Shez Raja - Soho Live33 Records
You might be familiar with the Shez Raja Collective from his impressive record "Mystic Radikal". ."Soho Live", is the bass guitarist latest recording and it's an all-star jam session focusing on atmospheric soulful jazz compositions. Raja's funky bass rhythms set the tone for his accomplished guests to stretch out and they do exactly that. "Karmic Flow" showcases Violinist Pascal Roggins, who creates wonderful melodies throughout the disc. Soweto Kinch drops by and delivers spirited hip-hop rhymes as well. "Eastern Revolution" is another banger filled with slow burning grooves and Middle Eastern rhythms that features Aaron Liddard's scorching sax solo. Monika Lidke provides vocal phrasings to compliment Raja's funky bass licks on "Chakras On The Wall". With other notable appearances like Andy Phelps and Shabaka Hutchings, the latter appearing on "Adrenalize", "Soho Live" is certain to provide a funky good time.
Reg Dancy, 03/14
Shuya Okino - United Legends replayed by Sleep WalkerGeneon Records
Modal. Jazz. Unbelievable. Sleep Walker are brought on board to remake the "United Legends" album from this time last year and for all but a few notable vocals by way of Carleen Anderson, Clara Hill, Navasha Days, Yukimi Nagano and Josh Milan you would think this was a brand new Sleep Walker release. Full on jazz encased by the now expected perfect packaging only the Japanese seem to provide us. Just good music. Oh, I nearly forgot.... CD 2 is instrumentals... now that's cleaver.
Steve Williams, 01/08
Si Tew - When The Clouds Ran AwayAtjazz Record Company
Si Tew is the latest member of the Atjazz recording family and his full length debut is an assortment of down-tempo electronic beats and experimental soundscapes. Si’s production skills caught the ear of Martin Iveson and it wasn’t long before the two started working together under the MIST alias. After several remixes (most notably Atjazz’s “For Real”) and most recently the Soul Evidence ep, the time was right for an album and he doesn’t disappoint at all. Si starts things off with “Silhouette”, a warm and melodic down-tempo gem aided by the vocals of Shanade. “Hard Look” is an up-tempo ambient beat treat with clever synth arrangements. “Need To Grow” is a definite highlight filled with soothing chords and the soulful vocals of Pete Simpson. “Why Answer?” is a dreamy instrumental sprinkled with gorgeous keys. Overall this is an impressive debut for the talented producer whose services will be in high demand with superb recordings like this.
Reg Dancy, 05/11
Sidestepper - The Buena Vibra Sound SystemPalm Pictures
A CD that came about after Richard Blair aka Sidestepper went to Colombia to meet up with Toto La Momposina, he was soon recording local Afro-Colombian artists which in turn developed into this pumping dance floor mix of Colombian, Nigerian and Jamaican styles. Great tracks with my pick probably the 12” mix of La Paloma. Brilliant
Graham Radley, 05/09
Silent Poets - SunNocturne Records
I cannot believe it's six years since the release of the excellent "To Come", which was a typical example of me purchasing a top dollar Japanese import to see it released a few months later released in Europe for a third of the price: hey, that's the way it is nowadays. Japanese producer Michiharu Shimoda utilizes the talents of Shawn Lee, Alain Ho and Everton Nelson to create an ace downtempo - electronica - abstract hiphop piece of work. Recorded with a string orchestra conducted by Everton Nelson with haunting vocals from Shawn Lee, this is one album you should take note of. Just because it's been released in France rather than Japan doesn't mean that it shouldn't be investigated, so make the effort.
Simon Harrison, 07/06
Silhouette Brown - Silhouette BrownEther Records
This is the first full vocal album produced by Dego, who has also brought in second in command Kaidi Tatham in on the act. This is the kind of album that will become a true classic in years to come and that is not just because of the two names already mentioned. This is also due to the incredible soulful vocals of Deborah Jordon, which fit the productions perfectly, and if that isn't enough Bembe Segue is on backing vocals. Perfect for home listening and also for any club set. That should be enough reasons for you to spend your hard earned cash.
Simon Harrison, 06/05
Simba & Milton Gulli - The Heroes (A Tribute to a Tribe)BBE
On "The Heroes" (A Tribute to a Tribe) Simba & Milton Gulli visit the songbook of A Tribe Called Quest. While no doubt a daunting task, they take the wise route by maintaining the core ingredients of the classics while infusing the flavors of their Mozambican heritage. The producer MiltonGulli is well aware of jazz undertones that permeates ATCQ's music and that is evident throughout, especially on their cover of "Bonita Applebum", where they transform the original into a sublime melodic gem. The same can be said for "Electric Conversation" aided by the jazzy guitar rhythms and harmonic approach displayed throughout. Simba displays a laidback delivery to his rhyming skills that are similar to Q-Tip's but the comparison ends there. He definitely has his own voice and he holds his own with impressive results. The highlight here arguably is "God Lives Through" (I Love my God) which at first hints as a cover but morphs into a harmonic gospel lullaby that is simply irresistible. Overall Simba & Gulli demonstrate that their talent is primed for the long haul and in the process do justice to the songbook of one of hip-hop's most treasured groups. Take a trip down memory lane and in the process get introduced to Mozambican soulful hip-hop.
Reg Dancy, 08/13
Simbad - Supersonic RevelationRaw Fusion
There are DJ’s/producers dropping albums everywhere but few can boast to have an album as strong as this one. Simbad’s “Supersonic Revelation has been a couple years in the making but the wait has been well worth it. Simbad has assembled a little bit of funk, house, rnb and dancehall and the result is a soulful uplifting disc that will move your body. The immensely successful “Soul Fever” needs no introduction. This electronic funk track with the wicked synth lines was one of the biggest records of 2006.The legendary Robert Owens adds his signature vocals to the atmospheric “Someone for Me”. There’s also the title track, which has also become a huge hit, and why not? The killer organ riff and Abdul Shyllon’s lush vocals gives this the feel of a simmering downtempo house track that never builds momentum but it's bangin’ nonetheless. There are many other great selections worth mentioning so you owe it to yourself to invest in what is definitely one of the hottest releases of 2008.
Reg Dancy, 06/08
Simone Moreno - Samba MakossaSoul Dog Records
Vocalist, Simone Moreno has steadily been releasing material in her native Brazil since her self-titled debut in 1994. This, her fifth set is the first to be released outside of Brazil and was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden where she now resides. 'Samba Makossa' draws together a variety of influences from bossa nova and samba to Afro-beat and reggae. Although the album overall fails to capture my interest it does include pleasurable moments such as the funked up 'Umbabarauma' and the breezy 'Meio De Campo'. Well worth investigating for these tracks alone.
Andy Allen, 03/07
SK Radicals - Urban EclectiksFreestyle Records
There have been many groups that have presented projects as diverse as SK Radicals full length release “Urban Electriks”. Very few however have succeeded in creating a project that grooves and swings as well as this one. Sean Khan, the producer and driving force behind the group has crafted an album that weaves seamlessly between jazz and funk while demonstrating that they’re equally adept at both. Take for example the lead single “Troubled Times”, a laidback deep funk tune that speaks to the stressful climate that we’re all living under today. The following track “My Story” is a swinging jazz tune features superb piano melodies from Sean and the gorgeous vocals of Susan Allotey. “Free Yourself” is an up-tempo acid jazz flavored funk groover. Although “Urban Eclectiks” presented only ten tracks in all, each selection is quality and allows the disc to flow at steady pace while maintaining the groove throughout. It has taken Sean several years to deliver a full length project after several successful singles. Let’s hope that this is the first of many albums in the group’s future. Highly recommended.
Reg Dancy, 08/10