Bobby Matos - The Best OfUbiquity Records
This retrospective of Bobby Matos' recordings for the Ubiquity/Luv N Haight subsidiary Cubop is a must for any fan of Latin jazz. Much of the material here is aimed directly at the dance floor and whilst you can't help being drawn in by the intoxicating rhythms it's the gentler moments which appeal to me the most. His versions of John Coltrane's 'Naima' and Pharoah Sanders' 'The Creator Has A Master Plan' are both outstanding as is his take on Miles' 'So What'. If you've overlooked Bobby Matos in the past and feel the urge to acquaint yourself with his music, then this album is a great place to start.
Andy Allen, 10/07
Boddhi Satva - InvocationBBE
Ancestral Soul as told by Boddhi Satva is the amalgamation of deep house music, Congolese rumba, West African voices, urban RnB and Afro Cuban rhythms. However he wants to describe it there’s no denying that “Invocation” is enriched with deep and soulful rhythms that will sink into your body and empower you to move; failure to dance isn’t an option. There are so many tracks here to savor you simply can’t wrong with any but let’s start with the title track. It’s complete with blossoming Afro Cuban rhythms while Congolese native Fredy Massamba’s spirited improvisations raises it to another level. “You’re My Woman” is blissful soulful house highlighted by the seductive falsetto of C Robert Walker. Walker also appears in a supporting role on the soulful house banger “Who I Am”, filled with poignant lyrics that condemn hatred within the human race. That point is driven home by the slam poetry of Athenai. There are several more talented vocalists that contribute like the songbird of Wassoulou, Oumou Sangare and her inspiring lyrics on “Ngnari Konon”. There’s also some wicked dance hall meets house in the form of “Jah Sanctuary” and “Enemies” ripe with thick beats and a thumping bass. Like Osunlade before him with the sound of Yoruba, Boddhi is channeling the African rhythms from different horizons combined with uplifting lyrics and the results are simply superb.
Reg Dancy, 06/12
Bonga - BairroLusafrica
Superb release from Bonga with a nice balance of moods and rhythms which range from where his native Angolan semba shows influences of morna from the Cape Verde to changing gear so that soukous guides us to the dance floor. Now in his 60’s but this is a real return to earlier form. Recommended.
Graham Radley, 02/09
Bonobo - Days To ComeNinja Tune
This is the 3rd long player from Bonobo, and whilst it retains elements of the lounge styling found on previous work "Days To Come" has a much deeper jazz flavour. This is in no doubt due to the fact that Bajka graces several cuts with her fragile yet beautiful voice. The title track is an outstanding example but not to be overlooked is "Nightlite", which has a northern soul meets spiritual jazz vibe! Also worthy of note is the mellow folky feel of "If You Stayed Over" with Fink.
Andy Allen, 10/06
Brad Mehldau Trio - LiveNonesuch Records
The latest live offering from Brad Mehldau again from the legendary setting of the Village Vanguard sees him continue to mix contemporary pop tunes with reworkings of standards from the American songbook and beyond. Paring down the very essence of the melody in a song and weaving it into an individual style is Mehldau's forte and on the Oasis tune 'Wonderwall' the trio take the song in a whole new direction. Chico Buarque's 'O que sera' improves on the already latinised tinge with a dramatic change of tempo part way through that is an album tour de force. A lengthy solo introduces the take on Coltrane's 'Countdown' before Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums enter and Mehldau thereafter sets off on an exploratory romp. Of the other material, the self-composed 'B-Flat Waltz' harks back to Mehldau's earliest recordings while blues-inflected playing on the standard 'More than you know' accompanies the sparse phrasing with the pianist at his most soulful. The intimacy of the session at the Vanguard comes across well, and as ever the recording.
Tim Stenhouse, 05/08
Braintax - PanoramaLow Life Records
An unsung Hip-Hop hero, Braintax has been instrumental in much of the positive movement made by the UK scene over the last decade, and the politically-charged Panorama's cultured flow, intelligent lyrics and captivatingly diverse beats are testament to just that. Self-funded and largely self-produced, the album is the interesting, progressive and ever-funky antithesis of mundane, mass-marketed fluff. The excellent, Louis Slipperz-produced Syriana Style, with its tough middle-eastern beats interspersed with George Galloway sound bites, just about sums it up!
Tom Breslin, 11/06
Brandon Coleman - ResistanceBrainfeeder
Brandon Coleman has been very busy this year. When he wasn't in the studio working on his debut he was serving as the keyboardist for tenor titan Kamasi Washington. He's featured using the vocoder on "Vi Lua Vi Sol" on Kamasi's latest LP "Heaven And Earth". With his debut "Resistance" he utilizes the vocoder over an collection of funk and boogie grooves while invoking some of his influences. The opening tune "Live For Today" is an infectious foot stomping boogie tune. "Sexy" is tasty funk that's reminiscent of Roger Troutman (Zapp). "Sundae" is an obvious nod to Herbie Hancock's fusion era that's elevated by N'Dambi's vocals. This is a promising debut from a rising talent from the progressive Brainfeeder label
Reg Dancy, 11/18
Break Reform - ReformationAbstract Blue Recordings
Simon S, Nanar and JJ aka Break Reform return after releasing numerous singles and the amazing debut album 'Fractures'. You will have also in your collection the last two singles featuring remixes from Domu, Yam Who and Sidewinder, which has built up more than enough hype for the imminent release of 'Reformation'. There is no doubt in my mind that Nanar is one of the most gifted singers and lyricists around today and once you've listened to all of this album I'm certain you'll agree. It's wonderful to have them back and all you need to do now is check out the live show at a venue near you.
Simon Harrison, 05/05
Breakaway - Breakaway/Straight To The Top!BBE Records
Reissued as two separate LPs or as two albums on one CD, these rare recordings were originally only released as private pressings in late 70s. The music on display ranges from raw disco funk through to heart wrenching pop ballads, mainly fronted by a female vocalist who sounds remarkably like Minnie Ripperton. Whilst much of the material is not my bag I must draw your attention to the dance floor winner There’s A New Group In Town and the sweet sweet groove of Who Was It This Time.
Andy Allen, 02/14
Breakthrough - BreakthroughJazzy Sport
Breakthrough are the brain child of three up and coming Japanese producers who have set their standards high, just look at the list of vocalists for their debut: Bahamadia, Amp Fiddler, Bembe Segue, Gagle, Jneiro Jarel, Count Bass D, Maspyke and that's just for starters. These guys are not messing about and with a whopping 21 tracks, you're in for a real treat. Breakthrough is predominately Hiphop and Soul based with a Broken Beat tune thrown in for good measure, featuring the amazing Bembe Segue. This may cost a small fortune in Europe but it's worth every penny. Top marks to Jazzy Sport.
Simon Harrison, 10/05