The James Hunter Six - Hold On!Daptone
James Hunter's style is steeped in classic 60s soul and he has been winning over listeners with his warm and gritty voice since 2006. That's when his LP "People Gonna Talk" dropped and soared to number one on the Billboard chart. Now with his third album and first for Daptone records he's poised to expand his fan base. The James Hunter Six bring the heat on this ten track release starting with "Hold On", the first single and "Free Your Mind", two notable up-tempo highlights.. The horn section is crisp, the beat is tight and Hunter's voice is full of warmth and grit. Ladies beware, your temperature may rise with ballads like "Light Of My Life" and "In The Dark". Both filled with heartfelt lyrics of love and affection. UK fans already know about the talented Mr Hunter and thanks to Daptone everyone else will recognize as well.
Reg Dancy, 03/16
The Jazz Defenders - SchemingHaggis Records
The Jazz Defenders are a quintet from Bristol led by pianist George Cooper. Their ten track release is filled with engaging hard bop recordings. On the opener "Top Down Tourism" Cooper displays a melodic and deliberate style as he's accompanied by Nicholas Dover's assertive tone on Sax and Nick Malcolm on Trumpet. Matt Brown's dynamic drumming and cymbals pushes everyone on the Latin flavoured "Late" They slow down the pace on "Rosie Karima" and perform a beautiful ballad. throughout this set the band channels the spirit of 60s Blue Note recordings. These compositions show they can hold their own with anyone.
Reg Dancy, 03/20
The John Betsch Society - Earth BlossomHeavenly Sweetness
'Earth Blossom' from drummer/percussionist John Betsch is one of the rarer releases on Strata-East but thankfully Heavenly Sweetness have picked it up for reissue. Originally released in 1974 this is a beautiful example of spiritual jazz and features the haunting title track plus the percussive masterpiece 'Ode To Ethiopia' which has long been in demand.
Andy Allen, 01/08
The Juan Maclean - Less Than HumanDFA Records
This is juan maclean's debut album on James Murphy's highly respected DFA label. The style is very LCD soundsystem, infact it could almost be a collection of lost tracks from LCD's first masterpiece. Firing along at a dubbed out discotronic tempo, the production on this album is second to none. Live instrumentals fused with sample based beats - It's all very tight indeed. "Tito's Way" was recently lifted as the first single and the last track - "Dance With Me", an epic tripped out burner is due to be their next 12" release. Fans of LCD with no doubt appreciate this DFA sound. Slightly more toned down and minus Murphy's vocal exploits - this is trademark DFA sounding stuff.
The Lani Singers - Ninalik NdawiDancing Turtle Records
Another tasty Dancing Turtle release with this husband and wife duo from the remote central highland region of New Guinea now exiled in the UK. The journey here was brought about by the dreadful difficulties they faced from the occupying regime of Indonesia including imprisonment for peacefully raising the banned national flag of West Papua. Rooted in the sacred rituals of the Lani Tribe the songs are emotive tales of their journey, of life, of traditions and ensure a legacy for a tribe whose future is of great concern. Folk music from the heart.
Graham Radley, 12/08
The Lewis Express - The Lewis ExpressATA Records
Based in Leeds, The Lewis Express pays tribute to the sixties soul jazz trio Young Holt that also featured famed pianist Ramsey Lewis. With recurring members from the ATA label they revisit a time where jazz and RnB lived side by side. "Love Can Turn A Man" is a slow burning piano driven tune featuring pianist George Cooper. "Cancao De Momento" is an upbeat funky Latin tune with a stirring piano intro followed up with spirited percussion from Pete Williams. "Brother Move On" is a classic soul jazz tune that features funky horn arrangements to complement the double bass work of Neil Innes. This is another strong release from the emerging ATA label that will get a warm reception from funk and soul enthusiasts.
Reg Dancy, 08/18
The Liberators - Power StruggleRecord Kicks
The Sydney based group The Liberators return with another deep dish of impressive heavy grooves. "Power Struggle" features nine tracks of Afro-beat inspired instrumentals certain to keep your head nodding to the beat. The opener "Cairo Uprising" sets the tone with an infectious groove and spirited rhythms. "Dark River" is another up-tempo pulsating tune with jazz infused rhythms. "Red Green Live Die" features wicked bass playing that compliments the funky horns that are featured throughout. "Power Struggle" picks up where their debut left off and that's by delivering high energy Afro-funk that will keep you on the good foot and wanting more.
Reg Dancy, 05/14
The Liberators - The LiberatorsRecord Kicks
It doesn’t take long to recognize that the ten member unit known as the Liberators can play a mean brand of Afro-funk, and play it well. The Sydney based band’s debut is a crisp ten song collection of high energy afro-funk that percolates from one song to the next. The group was formed by Dojo Cuts guitarist Nathan Aust and he has assembled a cohesive unit with all the ingredients; a blistering horn section, wicked guitar rhythms and top notch drumming and percussion. That’s evident right from the start with “Multiculture”, a hard charging tune armed with an airtight horn section and a lead tenor sax delivering spirited soloing. “Rags To Riches” brings more heat, albeit with some funky guitar work and precision horn arrangements. Only three tracks feature vocalists and none of them disappoints. “Let It Go” is a nice mid-tempo tune with a strong groove and bubbling percussion that features Dojo Cuts member Roxie Ray. “Liberation” is one of the highlights of this strong set, a dynamic tune that features Afro Moses. Known in Ghana as the African James Brown, Moses puts a charge into the set with his singing and his energy is infectious. The Afro funk sound and Afro beat in general becomes more popular every day and firing up clubs everywhere. Let’s hope that this is the first of many strong releases by The Liberators to help carry the torch.
Reg Dancy, 03/11
The Magnificent Tape Band - The Subtle Art Of DistractionATA Recordds
The Magnificent Tape Band is made up of ATA Records founders Neil Innes & Pete Williams. Their eight track lp is psychedelic soul filled with sophisticated compositions and arrangements. Top that off with the powerful soulful vocals of Sheffield born Rachel Modest and you have a recording that would fit alongside the 60s Stax recordings. The disc kicks off with "Let The Church Say", stirring organ grinding ballad that showcases her gospel roots. "When I Saw You" is another soul ballad where Modest's falsetto is complemented by Gareth Wilkin's heavenly harp melodies. "Not That Kind Of Woman" is filled with sublime strings and hypnotic guitar rhythms. Modest's falsetto will evoke images of Russell Tompkins Jr of the Stylistics but she clearly has her own sound. This is a tremendous debut and a must have for fans of classic soul.
Reg Dancy, 06/18
The Mighty Diamonds - Inna de YardMakaSound
Makasound's Inna de Yard series is well suited to the The Mighty Diamonds with a stripped down collection of 10 of their best (although I was disappointed that "Pass the Kouchie" wasn’t covered) included are ‘Country Living, I Need A Roof, Have Mercy and When The Right Time Come. Very good.
Graham Radley, 06/08