Friday 19 April 2024

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Back in the day and in the back end of North London, you'd have to hunt high and low for Olli Ahvenlahti's 'Grandma's Rocking Chair' as made trendy by those evil twins of jazzdance Kenny Dope & Peterson, and now look, there's a whole brand new album by Mr. Ahvenlahti so let's look into the 'Mirror Mirror'.

Finnish jazz legend, pianist-composer Olli Ahvenlahti surprised us all when there was news of a 8-track album when 'Paint It Blue' was released as a single.  But, that's not the half of it as each track seems to get better than the last; particularly watch out for 'Paint It Blue'.

We Jazz Records of late have a distinct 'experimental' edge to them, like Amirtha Kidambi's Elder Ones's 'New Monuments' that came out last month (see review HERE) but this is more reflective big band jazz cool - like the West Coast meet Jimi Tenor at Jim Rockford's gaff; that's where 'A House In Montagnola' should be anyway

And you know Olli and We Jazz wouldn't scrimp on the band.  In addition to Olli on Fender Rhodes and other keys, we've got 5 corners royalty Jukka Eskola (trumpet and fluegelhorn), Joonatan Rauto (tenor sax), Ville Herrala (electric bass) and Jaska Lukkarinen (drums and percussion).

There may not be a 'Grandma's Rocking Chair' - original released in 1976 and re-issued in 2001 - but he's lost nothing of his jazz-fusion elegance and this is a must this year; and definitely a must on the day before Record Store Day.

Artist: Olli Ahvenlahti
Title: New Monuments
Release date: 19th April, 2024
Label : We Jazz Records
Catalog Number : WJLP75
Format: LP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 

Friday 12 April 2024

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What! Compost have got Wah Wah 45's super duo Medlar & Dele Sosimi, Boiler Room/BBE's current favourite mainline Chicago master Rahaan and long time disco kid Prins Thomas all on the remix - why? 

The simple answer is in the facts that the original tracks 'Faith' and 'San Diago' are such brilliant Afrohouse/disco/boogie dancefloor tracks you'd need "masterminds" or their quality and experience to even contemplate a remix.

I'd be happy with a 12" of the originals but this is just an awesome bonus that the like of Colour and Pitch founder Will Sumsuch will not be missing off his April mix sessions (links to follow).

Artist: Arnau Obiols & KAYYAK

Title: Faith / San Diago EP 

Release date: 12th April, 2024

Label: Compost Records

Cat. No: CPT 630

Format:Vinyl 12" / Digital / Bandcamp

Made for customers on the largest of Balearic Islands, is it Balearic? If your idea of Balearic is a fusion of synthy bounce North Africa influences with soaring Spanish vocals and some added flamenco guitar and percussion in your house; this is it! 

After getting his son, Hugo Navarro to help out on last months' release, 'Una Matttina (A Morning)' (see review HERE) the ever busy Kiko has called up Nuria Millán (vocals) and Benji Habichuela (Spanish flamenco guitarist) to give us this totally different new release, 'Nana Del Caballo Grande' (Lullaby of the Big Horse).

Nothing to do with the Northern Soul classic by Cliff Noble & Co. (The Horse) but a new cover of the flamenco legend, Camaron De La Isla's hit as a commission for Majorca's dance and acrobatics company 'House of Son Amar'.

The dance troop are fans of Kiko's 'La Fatiga' (2020) and were looking for something similar for their productions so it made sense to call Benji for percussion as he worked on 'La Fatifa'.
And he is the one who suggested to add 'cantadora' (female singer) Nuria Millán who gives this proper flamenco cred in both the 'extended' and 'orginal' versions.

Flamenco is culturally important in these parts and you don't want to upset folks and Kiko et al certainly won't with this version that's back of your neck tingling whilst you're a dancin'.  Even the Exhibit remix is evenly split between a mostly acapella Pt 1 and a deep house bangin' Part 2.

So different to Una Matttina' but equally brilliant - time to give Kiko the freedom of the Islands (that's if he's not got it already) 

Artist: Kiko Navarro feat. Nuria Millán & Benji Habichuela
Title: Nana Del Caballo Grande
Release Date : 12th April, 2024
Catalog Number : AFTNE063
Label : Afroterraneo Music
Format: Digital
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Lynyrd Skynyrd famously requested "Gimme Three Steps", John Coltrane had 'Giant Steps' and Pacal Morais cubic music rally call is, '3 Steps Ahead'.

Morais' vision is to produce a deeper mix of Amapiano (South Africa) and Afro Beats into an Afro Deep House as a "3 Step".

It's a bit like taking 'The Spirit Of Malombo' (see review HERE), merging with the vibe of Deep In Your Soul (see review HERE) and adding some 2-step+1 hype and you've got a 4 track EP that'll keep you guessing.

There's a radio edit and extended version of 'Talk Nerdie' that's a beautiful shuffle on a Afro beach under the buzzin' electronic fire flys with some church organ going on!  This is the most instantly accessible track as the title track is a bit on the moody Nordic Noir dancehall (can you have Dutch noir?) and 'Protegé' is a warped gumboot dance.

Similar to the way Boddhi Satva (last seen HERE with 'Mota Boddhi' and also BBE supported) keeps moving the house goal posts, Morais is on a mission... and it's lots more than 2024 Bucket Hats fashion!

This is going to be big and what all the usual suspects circling to be part of a remix set.

Artist: Pascal Morais 
Title: Altera Vita 
Release date: 12th April, 2024
Label : Batakari/BBE Music
Catalog Number : BAT008
Format: Digital / Bandcamp  

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All rise for single of the week, Clyde Beat's 'Rising Up' featuring Amalia on vocals that's out now on Atjazz Record Company.

Last week Atjazz released Peacey's album 'Play It By Ear' (see review HERE) and they don't seem to have taken that advice themselves as they've blugeoned themselves with a post-Prince mega funker with 'Rising Up'.

But Mr. Beats is no stranger to such adulation, albeit it's been 21 years since his big hit 'Serve It Up (featuring Capitol A.- last seen here on Joseph Malik's 'Album Of The Year', 'Proxima Ebony - see review HERE) and 16 years since since debut album 'Hyper Reality'.  Clearly, it's not that he's had problems with the title of the "difficult 2nd album" as it's going to be called; wait for it... 'Hyper Reality 2 (An English Gentleman)’.

As always, exciting times for all things Atjazz and the album is eagerly anticipated.

Artist: Clyde Beats

Title: Rising Up feat. Amalia

Release date: 12th April 2024

Label: Atjazz Record Company

Catalog Number: ARC247ADS1,Digital / Bandcamp

Wednesday 10 April 2024

As Gilles Peterson starts his campaign to save UK club cultures, independent venues and radio all at the same time, here's a quick reminder of one of three vocalists that he more or less single-handedly re-discovered.

Whilst there were many more acts/performers, I'm specifically thinking about Slim Gaillard, Eddie Jefferson and Mark Murphy!  Peterson 'discovered' Murphy's 1961 album 'Rah' in his local library and the story goes, took him to the Dingwalls and that visit resulted in Murphy's love letter to the venue, Gilles, Camden Town and the young jazzdance community that was emerging in the 90s.

Over 30 years on, this jazzdance 'Ding Walls' / Acid Jazz scene has it's fans worldwide (no pun etc) and in the case of this 12", Milan's Right Tempo have returned to the Yellowtail track featured on their compilation album, 'The Congregation - Jazz Alliance International' with Mark Murphy on vocals (as an 'unreleased' Patchworks remix - Patchworks being a Peterson protégé himself).

So you got the immaculate Murphy on a track that he sings and skats on, Yellowtail (aka Hiro Awanohara) on production duties and another Peterson protégé from the early days of Brownswood Recordings and a dreamy Sunday afternoon original, 'Seasons In My Mind'.

Worth the price of the 12" in itself but as someone that was in on the boarders of Peterson's leftfield soul-jazz-hip-hop 'In Crowd' some years ago. I remember standing next to DJ Simon S at Emanative's first gig at what was Favela Chic in Shoreditch with Jessica Lauren, Liz Elensky, Deborah Jordan, Heidi Vogel and many more when Peterson turned up with Earl Zinger and they stood next to us!  I also recall giving Peterson a white label of Richard E's 7", 'Sometime I'/'Hear Her Call' at Peterson's other club night that he ran for over a decade, 'That's How It Is!'  So what's the reason for all this blatant name dropping?

Well, remember Richard E's 'To The Moon' (see review HERE), he's done a fantastic uptempo flute gang remix featuring Jake Telford.  And then there's the 'dream team' of Jessica Lauren and Emanative (last seen on Sandman Project's 'Hamsa Remixes - see review HERE) with a  jazzy spring garden and home remix and dub; descibed as, "Nick & Jessica playing drums and piano live and then all being chopped up and brought into the present moment, production-wise".

And if that wasn't enough, there's the 'Frankson' remix which is the favourite of Kev Beadle (TWR), who I happened to help into a cab at 3am in Shaftesbury Avenue after he DJ'd at the first "Last Ever" 'That's How It Is!' some years ago.

Other fans include, Harv-inder Singh (Point Blank FM), famed jazz dance royalty DJ Perry Louis (JazzCotech), Michael Rütten (Soul Searching; that coincidently celebrated its 19th Birthday show in 2016 with guest mix from DJ Simon S as mentioned above) and there's sleeve note by yet another scene name, Straight No Chaser's Paul Bradshaw.

Nearly as impressive as another 'Sunday Afternoon At Dingwalls' and in addition to the 12", there's bonus digital content too! Get your pre-orders in now. 

Artist: Yellowtail feat. Mark Murphy 

Title: Seasons In My Mind (Remixes)

Release date: 10th April, 2024 

Label : Right Tempo Pro

Catalog Number : RT 001 PRO  

Format : LP (140g black vinyl)  / Digital / Bandcamp

Tuesday 9 April 2024

I had no idea about 'Hypnagogia' (a sleep technique practised by Thomas Edison and Salvador Dalí no less) but the creative powers of Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise are wide awake on this new album.

There's been more than one female jazz harpist vs. hip hop culture mix in a genre clash merging melting pop and here's another but this time uniquely forged in the city of brotherly love.

This massive 17 tracks of conscious hip hop-nu jazz as imagined by Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise (vocals and harp) - like a re-imagined John and Alice Coltrane meets The Roots - is full of life like the single, 'High Vibraionz' that featured Mother Lion.

No only that, they've attracted guest appearances with Arrested Development's superstar Speech with John Robinson (Scienz Of Life) on 'Window Pain' and K-Prez on 'How Far...?'

But these two are not reliant on big name bezzie mates, check out 'LUCIDreamin' and the reggae-dubish 'Hanalei' an for some deep hip-hop poetic funk-beats: modern day golden era underground Gilles Peterson worldwide a la 'Dream Chaser' (MG Gost with Jack Jones (ed. not that one), BluRum 13, Yarah Bravo etc) try ' 'Rotation', 'Drivin' Off' and far too many to mention.

So if you're looking for some multi-genre spiritual hip-hop soul with a New Age twists (and great cover artwork), this is the album youre after.

Artist: Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise

Title: Hypnagogia

Release date: 9th April 2024

Label: Independent

Catalog Number: Digital / Bandcamp
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This confluence is the meeting of the musical minds of the Thames Estuary and the "Afrobeat Ambassador" from The Shrine, Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80 and cofounder with Femi Kuti of the Positive Force. 

That's a pretty big body of water (no get enemy) as once aain, Dele Sosimi (formerly keyboardist and other musical duties with aforementioned Afrobeat legends) who is now based in the UK joins Sam Duckworth (formerly known as Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly).  "Hang on", you may be thinking to yourself, "Didn't this come out this time last year and still sounds brilliant?" We'll you'd be right on both counts except that this is the new LP verson and it's bigger and therefore even more brilliant!

As this album is firmly rooted in Afrobeat, the obvious tracks that will engage are the previous singles, 'Ride Out The Storm' / 'Mo Ṣe B’ọ́lá Tán' (see review HERE) and 'You Don't Have To' (see reveiw HERE) and, again, 'Ori Mi' and 'Òt​í​tó Ti J​áde' (albeit my calls for longer versions has been unheeded) along with 'Open Up' which also features UK jazz legend and Essex resident, Snowboy (aka Mark Cotgrove).

Other top musicans featured include Alfa Sackey (percussion), Callum Green (drums), Philip Van Den Brandeler (bass), Pete Fraser (sax), Sam Eagle (voice/guitar) and Lizzy Dosunmu (vocals) along with multi-instrumentalist Duckworth.

'Stories' is at the carib-pop-end of this meeting of minds but the new 'BIG' tracks are 'Alagbara Ma Me Ro' that's a time-after-time winner plus the Essex Go-Go of 'For The Love Of It' and at 60s jazz club towpath shuffle of 'The Ramblings'.

This is no Sosimi-lite (or Mr Get Cape etc 'heavy' for that matter) as this is all giving it their all and finding something special.  Who'd have thought that chance radio interview Dom Servini (now Jazz FM DJ you know) did with Dele did all those years ago would find us at 'The Confluence' (LP version). Who indeed.

P.S, get lively as the vinyl is likely to sell out quick.

Artist: Dele Sosimi & The Estuary 21
Release: The Confluence LP
Release Date: 5th April, 2024
Label: Wah Wah 45s
Catalog Number: WAHLP025 
Format: Vinyl 12 - Limited Edition / Digital / BANDCAMP

Friday 5 April 2024

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Did someone say, "prog rock, psych, folk"?

Here's one for all you cool cats looking for the return of 18th Day Of May, Tuung and a Jethro Tull meets Yes!

Well that's what the last single, 'Lost In The Woods (Bacchanal)' had elements of and I'm pleased to say no one legged flautists or capes were hurt in the recording of Project Gemini's second album.

In truth, this is a very inteligently crafted mix of psych-funk-prog OST that would fit nicely on a Wickerman soundtrack that's the vision of Paul Osborne.

Paul has enlisted the services of Raz Man, the drummer from Sababa 5 (one of our favourites, see review HERE) and they team up so well, check out the title track that's got a twang of 

Twelve Caesars' 'Scenes 'From Wild Eyed Dreams' about it (see review HERE). And put that together with some dream female vocals (sung in French, bein sur), as in 'Entre chien et loup' the album could be some long lost psych-Stereolab.

Equally, due to flip/flop jingly/jangly 60s Byrds (especially the title track and 'After The Dawn') vs. Mod-Middle Eastern Serge Gainsbourg influence (and more), it could be a Bob Stanley compilation or some long lost recording that Jonny "Francophile is not his middle name but he does like that type of thing if it's as sexy as this and it is pretty Library/OST which is his middle name" Trunk has discovered - yes, that good! 

If that wasn't enough, 'The Sun Devil' puts the Flute gang in the world of Batov, or more specifically, Kolonel Djafaar's 'Getaway' (see review HERE), your 60s TV theme, 'Seven Seconds To Sunrise' and Delia Derbyshire-funk-flute of 'Twilight'.

The first album was called, 'The Children Of Scorpio' (I think we get the idea) and this is the brilliant (not difficult) second album that will fill our summer of love this year.

If I were a Flying Mojito Bros, I'd be on the phone straight away after the remix gig!

Artist: Project Gemini

Title: Colours & Light

Release date: 5th April, 2024 

Label : Mr Bongo 

Catalog Number : MRBCDLP301

Format : LP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp
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Batov Records are on the right track again with more Middle Eastern Menahan Street Band style funk! 

As big fans of the last album on Batov Records, Shay Hazan's 'Wusul وصول' (see review HERE) it's with a bit of trepidation that we listen to the next album off the rank - but you can't get away from the fact this is exceptional.

Is 'Convoi Exceptionnel' is the most brilliant cross genre Mulatu Astake Ethio Afrobeat funk from the casbah...on the Transe Horn of Africa Express.

The horn section try and steel the show but all members of the band work as one, on 'Phil's First Tear' which is one of the many stand-out tracks.  

This is so impressive as their base is in Belgium and for fans of their 'Cold Heat' EP of 2021, it's been a long wait for this album. It's definitely been worth it as their 'Getaway' is the equivalent of winning Ronde de Flanders, Paris–Roubaix, Liège–Bastogne–Liège all in one season.

Artist: Kolonel Djafaar 

Title: Getaway

Release date: 5th April, 2024

Label: Batov Records 

Cat. No: BTR089

Format: Vinyl / Digital / Bandcamp