I:Cube - Live At The PlanetariumVersatile Records
In June 2005 I:Cube played the Star Ball festival at the Planetarium de la Villette in Paris and here is your chance to hear a 55 minute snippet of the I:Cube Playmobil spaceship to enjoy in your own living room. This performance is a mix up of Electronica, Ambient, Dub, Deep House and beautifully structured in such a way that you need to listen to the whole album from start to finish for it to make perfect sense. If you dip and skip you will miss the point and ambiance of this album, so take time out and listen properly.
Simon Harrison, 02/06
Ibrahim Ferrer - Mi SuenoNonesuch Records
The sad part is that Ibrahim died three weeks before the final recording session for this but thankfully his final wish and dream, that his beloved bolero album be completed has now been realised. From the very first note Ibrahim's voice grips you emotionally, music that is not beyond making you shed a tear as it gently dances with you. There's a superb small group behind the great man which includes Roberto Fonesca and Cachaito Lopez. Wonderful.
Graham Radley, 05/07
Idea 6 - MetropoliDéjà vu Recordings
Idea 6 are a sextet consisting of old timers (no disrespect intended) Gianni Basso and Dino Piana on sax and trombone respectively along with younger cats Guido Pistocchi on trumpet, Luciano Milanese on double bass, Stefano Bagnoli on drums and Andrea Pozza on piano. 'Metropoli' is a modern Italian jazz album rooted in the 50s and 60s modal and bop style and across 6 tracks they display their talents to great effect. 'Windly Coast' just edges it for me at the moment but this is excellent throughout. An album for life, not just for Christmas!
Andy Allen, 01/06
Idrissa Diop & Cheikh Tidiane Tall - Diamonoye TiopiteTarangabeat
“Cheikh Tidiane” is the first of several releases from the Senegal based label “Terangabeat” which features the music of Idrissa Diop. Diop is the man largely responsible for the music known as Mbalax, which merges Senegalese with Latin rhythms and paved the way for artists like Youssou N’Dour and Omar Pene . This release covers some of his strongest recordings from 1969-76 with the band Sahel. The latin flavor is evident on tracks like “Yaye Boye”, a warm laidback tune highlighted by Idrissa’s tenor flavored vocals and Cheikh Tidianne Tall’s rhythmic guitar playing. “Caridad” is another winner filled with sparkling percussions and soaring keys. Sahel’s harmonious horn section figures prominently on “Fonkale Garape” as well as Tidiane Tall’s guitar soloing. Their spirited playing elevates the compositions to another level. The sound quality on the recording is the only drawback as several tracks have an analog sound and you wonder how much better this would if it was digitally remastered. That said, “Diamonoye Tiopite” is a hidden treasure that brims with emotion, energy and is filled with heartfelt lyrics. Kudos to Terangabeat for allowing this disc to see the light of day.
Reg Dancy, 07/11
IG Culture Presents - Zen BadizmFreedom School
One of the pioneers of the West London broken beat scene, IG Culture returns with a spiritually conscious project that embarks on a journey through the history of black music and its culture. All of IG’s influences from soul and jazz to funk and hip hop are molded together here and the results are incredible. The jazz influences are especially notable in that you hear the sounds of Sun Ra and the African rhythms that is instrumental in his music. “Zen Badizm” plays out like a suite as the disc is broken down into three segments. The first segment is twenty minutes long and starts off with “Black”, a broken soul track that deals with some of the struggles within the black community. “Any Questions” finds the underrated rapper John Robinson (aka Lil Sci) dropping science about self empowerment and not succumbing to the traps that hold back youth. Bilal Salaam is a soul singer to keep an eye on. He sounds an awful lot like Eddie Kendricks on “Girl U Need A change Of Mind”. The only drawback for me is that this disc is only about 43 minutes so it left me wanting more. That being said, Zen Badizm is a great piece of work by IG Culture. The man has assembled a fine catalogue of quality music under many monikers and this project is no exception. This is essential listening.
Reg Dancy, 09/08
IJahman Levi - Versatile LifeMediacom Records
Good to hear that sweet voice again, 10 new tracks all written and produced by Ijahman and recorded at Anchor & Channel One in Jamaica. The laidback style picks up from the classic albums of the late 70s (Hail I Hymn and Are We has Warrior) again spreading the word on Rastafarianism and humanity in general. Check out 'Robin Hood' and 'Witness'. Superb - highly recommended.
Graham Radley, 08/07
Ikebe Shakedown - Stone By StoneUbiquity
"Stone By Stone", the sophomore release by the seven piece Brooklyn NY based band is packed with all the ingredients that made their debut such a hit. There's blistering horns, funky guitar rhythms and lively percussion yet the sound is more layered then the self titled debut. There's less of a jam session feel and the result is more mature compositions. There are a number of standout tracks like "The Offering" and "Last Stand", both are head nodding hip shaking tracks. The title track "Stone By Stone" is a laid back tune with psychedelic arrangements. Recorded at Daptone studios, Ikebe Shakedown are representing the raw soul and funk movement in a huge way.
Reg Dancy, 07/14
Incognito - SurrealShanachie
We look forward to a new release from Incognito much like we welcome the arrival of spring and with “Surreal” there is plenty of good vibrations to brighten your mood no matter what the season. Bluey is joined by his longtime collaborator Maysa plus special guests Mo Brandis, UK songstress’s Natalie Williams and Vanessa Haynes. Mo’s smooth falsetto voice blazes the dance track “Goodbye To Yesterday” while Vanessa’s soaring vocals blesses the horn friendly “Ain’t It Time”. Williams’s buttery vocals are pure bliss on the mid-tempo taster “Restful As We Are”. “Rivers Of The Sun” is classic Acid Jazz Incognito that we can never get enough of, hypnotic Rhodes, tasty horns and an infectious groove. Just when you think they can’t take you higher, Bluey and company deliver a superb record that is vintage Incognito and one of the strongest full length releases to emerge this year.
Reg Dancy, 05/12
Incognito - Tales From The BeachDome Records
It may have been ten years between the release of Incognito’s debut album ‘Jazz Funk’ (1981) and their second ‘Inside Life’ (1991) but since then Bluey and his collective have certainly made up for it as ‘Tales From The Beach’ marks their 13th release. As always the production is faultless and although there’s nothing unexpected here it will no doubt please their legion of fans. For me though the real winner on this set is ‘Feel The Pressure’, an infectious jazz-funk meets broken-beat monster co-produced by Ski Oakenfull and featuring Tony Momrelle, Imaani and Joy Rose on vocals.
Andy Allen, 06/08
Incognito - Transatlantic RPMDome Records
Incognito has been blessing us with jazzy flavored soulful dance tracks for over thirty years and on their latest release “Transatlantic RPM”, One has to admire Bluey’s taste in musicians across the pond for he has recruited an all star line-up to add some additional flavor to his signature sound. You can’t go wrong when you open the set with the incomparable Chaka Khan. While she does a fine job covering the Boz Scaggs classic “Low Down”, she sounds superb alongside Mario Biondi on “The Song”. “Gotta” features a softer side of Poet/Singer Ursula Rucker that is soothing to the eardrums. Of course an Incognito album wouldn’t be complete without the beautiful voice of Maysa and she shines on “Your Sun My Sky”. The rhythm section stretches out and lays down a nice groove on “Expresso Madureira” and “Can’t Get Enough” is an infectious dance track. When you think of the pinnacle of Incognito albums, “Positivity” and “100 Degrees and Rising” come to mind. I’m not ready to add this one to that list but it’s certainly their strongest release since “Adventures In Black Sunshine”. Long time fans and newcomers will certainly this one throughout.
Reg Dancy, 01/11