Ledisi - Lost and FoundVerve Records
remember clearly the day I walked into a now defunct record shop and saw a cd by an artist I had never heard of. The disc was literally jumping off the shelf and sending subliminal messages like : "Buy me! You may not know me but once you hear me, you'll be hooked on me. I'm a songstress who can really sing and write my own lyrics as well." I tried to resist but eventually I gave in and purchased "Soulsinger" by Ledisi. Needless to say, my risk turned out to be my reward because Ledisi's debut was one of the best releases of 2000. That was followed with "Feeling Orange But Sometimes Blue". An album that displayed her skills as a jazz singer but also offered some soul tracks as well. Fast forward to 2007 and "Lost and Found", her debut on Verve Record that captures the sassiness and raw emotion that her fans have become familiar with. On the opening cut, "Been Here", Ledisi makes you feel as if you are sitting in the front row and she has just entered the stage. This song is just a tease but a sign of good things to come. The track "Joy" finds Ledisi singing about all the love she has for her man over a bubbling mid-tempo beat. Ledisi slows things down a bit on "In The Morning" where she get can't let go of the man who goes in and out of her life. One of the most powerful songs is "Lost and Found (Find Me)". Ledisi yearns for someone to bring some joy in her life after enduring so much pain. After years of struggling as a independent, it's Ledisi's time to have her music heard by the masses. "Lost and Found" will move her far beyond cult status. Recommended.
Reg Dancy, 12/07
Leftfield - A Final Hit: Greatest HitsHard Hands
After just 2 long players and countless remix packages, the now defunct Leftfield release a greatest hits album packed to the rafters with household favourites. All the classics are on here, they’ve even included the Sasha early mix-tape anthem “Not Forgotten” – a definitive early progressive house number. It took them ages to release albums and they were never as prolific as Orbital or Underworld but their input into providing quality dance productions was equally as important. You might think to yourself “Well, I’ve got both albums, so why bother with a best of? Well, this greatest hits CD version comes with a bonus DVD with seven excellent Leftfield videos plus five of the tracks are on neither Leftism or Rhythm & Stealth, so you are getting some new/old sounds. It’s a good greatest hits album – Leftfield have now bowed out as a duo but their importance to the dance scene is still very relevant. The production of the tracks is second to none and it’s worth a look-in just for the extra tracks and DVD. Gone but ‘Not forgotten’.
Legends of the Underground - Original SoundtrackKindred Spirits
Some time ago it was rumoured that a soundtrack was being produced by some of the hottest West London producers, which sent excitement around the music heads and message boards. Yes it's finally here and it's the work of none other than: Seiji, Domu, Bembe Segue, Rasiyah and Mark De Clive-Lowe. These guys bring together a mix of cinematic broken beats and nu-jazz, as well as techno and African influences. At a running total of 25 minutes you may be thinking that's fairly short-changed until you listen to the 9 min workout of 'Paradise Garden' which was the reason I bought this OST in the first place. I hope the film's as good as the music.
Simon Harrison, 11/05
Lekan Babalola - Songs Of IconsMr Bongo Recordings
I've been lucky enough to have had a copy of 'Songs Of Icons' for over a year now and I thought it was time to write a review. The singles 'Asokere', 'Oba Awon Oba' and next up 'Kabioye' have been very well received with remixes from IG Culture, Afronaught, Mark De-Clive Lowe and Restless Soul. These are all ace but it's the originals that you'll keep going back to.
I'm not sure all 12 tracks will make it to the final release but whichever tracks see the light of day, this will be an essential purchase. Lekan has played on percussion with some of the finest musicians known to man; Roy Ayers, Pharaoh Sanders, Miles Davis and Fela Kuti. It's no surprise 'Songs Of Icons' is very heavily influenced by his upbringing in Nigeria and jamming with the legends, giving us a mix of tribal rhythms with some wonderful brass solos and hooks. Highlights for me are 'Oososi', 'Oya', 'Ide Osun' and of course the singles mentioned above, which of course you'll already own.
Half-way through writing this review I received notification this will be released by the end of 2005, fingers crossed.
Simon Harrison, 11/05
Leleo - MaravilhasAcid Jazz
A star in Brazil since the days of Banda Bel and where he’s worked with a lot of big names like Gilberto Gil, Leleo is now resident in London where he’s been ripping it up with DJ sets as well as band sets (his band is same name as this CD). The CD however was recorded in Copacabana and brings Leleo’s acid samba style up to date, with the trademark Brazilian samba and bossa rhythms getting a base of beats, to get those feet stirring into dance floor action. Very good.
Graham Radley, 06/08
Leon Ware - Moon RideStax Records
I get the feeling that folks don’t realize just how influential Leon Ware has been to soul music. His contributions began during the height of Motown where among his credits is co-writer of Michael Jackson’s “I wanna be where you are” and the sensual Marvin Gaye album “I want you”. Still, his singing and songwriting remains relevant today. His latest release, “Moonride” is a collection of his signature compositions of melodic and lyrical love music. Leon has been quite busy recently working with the likes of Jazzanova, Liquid Spirits and countless others. Fortunately he saved plenty of good music for his own release. Leon’s falsetto voice is in peak form on tracks like “Hold Tight”, a tender, dreamy ballad that is a delightful listen. “I never loved so much” is an engaging lush down-tempo soothing track. “A whisper away” is another lush gem that features warm latin grooves that make you think of summer. The fact that this is Leon’s first major label release in two decades is a testament to his craft of creating timeless love music. “Moon ride” will certainly satisfy fans of his music as well as those that enjoy warm intimate music for the soul.
Reg Dancy, 01/09
Lewis McCallum - SyntheologyFinch Studios
Lewis McCallum’s background is rooted in jazz but it’s his love of beats that make his records stand out. His latest release, “Syntheology” is no exception. Lewis’s synth flavored compositions on this disc are more progressive than on his debut “Wake”. As a result the groove is a little edgier but the vocals are still satisfying and the instrumentals are very funky. Speaking of vocalists, let’s start with Deva Mahal, who blesses the modern funky “Take A Step Back”. “Tales of Mingus” is a wicked instrumental that displays Lewis’s wizardry at beat programming. The track “New Someone feat Tama Walpara” is a high energy soulful house track that would feel right at home in a club. “Deviate” feat. Cherie Mathieson is a clearly one of the strongest tracks here. This is a great example of funky instrumentation and smoothing vocals merging together. There are many records rely solely on digital programming yet “Syntheology” still maintains a soulful quality, largely because the vocalists on board. Lewis is already well known in his native New Zealand but he is certain to build a bigger audience with this impressive effort.
Reg Dancy, 07/10
Life Force - Fearless WarriorsSonorama Records
Originally released in very small quantities on the private Numu Numu label in 1981 'Fearless Warriors' was the debut recording by Life Force, an Atlanta based group founded by Joe Jennings and Howard Nicholson. Thanks to Sonorama this spiritual jazz-fusion rarity now gets a welcome reissue. The set sits somewhere between Pharoah Sanders and Jeff Lorber's early material and features the solid mid-tempo grooves 'Wow', 'Sister Bea' and the brilliant title track plus the bright and breezy 'To Pharaoh With Love', an awesome jazz dancer which should find favour at nights such as Messin' Around and The Jazz Rooms.
Andy Allen, 12/07
Lindsey Webster - You ChangedAtlanta Records
"You Changed", the second release from Woodstock NY native Lindsey Webster is an impressive collection of sophisticated soul. Webster displays perfect pitch and sultry vocals over twelve well crafted compositions "Fool Me Once" the opening track's displays her crystal clear voice over a smokey jazz arrangement. "I Found You" and "Lost One" are lush romantic ballads. The finale is "Universe", a seductive jazzy tune augmented by a soaring electric guitar solo and wraps up with an engaging piano solo. This is an elegant and sincere recording brought to life by a small combo of talented musicians providing plenty of space for Webster's vocals to soar. Now is the time to get familiar if you haven't already.
Reg Dancy, 10/15
Lionel Loueke - KaribuBlue Note
Benin born guitarist Lionel Loueke made a name for himself on the concert circuit and was spotted by none other than Herbie Hancock who championed his talents and passed on the good word to trumpeter Terence Blanchard who in turn used Loueke's services. Subsequently Loueke has released a trio of well received albums on the independent label Obliquesound, gaining a reputation in France, before moving to Blue Note for this big label debut. In recent years African artists and jazz have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Richard Bona and the Kora Jazz Trio being just two of the more successful ventures and Dee Dee Bridgewater returning the compliment in the opposite direction. For 'Karibu' Loueke plays in a tight trio and, with the exception of three standards, pens all the other compositions. What immediately strikes is the degree of improvisation and abstraction to many of the pieces and their freshness, notably the radical reworking of the standard 'Skylark' which is one of the album's highlights. On a couple of numbers Loueke enlists the support of Hancock and Wayne Shorter. It is the latter who contributes a gorgeous soprano sax solo to Coltrane's 'Naima' which features lovely percussion.
Loueke's playing has a melodic folksy feel in parts and with scat vocals a la George Benson, he may in time gain popularity outside jazz circles. Perhaps, his own compositions could veer less towards the abstract and stress both the African and Brazilian influences which he was exposed to as a youth, but there is no questioning the promise of talent on offer, nor the rapport between Loueke and the other musicians. The duet with Hancock on 'Seven teens' is worth the admission price alone. A very promising future beckons for Loueke.
Tim Stenhouse, 04/08