Various Artists - SK200Sonar Kollektiv
For over ten years the collective from Berlin known as Sonar Kollektiv have been at the forefront of delivering cutting edge music by an eclectic group of artists. Their blueprint has been to place emphasis on quality recordings without dwelling on the number of units that are sold. Their latest record “SK200” marks their 200th release and serves as a testament that the formula certainly works. “SK200” contains seventeen tracks of some of their finest work this year and beyond. The disc starts off with “Sun Children” by Soulphiction, a soulful ambient tune with strings from their early 2008 release “Do You Overstand?!”. Thief contributes to the ensemble with “Somewhere”, a warm up-tempo tune with nice synth arrangements. The jazz quartet Quasimode is also featured here with “Objects In The Mirror”, which features the superb vocals of Carmen Lundy who is certainly one of our finest vocalists in jazz today. Label veteran Clara Hill sings sweet folksy melodies on “Ocean Queen”. There are also contributions from the likes of Roland Appel, Lars Bartkuhn, Benny Sings and many more. This is a wonderful record that is loaded with great performances. Just another example of why Sonar Kollektiv is one of the premier record labels around today.
Reg Dancy, 11/08
Various Artists - Smoove Presents: Mo’ Record Kicks Act IIRecord Kicks
The deep funk label known as Record Kicks has done it again. After recently dropping scorching soulful projects like Soulshaker and The Liberators, they deliver another impressive compilation with Mo’ Record Kicks Act II. DJ/Producer Smoove has been committed to delivering the funk for more than thirty years and once again has assembled a roster of heavy hitters with enough funk to jump start any house party. The disc starts out with a bang with The Bakers Brothers “The Young Patter”, complete with infectious guitar rhythms and funky horns. “The Grunt” by Kokolo is a funky mid-tempo Afro-beat groover. The Link Quartet serves up some serious organ grinding soul jazz in the form of “Take Four”. There are notable remixes as well such as the Valique remix of “Scaramunga” by Ray Harris & The Fusion Experience. The Lack Of Afro remix of “Give Me One More Chance” by The Diplomats of Solid Sound is a definite crowd pleaser. For me the hottest remix here is the Discomix version of “Are You Ready” by Mr Comicstore featuring the soulful vocals of Nicole Willis. This is an absolute floor burner and one of the strongest among several bangers here. After working up a sweat, I’d suggest to cool down to “Ain’t So Low” by Dojo Cuts. Roxie Ray’s vocals and the mellow horns are always soothing to the eardrum. Once again DJ Smoove knows to how to get your groove on by finding some hidden funk gems and bringing them back to life. If you don’t move your body to “Mo’ Record Kicks Act II” then I’d suggest consulting your doctor.
Reg Dancy, 05/11
Various Artists - Soul DesirablesExpansion Records
Expansion's latest offering draws together a host of in-demand modern soul tracks. Compiled by Geoff Bingham it features tracks which only appeared as bonus cuts on the Japanese editions of artists' albums, promo only remixes plus previously unreleased material. Although much of what's on offer here is a little smooth for my current tastes there are some fine moments, particularly on the more organic tracks such as the beautifully orchestrated 'For Goodness Sake' from K. Fox, Jack Herrera's dreamy 'For You', the DJ Spinna remix of Donnie's Cloud 9 and what's described as a rare remix of 'Sweet Misery' by the angel voiced Amel Larrieux. Also present is the superb feel good dancer 'No Matter What I'll Do' from Donald McCollum.
Andy Allen, 08/07
Various Artists - Soulshaker Vol. 7Record Kicks
The good folks at Record Kicks have done it again by assembling some of the hottest funky treats past and present from both sides of the pond. Indeed, Vol. 7 turns up the heat right from the outset with "His Voice", armed with a smoking rhythm section and the voice of Elder William Smith will move your hips and leave your soul feeling sanctified. In addition to the funk, we’re serenaded with "Rags To Riches", a wicked Afro funk tune from The Liberators that features vocals from Roxie Ray from Dojo Cuts. "Tonic Stride" is a deep soul groover from Detroit based Third Coast Kings that is worthy of repeated listens. Other honorable mentions include "Sookie Sookie" by The Hi Fly Orchestra and "Let Me Take You Higher" by Roy Ellis and The Teenagers. The Soulshaker compilations have been consistent with delivering essential soul and funk recordings and this one is no exception.
Reg Dancy, 01/11
Various Artists - Sound Of The World presents: Beyond The HorizonWarner Classics
Double CD compiled by Charlie Gillett, 34 tracks altogether with a nice wide global mix. Probably best for me to list a few and that way you’ll get a better feel of where the compilation is coming from. Yasmin Levy, Almasala, DJ Delores, Dengue Fever, Nancy Arjam, Madilu System, Ceu, Lucky Dube and Servara, gives you an idea of the range of countries and styles. A good summer soundtrack.
Graham Radley, 07/08
Various Artists - Sounds from the Soul UndergroundFreestylerecords.co.uk
Freestyle Records has become the place where classic soul gems become brand new once again. With “Sounds from the Soul Underground”, we’re treated to a collection of rare grooves from around the globe that you may not be familiar with but you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. There are a number of quality soul tracks to dig into like “Poker Nights Theme” by The Delicious AllStars. Nick Van Gelder delivers with the funky boogie tune “Something’s Gotta Give”. There are also tasty jazz numbers like Frootful’s funky organ grinding “Colours”. “Mr G” by Jessica Lauren is easily one of the strongest cuts here. This latin flavored tune is filled with bubbly percussion and gorgeous soloing from Jessica on keys. With seventeen tracks here, there are a couple that could have been omitted like “Movin On” (It only makes me yearn for the Brass Construction original). Aside from that, this is another solid release and a must have for those who crave the rare groove sound
Reg Dancy, 03/12
Various Artists - Spain Is Different Volume 2Hitop Records
Hitop bring together a selection of ten recent Spanish nu jazz cuts for the second instalment of 'Spain Is Different', including 'En La Calle, On The Street' by Gecko Turner, Mojo Project's 'Nana For Child' (instrumental) and 'Cabo Verde Strut' (Wagon Cookin Mix) from Casbah 73. Better though are Pablo Sanchez's 'Umba' where afro-beat meets broken-beat, the bright and breezy 'Summertime' by Soul Dynamics featuring Wanda Felicia and JP Duet's 'Charanga Pa Gozar', a more traditional Latin offering.
Andy Allen, 08/06
Various Artists - Spiritland (The Funk & Soul Of Blue Eyed Rock)Harmless
As the subtitle suggests, Harmless' latest compilation selected by Bill Brewster focuses on the influence of black American funk and soul on the rock scene. There seems to have been a growing interest in this genre, folk-funk, funk-rock etc over the past few years and I for one am slowly but surely opening my mind to it. Not all here is to my tastes but it's nice to see the inclusion of Chicago's percussive 'Happy Cause I'm Going Home' along with Odyssey's infectious horn driven soul sensation 'Battened Ships'. Other standouts are the album's opener, a great version of 'Spooky' by Classics IV, the Steely Dan influenced 'Hesitation' by Honk, the crossover soul sound of Elkie Brooks' 'Spiritland' and the one I'm currently playing, Gino Vannelli's 'People Gotta Move On', which comes off like a Stevie Wonder track. The CD features a bonus disc mixed by Brewster under his Fat Camp guise and includes some tasty re-edits.
Andy Allen, 03/06
Various Artists - Spiritual Jazz 2 EuropeJazzman
Jazzman records are routinely dropping gems and this fine collection of jazz classics is no exception. Dedicated to the late UK Pianist Michael Garrick, “Spiritual Jazz 2 Europe” features unreleased material that centers on the 60’s UK Jazz evolution. The opening track “Communion” by Trombonist Erich Kleinschuster and his sextet is a modal jazz treat filled with Rhodes and strings. “Archangelo” by Raphael is avant-garde spiritual jazz with a shivering chorus. Barney Wilen continues on this path with the fiery “Africa Freakout” that features shimmering Tenor riffs layered over a tasty rhythm guitar and is certainly one of the highlights. Serbian Trumpeter Dusko Goykovic also delivers with “Bosma Calling. This is a very strong release that would fit nicely in the playlist of any Jazz aficionado who appreciates the spirited compositions of Trane and Pharoah. There are great performances throughout and provides insight into the history of some of the esteemed composers/musicians of UK Jazz.
Reg Dancy, 06/12
Various Artists - Spiritual Jazz 6 - VocalsJazzman Records
Jazzman records latest offering of their Spiritual Jazz series shines a light on the obscure yet treasured vocal compositions that span the seventies Soul Jazz evolution. "Spiritual Jazz 6 - Vocals" features compositions that reflect the socio political climate during when they were recorded, yet the overall vibe speaks to universal love and spiritual healing.There's a variety of musicians here. From the legendary Charles Mingus serenading us with a gentle modal jazz tune in the form of "Moves". Honey Gordon and Doug Hammond share the vocal duties with the latter having penned the tune. Leon Thomas provides his signature brand of yodeling on the Pharoah Sanders recording of "Prince Of Peace". Gary Bartz's alto sax complements Andy Bey's baritone vocals beautifully on "Celestial Blues". "Spirits Up Above" is classic soul jazz from Vibration Society, a band formed by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The vocals are courtesy of the Roland Kirk Spirit Choir. There are a wealth of timeless classics here, some of which were unreleased until now. Jazzman Gerald has proven time and again that he has a keen ear for hidden gems and will go great lengths to find these recordings. Clearly this is a labor of love for him and a boon for everyone else. Simply put you need this in your collection.
Reg Dancy, 04/15