Mario Lucio - BadyoLusaAfrica
Third solo release since his days as songwriter for Simentera. ‘Badyo’ but the first one to get an International release. On this he takes his Cape Verdean roots back to the arrival of the African slaves and the styles and influences they brought with them (he wears a chain around his neck instead of a tie on the cover image). It’s a grower this one with a subtle but telling rawness that soon involves you and brings you back for more, very good.
Graham Radley, 06/08
Mark De Clive Lowe - ChurchRopeadope
There are few of artists who perform comfortably in a myriad of musical styles as well as Mark De Clive Lowe. His personal projects range from Jazz, Broken Beat to Hip-Hop and future soul. In addition, his production credits extend to artists like Sy Smith and Sandra St Victor, not to mention numerous collaborations with the likes of Sheila E and Omar just to name a few. His latest project entitled "Church" is named after the music events he hosts in New York and Los Angeles respectively. From the opener "The Mission", a simmering appetizer that builds momentum features rapper John Robinson. "Brukstep" is a frenetic up-tempo number that displays his keyboard wizardry. Vocalist and partner Nia Andrews contributes her blissful vocals to the elegant tune "Hollow" as well as two other compositions. There's a number of tasty Jazz compositions here that are airy and rhythmic like "Imam" and "Sketch For Miguel" the latter featuring Miguel Atwood Ferguson on Viola and Jamire Williams on drums. Quite simply you can insert this disc, press play and walk away and you're disappointed only when the record ends. Highly recommended.
Reg Dancy, 06/14
Mark De Clive Lowe - HeritageRopeadope
Pianist/Producer Mark De Clive Lowe explores his ancestry with his latest release "Heritage". De Clive Lowe consulted with his family to gain a deeper understanding of his Japanese roots and the results are his most personal work to date. "Bushido 1", meaning "The Way of the Warrior" begins with a splash of piano aligned with Josh Johnson's simmering alto sax. De Clive Lowe's melodic excursions takes the listener on a mystic voyage. "Memories of Nanzenji" is a meditative tune that is awash in Brandon Combs expressive cymbals. De Clive Lowe and Johnson's playing is free flowing and spiritual. "Niten-Ichi" begins with a slow burning piano that quickly evolves into a high energy free for all that includes Teodross Avery on Tenor sax. "Heritage" is the first of a two part project. Based on De Clive Lowe's brilliance here, there's no doubt that part two will be as equally rewarding as this one
Reg Dancy, 04/19
Mark De Clive-Lowe - Journey To The LightFreedom School
While Mark De Clive-Lowe isn't known as a Jazz purist, he has proven to be a wizard on the keyboards and synthesizers. His latest project, "Journey To The Light", is a snapshot of the live Freesoul sessions he has performed over the last year or so. This project is a combination of cosmic Jazz improvisation and break beats. You may find yourself wanting to dance to this one minute or simply just enjoying the live instrumentation the next. One of those tracks that will make you move is "Voices Whisper". Bembe Segue's wonderful voice and scatting towards the end graces this track and the others as well. However, it is the work of Jason Yarde on Sax, Richard Spaven on drums and percussionist Sammy Figueroa that really move this disc. Jason Yarde's solo work is powerful and a real treat while Richard Spaven's drumming pushes everyone to greater heights. "Peace Be Central" offers more of the same. Mark's rhythmic piano playing has never sounded better and the energetic playing left plenty of space for the lyricism of Bembe Segue's scorching vocals. Mark and Bembe have been making beautiful music together for some time now. This is just another major achievement of the great music these two have collaborated on. This is not easy to find but certainly worth the effort. Recommended.
Reg Dancy, 01/08
Marta Ren and The Groovelvets - Stop, Look, ListenRecord Kicks
Hailing from Oporto, Portugal. Marta Ren burst onto the scene with the 2012 hit single "2 Kinds Of Men". That funky soul burner drew a lot of attention as a classic soul chanteuse with a powerful voice. She follows up that appetizer with the full length LP "Stop, Look & Listen". Accompanied by the funk band The Groovelvets, they deliver plenty of revved up soul as evidenced by the opening track "I'm not your regular woman". Ren shows her softer side on the slow burning funk tune "Smiling Faces" but don't be fooled, she takes no prisoners on the slow and simmering "So Long". The Groovelvets show they're more than capable of laying down the groove and stretch out on instrumental "Be Ma Fela". A voice that belies her age, Marta will command your attention and you'll give in willingly.
Reg Dancy, 02/16
Martha High and Speedometer - Soul OverdueFreestyle
Martha High has been belting out soul songs for four decades strong. Martha started off working as a member of the Jewels, a group that was part of the James Brown Revue. Martha would continue to work with the Godfather of soul and later on work with former band member Maceo Parker. On “Soul Overdue” her voice sounds as strong as ever as she covers classics and makes them her own. A prime example is her rendition of the Etta James timeless “I’d Rather Go Blind” and Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man”. Other highlights include “Save Me” and “Dragging Me Down”, two burning tracks that demonstrate that Speedometer are more than capable of giving up the funk. A killer rhythm section and a dynamic voice adds up to a wonderful record. “Soul Overdue” is right on time.
Reg Dancy, 01/13
Martyn - Great Lengths3024
The long awaited full length release from DJ/Producer Martyn is everything we expected and more. Martyn has arranged an splendid array of electronic compositions steeped in dance, techno and dub step that you will find it irresistible not to move. One of those tracks is the lead song “The Only Choice”, a pulsating track filled with catchy synths and percussion. “These Words” is a techno flavored drum n bass burner enhanced by the warm vocals of D Brdige. “Elden St” is easily my favorite track here, a dense hypnotic house gem with an infectious groove that is reminiscent of the early Detroit sound made famous by Kevin Saunderson, Derrick May and Juan Atkins. Martyn is becoming a household name in the world of electronic dance music and with this new release it’s easy to see why. He never relies on one style and keeps things interesting throughout. You owe it yourself to check this one out.
Reg Dancy, 01/10
Mary Chapin Carpenter - The CallingZoe Records
The Calling is Carpenter's second co-production with pianist Matt Rollings, the pair having first worked together on 2004's ''Between Here and Gone'. There's a political edge to tracks like 'Why Shouldn't We' and 'On The Song' while 'Houston' is about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Other songs like ." "We're Alright" is a driving song of escape and freedom from the strains of life. while "Twilight" takes us into the serenity of that time of day. Excellent.
Graham Radley, 05/07
Maspyke - StaticABB Records
Already legends of the underground, Maspyke deserve to explode into the mainstream with this debut set of Soul-influenced, hardcore Hip-Hop. Roddy Rod's tough, whip-snapping beats, reminiscent of Jay Dee's Slum Village work, provide the perfect accompaniment to Hanif and Tableek's rugged poetry, which is heavy on both intelligence and attitude. Released in the US in September 2005, this album is finally available here in the UK, and fans of Benji B's Deviation radio show will already be familiar with some of the tracks. Infinitely more sophisticated than the thugged-out chart fodder that we are all bombarded with, and more energetic and dynamic than many of the independent artists out there, this trio strikes a balance that is all too rare in Hip-Hop.
Tom Breslin, 04/06