Life Force - Fearless WarriorsSonorama Records
Originally released in very small quantities on the private Numu Numu label in 1981 'Fearless Warriors' was the debut recording by Life Force, an Atlanta based group founded by Joe Jennings and Howard Nicholson. Thanks to Sonorama this spiritual jazz-fusion rarity now gets a welcome reissue. The set sits somewhere between Pharoah Sanders and Jeff Lorber's early material and features the solid mid-tempo grooves 'Wow', 'Sister Bea' and the brilliant title track plus the bright and breezy 'To Pharaoh With Love', an awesome jazz dancer which should find favour at nights such as Messin' Around and The Jazz Rooms.
Andy Allen, 12/07
Lindsey Webster - You ChangedAtlanta Records
"You Changed", the second release from Woodstock NY native Lindsey Webster is an impressive collection of sophisticated soul. Webster displays perfect pitch and sultry vocals over twelve well crafted compositions "Fool Me Once" the opening track's displays her crystal clear voice over a smokey jazz arrangement. "I Found You" and "Lost One" are lush romantic ballads. The finale is "Universe", a seductive jazzy tune augmented by a soaring electric guitar solo and wraps up with an engaging piano solo. This is an elegant and sincere recording brought to life by a small combo of talented musicians providing plenty of space for Webster's vocals to soar. Now is the time to get familiar if you haven't already.
Reg Dancy, 10/15
Lionel Loueke - KaribuBlue Note
Benin born guitarist Lionel Loueke made a name for himself on the concert circuit and was spotted by none other than Herbie Hancock who championed his talents and passed on the good word to trumpeter Terence Blanchard who in turn used Loueke's services. Subsequently Loueke has released a trio of well received albums on the independent label Obliquesound, gaining a reputation in France, before moving to Blue Note for this big label debut. In recent years African artists and jazz have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Richard Bona and the Kora Jazz Trio being just two of the more successful ventures and Dee Dee Bridgewater returning the compliment in the opposite direction. For 'Karibu' Loueke plays in a tight trio and, with the exception of three standards, pens all the other compositions. What immediately strikes is the degree of improvisation and abstraction to many of the pieces and their freshness, notably the radical reworking of the standard 'Skylark' which is one of the album's highlights. On a couple of numbers Loueke enlists the support of Hancock and Wayne Shorter. It is the latter who contributes a gorgeous soprano sax solo to Coltrane's 'Naima' which features lovely percussion.
Loueke's playing has a melodic folksy feel in parts and with scat vocals a la George Benson, he may in time gain popularity outside jazz circles. Perhaps, his own compositions could veer less towards the abstract and stress both the African and Brazilian influences which he was exposed to as a youth, but there is no questioning the promise of talent on offer, nor the rapport between Loueke and the other musicians. The duet with Hancock on 'Seven teens' is worth the admission price alone. A very promising future beckons for Loueke.
Tim Stenhouse, 04/08
Liquid Saloon - GuetaRaw Tapes
Liquid Saloon is a trio of up and coming musicians based in Tel Aviv, Israel. "Gueta" is inspired by afro-beat rhythms and experimantal jazz. Drummer Amir Bresler drives the beat on the title track which also features local instrumentalists such as Nital Hershkovits and Rejoicer on keys. Eyal Talmudi's melodic clarinet solo towards the end is an added bonus. "Polaroid Banana" is a funky highlight laced with warped out synths and tasty percussion. Fellow Tel Aviv resident Jenny Penkin's blissful vocals are a delight on the slow fusion burner "Won't Be Led By Fear". An impressive debut filled with vibrant rhythms and wicked grooves that shouldn't be missed.
Reg Dancy, 05/19
Liquid Spirits - MusicKindred Spirits
Liquid Spirits are an 8-piece band, consisting of drums, guitar, bass, keys and four vocalists, and, under the stewardship of producers Manuel Hugas and Wilboud Burkens, they make pure, unadulterated Soul music of the highest order. There is something of Kindred The Family Soul in their sound, as well as a touch of Acid Jazz along the lines of The Brand New Heavies, but there are no scratches, no samples, no drum machines; just real people singing and playing instruments. Even when Phonte, of Little Brother fame, pops up on the wonderful, Tribe-like ‘If You Don’t Love Me’, the grooves are understated and organic, but always, always funky. Elsewhere, Leon Ware adds to the feeling of overall authenticity with a performance truly befitting a legendary vocal veteran of his calibre. The album’s not quite perfect, for it displays a tendency to occasionally stray into syrupy, lounge territory, but to complain here would be to split hairs. Any Soul fan worth their salt will definitely want to give this a whirl and I’m guessing that most will be extremely pleased that they did.
Tom Breslin, 02/09
Little Dragon - New Me Same UsNinja Tune
"New Me Same Us" is the sixth studio album from the Swedish band Little Dragon. Like their previous lps this release threads the needle for crafting emotive soul pop electronica compositions with splendid results. That being said, the band has taken a back to basics approach as they intergrate more instrumentation into this recording. Lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano's vocals are as intoxicating as ever and delight the listener through eleven tracks. "Hold On" opens up the disc with an funky boogie groove as Nagano sings about letting go and moving on. "Another Love" is a melancholy tune that deals with heartache. If this is what heartache feels like then sign me up. "Where You Belong" is a reflective song enhanced by Fredrik Wallin's keyboard arrangements. This self produced album is so cool yet it's filled with warmth and heartfelt lyrics. It's no wonder that nearly everyone in the music community have sung their praises. They haven't reinvented the genre, they just do it better than everyone else.
Reg Dancy, 05/20
Liz Aku - AnkhorSonar Kollektiv
Belgian vocalist Liz Aku has made a name for herself with solo projects and collaborations over the past fifteen years. Now she comes into her own with her latest release on Sonar Kollektiv. "Ankhor", produced primarily by Mara TK from Electric Wire Hustle is a future soul serenade filled with wicked grooves and visual melodies. "Seasons Change", originally an instrumental from Canadian production duo Potatohead People is filled with airy vibes and heavy drums. Aku's vocals layered on top is pure bliss. "Secrets Die" is built around warm Rhodes and Natalia Mann's beautiful harp melodies. "Just What I Need" is the one track performed with a band. Drummer Lander Gyselinck sets the tone and pianist Bram Weijters creates gorgeous melodies. "Breathing Underwater" is one of two sublime duets with Mara TK. Simply one of the best records to emerge this year and one that should propel Aku to a wider audience.
Reg Dancy, 06/17
Lizzy Parks - Raising The RoofTru Thoughts Recordings
Tru-thoughts has a new songbird on their roster and her name is Lizzy Parks. The promise that Lizzy displayed on her 2005 release “Watching Space” is shining through on “Raising The Roof”. With production from Ben Lamdin of Nostalgia 77, you know that the musicianship here is top notch. In addition, Riaan Vosloo does masterful job on string arrangements. As for Ms Parks, she displays a sultry voice and flawless phrasing on this eleven track disc. The disc starts out with the title track, what immediately stands out is the synergy that exists within Lizzy and the trio, particularly the crisp playing on double bass and the sparse drum beat. On a great sound system you would think you were at a live concert. Lizzy shows that she can groove on the soul jazz tune “All That”, a swinging tune that is aided by the funky riffs of the Hammond B-3 organ. On “Prayer”, Lizzy’s voice is so tender and yet so powerful as she weaves through an orchestral aesthetic of wonderful soundscapes. This is a climatic ending for a wonderful record that should catapult Lizzy to star status. Highly recommended.
Reg Dancy, 10/08
Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics - Lloyd Miller & The HeliocentricsStrut Records
Multi-instrumentalist and Ethnomusicologist Lloyd Miller teams up with The Heliocentrics to explore the methodology between Eastern and Western music and the results are deeply satisfying. Led by drummer Malcolm Catto, the UK collective utilize an assortment of instruments commonly used in world music like the oud, a pear shaped guitar and the harp like Chinese Swarm among others. Standout selections are “Nava”, a contemporary jazz piece with Indian influences that features James Arben on tenor sax and Catto on piano. “Spirit Jazz” is a beautiful Middle Eastern piece that plays like a musical canvas layered with many colors. The centerpiece is Jack Yglesias on flute and also features Lloyd Miller and Catto on vibes and various instruments. “Modality” features both Arben and Ray Carless on sax overlapping melodies that are augmented by percussion work of Adrian Owusu. Lloyd Miller’s musical passage of the last thirty years is skillfully brought back life and the Heliocentrics have provided the wings to make the music soar. This collaboration is a must have for any enthusiast of spiritual minded music.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Lo Tide - JustDiventa Music
Lo Tide returns with another assortment of the electronic serene soundscapes we've come to expect from him. "Just", his latest release is a contrast of moods and textures. "Sea and Wind" is a blissful instrumental with warm string arrangements. "Heat" is a down-tempo tune that features the sultry vocals of Frankie Uyterlinde. "Shine A Light" provides a welcome shift to a up-tempo number with a measured groove. Lo Tide's sound continues to grow and each release is an adventure onto itself. "Just" has dark moments and bright moments and drenched in emotion. He's rising up the ranks of producers of electronic music.
Reg Dancy, 05/17