D Angelo - Black MessiahRCA
The authenticity of D' Angelo's music has remained relevant despite a new release in fourteen years. So when word begins to leak about "Black Messiah" is preparing to drop months ahead of schedule, people are going to take notice. In an era where electronica is the rule and live instrumentation is the exception, "Black Messiah" and it's low-fi analog production has provided a much needed injection of raw hot buttered soul. Indeed this is the kind of soul food that lingers in your body like your Grandma's sweet potato pie. There's plenty of evidence with prime cuts like the psychedelic soulful grooves of "1000 Deaths". "Sugah Daddy", and "Betray My Heart" are both mid-tempo funky numbers with tight grooves sprinkled with some playful piano. Each track is treated to some trumpet phrasing courtesy of Roy Hargrove. "Another Life" closes out the disc in fine fashion. A tasty piano riff augmented by D'Angelo's emotive vocals and funky Wah Wah rhythms. Once again D'Angelo displays a flair for clever arrangements and tasty melodies carried out by a strong musical cast. Whether or not this will be considered a classic will be determined over time but there is no doubt that is one of the early favorites for album of the year.
Reg Dancy, 03/15
D'Nell - 1st MagicBBE Records
I've been looking forward to hearing D'nell's debut album for along time now, ever since Young Lee played the exclusive of "I Read About" on Basic Soul in March 2004. It's been a long time but it's been well worth the wait. D'Nell are long time partners producer, Dan Jones and beautiful vocalist Ellie Hajee. Featuring some wonderful grooves that continue to grow on you, even after listening to this for a week. Listen to "I Read About" and you'll buy this on the album version alone.
Simon Harrison, 08/05
Dabrye - Three/ThreeGhostly International
Hailing from Ann Arbor Michigan, Tadd Mullinix aka Dabrye wasn't sure if or when he would create another record. Twelve years since the release of "Two/Three" A case of writers block and family matters put his projects on ice. So it was a cause for celebration to discover he was back in the studio wrapping up his long awaited follow up. "Three/Three" fuses laid back electronic beats as well as gritty boom bap joints that made "Two/Three" such a highlight. Detroit is represented well by Guilty Simpson on "Tunnel Vision" while Kadence along with Intricate Dialect & Silas Green trade verses on the spacey beats of "Culture Shuffle". Shigeto, another Detroit Alum brings his diverse electronic sound with the funk deluxe "Sunset". Dabrye's connections extend well beyond Detroit with premiere rappers such as Ghostface Killah, Doom and Jonwayne jumping on board. "Three/Three" has a little bit of everything to keep your head on a constant nod. It's a huge gap between albums but Dabrye has picked up from where he left off and that's a boon for everyone.
Reg Dancy, 04/18
Dabrye - Two/ThreeGhostly
Dabrye will be known to most people because of "Game Over" featuring Jay Dee (RIP) which had the darkest beats know to man. Part two of Dabrye's three part album series takes influences from his home town Detroit and continues to push the boundaries with not only hip hop but also electronic music. With a massive list of top of their game MCs aka Waajeed, MF Doom, Wildchild, Beans amongst others, this is the kind of music the masses need to hear, rather than the jiggy nonsense that is featured on our air waves and blasting out of young kids car speakers. Forward thinking and all the better for it.
Simon Harrison, 06/06
Daimh - Crossing PointGreentrax Recordings
A second album, and a great new singer in Gaelic vocalist Calum Alex MacMillan who joins Angus MacKenzie, Colm O’Rua, Gabe McVarish, James Bremner and Ross Martin who are variously from the Scottish West Highlands, Cape Breton, Ireland and America. Produced by Iain MacDonald who adds flute and whistle on several tracks, plus some excellent guests - Anxo Lorenzo (Galician gaitas, Baroque recorder), Xose Liz de Cea (bouzouki, lute) and The Clachnabrochan Gaelic Choir. Very good.
Graham Radley, 09/07
Dalindeo - KallioBBE
The sextet known as Dalindeo have created a huge following in their native Finland. With "Kallio", their third lp receiving major distribution from BBE, the rest of the world is treated to the band's thematic style of jazz. "Kallio", a section in Helsinki features 14 compositions based on the work of film maker Aki Kaurismäki. The disc kicks off with the blistering "Ola Linga 8", highlighted by funky guitar rhythms and fiery trumpet soloing. The tempo simmers down on "Karhupuiston Kuningstar" but the driving force of rhythmic guitar licks make for a pleasant listen. The band shows their ability to swing on "Pengerkadulla" highlighted the combination of guitar and vibraphone rhythms complimenting the spirited horn section. Band leader Valtteri Poyhonen composes a pulsating array of swinging jazz tracks you can either dance to or simply nod your head to. The secret is out, these cats can play..
Reg Dancy, 05/15
Dalindeo - Open ScenesRicky-Tick Records
It's been a long time coming but Dalindeo's debut album is now finally with us. The Brazilian influenced Finnish jazz sextet impressed with their first 12" 'Poseidon/Solifer-Lento' and their follow up 'Go Ahead, Float/Voodoo'. Sadly though 'Go Ahead, Float' hasn't made it on to the album at all and 'Poseidon' and 'Voodoo' only appear on the CD version. There is however plenty here to keep your attention such as the beautifully orchestrated 'Samba Da-Li' and 'Non-Stop Flight', a gorgeous bossa cut featuring Japanese vocalist Michiko. Michiko also graces 'Tsunami' and the immaculate waltz 'Empty Fruits', which for me is the album's finest moment.
Andy Allen, 06/07
Dam Funk - ToeachizownStones Throw Records
After sprinkling several singles over the past year, LA’s Dam Funk releases his much anticipated debut “Toeachizown”. Dam Funk has crafted a funk album that features 80’s synth arrangements reminiscent of pioneers like Zapp, Cameo and a little touch of Prince. The difference is that he has successfully composed his own signature modern funk sound that he can call his own. “Toeachizown” takes on many different moods, from earthy mid-tempo grooves to up-tempo in your face funk. There’s many tracks to savor such as the ambient “Come on Outside” which displays his wizardry with drum programming. “Brookside Park” is a near 10 minute instrumental that would be the perfect leisurely drive jam on a lazy afternoon. “Searchin’ 4 funk’s future” gives a nod to Dam’s love house music. Just imagine Mr Fingers laying down some G-funk and this might be the result. Like past funkateers before him, Dam Funk also proves to be a very capable balladeer, as evidenced on the track “I wanna thank you for”. Overall, “Toeachizown” succeeds by revitalizing a piece of the boogie funk grooves of the past and making it sound relevant today. This is very enjoyable and refreshing debut by an artist poised to make a lot of noise in 2010.
Reg Dancy, 03/10
Damon Aaron - HighlandsUbiquity Records
Los Angeles based Damon Aaron’s debut “Highlands is a dreamy collection of folksy soul tunes that is sure to put you in a melancholy mood. Damon’s lyrics reflect on life, love and the relationships he has experienced over an acoustic guitar, bluesy chords and lazy hip hop beats. Damon doesn’t have an overpowering voice but his light laidback tone suits the melodic compositions like “Floating” and “Firstlove” perfectly. These songs feature hypnotic electric guitar riffs against a backdrop of spaced out synths. “Clouds” starts out with a nice reggae flavored beat before settling into a lighthearted acoustic folk gem with well placed horns. As much as Damon’s vocals shine here, his skills as a songwriter and sole producer of this project transforms it into a sublime electronic utopia. After working behind the scenes for many years, “Highlands” is a nice coming out party for this multi-talented artist.
Reg Dancy, 12/08
Danay Suarez - Havana Cultura SessionsBrownswood Recordings
One of the pleasant surprises that emerged from Gilles Peterson’s Havana Cultura compilation was the discovery of singer/rapper Danay Suarez. The talented vocalist easily glides from hip-hop to rnb to jazz and her soprano voice is a delight to behold. One wondered what a treat it would be if she had a project all her own and fortunately someone was listening. Produced by Roberto Fonseca and his Band, this live session in Havana’s EGREM studios showcases her superb vocal phrasing in a jazz forum. On the twenty two minute opener “Ser O No Ser”, Danay swings effortlessly and flows over the gorgeous melodies created by the ultra talented Fonseca on piano. Fonseca and his band play with fire and intensity, seamlessly changing tempo from a slow burn to a spirited fever pitch filled with improvisation of the highest order. On “En Lo Profundo” (In The Depth), is a spirited rumba flavored tune that kicks off with a shimmering timbales and percussions that create haunting rhythms as though they were a wakeup call to the ancestors. Fonseca and his band create plenty of space for Danay’s vocals to soar. The other two tracks are also equally enjoyable, in particular “Hay Un Lugar”, a beautiful ballad. All in all a virtuoso performance by Danay Suarez and a wonderful record that provides a snapshot into the world of Cuban jazz. A four track EP doesn’t get any better than this. Let’s hope the long player is coming soon.
Reg Dancy, 01/11