Hollie Cook - TwiceMr Bongo
"Twice", the followup to the critically acclaimed debut from Hollie Cook picks up where she left off. That is serenading us with tropical string laden reggae tunes filled with cinematic sound scapes. Indeed Holli's sunny vibe and breathless vocals are as refreshing as a cool summer breeze. Cook and Prince Fatty, who also produced her first album strike the right chord on tunes like "Ari Up", "99" and "Looking For Real Love", "Postman" is another gem augmented by the steel pan rhythms. With nine tracks in total, the disc moves along swiftly with no weak tunes to skip over. Overall "Twice" is a lovers rock filled with affairs of the heart that you'll find irresistible
Reg Dancy, 10/14
Homecut - No Freedom Without SacrificeFirst Word Records
Homecut is a six member ensemble that is the creation of rapper/vocalist Testament delivering soulful hip-hop with live instrumentation. The results are a refreshing blend of laidback grooves with jazzy overtones that bring to mind the early days of the Brand New Heavies while Testament’s rhymes’ evoke memories of the native tongues. The first single “I don’t even know” features Corrine Bailey Rae and Soweto Kinch. Corrine sings the chorus over a laidback piano riff with Testament and Soweto dropping verses lamenting the struggles of a hard knock life. “Not too far to go” showcases a funky baseline and finds Testament singing over a soothing keys and flute collaboration. “Time difference” is a laidback jazzy tune that Testament sharing the stage with J-Live. You won’t find any sampling on this disc, just soulful bangers with thought provoking lyrics that will move your feet and stir your soul. When you add contributors like Andreya Triana and Lee Sun to the mix, you have one record that definitely deserves a place in your collection.
Reg Dancy, 09/09
Horace Silver Quintet - Further ExplorationsBlue Note Records
Here we find an interesting and unusual line up in an early manifestation of the Silver band. Clifford Jordan joins the group for this one session and works well with then band regular Art Farmer in his prime. This long overdue re-issue (formerly only available in Japan)includes a reworked version of 'Safari' that Silver recorded on his first Blue Note album taken at a rapid tempo, while 'Moon Rays' is a hypnotic mid-tempo groover that features a fine solo from Jordan. The latinisms that would become so much a part of the Silver repertoire surface on 'Pyramid'courtesy of polyrhythms from Louis Hayes. While this was not yet the fully developed Silver sound of the mid-1960s with the likes of Junior Cook and Blue Mitchell and catchy tunes that would cluminate in the hit 'Song for my father', the line up on 'Further Explorations' is almost there and one wonders what would have happened had this set of musicians stayed together.
Tim Stenhouse, 05/08
Huba - HubaJupiter Records
My first encounter with Huba came after picking up two other releases on the Jupiter label; an album by Fly and one by Teddy Rok Seven. This led me on to the Quintessence album followed by Jukka Eskola... the link? Finland! Nothing could quite prepare me for Huba's 12" release 'Mary' - heavy vinyl - heavy tune. Perfect music. The word spread and all the right faces soon had the twelve in their collection, but then what? Well for me it all went a little too quiet for my liking until... the album - delight, expectation, nervousness, enthusiasm, even celebration as the opening 'Mary' floods the memory banks with euphoria. So I sit, late on a mild November night, headphones tight and volume... yeh! Just right. Each of the twelve compositions blend beautifully from one to the next, no disruption, fantastic musicianship prominent and wonderful exciting ideas clear.... ouch 'Brave & Strong' smacks you centre face - invigorating soulful and powerful. What next? Funky licks with 'Who's Got The Nerve', a monster of a tune that gets the pulses racing, and then jazz with the vocal stamp of authority that is Huba. A great groover and a serious contender for a 12" release in the New Year me thinks. So what's the verdict? Well for those of you not familiar with Huba need this simply for 'Mary' - those of you that oh-so-big-step in front will die for 'Like Sly Says' and 'Summer Morn', but for me.. where the money is? Well it's all about 'Natural High' the most soulful tune since the year 1979... tears appear. A happy man am I. This gets full marks and then some.
Steve Williams, 11/06
Hugh Masekela - The Chisa Years: 1965-1975 (Rare and <br>Unreleased)BBE Records
A treat for all music fans, this collection of (mostly) previously unreleased material is an Afro-groove flavoured melting pot of Reggae, Disco, Rock and Jazz. Chisa Records was established by Hugh Masekela and Stewart Levine in 1966, in the hope of providing a home for the unique brand of �African American Music� which they had been pioneering through a number of bands and musical projects at that time. Over the next 10 years, they enjoyed success with some classic Crusaders albums, and recordings from Masekela himself; but the music contained in this collection was largely never released. Featuring the likes of The Zulus and Johannesburg Street Band, it is the product of an amazing array of supremely talented musicians, with vocals coming from the incredible Miatta Fahinbulleh and Letta Mbulu. All 14 tracks are pure Afro-infused delight; but the lyrically superior �Witch Doctor� just about outshines the rest. Not to be consigned to the abyss of �World� music!
Tom Breslin, 03/06
Hundred Stong - Basement BluesAltered Vibes
Some of you may remember the single 'All Ain't The Same' from 2004, which featured quality vocals from Joseph Malik. well here is the full album which features Malik on two tracks, and a whole host of guests including Alison Crockett, Def Harmonic and Jason Todd. Once the needle hit the record I was hooked, the lyrics and production are superb with some basslines from hell. When finished I was sat there wanting more. Don't miss out on one of the highlights of 2005.
Simon Harrison, 06/05
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Hypnotic Brass EnsembleHonest Jon's Records
There aren't many notable brass bands to compare the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble to other than the festive party bands in New Orleans but the Hypnotic Brass ensemble isn't your typical brass band. For starters there roots are steeped in jazz, considering that each of the band's seven members are sons of jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran, once a member of Sun Ra Arkestra. Clearly the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Once you add the jazz aesthetic to their hip-hop rhythms you have yourself a collective whose energy is relentless and never lets up. The band drives through tunes like "Alyo", complete with a tight rhythm section and a synergy among the horn players not often heard. On "Ballicki Bone" they bring down the tempo and create a soulful mid-tempo groove. "Jupiter" is a mellow number where the trumpet player and trombonist trade phrases with each other. The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble have succeeded in creating compositions that are rousing and engaging. You won't find many records this year with a band performing as well as this.
Reg Dancy, 12/09