I:Cube - Live At The PlanetariumVersatile Records
In June 2005 I:Cube played the Star Ball festival at the Planetarium de la Villette in Paris and here is your chance to hear a 55 minute snippet of the I:Cube Playmobil spaceship to enjoy in your own living room. This performance is a mix up of Electronica, Ambient, Dub, Deep House and beautifully structured in such a way that you need to listen to the whole album from start to finish for it to make perfect sense. If you dip and skip you will miss the point and ambiance of this album, so take time out and listen properly.
Simon Harrison, 02/06
Ibrahim Ferrer - Mi SuenoNonesuch Records
The sad part is that Ibrahim died three weeks before the final recording session for this but thankfully his final wish and dream, that his beloved bolero album be completed has now been realised. From the very first note Ibrahim's voice grips you emotionally, music that is not beyond making you shed a tear as it gently dances with you. There's a superb small group behind the great man which includes Roberto Fonesca and Cachaito Lopez. Wonderful.
Graham Radley, 05/07
Idea 6 - MetropoliDéjà vu Recordings
Idea 6 are a sextet consisting of old timers (no disrespect intended) Gianni Basso and Dino Piana on sax and trombone respectively along with younger cats Guido Pistocchi on trumpet, Luciano Milanese on double bass, Stefano Bagnoli on drums and Andrea Pozza on piano. 'Metropoli' is a modern Italian jazz album rooted in the 50s and 60s modal and bop style and across 6 tracks they display their talents to great effect. 'Windly Coast' just edges it for me at the moment but this is excellent throughout. An album for life, not just for Christmas!
Andy Allen, 01/06
Idrissa Diop & Cheikh Tidiane Tall - Diamonoye TiopiteTarangabeat
“Cheikh Tidiane” is the first of several releases from the Senegal based label “Terangabeat” which features the music of Idrissa Diop. Diop is the man largely responsible for the music known as Mbalax, which merges Senegalese with Latin rhythms and paved the way for artists like Youssou N’Dour and Omar Pene . This release covers some of his strongest recordings from 1969-76 with the band Sahel. The latin flavor is evident on tracks like “Yaye Boye”, a warm laidback tune highlighted by Idrissa’s tenor flavored vocals and Cheikh Tidianne Tall’s rhythmic guitar playing. “Caridad” is another winner filled with sparkling percussions and soaring keys. Sahel’s harmonious horn section figures prominently on “Fonkale Garape” as well as Tidiane Tall’s guitar soloing. Their spirited playing elevates the compositions to another level. The sound quality on the recording is the only drawback as several tracks have an analog sound and you wonder how much better this would if it was digitally remastered. That said, “Diamonoye Tiopite” is a hidden treasure that brims with emotion, energy and is filled with heartfelt lyrics. Kudos to Terangabeat for allowing this disc to see the light of day.
Reg Dancy, 07/11
IG Culture Presents - Zen BadizmFreedom School
One of the pioneers of the West London broken beat scene, IG Culture returns with a spiritually conscious project that embarks on a journey through the history of black music and its culture. All of IG’s influences from soul and jazz to funk and hip hop are molded together here and the results are incredible. The jazz influences are especially notable in that you hear the sounds of Sun Ra and the African rhythms that is instrumental in his music. “Zen Badizm” plays out like a suite as the disc is broken down into three segments. The first segment is twenty minutes long and starts off with “Black”, a broken soul track that deals with some of the struggles within the black community. “Any Questions” finds the underrated rapper John Robinson (aka Lil Sci) dropping science about self empowerment and not succumbing to the traps that hold back youth. Bilal Salaam is a soul singer to keep an eye on. He sounds an awful lot like Eddie Kendricks on “Girl U Need A change Of Mind”. The only drawback for me is that this disc is only about 43 minutes so it left me wanting more. That being said, Zen Badizm is a great piece of work by IG Culture. The man has assembled a fine catalogue of quality music under many monikers and this project is no exception. This is essential listening.
Reg Dancy, 09/08
IJahman Levi - Versatile LifeMediacom Records
Good to hear that sweet voice again, 10 new tracks all written and produced by Ijahman and recorded at Anchor & Channel One in Jamaica. The laidback style picks up from the classic albums of the late 70s (Hail I Hymn and Are We has Warrior) again spreading the word on Rastafarianism and humanity in general. Check out 'Robin Hood' and 'Witness'. Superb - highly recommended.
Graham Radley, 08/07
Ikebe Shakedown - Kings Left BehindColemine Records
Another bundle of instrumental funk from the Brooklyn based band Ikebe Shakedown. "Kings Left Behind" is a collaborative effort with each band member taking part in the production. The opener "Not Another Drop" sets the tone with raw psychedelic soul layered with infectious wah wah guitar rhythms. The slow burning "Mary's Corner" is reminiscent of cinematic Western soundtracks. "No Going Back" is another winner. While the bongo and wicked guitar licks get you in the mood to groove, the brass adds the final touch of an instrumental treat. There are several parts to this band but they all come together as one. That's what makes their releases such an essential listen.
Reg Dancy, 08/19
Ikebe Shakedown - Stone By StoneUbiquity
"Stone By Stone", the sophomore release by the seven piece Brooklyn NY based band is packed with all the ingredients that made their debut such a hit. There's blistering horns, funky guitar rhythms and lively percussion yet the sound is more layered then the self titled debut. There's less of a jam session feel and the result is more mature compositions. There are a number of standout tracks like "The Offering" and "Last Stand", both are head nodding hip shaking tracks. The title track "Stone By Stone" is a laid back tune with psychedelic arrangements. Recorded at Daptone studios, Ikebe Shakedown are representing the raw soul and funk movement in a huge way.
Reg Dancy, 07/14
Ikebe Shakedown - The Way HomeColemine
The Brooklyn based band return with another collection of infectious gritty funk instrumentals. "The Way Home" pulls from an array of influences of Afro, psychedelia and a heavy dose of soul. There's plenty to savor here starting with the opening track "Supermoon". A fiery soul tune ripe with blistering horns, percussion and wicked electric guitar rhythms. "she's Knocking" is slow grinding soul that follows the same formula. With their trademark tight instrumentation and no sign of filler, "The Way Home" is a sure bet for soul aficionados.
Reg Dancy, 01/18
Ill Considered - Ill Considered 3CNM LDN
In a short time, Ill Considered has built a reputation as a unit delivering inspired meditative as well as spiritual jazz compositions. Although "Ill Considered 3" contains material written specifically for this recording, the group still manages to stretch out and improvise on the fly. By doing so they've captured the spirit of the live performances they've become known for. Each recording here starts out with warm, if somewhat loose melodies before they begin to push the boundaries. None more so than saxophonist Idris Rahman. "Djinn" begins with Leon Brichard's simmering bass groove along side Vincent De Boer's mystical brushes that create a mood of an ethereal passage. Rahman's sax is warm yet powerful and full of raw emotion. "Delusions" pushes the tempo into high gear with the help of percussionist Satin Singh. Rahman's melodic flourishes coat every composition and they are a thing of beauty. There's a lot going on with these recordings and each member brings their own unique set of skills to the table. This is essential listening that you shouldn't miss.
Reg Dancy, 11/20