Joyce, Nana Vasconcelos & Mauricio Maestro - Visions of DawnFar Out Recordings
You have to give credit to the good folks at Far out recordings for uncovering this classic recording. Thirty years ago, legendary Brazilian singer Joyce, Nana Vasconcelas and Mauricio Mae recorded the sublime masterpiece called “Visions of Dawn”. The soothing vocals of Joyce combined with the percussion artistry of Nana Vasconcelas create dreamy compositions of bossa and samba that will warm your heart. Mauricio Mae produced, provides vocals and plays guitar on all tracks as well. The disc opens with “Banana” a melancholy Brazilian folk gem that features Joyce’s luscious vocals over a simmering acoustic guitar. Other highlights include “Nacional Kid”, a warm sun-drenched samba number and “Memorias Do Porvir”. This is a short but sweet performance as the entire disc is only around 35 minutes. Recorded in Paris, “Visions of Dawn” is a wonderful collection of timeless recordings from one of Brazil’s treasured vocalists. This is essential listening.
Reg Dancy, 04/09
Jukka Eskola - Jukka EskolaFree Agent
Not only is flugelhornist / trumpeter Jukka Eskola an integral part of The Five Corners Quintet but he's also worked with other top Finnish artists such as NuSpirit Helsinki, Teddy Rok Seven, Quintessence and Jimi Tenor. On this his self titled debut solo outing he's accompanied by Jukkis Uotila on electric piano, along with fellow TFCQ contributors Antti Lotjonen, Teppo Makynen (Teddy Rok) and Timo Lassey on bass, drums and saxophone / flute respectively. He impressed earlier this year with the 12" for Ricky-Tick, which featured the jazz dancers '1974' and 'Buttercup'. Both tracks are included here and on first listen are the standouts. However spend a little time with this disc and you'll discover the delights of the Freddie Hubbard influenced 'Kulo', as well as 'Duudamdej' and 'Timber Up', two funky fusion pieces. The later features some awesome drum breaks and keys reminiscent of those on Roy Ayers's 'Everybody Loves The Sunshine'.
Andy Allen, 12/05
Jukka Eskola - Orquesta BossaSchema Records
The aptly titled "Orquesta Bossa" by Trumpeter Jukka Eskola is a soothing atmospheric bossa with strings. Recorded live on a 8-track recorder, Eskola captures the essence of sixties bossa effortlessly. Highlights include the uplifting "Bolly Beat". "Chester-Le-Street" is a funky string laden Bossa that ends with beautiful vamp. "And The Days Passed By" is one of many gentle recordings that demonstrate Eskola's gift of creating adoring melodies. "Wien" is the only vocal recording here and it features the beautiful vocals of Chihiro. This is an intimate recording filled with strong performances from the string quartet as well as Eskola's Quintet. For his part Eskola handles his solos with warmth and tenderness and the result is an engaging record worthy of repeated listens.
Reg Dancy, 12/13
Julie Fowlis - CuilidhShoeshine Records
Follow up to the excellent 'Mar A Tha Mo Chridhe (As My Heart Is)' Julie further explores the folklore of her native North Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland. Her beautiful voice and excellent supporting musicians- including Eamon Doorley (Danu), John McCusker, Chris Thile (Nickel Creek), Mark Kelly (Altan), John Doyle (Solas) and Donald Shaw (Capercaillie) make this the perfect package. Divine.
Graham Radley, 04/07
Julien Dyne - Pins and DigitsBBE Records
Many folks may be familiar with drummer/producer Julien Dyne from his work with the group Opensouls. Their signature sound is rooted in raw soul and funk but you won’t find anything like that here. Instead we have an organic collection of soulful hip-hop beats blended with jazz tinged vibes. Among the highlights are “Layer”, a mid-tempo track with a funky bass line and “Stained glass fresh Frozen”, a soulful electronic joint with horns. Both tracks feature Mara tk who provides vocals and additional beat arrangements. “Falling” is a laid back ethereal gem with heavy beats and earthy chords that features Julien on vocals. This is the type of track you could picture someone like Dwele singing over it. Although there are fourteen tracks, three or four barely exceeded 2 minutes but they still manage to keep your attention. That said, “Pins and Digits” is an impressive debut by an emerging talent. Julien successfully merges live instrumentation with electronica and creates futuristic soul that you don’t want to miss.
Reg Dancy, 10/09
Julien Dyne - TealSoundway
Multi-instrumentalist Julien Dyne has consistently delivered soulful mid-tempo beats for over a decade now. With his latest release "Teal" he's shifted gears towards a more up-tempo groove inspired sound. He starts off with the deep house grooves of "Design". The infectious rhythm and soulful drums will ignite listeners instantly. "Hours" has more of a laid back up-tempo groove but still satisfying. It also features gorgeous vocals from Ladi 6. "Steady" has a boogie funk vibe and features Mara TK on vocals. "Teal" has the grooves to either dance to or simply nod your head to. Dyne always has a gem or two that you can't stop listening to and this disc is no exception.
Reg Dancy, 12/18
Jumbonics - Talk To The AnimalsTru Thoughts Recordings
Rob Mac and Matt Smooth are back and showing no end to their talents, after their excellent Gum Drop and Speeka projects. The track you've probably heard of here is their funk re-working of The Strokes "Last Nite": I was rather surprised that I knew the track and when playing out, it's certainly a crowd pleaser. What made this album really special for me was vocalist Norman Anderson, who just blew me away. It seems whatever style Rob and Matt throw at him, Norman's wonderful voice excels on every tune. To top it off, just like the Gum Drop album, they've brought in violinist Lucy Wilkins to add to the beautiful arrangements. A must!!
Simon Harrison, 03/07
Jungle Fire - JambuNacional
"Jambu" is the second full length LP from the Los Angeles based band known as Jungle Fire. The ten member group's scorching sound spans Afrobeat and Latin rhythms layered over gritty funk. They started out by gathering for occasional jam sessions for b-boy acts before morphing into a full time unit. Those jam sessions would eventually lead to a record deal with the acclaimed North Hollywood California based Nacional Records. "Jambu features a mix of fiery up-tempo bangers as well as some mild mid-tempo grooves. "LA Kossa" is infectious Latin funk with blistering horns. "Efori" has a mellow groove with a light touch of percussion. "Bele Bele" is complemented by electric guitar licks and funky horns. Jungle Fire's brand of "Tropi-Funk" ensures you're gonna have a funky good time.
Reg Dancy, 04/17