Nat Birchall Meets Al Breadwinner - Sound AlmightyTradition Disc
Manchester based Tenor Saxophonist Nat Birchall has carved out an impressive resume of spiritual jazz recordings, specifically on Matthew Halsall's Gondwana label. On "Sound Almighty" he teams up with Al Breadwinner & the Breadwinners, a reggae group also based in Manchester. Birchall's fluid horn floats seamlessly across the Breadwinners rhythm section that features Vin Gordon on Trombone, David Fullwood on Trumpet and Stally on Baritone sax. Founder Al Breadwinner's guitar rhythms and percussion bring it all together. The ten track disc flows with meditative traditional reggae dub rhythms. Among the highlights are "Ancient Wisdom" and "Freedom Skank". "Amiak Dub" is hypnotic dub at it's best. An impressive collaboration that's worthy of repeated listens.
Reg Dancy, 09/18
Natalie Gardiner - CaliforniaRamjac
Natalie Gardiner returns with the follow up to her 2004 self-titled debut set. Overall 'California' is a more accomplished album and features eleven down-tempo soul tracks which showcase Natalie's smoky vocals to great effect. The acoustic 'Bittersweet', 'Summer Rain' and the jazzy 'Let's Not Worry About Tomorrow' work particularly well and are beautiful in their simplicity.
Andy Allen, 02/08
Natalie Greffel - Para TodosAgogo
Berlin based vocalist Natalie Greffel has been sharing her vocal chops with groups like Radio Citizen, Karl Hector and others. While the fertile Berlin music scene afforded her opportunities to work she felt the pull to explore her roots in Mozambique and it's connections to Brazil. Greffel would eventually relocate to Rio De Janeiro and immersed herself the storied history of Brazil, specifically the legends like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Elza Soares just to name to a few. She was encouraged to make a demo by Matti Klein, pianist for Brazilian native Ed Motta. Four songs from the demo would eventually appear on the album. And that brings us to her debut "Para Todos". Greffel's vocals create a mood of peaceful bliss. Evidence of that lies in the warm melodies of the mid-tempo taster "Toquei". "Blame" is filled with spirited fusion rhythms. On the title track Greffel starts out with a warm acapella melody while shifting her vocals into her upper register. Soon after the track takes it up a notch with a spirited guitar laden groove. Even though there's only seven tracks here it's satsfying nonetheless. Quite simply it's a superb recording filled with haunting compositions and a beautiful voice to match. The future looks bright.
Reg Dancy, 05/20
Natalie Williams - Secret GardenEastside Records
If I was a betting man I would have put money on Natalie's single with TY "That's the way I like it" being a massive hit and maybe even hitting the charts. In reality I've seen it playlisted on a few radio shows but I think that's it. It may have appeared on MTV but I think this proves that nothing is certain and that real talent more often than not gets missed nowadays. Natalie has featured on a number of projects recently, including the Heritage Orchestra album and many live shows in and around London. "Secret Garden" may not grab you at first but tracks like "Butterfly", "Secret Garden" and "That's the way I like it" will stick in your head for days, due to the catchy chorus and lyrics. I found it rather funny that Tony Blackburn was mentioned in the press sheet for playing Natalie's tracks but if her music gets played on radio, it can only do good.
Simon Harrison, 10/06
Nathan Fake - Drowning In A Sea Of LoveBorder Community
Now this guy has been hotly tipped as one to watch for 2006, with his work compared to Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine and Sigur Ros. Well, I'm not sure about the latter but it definitely has hints of 'Loveless' in this album and you can also hear the influence of Mogwai scattered about.
Self confessed non-DJ, Fake is a live performer who has been on the scene now for a few years with many a 12" kickin' about on James Holden's Border Community label. His live sets definitely cater more for the dance floor whilst 'Drowning' is the mellower side of his work.
The album is a brilliant chord driven, chime tingling timeless beauty that will get electronic fans buzzing around their robotic communities.
With this sort of talent this guy is gonna be around for a long time. Those in the know will already be looking forward to this release, but if this is the first time you've heard his name and are a fan of Boards Of Canada, M83 or Vector Lovers then definitely give it a listen.
Nathan Thomas - Still WaterFuturistica
Singer songwriter Nathan Thomas first captured our attention when he layed his honey vocals down on Rapson's 2018 house banger "Heat". Soon afterwards we got a taste of his forthcoming lp when the warm and mellow "SunBlind", the first single also premiered in 2018. At that point our appetite yearned for more and our patience eventually rewarded with "Still Water". The superb ten track lp delivers with an array of delicious down tempo soulful compositions. Evidence can be found with the title track, a sublime recording with sketches of jazz and hip hop with production from Simon S. "Peacemakers" blossoms with Marc Raspson's signature sound of wicked beats and hypnotic keys. "Namaste" is filled with tasty guitar rhythms, sweet vocals and lovely songwriting. Quite simply it's another winner from the Futuristica family. Thomas’s warm vocal harmonies and heartfelt lyrics has the makings of a promising career. A brilliant debut from an emerging talent.
Reg Dancy, 11/20
Natural Lateral - Cogito Ergo JamSocial Joy
Natural Lateral is a four piece band assembled organically out of frequent jam sessions at the Lazy Robot Studio in North London. The quartet's musical range flows between Brazilian rhythms, modal Jazz and a touch of fusion woven together. "Bossa Blue" kicks the disc off with infectious percussion and warm Brazilian melodies. "Days with Amber" is bluesy modal tune that features Oli Arlotto on sax. "Safe as Sound" is laid back Latin jazz funk laced with a melodic vibaphone groove. Aziz Mustafa, Ozan Nidayi, Malte From and Tim Balasubramaniam make up the rest of the band. Together they've created a relaxed atmosphere with free flowing rhythms that evolve into a deeply satisfying album.
Reg Dancy, 12/19
Natural Self - The Art Of VibrationTru Thoughts Recordings
Nathaniel Pearl, the man also known as Natural Self caught our attention with the Broken Keys project he collaborated with Ben Lamdin (Nostalgia 77). On “The Art Of Vibration” he delivers once again with pulsating 60’s funk rhythms and 70’s break beats that evokes memories of the early hip-hop b-boy era. I definitely had a hip-hop flashback when I heard “Welcome To The Ascension”. The heavy percussion, the slick string rrangements and the well placed sampling make me wish that this track was much longer than three minutes. This is followed up with “The Rising”, this track has an afrobeat vibe and is layered with a chanting chorus and funky horns. An added bonus is the wonderful Antreya Triana on vocals. “Breathe Deep” is classic old school hip-hop. A simple mid tempo drumbeat with slick horn riffs serve as the perfect backdrop for MC Abdominal to spit over. “The Laws Of Motion” is a funky instrumental jam with sparse trumpet riffs and spacey chords. One thing is certain, Natural Self has beats galore and knows how to make funky grooves. “The Art Of Vibration” is a rewarding listening experience and further proof of his immense talents.
Reg Dancy, 10/08
Neil Cowley Trio - Radio ScienceNaim Jazz
Anyone who has ever listened to pianist Neil Cowley can easily recognize that he is a special talent. He was a child prodigy who has become a force to be reckoned with. Like his previous two releases “Displaced” and “Loud Louder Stop”, this record provides more of his signature classical pop flavored compositions which are enhanced by the intensity he puts into each song. Neil’s orchestral arrangements are lively and engaging. The fun begins with “Monoface”, a track that starts out with a haunting intro and then progresses into a dynamic performance by the ensemble that is full of power and precision. Drummer Evan Jenkins cymbal playing effortlessly complements Neil’s thunderous chordal displays and solo offerings. “Gerald” is a fast paced number that displays the trio’s versatility and range. This is a playful pop tune that displays Neil’s enormous chops. The finale “Portal” is a wonderful fourteen minute cinematic gem that showcases Neil’s talented compositional skills. The song starts out with simmering melody before it bursts with great intensity, only to wind down into a lovely ballad. This isn’t your typical jazz record and probably shouldn’t be categorized as one either. Just sit back and enjoy listening to a trio that is clearly having fun here stretching songs in areas they haven’t been before. You will have fun listening to the results.
Reg Dancy, 04/10
Neil Cowley Trio - Touch and FleeMaim Jazz
Pianist Neil Cowley along with Bassist Rex Horan and Drummer Evan Jenkins have been a unit from the beginning and the synergy between them is flawless. Their fifth studio release is further proof of that chemistry. "Touch and Flee" has an assortment of lightly energetic tunes surrounded by a number of mellow compositions. Two of those perolating tunes are "Sparkling" and "Couch Slouch", both are fresh and imaginative. Modal tunes such as the enchanting "Queen" and "Bryce" are glorious arrangements that highlight Cowley's skills as a composer. There is great interplay here and as far as trios go, these guys are first rate. Pour yourself a glass of your best wine and let this marvelous record take you away.
Reg Dancy, 10/14