Joash - Don't Fear It, Fight ItCompost Records
London producer Joash’s debut is an electronic dance offering highlighted by jazz and pop influenced rhythms and dreamy orchestral soundscapes. Joash started his career as a drummer before becoming drawn to dance and techno by the likes of Plastikman and Laurent Garnier. That admiration has served him well on this release, which features notable selections like the bossa flavored “The First Cause”. “Mission” starts out with a symphony sample that builds into an beat driven futuristic hip-hop gem. Rapper Replife’s take no prisoners approach is the perfect complement to the track. “Montreal” has a jazz fusion vibe in part by the electric guitar inspired melodies. “Climb” is orchestral pop highlighted by the vocals of David Frith. Among the fifteen tracks there are three orchestral remixes but the end of the disc I felt I overindulged, trimming it down to nine or ten original tracks would’ve been enough. Overall this is a solid debut that should spring a promising run of more quality recordings.
Reg Dancy, 05/11
Jocelyn Brown - UnreleasedDigisoul
Just before I received 'Unreleased', I found out that Jocelyn had been on a reality TV show and even though this may well boost sales of this album, I was a little unsure what to expect. Of course I have no idea how well she did, but with a voice as good as Jocelyn's it was unlikely the real world would vote for a real talent, rather than some second-rate pop star. One thing for sure is that Jocelyn has an amazing voice and had featured on far too many tracks to mention here. All fourteen tracks here are certainly aimed at the modern soul scene and a pleasure to listen to. The standout track for me is the excellent 'She'd Called', which is Jocelyn at her best. Ensure you give this a listen.
Simon Harrison, 05/06
Jody Watley - The MakeoverAvitone Recordings
The career that Jody Watley has carved out for herself has been nothing short of phenomenal. When you have been an icon in the music business for three decades and still remain relevant, you’re indeed in a class by yourself. As the title of her latest project suggests, “The makeover” is an alternative take of classic songs Ms Watley has personally picked out as well as a couple of her greatest hits. One of those hits featured here is the classic “Don’t you want me?”, arranged here in a house version courtesy of King Britt. Ms Watley displays great taste in handpicking songs that sound as if they were written just for her. Take for example the Chic classic “I want your love” and Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover”. She stays true to form on both tracks but her rearrangement of Madonna’s “Borderline” is something special. As for her own original work, there’s “A beautiful Life” is a pulsating house track and “Bed of Roses” is a soulful drum n bass gem that is produced by 4 Hero. “The Makeover” is filled with quality music past, present and future. Jody Watley refuses to rest on past success and we continue to reap the benefits.
Reg Dancy, 10/09
Joe Clausell Black Coffee - The Djoon ExperienceBBE
“The Djoon Experience” is an experience in dance culture of great proportions. The infamous club located in Eastern Paris captures the spirit of good vibes and soulful house music. The latter of which is in large supply thanks to acclaimed DJs Joe Clausell and South Africa’s own Black Coffee. If your feet and hips aren’t moving within minutes of “The Djoon Experience” compilation then I suggest you check your pulse. Joe Clausell and Black Coffee blend infectious house music that lifts your spirits and transports House music enthusiasts to a place filled with peace love and harmony. Like all the great DJs, Clausell and Coffee capture the mood of party people that frequent the club and propel them to greater heights with a tasty assortment of past and future classics. Among those treats are Gregory Porter’s “1960 What!”, Hugh Masekela’s “We are One” and Ian Friday’s remix of “My Love Song” featuring Nickson. Other highlights include “All Alone” featuring Vikter Duplaix and the DJ Kent Club mix of “Sunrise” featuring Zaki Ibrahim. There’s much more to savor but believe me, “The Djoon Experience” is a highly recommended purchase that will remind you why you love House music so much in the first place.
Reg Dancy, 06/13
Joe Lovano - SymphonicaBlue Note Records
Fans of straightahead jazz know that Joe Lovano is one of the most important tenor saxophonists in the business. His catalogue is far too long to list here. As impressive as he has been through the years, his latest may be one of his best. “Symphonica”, his 20th recording for Blue Note, is an orchestral masterpiece. The main reason for that is the enlistment of the WDR Radio Big Band from Cologne, Germany. With the exception of “Sound Of Love”, the other six tracks are his own compositions that he previously recorded for other projects. One of those compositions is “Eternal Joy”, an energetic track that finds Lovano playing soprano and creating melodic explorations. “Alexander the Great” is another gem that is also full of fire but is very elegant and imaginative. “I’m All For You” is a lovely ballad that is full of lush strings and romantic harmonies. Warm and cinematic, “Symphonica” is wonderful work by an underrated giant. Make sure you don’t miss out on this.
Reg Dancy, 12/08
Johnick - This Is How We DewBBE
If you happen to be one of the night clubbers who worked up a sweat in the underground clubs during the nineties there’s a strong chance you jacked your body to a Johnick track or two. If you were in New York City then the chances are even greater considering Johnny ‘D’ DeMairo and Nicky Palermo crafted countless house tracks just across the bridge in nearby Brooklyn and received numerous spins by the top DJ’s throughout NYC and around the globe. In fact alongside premier House labels like Strictly Rhythm, Johnick’s Henry Street imprint produced some of the hottest House music during this period. Now courtesy of BBE, you get to experience their deep douse grooves that remain relevant and certain to make you move throughout the night. “This Is How We Dew” is filled with classics such as “Play the World”, aided by a sample of another house banger; River Ocean’s “Love and Happiness. “The Captain” is a deep and soulful track that instantly fills any dance floor and “Smoke” is a superb edit of the Eddie Kendricks classic. This double lp is filled with funky four to the floor beats, not to mention a snapshot of two world renowned DJ/producers and their essential contributions to House music.
Reg Dancy, 09/12
Jonathan Klein/Herbie Hancock - Hear, O Israel: A Prayer Ceremony In JazzJonny Records
Record collector extraordinaire Jonny Trunk launches his new Jonny label (subsidiary to Trunk) in fine style with a reissue of this “rare as rocking horse shit” album. Originally released in 1968 as a private pressing in limited quantities it was the work of a young composer (only 17 years old at the time) Jonathan Klein who married Hebrew song and prayer with New York modern jazz. With players of the caliber of Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Jerome Richardson and Grady Tate this makes for a glorious listening experience. From the opening intro ‘Blessing Over The Candles’ which comes on like the dawning of a bright new day, through intoxicating moments like ‘Sanctification’, the bossa flavoured ‘Kiddush’ to the concluding ‘Final Amen’ this music is truly a blessing to behold.
Andy Allen, 09/08
Jonny Drop - Beat TapeAlbert's Favourites
London based DJ Jonny Drop latest release "Beat Tape" offers a myriad of rhythms that your average beat tape doesn't. Instead of your usual electronic drum patterns supplying the beats there are snare drum rhythms reminiscent from the seventies soul period that provide the foundation. Not too surprising considering Drop is an avid drummer himself. Add some sassy jazz vocal samples and astral melodies and you have a recording that provides definite satisfaction. Highlights include "Mind field" is cosmic jazz funk with ethereal vocal samples. "Billy's Girl"features spacey keys and dreamy soundscapes. "This Is The One" is filled with haunting vocals and strings. This release is filled with superb remixing as well as a glimpse into Drop's musical archive. As far as beat tapes go, this is definitely a cut above the rest.
Reg Dancy, 05/16
JonWayne - Rap Album OneStones Throw
Long before "Rap Album One", Jon Wayne showcased his skills as a producer with the instrumental album "Bowser" as well his three "Cassette" mixtape series. So it's no surprise to find him successfully performing dual roles on his Stones Throw debut. JonWayne's dark yet introspective lyrics serves as an open book that reveals a man with a plan who has little time for playing the fake thug role. This is evident on the track like"Find Me In The Future". where he states "You won't find me doing those silly dances with the proverbial gun to my face. This ain't Kansas!". On "You Can Love Me When I'm Dead" he displays his lyrical skills and art of story telling over a chilling chopped up piano sample. Other highlights include "Black Magic" and "The Come Up". "Rap Album One" succeeds due to JonWayne's ability to wax poetic on his story as opposed to rehashing tired cliches. For hip-hop heads who can appreciate lyrical skills and tight production, he's certainly worth checking out.
Reg Dancy, 01/14
Jose James - Black MagicBrownswood Recordings
Unless you took up residence on the moon two years ago, you surely were among those who celebrated a new voice in Jazz. With “The Dreamer”, Jose James serenaded jazz and non-jazz lovers with a voice not heard since the likes of Johnny Hartman. His velvet tone coupled with outstanding compositions made “The Dreamer” a huge hit. Two years later, Jose returns with “Black Magic” and it’s clear that he’s intent on not reinventing the wheel. Instead he steps out of the box and crafts a gorgeous disc filled with a variety of compositional styles that embarks on an exploration of deep spiritual love and the joy that it brings. The disc starts out with “Code”. The flying Lotus production is a down-tempo hypnotic groover that will have your head nodding within seconds. From this point on, love and sensuality permeates throughout the disc. “Touch” is an intimate portrayal of a man expressing his deep feelings for his mate. Pianist Gideon Van Gelder, who produced and arranged the tune, lays down a beautiful melody for Jose to work his eh, magic. No pun intended. “Promise You Love” is an up-tempo beat driven gem that’s produced by DJ Mitsu The Beats and features Jordana De Lovely on accompanying vocals and Takuya Kuroda on trumpet. “The greater Good” is a soft jazzy number that features precision horn arrangements as well as Gideon on fender Rhodes while Jose courts a woman who may ultimately be the special lady he desires. Jordana appears again on the Taylor McFerrin produced “Love Conversation”, a track that oozes warmth and sensitivity exchanged between two lovers. “No Tellin” may be the only track that resembles anything close to “The Dreamer”. Produced by James, this is a haunting ballad arranged in a trio format that also features him on piano as well. Whatever you do, don’t bother comparing the two discs. Clearly “Black Magic” stands on it’s own as an exceptional record by a rising star. Without a doubt you need this in your collection.
Reg Dancy, 03/10