zafmusic - Private Wax - Super Rare Boogie and DiscoBBE
Zaf is a music aficionado, avid collector and former owner of Reckless Records in New York City. He has been compiling disco and boogie tunes for over forty years and he has dug into his vault to share a sampling of his rare grooves as the title would suggest. While every track here doesn’t qualify as a gem there are a few delights that will grab your attention. Prime cuts include “Sweet Maryline” by Christian Gaubert. “Music Freak” by Contagious is a proper funk tune with a wicked groove. “Fly with Me” by Yohon is a Disco treat with strings inspired by the Salsoul sound that will certainly move you. Thanks to Zaf and countless other DJs the sound of the boogie is alive and well and “Private Wax” is a good source to get your groove on.
Reg Dancy, 09/12
Zara MacFarlane - Until TomorrowBrownswood Recordings
One listen of “Until Tomorrow”, the full length debut of London songstress Zara MacFarlane and you would think this is the voice of a seasoned veteran. The fact is Zara’s lovely soprano exudes power and tenderness that belies her twenty eight years. Equally impressive is her resume that list working with heavyweights like Denys Baptiste, Soweto Kinch and Hugh Masekela among others. Zara’s debut lp includes originals such as “Blossom Tree” and Chiaroscuro”, the former is a warm and gentle tune that demonstrates her superb songwriting ability combined with the rhythmic playing of pianist Peter Edwards. “Feed the Spirit” is another standout, originally penned by Harry Whitaker (Roy Ayers) Zara sets this track off with a simmering intro augmented by the double bass work of Nick Walsh and then explodes with her voice floating over spirited tenor sax phrasings. Other favorites include the title track and “Waking Sleep”. If you weren’t aware of Zara before then you definitely need to get familiar. This is a gorgeous record and Zara certainly belongs in the discussion with Jose James and Gretchen Parlato for new Jazz vocalists marking their mark on the scene today.
Reg Dancy, 11/11
Zara McFarlane - If You Knew HerBrownswood Recordings
UK jazz vocalist Zara McFarlane made waves with her 2011 debut Until Tomorrow and her new album, If You Knew Her is even stronger. Angie La La is the first track to grab my attention, a firing dancer which sees Zara using an impressive vocal technique which comes off like a warbling bird. It also features trumpeter/vocalist Lebron Thomas whose rich baritone vocal delivery interplays with Zara’s voice beautifully. There’s a delightful take on Junior Murvin’s reggae classic Police & Thieves, plus the stunning waltz The Games We Played on which Zara is accompanied by piano only. It’s so simple but so powerful it stopped me in my tracks. In a similar vein and with the same impact is Love, the album’s closing track, but touch down anywhere on this set and you’re in for a real treat.
Andy Allen, 03/14
Zed Bias - Experiments with Biasonics, Vol.1Sick Trumpet Records
There’s not enough space here to document all the accomplishments of Zed Bias. Let’s just say that the man has produced and performed remixes. For many artists worldwide. So it’s nice to finally have a disc under his own name. “Experiments In Biasonics” has a little bit of everything from hip-hip, house and broken beat. There’s also a handful of guests that we’re all familiar with. “Smile Within” is a soulful blissful house track that features the lovely voice of Fyza. Known for their work together with Phuturistix, they recreate some of that magic here. “Secondary Power” is a high energy broken beat gem that features Pete Simpson & Jenna G. Mark De Clive Lowe contributes stellar synthesizer work on the equally heart pounding “Cottonmouth”. If I have one complaint it would be the annoying interludes of Zed Bias the Mad Scientist. Fortunately there aren’t many and they appear mainly at the beginning. That being said, “Experiments In Biasonics” provides plenty of pulsating beats and lush vocals from beginning to end. An exciting journey into the world of one of the most talented producers on the scene today.
Reg Dancy, 03/08
Zero dB - Bongos, Bleeps & BasslinesNinja Tune
Moving on in spirit and body from Fluid Ounce, Zero dB join forces with Ninja Tune and with a little help on the mental 'Coisa de Gringo' and 'A Pomba Girou' Heidi Vogal; to bring forth a major statement on the nu-jazz and broken beat platform that is the year 2006.
We like this. It does what it was meant to do - blow you! Broken madness, samba rhythms and the all important jazz... bring it and bring it loud. Beat heads and Chelsea Taxis alike will die for 'Know What I'm Sayin', then you have 'A Pomba Girou' which has been tried and tested on every notable dance-floor the world over and 'Conga Madness' sticks its arse out to the dons-of-the-broken beat-scene and messes up their supremacy. Step aside for the bongo, bleep and bassline haecceity will destroy.
'Tw Quiero' provides the favela treatment, showing Zero dB's multi-talented capabilities through a powerful album which should adorn every worldwide music collection. The best thing since vinification.
Steve Williams, 11/06