Thundercat - DrunkBrainfeeder
"Drunk", the third full length release from LA bassist Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat is a genre bending pot of eccentric jazz infused with funk and pop rhythms. The 23 track release is a journey of contrasting moods, from light hearted humor to dark subject matters. In order to express these emotions he's invited a number of his friends from the burgeoning LA scene to take these compositions to another level. On "Uh Uh" he teams up with mufti-instrumentalist Zack Sekoff and unleashes sparkling bass riffs. "Lava Lamp" is a dreamy melodic down-tempo tune featuring red hot producer Sounwave. "Friend zone" is a upbeat number laced with trippy synths that touches on the awkward position of relationships. Flying Lotus jumps on board for several tracks, most notably "Show You The Way" and "Them Changes", the former featuring icons Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. Thundercat's virtuoso bass wizardry combined with his soft falsetto and zany lyrics are an adventure to behold, not to mention an fascinating listen.
Reg Dancy, 05/17
Thundercat - It Is What It IsBrainfeeder
Bassist Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat returns with his fourth album "It is What It is". Like his previous lps this record is a neighborhood effort with Flying Lotus on hand once again as producer and brother Ronald on drums. Bruner sings about love and loss, specifically the loss of his friend and collaborator Mac Miller. "Innerstellar Love" is a dreamy and ethereal tune to escape from the ups and downs of the world. "Black Quails" is instant funk with a thumping bass plus assistance from co-writer/vocalist Steve Lacy (The Internet) and funk icon Steve Arrington. "King Of The Hill" has a glorious thematic intro before seguing into a bass/synth cosmic gem. Throughout the disc Thundercat's soothing falsetto takes center stage relying less on soloing but rather on the strength of engaging compositions. Despite the fifteen tracks the disc breezes along at a crisp pace with only a few tracks exceeding three minutes. Quite an enjoyable album that showcases the artistry of this talented bassist.
Reg Dancy, 05/20
Time Grove - Time Grove RootsWah Wah 45s
Time Grove Roots is the brainchild of Pianist Nitai Hershkovits and beatmaker/producer Rejoicer. Joined by an array of equally talented musicians, they've created an amalgation of atmospheric soundscapes wrapped in jazz, funk, and other musical styles. Among the highlights are "The Navigator", where drummer Sol Monk lays down a studdering hypnotic beat for vocalist Shuzin. Guest vocalist Georgia Anne Muldrow sounds right at home on the haunting piano driven "Sattelite Dish". "The Chase After Tomorrow" is a down-tempo tune filled with frenzied beats by Bemet aka Rejoicer and Hod Moshonov plus vocalist KerenDun. "My Turn" is a dreamy composition from Hershkovits filled with adventurous soloing from dynamic guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. This is an engaging release that's filled with pleasant surprises and comes together beautifully. Definitely worth checking out.
Reg Dancy, 08/18
Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen - Timo Lassy & Teppo MäkynenWe Jazz Records
Tenor saxophonist Timo Lassy and drummer Teppo "Teddy Rok" Makynen have collaborated for years on the Finnish Jazz scene but this is their first lp as a duo. Makynen demostrates not only is he a wonderful drummer but a top notch composer as well. Makynen's adventurous compositions provide a challenge for Lassy to stretch out and he delivers. "Liberty pt1 & 2" opens with Lassy delivering fiery free flowing solos. Makynen is equally up to the task with explosive cymbal work as well. On "Telemagenta" Makynen lays out a spirited groove with changing patterns while Lassy's restrained yet powerful phrasings paint vibrant colors. "Dark Cyan" is a highlight among many that displays Makynen's affection for electronic music and the boundless directions he can take his music. Makynen's explosive polyrhythms combined with Lassy's spiritual playing make for an extraordinary record. Thirteen tracks with each centering around three minutes and all of them packing a punch. Yet another sterling release from the brilliant We Jazz record label. As far as duos go they don't get much better than this. Let's hope an encore arrives soon.
Reg Dancy, 07/19
Tinariwen - Aman ImanIndependiente
The title means water is life and when you're desert nomads then the significance is all the greater. Third album, with Justin Adams on production duties again and it's a don't mess with what doesn't need fixing philosophy, allowing the music to roll along, drawing you in, evoking the spirit of the desert and using the blues to provide the shading to the landscape. They even managed to get onto the BBC's Glastonbury coverage which was brilliant especially when you consider the vast numbers of artists there (witness Africa Express as one very special example) who the BBC ignored. Excellent.
Graham Radley, 07/07
Tipper - Broken Soul JamboreeTippermusic
“Broken Soul Jamboree” is the creation of British producer Dave Tipper, who is no stranger to composing brilliant electronic music. With this release, he has arranged a batch of dreamy down-tempo gems that meshes elements of Indian, classical and electronica into a cinematic odyssey that is tailor made for late night lounge sessions. Some of the highlights are “Big Question Small Head”, a head nodder filled with infectious beats, a wicked bassline and clever use of the mandolin instrument. “Class 5 Roaming Vapor” is an ambient down-tempo gem due to the multi layered chord arrangements. “Royal Dragon Sire” is filled with dreamy cinematic soundscapes and is simply chill out music at its best. Tipper’s orchestral arrangements and live instrumentation make “Broken Soul Jamboree” essential listening. For those looking for electronic music that pushes the boundaries, you’ve come to the right place.
Reg Dancy, 07/11
TM Juke - ForwardTru Thoughts Recordings
Alex Cowen aka TM Juke returns with his second installment on Tru Thoughts. I'm pleased to say he has produced another corking track with Alice Russell -"So Good". Other guests include Elmore Judd on the ace "Electric Chair", Kinny on the quirky "Damn" and Sophie Faricy on the excellent single "Come Away"- you may have heard Sophie recently on the road with Bonobo. Instrumentals are covered and make sure you check out "Pencils for Dolphins". Alex has done himself proud.
Simon Harrison, 11/06
TM Juke & Jack Baker Trio - Boto And The Second LinersTru Thoughts Recordings
TM Juke’s production skills have been widely praised for his own recordings as well as his work with Alice Russell. His classical jazz training and affinity for hip hop beats make for explosive compositions. The Jack Baker Trio is really just a one man band who serves as a producer and the drummer for Ninja Tune artist Bonobo. Together they fuse a brilliant mix of soul, reggae, funk and samba that will have your feet moving and your ears craving for more long after the disc is over. Some of the highlights are “That Gut Feeling”, an afro-soul tune that bubbles with flavor. It dosen’t hurt to have the beautiful voice of Andreya Triana blessing the track and sets in motion a succession of delicious beats and rhythms. “Echoes From The Surface” is pure New Orleans funk with thumping bass, lively percussion and blistering horns. “Rolling Stone To Landslide” is a lovely mid-tempo melodic tune that features the soothing voice of Kathrin DeBoer. If that isn’t enough there’s the ultra talented Gecko Turner lending his vocals to the tropical flavored “Party Favours”. TM Juke & Jack Baker have created a musical gumbo that will excite your palate. This is simply an enjoyable record that gets better with every listen.
Reg Dancy, 11/08
Toco - Outro LugarSchema Records
'Outro Lugar' is the debut long player from Brazilian vocalist Tomaz Di Cunto AKA Toco. Recorded in Rio and produced by S-Tone this is a stunning collection, based in the classic bossa nova tradition of the 60s. His interpretation of Edu Lobo's 'Zum Zum' is immaculate as are 'Assuntos Banais', 'Guarapiranga', the title track and 'Bom Motivo' featuring the sun kissed vocals of Rosalia De Souza. With the onset of winter this album is sure to keep those winter blues at bay.
Andy Allen, 09/07
Tom Trago - IrisRush Hour
Amsterdam’s Tom Trego picks up from where he started with his debut; the disco flavored “Voyage Direct”. With his latest release “Iris”, he has enlisted an array of likeminded artists to enhance his eclectic soulful dance infused arrangements. On “Being With You” Tom flips the Smokey Robinson classic into a futuristic synth flavored club jam. “What You Do” is an electro soul gem with a wicked groove and fellow DJ Tyree Cooper fills in as the official hype man mid-way through the track. Om’Mas lends his vocals to the eighties inspired euro dance tune “So Cold”. With other notable appearances like Oliver Day Soul and Meikbar, “Iris” will certainly quench your thirst for twisted synth flavored dance tracks.
Reg Dancy, 08/11