Shantel - Disco PartizaniCrammed Discs
Glorious pop music, with an equally glorious mix of styles and influences, on a bed of East European cultures, past and present. Among the many guests are clarinettist Filip Simeonov (Taraf de Haidouks) trumpeter Roy Paci (Manu Chao) reggae/dancehall queen Mantiz and singer Brenna MacCrimmon . The ex DJ knows what works an audience and uses it to great effect.
Graham Radley, 09/07
Shapeshifter - SoulsticeInertia Records
On their fourth album, the New Zealand based band continues to build on their unique brand of alternative drum n bass music. “Soulstice” combines elements of soul, dub step and folk to create their most ambitious project yet. The disc kicks off “New Day Come”, an energetic track that is enhanced by the melody from the Norman Connors classic “You are my starship”. “In The Rain” starts out as an acoustic gem that simmers, thanks in part to the vocals of Ladi6. “One” is a blissful track with uplifting lyrics and a gorgeous piano loop. You can’t help but feel good after listening to this one, thanks in part to the vocals of Paora Apera (aka P Digsss). “Soulstice” is an enjoyable record that will have you listening to drum n bass in a different light. This is groundbreaking work that should propel this group to greater heights.
Reg Dancy, 01/10
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - 100 Days and 100 NightsDaptone Records
Raw, uncut soul at it's best. Take one look at the Dap Kings and you'd ask yourself, can these guys really bring the funk? Yes! They really, really can! The third release for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings is a little milder than their previous release "Naturally". However, they still come at you hard nonetheless. There's really no track that stands out more than the other as the entire disc just flows at a crisp pace. The disc begins with the title track. A semi-slow burner that has everything that you loved about soul music, live instrumentation, warm harmonies and a lead voice that packs a punch. Midway through the song, Sharon pauses for a second, slows down the pace and reasserts herself while the Dap Kings break it down to another level. "Nobody's Baby" has a funky mid-tempo beat that will surely have your head noddin', albeit a bit short at just over two minutes. That's a minor quibble that you can deal with. What's more important is serenading yourself with ten tracks of soul music in it's purest form. If that wasn't enough, there's also bonus cd that features music from various artists from the Daptone label titled Binky Griptite's Ghetto Funk Power Hour. Hosted by Daptone guitarist Binky Griptite, this disc burns for sixty minutes. If this isn't money well spent I don't know what is.
Reg Dancy, 01/08
Shaun Martin - 7 SummersRopeadope
"Seven Summers" is the debut of pianist Shaun Martin of Snarky Puppy. The full length release chronicles his journey and growth as an artist and a person. The result is an engaging collection of jazz,fusion laced with funk and gospel rhythms. A fixture in the Dallas Texas community, he's with everyone from serving as music director for Kirk Franklin to collaborating with Erykah Badu. "Lotus" is spirited fusion with plenty of space for Martin's superb soloing. "Love Don't Let Me Down" is a warm ballad with a gospel flavored organ groove. "Madiba" is jazz funk inspired by the passing of Nelson Madela.The disc wraps up with vocalist and fellow Dallas native Geno Young on the funkified "All in A Days Work". There's a number of tunes that reflects the Snarky Puppy sound but make no mistake, this has Martin's personal touch all over it. This is an joyous recording that has a little something for everyone.
Reg Dancy, 10/15
Shawn Lee - Golden Age Against The MachineBBE
Multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee has experimented with an assortment of musical flavors over the years ranging from psychedelic soul to cinematic soundtracks. As the title of his latest project suggests, "Golden Age Against The Machine" pays homage to the birth of Hip-Hop in it's formative years. One ride through this disc will have you searching for your Kangol hat and your shell top Adidas. Further proof lies with tracks like "Back To The Future" where the grooves and synths will invoke memories of Afrika Bambaata's "Planet Rock". Ohmega Watts smooth flow is the perfect match for the laid back vibe of "We Got The Jazz". "Jackie Chan" would fit perfectly in the Wu Tang library thanks in part to the haunting rhythms and thick beats. While mainstream Hip-Hop has gone corporate, ala "The "Machine", it's nice to take a trip down memory lane and enjoy beats and rhymes in it's purest form.
Reg Dancy, 06/14
Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins - Clutch Of The TigerUbiquity Records
When two talented instrumentalists collaborate on a project, you wonder about the chemistry between them. In the case of Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins however there is no such concern. In fact, they sound as though they’ve been playing together for years. On “Clutch of The Tiger”, the cinematic compositions of Shawn Lee blend in well with the gritty organic production skills of Clutchy Hopkins. The results are slow burning soulful hip hop jazz masterpieces that are made for late night lounging. Among the highlights are “Two Steps Back”, a laidback downtempo track with a jazzy piano riff that dances over the deep soulful grooves. “Bill Blows It” is another soul jazz number that features soothing flute playing by Clutchy himself. “Dollar Short” is highlighted by a deep bass and jazzy chords. This is stellar work by Shawn and Clutchy. You can add this to the expanding catalogue of quality recordings these two have compiled in recent years. This record is first rate and shouldn’t be missed.
Reg Dancy, 12/08
Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band - Tabla RockUbiquity
In the history of drum breaks there isn’t a record more celebrated and sampled than ”Apache” by The Incredible Bongo Band. Thanks to the creativity of DJ/Producer Shawn Lee we’re treated to an alternate take of the Bongo classic by incorporating Indian rhythms to the entire album. With “Tabla Rock” Shawn has enlisted the Tabla player Prithpal Rajput and keyboardist Mark Talbot and breathes new life into The Bongo Band’s compositions. Shawn’s inclusion of the Sitar brings a fresh new element to prime cuts like “Bongolia” and “Pipeline”. The dramatic “Last Bongo in Belguim” is another highlight with exploding Bongo beats and horns colliding to create infectious Indian funky rhythms. This an impressive spin on a historical record that will garner new fans and allow old fans to enjoy all over again.
Reg Dancy, 05/12
Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra - Reel To ReelUbiquity
If you ever envisioned yourself as an action hero but lacked the quality soundtracks to capture your scenes then I suggest having a copy of “Reel to Reel” by your side at all times. Shawn Lee’s recordings are always steeped in raw and gritty funk and his thematic compositions have sparked interest from filmmakers and rappers searching for quality beats. Notable tracks are “Boomwack”, a brooding mid-tempo tune with a thick groove. “Spy Seduction” is a string laden mellow bossa tune that would fit nicely in a James Bond scene. “Soho Chase” is filled with blustering horns and hypnotic bongo rhythms would make for the ideal theme song while you’re about to apprehend a burglar during a car chase. Shawn continues to dig in the crates to finds hidden funk gems and this release is no exception
Reg Dancy, 10/12
Sheila Landis - Parenthe-SeizureCounterpoint Records
Sheila Landis is a name I've heard of before but for some unknown reason, I've looked through my record collection and found nothing by her. I remember asking people about the tracks played and writing them down but never followed up. Thankfully Counterpoint have jogged my memory and compiled twelve excellent tracks which will blow you away. Compiled from her album back catalogue (1981-2002), which was released on her self financed Shelan Records. Sheila's voice is a true joy to listen to and will certainly put a smile on your face. Essential tracks are "Leigh Anns Dance", "Nightwalking", "Gershwins Summertime" and "Summertime". If Lanis' name is new to you or if you have some of these tracks missing from your collection, this is a must.
Simon Harrison, 04/07
Shez Raja - GurutopiaDot Time
With "Gurutopia", Guitarist Shez Raja picks up from where he left off from his previous live release. He continues to expand on his own brand of fusion by incorporating Middle Eastern rhythms with funk and jazz with impressive results. Raja once again surrounds himself with an array of all star musicians like veteran Guitarist Mike Stern and Trumpeter Randy Brecker. Not to leave out his core band who are more than capable of holding their own. Violinist Pascal Roggen dynamic phrasings on "Maharaja" drives this tune to greater heights. Brecker's feathery phrasings and superb soloing shines through on "Sketches Of Space". Stern's improvised playing stands out on the spirited opener "Rabbits". Raja's dynamic playing is the driving force throughout and flashes of brilliance can be heard, specifically on the aptly titled "Rocknrolla". The diversity of rhythms and superb performances make for a compelling recording..
Reg Dancy, 03/16