Terkel Norgaard - With Ralph AlessiWe Jazz Records
We Jazz Records is quickly becoming one of my favorite labels for avant garde Jazz. Drummer Terkel Norgaard not only is a skilled drummer but is a talented composer as well. "With Ralph Alessi" a nod to the New York City based trumpeter who shows why he's been one of the premiere trumpeters of the last two decades. Norgaard's group consists of some of the key players on the Copenhagen scene. Alessi shines right from the start on "One". Alessi's beautifully fluid tone fits in perfectly alongside the trio's melodic excursions. "Seventeen" is another highlight that features cascading piano melodies from Soren Gemmer. Norgaard's subtle brush strokes on "Twentyone" is the fuse that inspires everyone to dive into his harmonic canvas. The Danish trio along with Alessi sound as if they've played together for years. Beyond satisfying and an example of improvised brilliance.
Reg Dancy, 06/19
The 4orce - Mind the Gap Anthems Vol.2BBE Music
BBE and the UK's Producer and MC Steve Ellington join forces to give us this live offering from someone better known for remixing joints by Common, LL Cool J, and Buster Rhymes. On this British Hip Hop monster we are treated to a very soulful set of thirteen tracks helped along the way by Pete Cherry, Tim Baxter and Phoebe One and the most samples.. You will be racking your memory banks listening! Particular favourite here is "Precise Precision" for its soulfulness. Those looking for something harder should head straight to "Magnificent". Top marks for this release - quality hip hop CAN come without explicit lyrics.
Steve Williams, 01/08
The Abstract Orchestra - DillaATA
The Abstract Orchestra is a big band comprised of jazz musicians from around the UK placing an emphasis on hip-hop with "Dilla". Their latest release is filled with alternate takes from the catalogue of the acclaimed producer, the late J Dilla. Led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell who mirrors the mixture of rhythms and textures frequently constructed in hip-hop productions. "Fall In Love" brings all the elements together perfectly. Backed by an irresistible drum snare beat and topped off by lush strings and soothing horns. "A.N.G.E.L." is another banger that highlights the synergy between the strings and horns along with lush backing vocals. "Dilla Mix 1 & 2 is a medley of Dilla treats like "Last Donut" and "Welcome to The Show". Mitchell and company successfully capture the spirit of hip-hop and Dilla specifically with a superb LP that will remind you of his brillance.
Reg Dancy, 08/17
The Andy Tolman Cartel - CypherFreestyle
Inspired by the great movie soundtracks of the seventies, The Andy Tolman Cartel present "Cypher". This nine track lp captures the cinematic soundscapes that were as pivotal to film as the movie itself. An accomplished bass player, Tolman integrates funk and big band rhythms seamlessly throughout this disc. "Move Over" is a funky number that features Jo Harmon on vocals and Steve Watt on the Hammond Organ. "You What" is another sizzling highlight that kicks off with Tolman's funky guitar intro and features Carl Hudson on keyboards. Produced by Nick van Gelder who also occupies the drum chair on the entire disc. "Cypher" engages you to visualize some of your favorite movie scores and ensures you'll have a funky good time while doing so.
Reg Dancy, 01/18
The Apples - KingsFreestyle Records
The latest release by The nine piece ensemble known as The Apples is a testament on how the spirit of the funk fuses two worlds into one musical stew. The two main ingredients of this stew is Fred Wesley, he of the infamous JB’s and legendary funk pioneer trombonist who opens the first half of the disc. The second half features vocalist/percussionist Shlomo Bar, the Godfather of Israeli world music. Wesley provides the intro on the track “Howlin’ With Fred” with a funky riff that leads into a fierce groove laid down by the rhythm section. The title track provides more energetic funk improvisation by Wesley and the band and is augmented by DJ Todres turntable wizardry. Shlomo takes center stage on “Batash (Alwoojdi)”, a rhythmic Middle Eastern flavored tune highlighted by his vocal phrasing and percussion work on the darbuka. Shlomo also performs on “Banana Jam”, a musical gumbo filled with Afrobeat rhythms, wicked grooves and spirited horn arrangements. The band produced and arranged all tracks and each one stands on its own. It also helps that they kept the tracklist amount to eight tunes. At no time are you worn down by the amount of tunes or the lack of quality. That said “Kings” is an example of what happens when musical cultures collide and you surround it with talented musicians. The result is an engaging recording that is worthy of repeated listens
Reg Dancy, 01/11
The Baker Brothers - Time To TestifyRecord Kicks
Over the course of six full length albums, The Baker Brothers have demonstrated that they can pack a solid one two punch with a killer rhythm section and a hip winding funky horn section. On their seventh full length release “Time To Testify”, they continue to keep the pedal to the metal with an assortment of stripped down soulful grooves. The group starts out with a bang with the revved up “Statement Of Intent”, with the band contributing backing vocals as well. “Make Your Move” finds them slowing down the tempo into a sizzling laidback groover that displays impeccable rhythm guitar playing. Collectively the band displays strong vocal harmonies on several cuts but it is the instrumentals that really stand out for me. For instance “Roll It” kicks off with some irresistible rhythm guitar strumming followed up with some serious funky drumming. And there is the silky soulful “The Young Patter”, which was featured on “The Mo’ Record Kicks Act II” compilation, the band lays down a nice groove and horn section gets down and dirty with the funk. “Snap B” is a definite keeper that has a catchy vocal chorus but also displays some greasy Hammond B3 organ playing. This is another strong effort from one of the tightest bands in the modern soul movement that is certainly worth checking out.
Reg Dancy, 10/11
The Bamboos - RawvilleTru Thoughts Recordings
The Bamboos are back with more of the same i.e. good quality funk for the 21st centuary. Vocalists this time include Alice Russell, Tyra Hammond, Kylie Auldist, Fallan Williams and Ohmega Watts who sound perfect with the deep organ based funk productions. "Get In The Scene" should already be an anthem on the clued-up dancefloors. If you enjoyed "Step It Up", you'll love this. If you missed that, well it's time to wake up.
Simon Harrison, 05/07
The Bamboos - Step It UpTru Thoughts Recordings
Originating from Australia, The Bamboo's have been rocking dancefloors ever since their self-funded 7". They were then signed to Kay-Dee Records, and Tru Thoughts recognised the talent and signed their debut. The sound is not a million miles away from Quantic Soul Orchestra, and on guest vocals is the wonderful Alice Russell on the single 'Step It Up' and also on the fantastic funk-fuelled version of Afronaught's Broken Beat anthem 'Transcend Me'. Also featured are updated versions of the Kay-Dee releases, so don't think you're being fiddled if you already have the singles. Even though Tru Thoughts are currently firing out albums, every single release is of the highest quality.
Simon Harrison, 02/06
The BDI's - The BDI'sBDI Recordings
This is London based trio The BDI's debut album and a refreshing album it is too. With live instrumentation throughout including acoustic guitar, congas and horns, it's firmly rooted in the sound of 70s Soul and Rhythm & Blues and in places reminds me of Traffic. Tracks such as 'Crying Wolf', 'Still Get The Same Old Kick' and 'Marathon' really hit the spot but this album is a pleasure to listen to from start to finish.
Andy Allen, 09/07
The Beauty Room - The Beauty RoomPeacefrog Records
It was well over a year ago that Kirk Degiorgio came to DJ in Leeds and told me about a new project he was working on for Peacefrog which would be in the style of Steely Dan. I've been waiting in anticipation ever since and when I received a copy of the brilliant cover of Jan Hammer's "Don't You Know" I knew we were going to be in for something special. Kirk's previous work covers most styles of electronic music and his DJ sets have become legendary. I'm not sure how to describe this style but it's certainly heavily influenced by Kirk's soul and jazz history, with beautiful harmonies and strings and stunning vocals by Jinadu, which will blow your mind. Comparisons will be made with Zero 7 but with a backing band of Ian O'Brien on guitar, Chris Witten's drums and the involvement of The Heritage Orchestra, this has massive mainstream potential and the purists will love it too. So next time you're watching TV and your mum changes the channel to watch Gardeners' World, don't be surprised if you end up singing along to The Beauty Room.
Simon Harrison, 07/06