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Daniel Villarreal – Panama 77 [International Anthem]

“Panama 77” is the debut of Panamanian born and Chicago based drummer Daniel Villarreal. The twelve track disc is layered with psychedelic Latin rhythms aligned with jazz fusion and folkloric sensibilities. Villarreal has been a fixture in the Chicago music scene, recently as a member of the group Dos Santos. The disc kicks off with “Bella Vista” where Villarreal demonstrates a keen sense of polyrhythms. Villarreal’s spirited percussion creates an enchanting groove for Elliot Bergman’s howling baritone. “In/On features labelmate guitarist Jeff Parker. Villarreal’s hypnotic percussion simmers over a samba beat alongside organist Dave Vettraino. With Parker’s glorious electric guitar rhythms layered on top you have an irresistible groove worthy of repeated listens. “Parque En Seis” opens with Villareal on congas and cow bells, paving the way for Bardo Martinez’s bass guitar grooves and synths. Chicago based International Anthem is known for their roster of genre bending jazz artists. Villarreal’s debut is left of center brilliance that stacks up well with their catalog.


VA – Luke Una Presents E Soul Cultura [Mr Bongo Records]

Brighton based independent label Mr Bongo records has been an essential home for global tunes and compilations from South London to West Africa and beyond for over thirty years. “Luke Una Presents E Soul Cultura” is one of their latest to hit the shelves. DJ Luke Una, ogirinally from Sheffield moved to Manchester and has become a sought after DJ whose musical taste covers a myriad of styles. The fifteen track compilation showcases Una’s musical palette with hard to find treats as well as familiar crowd pleasers. “Space Queen” from King Erisson is an Afro Carribean mid-tempo gem from the consumate percussionist. “Robot Man” displays a funkier side to the Legendary reedist Yusef Lateef. “La Cyclope” is intoxicating jazz fusion from Swiss drummer Daniel Humair, bassist Henri Texier and Saxophonist Francois Jeanneau. Jeanneau unleashes a flurry of glorious melodies on soprano while Humair and Texier create an infectious groove on this incredibly hard to find heater. There’s plenty here that will draw a smile and inject instant toe tapping due to the familiarity. The others you may not recognize but you’ll enjoy them nonetheless.


Brandon Coleman – Interstellar Black Space [Brainfeeder]

“Interstellar Black Space”, the sophomore lp from Brandon Coleman picks up where “Resistance” left off. Which means there’s an array of engaging synth funk tunes and jazz infused compositions. “On The One” is a slice of Minneapolis funk aligned with wicked synths and a thumpin’ bass groove. Coleman is joined by close friend and label-mate Kamasi Washington on “We Change Part 1”. Coleman’s use of the vocoder soars over the dreamy spacey funk groove. “We Change Part 2” leans toward straight ahead jazz and features trumpeter Keyon Harrold, Bassist Ben Williams and drummer Marcus Gilmore. “Runnin” is also a highlight. It’s an infectious flurry of spacey melodies where Coleman flexes his chops on electric and acoustic piano. Coleman’s use of the vocoder on a number of ballads would make Herbie Hancock blush. It’s evident that’s one of his influences along with George Duke and other masters of the funk. Make no mistake, Coleman is forming his own sound. He displays a gentle touch on the keys and a vivid astral imagination that will perk your ears up. There’s no sophomore slump here, just an enjoyable record.


Jasmine Myra – Horizons [Gondwana Records]

When it comes to Gondwana records you can expect supreme spiritual jazz recordings. Leeds based Saxophonist Jasmine Myra is the latest artist to emerge on the label with a sublime recording worthy of your attention. Myra’s debut “Horizons” was written during the lockdown and unintentionally became a therapeutic composition to pull her through trying times. The eight track disc moves along with a simmering down-tempo pace. For starters the title track finds Myra’s horn aligned with warm hypnotic strings. “Morningside” is another blissful tune where Myra generates sweet melodies on the soprano as well as engaging harmonies on the piano. Produced by Matthew Halsall who serves as a guiding light throughout the recording. Myra demonstrates that she’s an adept reedist and a capable pianist as well. Her tender compositions provide a glimpse of a promising future.


Brian Jackson – This Is Brian Jackson [BBE Music]

“This Is Brian Jackson” the debut from the legendary Brian Jackson. Jackson was one half of the ground breaking Gil Scott Heron/Brian Jackson duo that delivered a steady stream of acclaimed recordings throughout the seventies. Their catalog not only stands the test of time but Jackson proves he still has much to offer. “All Talk” would feel right at home on any of the duo’s classic recordings. Jackson’s signature flute along with his gorgeous chords align with the jazz funk groove that propels the disc. Jackson shifts gears completely with “Nomad”, a cinematic gem where Jackson’s vocals glide over a warm piano melody. “Little Orphan Boy” is another funky number that will find a home with premier DJs worldwide. While Heron was front and center back in the day. Jackson demonstrates that he was the motor that made the band run. A welcome return for the legendary musician. Let’s hope he doesn’t wait another twenty years to drop another quality recording.


Nikitch & Kuna Maze – Back & Forth [Tru Thoughts Recordings]

French duo Nikitch and Kuna Maze are firmly entrenched as masters of DJing and producers. Their catalog is filled with instrumental grooves shaped by electronics, broken beat and house. With their latest release “Back & Forth” they step outside of their comfort zone and work with an impressive set of collaborators who breathe new life into their compositions. On “Engatinhar” they inject a touch of Brazilian flavor in the arrangement and top it off with vocals from Joao Selva. “Zugzwang” is a blissful blend of jazz funk with a touch bruk for good measure. “La Di F..Da” is infectious house suitable for night clubbing or a midday chillout. “Back & Forth” marks an evolution in the duo’s sound. They could’ve rested on their laurels but by pushing the boundaries they’ve made arguably their best record to date.


Handbook – Neighbourhood [Cascade Records]

UK producer Handbook has been dropping beats for a decade now. He first release dropped on Cascade records in 2012. “Neighbourhood”, his latest in two years picks up from where he left off. That means there’s an array laid back jazzy hip-hop beats with a number of guest appearances. Among the highlights are “No End”, a gritty drum snare tune featuring Supreme Sol. “Hear Me” is a piano driven beat treat featuring introspective rhymes from Rich Garvey. “Neighbourhood” explores the comfort of being part of a community through light and airy beats. They’re tailored made to get your head nod on. Definitely worth checking out.


Jas Kayser – Jas 5ive [Jazz Re:freshed]

Award winner drummer Jas Kayser is the latest in an array of ultra talented UK musicians to emerge out of the London based Jazz Re-freshed label. Kayser’s debut fuses Jazz along with afrobeat rhythms. The five track EP is aided by an array of premiere musicians. “Darkness In The Light” is spirited fusion enhanced by Ava Joseph on vocals and Giacomo Smith’s alto sax phrasings. Jamie Leeming’s electric guitar flurries are the icing on the cake. “Stupid On The Beat” is anotherhighlight with West African rhythms and Afrobeat grooves. With influences such as The late great Tony Allen, it’s easy to understand Kayser’s approach to the drums. Kayser manages to drive the groove yet sounds more like a percussionist. A thrilling debut that only begins to scratch the surface of this talented drummer.


Inkswel & The Snaglepuss – Chasing Infinity [Cosmocities Records]

DJ/Producer Jules Habib, aka Inkswel has proven to have traces of funk and a knack for the groove in his DNA. He has compiled a catalogue of essential grooves ranging from boom bap hip-hop to funk n soul. Inkswel’s latest release “Chasing Infinity” is no exception. It’s a album filled with bumpin tracks aided by a star studded lineup. “Everything” is tasty hip-hop featuring veteran rapper Dudley Perkins. “Butterflies” is laid back cosmic funk featuring the familiar falsetto vocals of Steve Spacek. The title track is an infectious dance track with a thumping groove that features veteran House vocalist Oliver Knight. We’re just scratching the surface here as there’s notable contributions from Kylie Audist, Amp Fiddler and more. An energetic album filled with various tempos certain to shake your hips and press repeat.


Harvey Sutherland – Boy [House Anxiety]

Melbourne based producer/pianist Mike Katz aka Harvey Sutherland has dropped a number of EPs since 2014 that demonstrated a flair for soulful grooves and infectious piano rhythms. “Boy”, his full length debut is filled with future funky synth grooves and dreamy rhythms. The title track is a mellow cascade of swirling synths and hazy vibes. The tempo picks up with “Time On My Side”, an ambient fusion of beats and synths. “Age Of Acceleration” goes one step further, the thumping beats and bass set up the groove. Sutherland lays down dazzling synths along with his honey tinged vocals on top. “Angry Young Man” flirts with a boogie groove primed to whip you into a party mood. Recorded between London and Los Angeles which feels approiate. The album certainly has a LA vibe which suits him well here. An impressive release that ensures you’re gonna have a funky good time.


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