Habib Koite & Bamada - AfrikiCumbancha
One of Africa's biggest selling artists, it's been six years since his last release 'Baro.' The main theme looks at developing Africa's strengths and getting Africans themselves to see that what they have can be worth a lot and is worth championing. The familiar range of Malian styles is adapted on the track 'Afriki' by some nifty Pee Wee Ellis horn arrangements, this is music from the soul and from the heart and is just superb.
Graham Radley, 09/07
Hackney Colliery Band - Common DecencyWah Wah 45s
Funk, Brass and Groove are just a few ways to describe the sound of the Hackney Colliery Band but their sound doesn't end there. They have managed to combine elements of Punk, Afro-beat and Hip-Hop into their sound with a high degree of success. Ever since they emerged in 2008 their brand of Brass has fused the aforementioned sounds into the London underground music aesthetic. Their latest release, "Common Decency" was recorded live and takes another step forward in their evolving sound. Among the highlights is "Creeping Around After Dark", a tune with a nod to Afro-beat rhythms and swinging horns. "Dead Dialogue" features plenty more funky horns as well as Luke Christie's spirited work on High Hat and Cymbals. Other treats include "Is Your Love Big Enough?", "Superhero Disco" and the crowd favorite "Prodigy Medley". All in all this is an entertaining and energetic record that will provide definite satisfaction. There's a surge of Brass Bands emerging all over the globe. With HCB's British blend of Brass with a touch of Balkan flavor they're certain to stand out amongst the pack.
Reg Dancy, 01/14
Hajime Yoshizawa - Music From The Edge Of The UniverseGeneon Records
Hajime is a very busy man. His Sleepwalker project is still causing excitement around the globe with the imminent live shows. He's played piano on a whole host of amazing projects over the last few years and now it's time for his new album. This is an outstanding selection with Brazilian, Latin and of course Soul influences, with the majority of tracks are for clued up dancefloors. It's great to hear the lovely Vanessa Freeman on "Believe Again" and "Sweet Way", Jason Yarde on "Waltz For Jason" and Face on "Keep It Movin" and "Favourite Virtual Kiss" and that's just for starters. Bear in mind the album totals 77 minutes and sixteen tracks. So far Especial Records have released a 4 track sampler on vinyl - let's hope the rest make their way onto vinyl soon.
Simon Harrison, 10/05
Hal Singer & Jef Gilson - Soul Of AfricaKindred Spirits
Another gem has been released from the jazz vaults. “Soul Of Africa” is wonderful work from pianist Jef Gilson and Tenor saxophonist Hal Singer that was recorded in Paris during burgeoning jazz scene in the seventies. Jef Gilson was already building a reputation as a talented pianist in Paris while Hal Singer was best known for his RnB work. Together, they create timeless pieces that serves up an African flavor thanks largely to the percussion work of Del Rabenja and Gerard Rakotoarivony. On “Mother Earth”, the track starts off with Del and Gerard laying down the groove while Hal’s tenor floats above it. This tune is also enhanced by Bernard Lubat on vibes. “Garvey’s Strut” is a real winner as well. Gilson’s work here is spirited and uplifting while Hal’s robust playing is the perfect complement. Soulful and rhythmic, “Soul Of Africa” is essential listening.
Reg Dancy, 06/08
Harmonic 313 - When Machines Exceed Human IntelligenceWarp Records
Okay, so this has been around for a few months now and I should have reviewed it much earlier. On the positive side, this has given me the chance to live with the album for a while and really listen to it for pleasure and not because I have to. So, I can honestly say that this latest offering from the UK’s Mark Pritchard – now based in Sydney – is really quite brilliant. Imagine Dilla composing the score to the classic ‘80s movie Tron and you’ve got a fairly good idea of the sound and style of “When Machines…”. Purely synthetic – not unlike Dorian Concept’s material – with huge, growling, Dub-influenced bass-lines and Donkey Kong-esque early video game effects, the tracks are haunting, Sci-Fi sound-scapes with the swagger and swing of Detroit Hip-Hop. This is captured most perfectly in ‘Battlestar’ featuring Dilla’s former collaborators Phat Kat and Elzhi (the ever impressive Steve Spacek contributes elsewhere on the album). If you haven’t checked this out yet then you absolutely must, particularly if you’re a fan of next generation, Beat Dimensions type Hip-Hop.
Tom Breslin, 05/09
Hartley and Wolfe - Bespoke FutureBBE
Hartley & Wolfe is the alias for Dj Vadim and singer Greg Blackman. "Bespoke Future" is filled with tasty electro soul and edgy funk grooves. You may be familiar with Blackmon from Vadim's previous lp "Don't Be Scared". While he only appeared on just a couple of tracks on that disc his rugged vocals are on display throughout here. Among the highlights are "You've Got Nothing", a mid-tempo soul groover. "Room To Breathe" is a gritty funk tasty treat. "Turn Up The Volume" and "Lady Sunshine" are soulful grooves with funky synths. "Bespoke Future" is reminiscent of the eighties funk and synth era and Vadim skillfully taps into that sound. Greg and Vadim combine tight production and cutting edge vocals for an entertaining disc.
Reg Dancy, 11/13
Hawa - My Little Green BoxFavorite Recordings
Macon, France native Jennifer Zonou, aka Hawa has steadily built an impressive resume since starting her career in 2000. After working with local acts around France she eventually connected with Pascal Rioux of Favorite Recordings where she released her first single “D.A.N.C.E.”. A chance meeting with Bruno Howart of Patchworks would ultimately evolved into her debut lp. That is good news since “My Little Green Box” is earthy striped down soul that fits neatly within the Patchworks funk soul roster that includes The Dynamics and Mr. President. Among the highlights are “Never Give Up”, a mellow groover that brims with yearning intensity. “Lost Girl” is a good vibes up-tempo gem ignited by infectious rhythm guitar playing. “Spin Me Around” is another keeper about someone who lifts your spirits when you have those days when everything goes wrong. Hawa’s sun drenched vocals are surrounded beautifully by an irresistible groove, highlighted by the Hammond B3 organ and funky horns. Hawa scores with an impressive debut that certifies her as someone to keep an eye on. This is an enjoyable lp that will harken memories to old soul analog classics that you wish you held onto. This spirited recording will make you think they never left.
Reg Dancy, 07/11
Hazmat Modine - BahamutBarbes Records
This debut release is one to go straight to the top of your shopping list if you like your music deeply rooted but adventurous, when I say deeply rooted the core influence is the blues but when I tell you that Huur-Huur-Tu, the Tuvan throat singers guest on 3 tracks then you know there's something different going on here. The band features the dueling harmonicas of front-man Wade Schuman and Randy Weinstein, the funky tuba of Joseph Daly plus Pete Smith, Michael Gomez, Rich Huntley, Pam Fleming and Steve Elson. They bring in elements of early blues, rockabilly, klezmer, reggae and Romanian brass and make it sound simply wonderful.
Graham Radley, 08/07
He3 Project - Chapter OneFamily Groove Records
It makes you wonder just how many quality recording there are that never see the light of day for various reasons. Thankfully someone had the good sense to dust off the tapes lying in the garage of Herman Eberitzcsh and eventually that led to the He3 Project. Herman, known back in the seventies as Funky knuckles assembled an eclectic group of musicians like Coke Escovedo, Funkadelic drummer Tiki Fulwood and vocalists Linda Tillery and Johnny Lovett, among others. The music was deemed too experimental and never saw the light of day until now. We are grateful for there is much to savor. “Rapture Of The Deep” is a jazz infused psychedelic funk odyssey. “Funk Punk” is aptly titled as the band delivers a slick head nodding groove that’s in the pocket and funky. “Make It Sweet” is another winner that features a funky lead guitar and Johnny Lovett’s smoothing vocals sail over the melody. This is essential listening if you can’t get enough of that classic soul sound that stretches out to different places but never too far that you lose your way. The best part is that this is just the beginning as there are more grooves in the garage coming our way soon. Stay tuned for we can hardly wait.
Reg Dancy, 09/10
Heavy - First SessionsKindred Spirits
If you were one of the enlightened ones to become captivated by the outstanding Heavy ep of 2004 then “First Sessions” is exactly what you’ve been missing. That five track ep merely scratched the surface of this talented duo and left us hungry for more. “First Sessions” expands on that music and also includes a few gems from the vaults of the Kindred Spirits label. The multiple musical skills of Casey Benjamin and the beautiful vocals of Nicky Guilland are in full bloom on familiar tracks like “Do for you” and “Just can’t get”. There is also the ode to Minnie Ripperton on the melodic “Wonderlove”, the original version as well as the Jazzanova remix. They equally shine on previously unreleased tracks like “Sez who sez me”, the Sesame street jingle never sounded so good. The aptly named “Summer Song” is so refreshing, the kind of feel good song that would brighten anyone’s somber mood. “I know my way” is a funky down-tempo gem with a wicked organ groove. If that’s not enough, there’s the Yam Who? Remix of “Do for you” and the DJ Spinna remix of “Just can’t get”. It would have been a crime to keep all this good music on the shelf. Kudos to Heavy and Kindred Spirits for sharing it with everyone.
Reg Dancy, 04/09