Music Reviews

Show: New reviews | Artists beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9 | Compilations
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Funkhaus Studio Sessions / Jazzanova

Jazzanova - Funkhaus Studio Sessions

Sonar Kollektiv

The Berlin collective known as Jazzanova have compiled a catalogue that long time veterans would trade their right arm to have in their possession and the numerous remixes and compilations is a testament to their success. Over the years they’ve evolved from creating timeless electronic grooves from the critically acclaimed “In Between” to composing timeless soul gems featured on “Off All The Things”. Now with “Funkhaus Studio Sessions” they have taken to the stage and improvise on their catalogue and display a musical side previously unheard from the group. Paul Randolph, who provided vocals to the 2009 hit “Let Me Show Ya”, revisits that tune and other recordings from the Jazzanova catalogue with startling results.  Randolph’s raw emotive vocal chops resonate on several tracks like “No Use”. Originally sung by Clara Hill, Paul adds a touch of his own tenderness to this down-tempo ambient gem. Part 2 of this tune is a funkier version that demonstrates the cohesion the band has achieved from their constant touring during the past three years.  “I Human” is the only original track featured here. Co-written by Randolph, It’s a light hearted tune that pokes fun at the social media world we now live in. There are many more highlights like the atmospheric “Believer”, a Randolph original from his “Lonely Eden album.  The disc wraps up in grand fashion with Shaun Escoffery’s “Let Me Go”. Paul and fellow Jazzanova musicians let loose on the 2002 hit that serves as a fitting finale to a disc that deserves daily spins in your musical rotation. Simply stated it’s another superb recording by Jazzanova and one of the best lps you’ll hear this year.

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Reg Dancy, 08/12

Of All The Things / Jazzanova

Jazzanova - Of All The Things

Verve

There are good records that you will play for a few days, maybe a few weeks before they fade to black. Then you have that great record that you have been playing for weeks. The weeks turn into months and before you know it you have a future classic in your possession that you can’t put down. Jazzanova’s new release “Of All The things” would belong to the latter. The new record features appearances from Ben Westbeech, Leon Ware and Jose James just to name a few. Where their last record “In Between” was more of a electronic offering, “Of All The Things” is packed with 70’s soul, Brazilian bossa and jazzy ballads that provide immediate satisfaction. Among the many highlights is “Let Me Show Ya”, a song that is simply love at first listen. This is classic soul music at its best and the voice of Paul Randolph is smooth, rich and passionate. The same track gets sampled and reworked into a hip-hop track entitled “So Far From Home” that is performed flawlessly by Phonte of Little Brother. “Gafiera” is a nice breezy Brazilian tune performed by Pedro Martins & Azymuth. It’s always a treat to hear Bembe Segue and hearing her sing a jazz tune is an added bonus. “Morning Scapes” is an excellent combination of sultry vocals and live instrumentation, particularly Magnus Lindgren’s performance on flute. In fact, the Jazzanova musicians bring a sense of warmth on every track here that reminds you of how music used to be made. Before you purchase any other record, be sure you have “Of All The Things”. Jazzanova delivers an outstanding disc that delivers one great track after another. This is without a doubt one of the best records of 2008.

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Reg Dancy, 11/08

Up & Out / Jazzinvaders

Jazzinvaders - Up & Out

Social Beats

In May 2005 a Social Beats twelve track sampler dropped on my doorstep and featured three tracks by the unknown to me Jazzinvaders. The main track "Up & Out" became a firm favourite and was in my record box for the rest of the year. Producer/percussionist Phil Martin is the force behind the Jazzinvaders with contributions from two members of the Dutch jazz band The Houdini's: Rolf Delfos on horns and saxophone and Erwin Hoorweg on piano. It initially started off as a jam session and eventually turned into a cracking album, combining latin and afro beats with some moustache tingling basslines that will keep any dancefloor happy. Lovely vocals are by Danish jazz vocalist Mette Burild and Dutch vocalist Linda Bloemhard, to round off a quality album.

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Simon Harrison, 03/06

Cannibal Rock & En:Code / Jazztronik

Jazztronik - Cannibal Rock & En:Code

Tokuma Japan Communications

These latest offerings from Ryota Nazaki follow a similar path to that walked on his previous sets, seamlessly fusing elements of jazz, Brazilian, house, broken beat etc. The Flora Purim fronted 'Dentro De Mim', 'Dentro Mi Alma' featuring Sonia Santana and the title track on 'Cannibal Rock' all shine brightly, as does the twisted broken cut, 'Beeping'. 'En:Code' opens with the spiritual vibes of 'Pathways (Jazztronik Theme)' with Valarie Etienne and Rob Gallagher, a track 4 Hero would have been proud of. It then passes through the Marcos Valle blessed 'Rio. Sol E Mar', 'Little Tree', a violin led waltz and the epic tech-jazz title track. I hear through the grapevine that Pantone are soon to release the best tracks from this pair on a single CD album for the UK market.

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Andy Allen, 03/06

Remixes I & II / Jazztronik

Jazztronik - Remixes I & II

Tokuma Japan Communications

Jazztronik is certainly making sure we spend lots of cash - especially those outside of Japan - with another two cd release. As I'm sure you guessed by the title, it's time for the remixers to have their way with the tracks from albums Cannibal Rock and En:Code. Both cds are jampacked with all the big name producers/remixers with their new interpretations. On the first few listens I am leaning towards Part II with essential re-works from Domu, Two Banks of Four, Needs, Louie Vega, DJ Mitsu, 2000 Black and that's only half of them. The first cd is certainly worth a listen even just for the wonderful Sleepwalker remix of "Pathways" and Osunlade's remix seems to be causing quite a stir with select djs. OK it's expensive but worth every penny.

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Simon Harrison, 04/06

Samurai / Jazztronik

Jazztronik - Samurai

Pantone Music

Soul DJ Andy Davies kick starts his new Streetsoul label in fine style with this Chicago rarity which he discovered on acetate whilst working at John Anderson's Soul Bowl record shop during the mid 90s. After airing 'Joy Trip (Part 1)' on his radio show the track caused a huge buzz amongst the soul fraternity and has eventually resulted in this release. 'Joy Trip (Part 1)' is a majestic string fueled two stepper of the highest order but the album packed full of quality tunes covering northern, crossover and funk styles plus a great version of The Lovelites' 'Get It Off My Conscience'.

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Andy Allen, 09/05

Best Of Friends / Jerline & Friends

Jerline & Friends - Best Of Friends

Streetsoul Records

Soul DJ Andy Davies kick starts his new Streetsoul label in fine style with this Chicago rarity which he discovered on acetate whilst working at John Anderson’s Soul Bowl record shop during the mid 90s. After airing ‘Joy Trip (Part 1)’ on his radio show the track caused a huge buzz amongst the soul fraternity and has eventually resulted in this release. ‘Joy Trip (Part 1)’ is a majestic string fueled two stepper of the highest order but the album packed full of quality tunes covering northern, crossover and funk styles plus a great version of The Lovelites’ ‘Get It Off My Conscience’.

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Andy Allen, 05/07

Let Me Show You  / Jesse James

Jesse James - Let Me Show You

Soul Junction

I was first introduced to deep soul vocalist Jesse James in the early 90s when I bought a copy of the brilliant I’ve Been There Before (Gunsmoke) on 45 from Birmingham’s respected soul collector and radio DJ, Mickey Nold. Jesse James actually goes back way further though and has been recording since the late 60s. On Let Me Show You, the quality UK label, Soul Junction draws together a selection of ten rare and previously unreleased tracks recorded in the 70s. I Feel Your Love Changing is an anthemic modern soul swayer as is I Gave You Love With An A Plus. Also check out his version of the brilliant Just As Long As We’re In Love written by the legendary Terry Callier and Larry Wade and previously recorded by TC himself and The (mighty) Dells. Jesse gets funky on One And Only Love and I’m In Love With Loving You, neither of which would have sounded out of place on any of Willie Hutch’s 70s albums. I Got The Feeling and Let Me Show You are classy steppers but touch down anywhere on this set and you won’t be disappointed.

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Andy Allen, 03/14

Four / Jessica Lauren

Jessica Lauren - Four

Freestyle

Pianist Jessica Lauren has built a diverse resume, having chaired with everyone from soul icons Jean Carne and Dexter Wansel, to present day visionaries like Emanative and Scrimshire . With “Jessica Lauren Four” she has blended elements of soul, gospel and Latin Jazz melodies into an impressive intimate engagement worthy of repeated listens. The disc kicks off with the hypnotic “White Mountain”, an ambient tune filled with deep grooves and lush rhythms that would fit comfortably either on the dance floor or in your dining room. Jessica glides into an assortment of Latin arrangements that showcase her superb use of time and space, effectively allowing her compositions to breathe and her musicians to shine. That’s apparent on “Mel Benson” where David “Booie” Gallagher and Paul Gunter’s rhythmic percussion wizardry erupt throughout the track. “Swamp Thing” is haunting, moody and simply gorgeous, thanks in part to bassist Andrew Kramer’s dark grooves. Legendary vocalist Jocelyn Brown appears on the disco flavored “Happiness Train” but it’s the gospel inspired “I Believe”, highlighted by Jessica’s shivering organ grinding that will awaken your spirit. “Jessica Lauren Four” is filled with compositions benefiting from her delicate approach that ultimately evolves into one enjoyable record.

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Reg Dancy, 05/12

Grassroots - The Prologue / Jigmastas

Jigmastas - Grassroots - The Prologue

BBE

It is widely accepted that the golden age of Hip Hop took place throughout the 1990s. Among the diverse collection of MCs and groups were the dynamic MC/DJ Producer collaborations. Think Gangstarr, Pete Rock and CL Smooth. Another combo that made a lot of noise on the underground scene was the duo known as Jigmastas. Brooklyn based DJ Spinna and Kriminul made their share of hypnotic street music. With "Grassroots - The Prologue" we're re-introduced to the impressive catalog of beats and rhymes this dynamic duo put together. "Lyrical Fluctuation" is a gathering of some of hip hop most influential lyricists. Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoah Monch, Mr Complex and Shabaam Sahdeeq all jump on the track while Krimnul drops potent verses as well "Thief's Theme" is another banger highlighted by Spinna's sampling of Nas "The World is Yours". You're certain to nod your head to "Beyond Real" filled with hypnotic spacey synths and thick beats . Throughout the disc Kriminul fluently displays the depths of his lyrical arsenal. Spinna, for his part chops up beats and arranges tracks with the best of them. If you yearn for some good ole boom bap hip hop then this is definitely the one for you.

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Reg Dancy, 10/15

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