Rise - MessagesFuturistica Music
We have yet another superb recording from the Futuristica label, this time from the producer from Manchester known as Rise. His full length debut is an odyssey of spiritual jazz samplings inspired by pioneers like Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. Rise masterfully captures the spirit of the late sixties Black Nationalist jazz movement and many of references throughout the disc are totally relevant today. The disc kicks off with a monologue that about the responsibilities as musicians to “Shine A Light” into the darkness. This message is delivered over a melodic piano and flute solo. “Psalm 64” is easily one of highlights of the disc, which is really saying something. It opens with a monologue about being a positive force in the world and segues into an afro-centric jazz gem filled with blistering horns, lively percussion and piano rhythms. “Requiem” begins with a profound view of the uprising around the world from forty plus years ago and how similar incidents are taking place today. The tune itself evokes harmonies reminiscent of Donald Byrd’s trumpet playing and the Mizell Brothers song arrangement. “Shine Down” is another winner that’s filled with infectious melodies and rhythms and worthy of repeated listens. Rise is a producer you’re certain to hear a lot more from and “Messages” is an album you don’t want to miss.
Reg Dancy, 05/11
Rise and Doug - Tanzwa NekutamburaWrasse Records
An unlikely pairing as such but Champion Doug was the person who first discovered the Bhundo Boys (of whom Rise was a founding member) and invited them to the UK. You'll soon recognise the zinging fluidity of Rise's guitar as we get a timely reminder of his skill as a guitarist while Champion Doug's influence means the mixture is further flavoured by country and some blues. Worth a listen.
Graham Radley, 05/07
Robb Scott - Afro OdysseySunshine Enterprises
Although Robb Scott has been performing on the live circuit for years now, 'Afro Odyssey' is his first long player. He seamlessly blends cosmic-soul with Afrocentric-jazz and subtle broken-beat to create an album that is contemporary yet classic sounding at the same time. Consistently strong throughout, it's difficult to select particular favourites but at a push I'd go for the single 'Fallin' and 'Reflections', featuring the legendary Ellen McIlwaine.
Andy Allen, 12/06
Robert Glasper - Double BookedBlue Note Records
It’s not uncommon for artists to explore various musical styles on separate projects but on “Double-Booked”, Robert Glasper brings two worlds together on one very impressive record. Glasper’s fourth release starts out in the traditional jazz trio setting and begins with “No Worries”. Robert starts this wonderful tune off with a entertaining intro before sequeing into a gorgeous melody. Drummer Chris Dave creates plenty of space and Vicente Archer always provides the right notes for Glasper’s glorious soundscapes. “59 South” is another lovely composition where Robert strikes the right balance between sheer power and delicacy. Things get a little funky as we segue to the experimental set. Robert starts things off with Herbie Hancock’s multi-rhythmic fusion gem “Butterfly”, which also features Casey Benjamin on the vocorder. Casey shines again on alto sax on the spirited aptly named “festival”. “All Matter” is a beautiful ballad that is augmented by the vocals of Bilal. There aren’t many discs out that can capture the essence of beauty on one hand and deliver the funk flavored deep grooves on another but this one does. This is one fabulous record that you shouldn’t miss.
Reg Dancy, 03/10
Robert Glasper Experiment - Black RadioBlue Note
Back in 2007, The Robert Glasper trio dropped subtle hints that this album was coming. It was the track “J Dillalude” from “In My Element” where he succeeded where many have failed; seamlessly merging Jazz and Hip-Hop. He came one step closer on “Double Booked” where the Experiment Band went half jazz and experimental grooves rooted in soul and Hip-Hop. Now on “Black Radio” the band takes the kid gloves off and delivers an album that pushes the boundaries across genres and will appear on many playlist throughout the year. It doesn’t hurt when you have an all-star lineup that features Erykah Badu, Yasin Bey (aka Mos Def), Bilal and many more. Among the highlights are Lalah Hathaway’s sultry vocals on Sade’s “Cherish The Day”. The trio King adds their heavenly vocals to the uplifting “More Love”. As for the instrumentals, well there aren’t any but one of the great ingredients of this record is the musicianship of the Experiment band radiates through all the compositions. Take for instance Ledisi’s version of “FTB” (Gonna Be Alright) is supported by the wondrous melodies painted by Glasper and the grooves thrown down by bassist Derrick Hodge will keep you in constant head nod mode. So if you were looking for a jazz record you might be disappointed. Instead what you have here is the template for 21st century soul music. This is a superb record in which soul and hip-hop collide with jazz as the glue that holds everything together. The result is an early candidate for album of the year.
Reg Dancy, 04/12
Robert Mitchell's Panacea - TrustF-IRE
Here is the next instalment from the ever consistent F-IRE collective and this time it’s turn of pianist Robert Mitchell who’s been on the British jazz scene for ten years. His influences include Cecil Taylor and McCoy Tyner, which shines throughout the album. What struck me on first listen was the shear quality of vocalists involved, which include Deborah Jordan, Eska, TY, Robin Mullarkey, Eugene Skeef and legend Norma Winston. When was the last time you saw such a line up? “Trust” includes poetry, wonderful lyrics and just about every style of music known to man, making me wonder what would be next. It took me a little while to get my head around a few of the tracks but for me that makes a more interesting album and keeps me going back again and again
Simon Harrison, 10/05
Robert Owens - Night-time StoriesCompost Records
Since the early days of house music Robert Owens has been an ever present force and his distinctive vocals have graced some of the genre's most defining moments. His latest full length project is packed with deep house delights and features quality productions from the likes of Jimpster "Inside My World", Simbad "New World", Wahoo "Happy" and Atjazz "Now I Know". Quite simply, house music doesn't get any better than this!
Andy Allen, 02/08
Robert Strauss - Mr. FeelingsBBE Records
Robert Strauss follows up his debut album 'Quasars & Phasars' (Freerange) with an even stronger set. Whilst contemporary, 'Mr. Feelings' is heavily influenced by the feel-good grooves of 80s soul. With boogie bombs like 'Music Is My Life' fronted by Richie Henessey, 'Miami Jammin' and 'Hot Like An Oven' featuring the legendary Leroy Burgess. This should be huge.
Andy Allen, 11/07
Roger Eno/Plumbline - TransparenciesHydrogen Dukebox
Here we have the first collaboration between Roger Eno and Will Thomas aka Plumbline, both of whom have released projects on All Saints and Hydrogen Dukebox. This is a beautiful cinematic album with a whole host of influences, which literally include sounds from clocks, cars and church bells, the kind of thing you would expect from Matthew Herbert. In fact the first track "Transparency" could easily be the work of Herbert himself. The recording "Transparencies" began with joining the dots of various churches and buildings among the beautiful landscape of East Anglia. Things then moved to New York to be manipulated by Will, which gives the album the gritty rhythms, melodies and soft tones. Lovely stuff.
Simon Harrison, 03/06
Roger Robinson - IllclecticaAltered Vibes
Roger Robinson is now into his tenth year of programming poetry, performing, writing and teaching, and currently divides his time between London, New York and Trinidad. He has been hailed the UK's answer to Saul Williams and just listening to the stunning 7" single 'Nicola's Song' you can see why there is quite a buzz around the release of his debut 'Illclectica'. Produced by Roger and Rob Mac from Scratch/Speeka, they have arranged twelve brilliant tracks of various styles and moods, with exceptional poetic lyrics from Roger. Whatever you do, do not miss out on this wonderful album, you won't regret it.
Simon Harrison, 06/05