Mr. Lif -Definitive Jux
With his status as a leading light of independent Hip-Hop already cemented, Boston-bred MC, Mr. Lif returns with a bang, delivering an explosive, but cerebral commentary on the state of US society. It is unfortunate then, that his immense lyrical talent is often drowned-out here by a relentlessly tough, speaker-puncturing production style, courtesy of Def Jux honcho El-P. It's not all bad news, but the chaos of the Funk and Rock-fuelled soundscape makes it tough to appreciate the presence of a gifted vocalist.
Tom Breslin, 05/06
Muallem - Frankie SplitsCompost Records
Munich's DJ Force aka David Muallem delivers his debut album for Compost Records ,and in true tradition it's another album you need in your collection, mixing tempos and styles of new and old, somewhere between Hip Hop and House. The soundtrack provides old skool B-Boy rhythms and electronic dancefloor bombs that will appeal to the kids, especially with those 80's style synthesizers. David has got his ideas set high because he also brought in some heavy-weight vocalists, including Martine Girault, Shawn Lee, Audrey, Lyrics Born, Wordsworth and Beans. With each one he's not gone for the same old sound expected from the specific vocalist; instead he's pushing things forward and trying out new ideas to great effect. Compost's on a winner here.
Simon Harrison, 03/06
Mudd - Claremont 56Rong Music
Although Mudd aka Paul Murphy (not the jazz DJ/producer and Afro Art Records boss of the same name) has been producing music in other guises for years now he first came to my attention in 2005 with 'Kerry's Caravan' a collaboration with Chico Hamilton released on Rong Music. More recently he impressed with the brilliant 'Villa Stavros' which saw him team up with keyboardist Kevin Pollard. His latest release 'Claremont 56' is his debut solo album which takes in elements of slow motion disco, electro and folk resulting in an atmospheric Balearic soundscape. 'C40', a tripped out folk instrumental opens the set before merging into the ambient 'Mount Pleasant Lane' which features warm key chords from the aforementioned Pollard. '54B' is a solid discoid piece but it's Mudd's jazzier side that appeals to me the most with tracks such as the soothing fusion outing 'Spyro', 'The Snicket' which is underpinned with a subtle samba rhythm and the gentle Latin flavoured 'Summer In The Wood'.
Andy Allen, 04/07
Muito Kaballa - Everything Is BrokeSwitchstance Recordings
"Everything Is Broke" is the debut album from Cologne based multi-instrumentalist Muito Kaballa. The eight track lp fuses a variety of styles including afro beat, Brazilian with a touch of electronics. Kaballa plays all instruments on all but two tracks here. Among the highlights are "Lugar Ao Sol" Kaballa lays down an infectious African groove augmented by various horns and drum programming. "The Easy Way" is mellow Caribbean inspired bliss filled with vocal harmonies. "Tin Tin" is a stripped down bongo driven tune that features Jan Michael Lauber on Trumpet and Ina Scheuermann on Tenor sax. Kaballa provides a pleasing take on African music specifically and world music overall.
Reg Dancy, 09/19
Mulatu Astatke/The Heliocentrics - Inspiration InformationStrut Records
Third in Strut’s ‘Inspiration Information’ series, this one teams Ethiopian veteran jazzer Mulatu Astatke (star of Ethiopiques series) with UK funky jazzers Heliocentrics. Got a nice feel this one with the Ethiopian jazz groove being embellished by Heliocentrics as it flows along sometimes going off at heavier tangents then others hitting the chilled feel of ‘Blue Nile’ . My pick is the funky percussion driven ‘Live From Tigre Lounge’ . Excellent.
Graham Radley, 05/09
Mummer - SoulOrganismStateKlein Records
Mummer is the new project from former Mum member Stefan Jungmair. Sterfan has wisely stayed with Klein Records who over the years have been diverse yet consistant. "SoulOrganismState" features vocals from Betty Semper who sang on Mum's second album "The Szabotnik 15 Mission", and shows maturity on these productions. Also featured is Berlin based blues crooner Wayne Martin and new jazz vocalist Angela Reisinger. Both sound ace and I will keep an eye out for Angela on future projects. Fans of Klein will not be dissappointed.
Simon Harrison, 09/06
Muriel Grossmann - ElevationJazzman
Saxophonist Muriel Grossmann has been releasing quality recordings since the early 2000s. Her blend of spiritual jazz compositions evokes images from the recordings of Coltrane's special quartet and Pharoah Sanders to modern day premier musicians Nat Birchall and Matthew Halsall respectively. "Elevation" combines some of her work from her 2016 album "Natural Time" and her 2017 album "Momentum". Grossman's regular band is in top form as each member pushes the other. The title track finds them launching into action. Guitarist Radomir Milojkovic rhythmic explorations are clean and light yet the result is quite powerful. "Rising" picks up where the opener leaves off. Drummer Uros Stamenkovic's propulsive playing keeps everyone on their toes. Bassist Gina Schwarz playing is melodic and delicate. Front and center is Grossmann who's spirited soloing is hypnotic. She pulls you in and commands your attention from start to finish. In summary this is a recording you can lose yourself in and emerge deeply satisfied. The compositions are first rate and engaging. It's hard to imagine why Grossman isn't more well known. Let's hope this release goes a long way to rectify that.
Reg Dancy, 07/20
My Trippin Mojo - Edda's GardenResistant Mindz
"Edda's Garden" is mellow soul from My Trippin Mojo. The Leipzig Germany based band's debut recording is rooted in funky horns, wah wah rhythms and soothing vocals courtesy of Sabrina Bornmann. Among the highlights are the laid back "Unconditional Love", filled with Bornmann's warm vocals and Christopher Mengel's psychedelic guitar rhythms. "My World" is a slow burning dim the lights soul with soothing horns. "Nice Grits and Cool Cars" and "One For sue" are funky instrumentals. Bassist Johannes Riedel recorded the band in his analog studio and the result is vintage 70s soul with just enough grit that will transport you back in time. A splendid debut from a band whose mojo will certainly get your groove on.
Reg Dancy, 12/16
Myele Manzanza - OneBBE
As the drummer for Electric Wire Hustle, fans have been hypnotized by the Futuristic beats and rhythms generated by Myele Manzanza. Now with his solo debut "One", Myele reaches into his roots and various other influences to deliver an authentic blend of soulful beats ranging from African to Future rhythms with amazing results. Among the highlights are "Absent", a hip-hop flavored track with wicked rhythms augmented by Bella Kalolo on vocals. "City Of Atlantis" is another worthy pick that starts out with Philly rapper Charlie K rhyming over a thick beat. At this point the groove shifts with the help of a jazzy flute riff followed by the organic soulful vocals of New Zealand native Ladi 6. "Me I Know Him" is a stomping soulful house track with Sam Manzanza, Myele's father on Congas and Canadian vocalist Amenta. Myele has paid his dues to hone his craft and "One" displays the fruits of his labor with outstanding results. This is a superb record worthy of repeated listens. You won't be disappointed.
Reg Dancy, 08/13
Myele Manzanza - One Point OneFirst Word
Drummer and New Zealand native Myele Manzanza and First Word Records are a perfect match in that they consistently deliver stellar music. Manzanza's latest release "One Point One" is a entertaining live recording at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles. The date is a string laden affair featuring the Quartetto Fantastico String Quartet, as well as Mark De Clive Lowe on keys and many more. "Bar Thing" is a gorgeous tune that begins with a whirlwind of strings and percussion followed by De Clive Lowe's simmering keys. The tune continues to heighten the anticipation before bassist Ben Shepard unleashes an infectious groove that is augmented by the vocals of Nia Andrews. "Montara" is a beautiful cover of the Bobby Hutcherson classic where the vibes are replaced by the violinist of the String Quartet and De Clive Lowe on rhodes yet still captures the warm and beauty of the original. Miquel Atwood Ferguson imprint figures prominently on this disc, specifically his arrangements on the sublime "Atlantis" which features Andrews again as well as MC Charlie K This is the live recording where you envision yourself sitting front and center admiring great performances and absorbing one superb recording after another. This is essential listening to say the least.
Reg Dancy, 03/17