Various Artists - Beyond Jazz Vol.3Beyondjazz
A good sign of a quality compilation is when it features artists that you've supported for some time. Before I knew about Volume 3, I was already hammering tracks by Jonny Miller, Joash, Aroop Roy and Masoul. A great start you might say. Well the quality just keeps coming with nine more tracks that include Oracle, Flowriders, Inverse Cinematics, Nemoy and Lava Musique Ensemble. If you've not heard of these artists, well, get your credit cards out and support. You should note that this is only available to download but what a great way to get music out there. Top marks to the guys at Beyond Jazz for putting this together.
Simon Harrison, 12/06
Various Artists - Beyond Jazz Vol.4Beyond Jazz
The good people of the Beyond Jazz compilations have a keen ear for soul and jazz music and the forward thinking producers adept at meshing the two together. Their compilations have always provided a window to some of the most progressive recordings on the scene today. “Vol.4” is no exception for it is packed with assortment of eclectic recordings fusing together soul, house and jazz together and moving your body in the process. The disc kicks off impressively with “Out Of Dark”, a jazz influenced house track augmented by the spirited piano chords mixed by Chris Barker, one half of Deep Space Orchestra. The Dub-In-Vader mix adds yet another to Emanative’s “Space”. I never get enough of the hypnotic bass clarinet from Ben Hadwen that’s featured throughout. Jazz Neversleeps premieres a new tune and it’s worthy of repeated listens. “Live In Maredsous” is masterfully produced with infectious percussion, mesmerizing synths and gorgeous samplings of Betty Carter. “Memories Of Tomorrow” is another winner, an up-tempo future soul gem done proper by Aybee. With many more selections to savor here, “Vol.4” is a must have. For those not familiar with their previous releases, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out those as well.
Reg Dancy, 04/11
Various Artists - Black Feeling Vol 3Freestyle
Lance Ferguson is no stranger to funky compositions. Quality recordings with the Bamboos as well as his solo recordings under his Lanu moniker is a testament to that. With his "Black Feeling" compilations he continues to shine a light on obscure soulful recordings placed in the hands of little known albeit talented bands. This is evident on Antipodelica's raw organic cover of Dexter Wansel's "Life On Mars". A noticeable contrast to string laden Disco beat of the original, "Laden Strut" is hard driving up-tempo funk from Esperanto. "Sao Paulo" is a sunny n breezy Samba courtesy of Nova Catalina Octet. "Futebol de Bar" is a high energy Mambo with a heart pounding piano melody from The Manuel Azevedo. Sure, there's a number of raw funk and soul compilations out there but by far "Black Feeling 3" is one of the more pulsating releases you'll hear this year.
Reg Dancy, 10/15
Various Artists - Blue Light Volume 2Cosmic Sounds
You are in for a treat: two releases from Cosmic sounds in the same month. This the ninth Rare Gems Series and they've drafted in Hungarian experts Tibor Mozsik and Gabor Valyi from the Create Soul Brothers. Volume 1 was mainly 1960's, so this time it's the 1970's and funky fusion. With influences rock, African and Brazilian, it's a mixed bag but every single track is a killer.
Once you're got to the end of this amazing compilation you cannot believe that, like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, none of these have dated. I hope there's more gems like this to be found in Hungarian archives.
Simon Harrison, 10/05
Various Artists - Blue Note Re:imaginedDecca Records
Legendary labels Decca Records and Blue Note team up for the brilliant compilation "Blue Note Re:imagined". A collection of some of the Uk's young musical phenoms to provide alternate takes on some of the labels most treasured recordings. Let's start with Ppppy Ajudha's cover of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man". Ajudha's vocal and arranging skills totally transform the tune. From the ethereal wordless phrasings to combustive jazz fusion rhythms, Ajudha takes the listener to the edge of their imagination. "A Shade Of Jade" finds Nubya Garcia channeling the spirit of Joe Henderson's "Mode For Joe". Garcia's arrangements swing from 60s hard bop to infectious hip-hop beats and head nodding grooves. Trumpeter Emma Jean Thackery is a rising star with multiple projects worth checking out. She transforms Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil" into an uptempo jazz funk banger. Jordan Rakei's honey toned falsetto vocals are tailor made for Donald Byrd's timeless jazz funk gem "Wind Parade". With sixteen tracks there's a ton of covers to savor here and other artists you need to get to know better. The musicians here maintain the spirit of the original recordings while bringing fresh ideas to the table. Without a doubt you need this in your collection.
Reg Dancy, 01/21
Various Artists - Boglewaltz - We Came For The MusicBoglewaltz
If you also came for the music then you’ve come to the right place. Boglewaltz is filled with an assortment of delicious broken beat and soulful gems that you’ll be making arrangements to attend their parties ASAP. Did I say parties? That’s because Boglewaltz are known for hosting some fierce parties around the UK attended by top djs and musicians. For those who can’t make it, fear not this lp will be the next best thing to being there. There are many tasty treats among the fifteen tracks to enjoy like the soulful house gem “Just Fine” by SMI. This is a joyful tune thanks in part to the infectious piano melody and the vocals of Shea Soul. More soulful selections include the sultry “In Your Eyes” by Soulpersona that features Sibel Thrasher. Soundspecies delivers the wicked “Balafon Jam”. Sounspecies is comprised of brothers Henry and Oliver Keen and they make use of the Balafon, an African Xylophone that creates a buzzing sound that is irresistible and meshes perfectly with their booming beats. “Soft Rain” is a wonderful down-tempo tune from Embers that merits your attention as well as the soothing “You” from Analog Jones and D’Ablo. Throughout the year you’ll come across many compilations but few will be as impressive as this one. Highly recommended.
Reg Dancy, 04/11
Various Artists - Bon Voyage -- Rythme-Congolais From Africa Aux Antilles 1963 to 1977Retro Afric
Excellent compilation of material covering 1965 to 1977. The band had a core line up of the amazing Jerry Malekani on guitar, Freddie Nkounkou and Mbilia Casino on vocals plus in the earlier days Panda Gracia on bass and then, once they moved onto the French Caribbean, Jean Serge Essous on sax. The music was groundbreaking as they mixed many styles including rumba and soukous and then calypso and reggae, this of course was glorious music for the dance floor and this collection comes highly recommended.
Graham Radley, 02/09
Various Artists - Boogie Breakdown South African Synth Disco 1980-1984Cultures Of Soul
"Boogie Breakdown" is a collection of the eighties Disco period in South Africa. Compiled by Deano Sounds of the Boston US based label Cultures Of Soul and Dj Okapi, the disc highlights the largely forgotten period and the US influence on the artists highlighted here. The disc features two tracks each from six of South Africa's most prominent acts during this period. "Good Vibes" from Harari features sublime keys and funky guitar riffs. "I Wanna Be Myself" by Don Laka is filled with wicked synths and thumping bass grooves. These tracks could've easily fit right in the eighties boogie era and certainly deserved a larger audience. Cultures Of Soul compilations have successfully explored various rhythms from around the globe and this is no exception.
Reg Dancy, 02/17
Various Artists - Boogie Times presents The Great Collectors Vol. 3Boogie Times
This latest edition of 'The Great Collectors' features a further 12 early to mid 80s independent boogie cuts. As is often the case with tracks from this period, not all of the productions have stood the test of time. However there are some real gems contained within, such as the gospel flavoured 'Lovelight' by Love Light, Eddie Cornelius' 'Release Yourself' plus Gift Of Dreams' 'Better Day' and 'Hold On For Love' from Sho Nuff, both of which have been on my wants list for some time. Takes me back to the good old days of curly perms and formation dancing!
Andy Allen, 07/06
Various Artists - Brazilian Beats BrooklynMr Bongo Records
Mr Bongo is back with another stunning compilation, which has been put together by Sean Marquand and Greg Caz. It's named after their weekly night in Brooklyn, NYC, a night which must be pretty special judging by the tracklistings here. Twenty two tracks in total which obviously are Brazilian influenced but with sprinklings of soul, funk and disco. Disco is one thing I wouldn't expect to work with a Brazilian vocal but listen to Silvio Casar's "A Festa" and you'll be sure to change your mind. Chalo Eduardo's "Beija-Flor Suite" will blow any dancefloor apart and the rest of the selections are simply top notch. Miss at your peril.
Simon Harrison, 10/06