse!
Gilles delves into the Impulse archives and surfaces with a fine and varied selection. On the spiritual tip there's Pharoah Sanders' 'Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah' with vocalist Leon Thomas, Michael White's 'The Blessing Song' from his 1972 'Pnuema' album, the Abbey Lincoln fronted 'Lonesome Lover' by Max Roach and the inspirational 'Wise One' from John Coltrane. Art Blakey represents with the firing 'Alamode' and the quality continues with the likes of Oliver Nelson's 'Patterns', 'Three Flowers', a gorgeous waltz by McCoy Tyner, Milt Jackson & Ray Brown's dreamy 'Enchanted Lady' and the gentle bossa of 'See You Later' from Dave Mackay & Vicky Hamilton. And to top it all off, Yusef Lateef's take of 'First Gymnopedie', one of the most beautiful pieces to have ever graced these ears.
Andy Allen, 11/06
Various Artists - Putumayo presents 'Women of the World'Putumayo World Music
Eleven tracks that start with French film star Sandrine Kiberlan and ends with Canada's Wailin' Jennys. A nice mixture, with the acoustic approach being the common thread and demonstrating the superb range of female voices out there, the release is timed to tie in with International Women's Day. This range and quality is illustrated nicely by Kaissa from Cameroon and the equally delightful Mona from Algeria who shows another side to her from the more often heard rap. Good collection.
Graham Radley, 03/07
Various Artists - Putumayo presents - Latin JazzPutumayo World Music
Mostly centred around USA, Cuba and Puerto Rico (although Iceland is represented!) we get ten great tracks, here's a few of those names: Machito with Cannonball Adderley, Poncho Sanchez, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Hilton Ruiz and my favourite here-The Brian Lynch/Eddie Palmierir Project with the 8mins 51 secs of joy that is 'Guajira Dubois'. Tasty.
Graham Radley, 07/07
Various Artists - Putumayo presents A Jazz & Blues ChristmasPutumayo
Only real Xmas release we’ve had through this year, a well rounded collection that has Ray Charles doing ‘Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer’ and the intriguingly titled ‘Wrap Yourself in a Christmas Package’ which I’ve not heard of before but was apparently first brought out in 1961 by Charles Brown (who is featured on this CD with ‘Santa’s Blues), here it’s covered by Randy Greer and Ignasi Terraza Trio. Other tracks come courtesy of Mighty Blue Kings, Riff Riffin, The Dukes of Dixieland, Ramsey Lewis, Emilie-Claire Barlow and BB King.
Graham Radley, 12/08
Various Artists - Putumayo presents A New GroovePutumayo World Music
Artists from Denmark, USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Germany, Australia, France & UK. The feel is laid back beats inspired on a jazzy tip but that only paints part of the picture, a couple of tracks that illustrate things best are the Kid Loco remix of Thievery Corporation's 'Until The Morning' and K-OS with 'Crabbuckit'. Like it!
Graham Radley, 03/07