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VA – The Congregation – Jazz Alliance International [Right Tempo]

Whereas most compilations focus on the past, Massimiliano “Jazzcat” Conti shines a light on the quality recordings of the present. The Italian resident DJ has delighted listeners with his eclectic mixes and mix shows. The Congregation is a superb collection that intertwine soul and modern jazz tracks with present day culb culture. Evidence can be found with “Seasons In My Mind”. The previously unreleased Yellowtail track that features jazz crooner Mark Murphy. Mama Terra’s “Ruptura” is a spiritual jazz burner that’s equally enjoyed on the dance floor or in your living room. The hard driving piano rhythms aligned with orchestral vocal harmonies will bring immediate satifaction. The finale “Who Will Save The World” features the spoken word genius of Anthony Joseph. The seven minute gem is fueled by a simmering groove, warm piano melodies and a sterling horn section. There isn’t a weak track in sight here. The Milan based Right Tempo records consistently delivers with quality recordings and this is no exception.


Web Web – Web Max II [Compost Records]

The Munich based quartet return with their fifth album. “Web Max II” once again features producer Max Herre. Herre gives the disc an understated spiritual jazz vibe filled with moments of intense soloing. “Perennial Journey” features spoken word paying homage to the pioneers that paved the way before them. The tune has a seductive grooe aided by an infectious guitar rhythms and mediatative flute. “Testimony” is ignited by a brooding melody and haunting bass clarinet flurries alongside a heavenly chorus. “Olobo” is a sublime orchestral recording that features Carlos Nino on cymbals, chimes and other instruments. The band continues to explore the depths of spiritual jazz and come away with another marvelous recording.


Malcolm Strachan – Point Of No Return [Haggis Records]

Scottish trumpeter Malcolm Strachan follows up his impressive debut with another engaging record. Where “About Time” showcased a straight ahead sound “Point Of No Return” taps into the CTI sound with warm melodic compositions. “Nossa Danca”  is a bubbly tune with a Latin groove layered with Strachan’s warm harmonic tone . “The Wanderer” is a mid tempo tune that instantly melts into your soul. It’s layered with notable contributions from pianist George Cooper. In addition, UK vocalist Jo Harrop adds heavenly wordless phrasings and Atroll Ransome on flute takes the tune to another level. Strachan’s working band is a cohesive unit that is on top of their game. Strachan captures the spirit of the CTI sound with an impressive collection of soul jazz grooves with some bossa rhythms for good measure.


Cosmic Renaissance – Universal Language [Schema Records]

Cosmic Renaissance is a collective led by Italian Trombonist Gianluca Petrella. Patrella is one of the premier musicians of a vibrant Jazz community in Italy. Joining him here are frequent collaborators Mirco Rubegni on trumpet, bassist Riccardo Di Vinci, drummer Federico Scettri and percussionist Simone Padovani. This is a reduced lineup from Petrella’s Cosmic orchestra band and each member rises to the occassion. This ten track release features a landscape of strong rhythmnic vitality that blends the acoustic arrangements with electronics with impressive results. The title track “Universal Language” packs a punch with a hypnotic groove driven by Scettri. On top of that London Tenor Titan Soweto Kinch appears with rapid fire lyrics. “Wonder” is a mellow burner where Anna Bassy’s sultry vocals are layered with Petrella and Rubegni’s melodic phrasings. Kinch brings more lyrical fire on “Education”. The track builds to a fever pitch before leveling off into euphoric soundscapes. Gianluca’s imaginative arrangements are riped with spirited performances. The use of electronics are well placed and lifts these recordings to another level. Simply marvelous.


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