Ajoyo - AjoyoRopeadope
Ajoyo is a seven piece collective spearheaded by saxophonist Yacina Boulares. Originally from Tunisia (North Africe), "Ajoyo" is a hybrid of rhythms emanating from Cameroon. Boulares cultivated this sound while working with an illustrious collection of Cameroonian musicians like Jojo Kuo, the former drummer for Fela Kuti and the late Martino Atangani, among others. This engaging eight track release has much to offer. "Chocot" is a blistering instrumental with funky horns and festive afrobeat rhythms. "Benskin" features lush vocals from Sarah Elizabeth Charles and spirited melodies from Can Olgun on keys. "The Pearl" is another uplifting tune with soothing horns which also features Charles.Overall Ajoyo is filled with strong yet understated musicianship and uplifting lyrics that touch on social issues. This is a glorious record filled with good vibes that will move your feet and lift your spirit.
Reg Dancy, 07/15
Akli D - Ma YelaBecause Music
Akli D arrived in France in the early 80's after fleeing Algeria. Discovered by Manu Chao playing in a cafe (I wish they had cafes like that around here) Manu Chao went on to produce this, Akli D.'s second album. Songs of our time, told by a modern day storyteller, songs that have an enlightened perspective on global issues that affect us all. Songs like 'Malik' which is the 'never again' story of Malik Oussekine, a pacifist student who died from injuries inflicted by the police at the famous student demonstration of 1986. Rooted in the Berber rhythms of North Africa he also mixes in reggae, celtic and global roots to produce a chilled backdrop to the songs. He's in UK next February but it looks like only playing the predictable 'big' venues as part of a package hopefully he'll be back soon playing a cafe near you.
Graham Radley, 11/06
Al Kent - Disco Love 2BBE
If there is a little known Disco record out there languishing in somebody’s vault, chances are Al Kent will find it. With “Disco Love 2” he has delivered another batch of rare gems that have never seen the light of day. While some of the selections here will not cause a uproar over as to why they have been in exile, there are a few gems that certainly merit your attention. The standout tracks include “I Feel Like Dancing” by Aged In Harmony sounds like one of those frequent Prelude releases from back in the day with an anonymous vocal blessing a funky groove driven Disco treat. “Love Exchange” is the type of up-tempo disco jam that was played in roller rinks throughout the late seventies. “I Think I’ll Do Some Steppin On My Own” is one of the stronger selections featured here. Vocalist Sandy Barber belts out an up-tempo tune with strings that would have easily fit into the Philly International catalogue. “Loosen Up” is another highlight that begins with a blistering conga solo that shifts into a wicked bass groove peppered with funky horn riffs as well. For those who occasionally suffer from the Disco fever, “Disco Love 2” is the remedy for you.
Reg Dancy, 06/11
Al Kent - Disco Love Vol 3BBE
When you hear the name Al Kent, one can only think of rare Disco gems that we’ve completely forgotten or never knew existed. At first I was afraid that Disco Love Vol.3 would be filled with abundance of glossy dance tracks but I was very pleased by the quality of recordings here that are soulfully deep and funky. There are several highlights to nod your head to like the Al Kent edit funky bass grooves of “Mighty Gents”. “Hustle On Down Pt.3” features funky horns and wah wah guitar licks. “Human” by the Neo Experience is reminiscent of a Philly Soul recording. Overall Disco Love Vol. 3 covers all the bases to allow you to step back in time and get your groove on.
Reg Dancy, 08/13
Al Kent - Secret SoundsBBE Records
Without question, there are more than a handful of folks that doubted that Disco would still be relevant yet here we are thirty years later and Disco still has a home in the hearts of many. You can thank artists like Al Kent for giving it the respect it deserves. Fresh off his project with the Million Dollar Orchestra, Al pays tribute to the genre and the DJ’s that made the music so beloved by many and a lightning rod for others with “Secret Sounds”. Al starts things off with an intro for an advertisement for hustle lessons, the featured dance from the early seventies that everyone tried to master with varying degrees of success. This is followed up with the synth flavored disco track “I like it”. “Come back home” is a soulful tune due in large part to Tyrone Taylor on vocals and laced with strings that would make Vince Montana proud. This is arguably the best track on the disc. Normally I don’t get caught up with interludes but in this case it does provide a service in paying respect to the DJ’s in general and to pioneers like Jellybean Benitez and Tee Scott in particular. The impact they had would set the tone for all the prominent DJ’s of today. Other notable tracks include “Get Funky” starts out with a simple keyboard melody before sequeing into a funky disco stomper with horns. “Reverb is your friend” is a sublime mid-tempo track that isn’t quite a disco track; instead it’s a lovely reverb instrumental that could fit nicely into any lounge today. The disc concludes with the percussion laden “Tenner Rap”, a surefire disco jam floor filler. Al Kent’s love for disco is unsurpassed and if you ever loved the music, you’ll appreciate his dedication and no doubt enjoy “Secret sounds”.
Reg Dancy, 03/10
AL Kent presents The Million Dollar Orchestra - Better DaysBBE Music
When did you imagine disco died? Wrong! Because it happens sometime after 2008 and The Million Dollar Orchestra are here to prove just that. Creative, refreshing, gutsy disco blinders from start to finish. If you are bored with the way some of the genres have been heading then pick this album up and stimulate the parts of the brain usually left for alcohol and wickedness. Best of 2008? Here we come and you had better step aside!
Steve Williams, 01/08
Alan Hull - PhantomsMarket Square Records
Alan Hull solo release in 1970 for Rocket Records reissued for the first time on CD. Here there are 10 tracks from what was his third solo album 'Phantoms' although, as the sleeve notes point out, six had already been released on the Radiator album 'Isn't It Strange' then we get 4 tracks from the aforementioned Radiator album with the package completed by five bonus demos from 1975. A great songwriter who had the capacity to write catchy pop songs as well as address less lightweight subject matter . The albums twelve page booklet features extensive notes and previously unpublished photos.
Graham Radley, 08/07
Alder Ego - IIWe Jazz Records
Alder Ego is a quartet formed by Helsinki based drummer Joonas Leppanen. Leppanen and his Finnish bandmates demonstrate a fluid rapport right out the gate on "Leviathan". Leppanen's splashy cymbals create colorful soundscapes for Ilkka Uksila's melodic vibes. Together they leave plenty of space for trumpeter Tomi Nikku and Saxophonist Jarno Tikka to stretch out. Uksila's soft vibes massage the gorgeous soloing from Nikku on "Flight". "Solitude" is another where Nikku and Tikka's soloing dance around Teemu Akerblom's subtle bass licks. This band doesn't break any new ground but they excel with the freedom of superb compositions from Leppanen. As great as this recording sounds I bet they're even better live. Now that would be a treat.
Reg Dancy, 02/19
Alex Barck - ReunionSonar Kollektiv
"Reunion" the new release from Alex Barck is a triumphant return after a break from the music scene. Indeed "Reunion" is filled with an assortment of uplifting dance tracks filled with Soul, Pop and African rhythms. It's obvious that the hiatus was good to Barck for the superb writing and arrangements is only surpassed by the spirited collaborations from an array of talented vocalists filtered throughout this disc. Among the many highlights is "Oh Africa", a soulful house track features the deep husky vocals of Christine Salem, a native of La Reunion, located in the Indian Ocean where Barck sought repose. "Don't Hold Back" is another pulsating track that features the powerful vocals of Sweden's own Jonathan Backelie. Backelie also shines on "We Get High" and the moving "Doubter". Vocalist Pete Josef, one half of The White Lamp blesses two other tunes, "Reset" and "Spinning Around". With other notable contributions from Stee Downes and Fetsum "Reunion" is highly recommended dance music at it's best.
Reg Dancy, 11/13
Alex Puddu - SoultigerSchema Records
Guitarist Alex Puddu, Italian native and Copenhagen resident for over thirty years delivers a touch of Latin Soul with his latest release. "Soultiger" will conjure images of Spanish Harlem 1960 through 1970. This was a vibrant period where a new generation of Latin musicians were being influenced by Soul RnB and Caribbean rhythms This melting pot of rhythms would later become known as Boogaloo. One of the prominent members of this emerging new genre was legendary vocalist Joe Bataan, who appears on three tracks here. Indeed "Soultiger" attempts to captures the spirit of the Boogaloo and there are moments of success, The title track is a light boogie funk tune with percolating vibes and percussion. Joe Bataan's ageless vocals shine the ballad "Love Talk". "I Want You" kicks off with s simmering bass groove followed by warm keys, tasty vibes and sultry vocals from Maja Muhlack. For a thorough venture into the world Latin Afro soul, do check out the earlier recordings of Joe Bataan and Joe Cuba but "Soultiger" is a good place to start.
Reg Dancy, 08/15