Friday, 2 June 2023

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I know what you're thinkun', who in their right mind would have bassist Nik West on the same release as bass guitar legend Larry Graham?

All they could have had in mind was a funked up bass string thumpin' that's hot enough to bring Sly and Prince to the Graham Central Station for a big party.

Very 80/90s funktastic, 'Thumpahlenah'
brings a tribute to the bass guitar funk and they work so well together, there must be more than one single from this session? Please tell me there is or else I'm goin to have to find my bass, imitation Larry Blackmon codpiece and start to dance to this like it's 1999.

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It was only a matter of time before we got the Jimpster remix EP of Thakzin & Ray T – Don’t Let Me See (see review the original verions HERE).

I wasn't surprised when I saw that top UK producer Jimpster was first to the gig as it could have been any of Thakzin's big fan base like from old and new a like; &ME, Rampa, Adam Port, Dixon, Atjazz, Osunlade, Louie Vega, Pablo Fierro, Eric Kupper, David Morales, Laurent Garnier. 

But Jimpster is more than capable as he's kept the beautiful vocals and upped the bass throb so that the "totally mesmersing" is synthed up to the max with "love" (repeat).

The South African thumb piano shines on the instrumental version.

I don't know if I can let myself consider that this is better than the original version - I think the answer is get all versions; but don't let me see it.

Artist: Thakzin & Ray T 

Title: Don’t Let Me See (Jimpster Remixes) Vocal/Instrumental/Radio Edit

Release date: 2nd June, 2023 

Label: Foliage Records

Cat. No: FN091

Format: Bandcamp / Digital

Thursday, 1 June 2023

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Fans of Lightning Head (aka Glyn 'Bigga' Bush) will recall his 'Me & Me Princess' as a Studio Don template of dancehall/dub/funk-up espousing his love to his 'Princess'.

It's been a favourite in his DJ sets ever since so it is a great time to have a 2023 remastered version (vocal and instrumental) that's got a bit more updated studio gear, a bit more bounce and new dubness in it - he's such a joker!

And fans of his monthly 1BTN show, Bigga's Big Dig, will have heard him play on last months' show a slimmed down 'Version 2' that's on here as a vocal and instrumental (that piano, Latin shuffle is a bit of a grower).

The other three tracks of this set, being by Tru-Thoughts' Jay Darkside as a drum and bass remix, remix instrumental and a dub. Bigga likes a d'n'b [see links to 'The River' below] and there's a collab in the making if Jay could get hold of the Ragga Twins.  The dub is another mating success but being greedy, could there have been room for an illegal dub version?

And was it any coincidence that 'Me & Me Princess' gets released today, on 'Dorset Day' (Glyn's adopted county - thanks for letting us know Dorset Phil) and that also today marks the start of BBC Radio 4's series called 'Princess'?  It must mean something?

Love you the best Bigga!

Other BiggaBush info can be had HERE with last years' interview and the review of 'A Different Style EP' (see HERE) that includes the Hectic Extended version of 'This River'.

Artist: Lightning Head (aka BiggaBush)
Title: Me & Me Princess (Jay Darkside Remix)
Release date: 1st June, 2023
Label : Tru-Thoughts
Catalog Number : TRUDD 537
Format: Digital / Bandcamp / JunoDownload

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Hopestreet Recordings are big on new talent so if you're not up to date with what's going on down under, in addition to The Meltdown, and Immy Owusu, here's another new name with her debut album, Hannah Macklin.

'Mu', the Zen Buddist state of 'nothingness' and 'awareness'. Jazz fans will be aware of Don Cherry''s 'Mu' album period (originally released in the late sixties on Actuel) as an early 'free' jazz experiment.

Ms. Macklin's inspiration for this ten track album doesn't go back that far.  Her musical inspiration is in a neo-soul, trip hop that merges Potishead and folky/spiritual beats of Mia Doi Todd/Build An Ark. 

The huge strings and jazz leanings give this album a cinematic/OST tension like the opener, 'Mono No Aware' (equally, its got a touch on Robert Wyatt's 'Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard' about it) whilst the previous singles 'Otherworld' (featuring Cazeaux O.S.L.O) and  'Stars' are just waiting to break out of the underground (or should that be 'Otherworld'?)

That said, this is not singles orientated 'Nitrogen' is angular in comparision to the sublime, 'The Essence' that's pretty close in feel to Minny Ripperton's 'Les Fleurs'; yes, that good!  Whilst 'Sunday Best' seems to fall somewhere between the two; is that a distant Radiohead echo in there?

The tenuous link between the aforementioned jazz great Don Cherry and trip hop/Bristol scene is, of course, Neneh Cherry and Hopestreet Recordings seems to in a similar musical hot spot at the moment that's not to be overlooked. 

And great artwork too!

Artist: Hannah Macklin

Title: MU 

Release date: 2nd June, 2023 

Label: Hopestreet Recordings

Cat. No: -

Format: Bandcamp / Digital

Monday, 29 May 2023

If you want your MPB like a French OST at a 70s disco, you need this new release on Mr Bongo.

The single, 'Baile De Máscaras (Recarnaval)' / 'Lua Comanche' sounds and looks like some long lost classic of the level of excitement of around 10 years ago when Johnny Trunk took on Gilles Peterson at the York Hall, Bethnal Green over the reissue rights to José Prates' album, 'Tam... Tam... Tam...!' from 1958?

But no!  It's not at all "lost".  In fact, it was released last year in Brasil as the band was the result of a meeting of the musical minds in Rio's covid lockdown as a burgeoning supergroup of Julia Mestre, Dora Morelenbaum, Zé Ibarra, and Lucas Nunes.

Much like the compilation that includes 'Lua Comanche', the recenty released 'Hidden Waters: Strange and Sublime Sounds of Rio de Janeiro' (see review HERE), these 14 tracks are lush with bossa nova, MPB, Tropicália, psychedelia, samba, funk, sun and sand: no wonder it won a Latin grammy.

You'll be hearing Baile De Máscaras (Recarnaval), Lua Comanche, 'Passarinnha'the reggaefied 'Clama Floresta and the sugary "Radio 2", 'Dourado Dourado' (sounds like a Mendez meets the Carpenters to me) whilst the counterpoint to that are 'Chupeta', 'Lambe Lambe' and the beach cocktails of Muito Só.  
And lets all that in a melting pot for the jazz-funky 'Faixa Técnica' which sounds like a Radio's DJ feature/some festival announcement/60s advert's/phone-in competition for anything from who's your favourite Flamingo team players, lost kids on the beach or where to get your suntan lotion on Copacabana.

If you're going to channel your inner Seu Jorge, Gal Costa, Nara Leão, Sergio Mendez or add to your collection of Brazil45: Mr Bongo x Mike D [Boxset] (see review HERE), this is just perfect as in years to come, there's more than a couple of tracks on the ablum that'll be viewed as "classics" in their own right. 

You could't wish for a better debut album that this.

Artist: Bala Desejo 


Release date : 29th May, 2023

Label : Mr Bongo

Catalog Number : MRB269R

Format: LP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 

Sunday, 28 May 2023

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Valia Calda have had a couple of singles out to promote the new album 'Homeland' but even then. it doesn't prepare you for the jazz-mix power house that they are.

You may recall Valia Calda's last single ‘The Stalker’ was (and still is) "heavy" on the psych-jazz out-there charts; the track is inspired by Andrei Tarkovshy's classic film).

And then there was a bit of a surprise of an instrumental trumpet led ballad, 'But In The End We'll Be Together'; this time inspired by the poetry of Odysseas Elytis (Ed. Who?) 

And from there, to the horn vs. psych guitar ENO/Fripp-ery jazz-dub of 'Crossing The Warm Valley' [my current favourite].

We're told the that the Greek influences are reflections on "timeless struggles of physical and ideological displacement" with "inspiration from the themes of migration and exile. Perhaps none more so than on 'Nostaglgia And Isolaton' and the title track, 'Homeland' (that's got a touch of Mulatu about it - which kinda sums up the displacement/migration concept musically - especially when it rocks out).

Valia Calda are led by London based guitarist Nikos Ziarkas (Theon Cross, Chelsea Carmichael, Moses Boyd) and double bassist Thodoris Ziarkas (Yazz Ahmed, Savina Yannatou, Electric Litany) and it's been picked up by the usual DJs from Jazz FM to BBC 6 Music (including Gilles Peterson) and many more.

It's a bit of a Jazz Chronicle's party this weekend and we'd have definitely played this out when we were DJing Acoustic Ladyland, The Comet Is Coming, Vula Viel, Suns Of Kemet and the like (and Sun Ra of course); yep, it's that good!

Artist: Valia Calda

Title: Homeland

Release date: 26th May, 2023

Label : Deep Mountain Records

Catalog Number : LP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 

Saturday, 27 May 2023

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It's all about the drum and master of the Balearic house, Kiko Navarro, gets his mates DJ Pippi and Willie Graff to work their magic on this EP for guaranteed dancefloor madness.

Both 'N' Fumbei' and the even deeper Jungle synthed disco of 'Esanah' are Afro-Latin tracks that you can spin from beach to jazz house.

But the 'bonus' track is even cooler as it's the beat "dub" 'N'Funbeats' that should only be played in a darkened backroom disco with all the other illict grooves: so raw it'll make chafing a pleasure - for serious dancers only; and for you nerds, there's a slightest of references to Yello's 'The Race'.

If you're used to DJ Pippi and Willie Graff's more downtempo grooves you'll need to up the tempo to more like fans of Kiko Navarro's 'You Take Over' with the Osunlade remixes (see review HERE) and the incredible Beatkozina.Abirah Shah 'Nusrat Passion' (see review HERE) you'll going to love this too!

Artist: Kiko Navarro, DJ Pippi, Willie Graff 

Title: Tempistica Mistica 

Release Date : 26th May, 2023

Catalog Number : AFTNE055

Label : Afroterraneo

Format: 12" / Digital

Friday, 26 May 2023

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Last year, Bev Lee Harling returned with her first solo recording in almost a decade. She won the hearts and musical minds of DJs across the board with her 2012 debut LP, 'Barefoot In Your Kitchen', which BBC 6Musics Gilles Peterson made his Album of the Week.

The original of this single, 'Beautiful Life' was on that 2022 album 'Little Anchor' and I said at the time it "is a perfect combination of pop, folk, soul with cinematic strings and beautiful lyrics and vocals".  

So it's no surprise to me, when it comes to a remix, globe trotting disco freak Aroop Roy got this as his first pick.

And it's not like his recent releases of 'Brazilian Reworks & Edits', his latest remix on Permanant Vacation (Benjamin Fröhlich x Private Agenda - Soft Power) or his party sets with  Rocksteady Disco's Peter Croce in Detroit or Manchester's Mr. Scruff. In fact, the strings give it a Mathew Herbert/Nonclassical out-there house vibe.

Somewhat different to the label's last single, Dele Sosimi & The Estuary 21's 'You Don’t Have To' (see review HERE) but that's how ecelectic it's always been at Wah Wah 45s - get this now for remix, instrumental, dub and radio versions and there's a label Remix Vol. 3 compilation due out later this year that's include remixes by some of our other favourite remixers like Ben Gomori, Dazzle Drums and Dam Swingle.

Artist: Bev Lee Harling
Release: Beautiful Life (Aroop Roy Remixes)
Release Date: 26th May, 2023
Label: Wah Wah 45s
Catalog Number: Digital / BANDCAMP

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If you've been keeping up with the Kris Tidjan singles, you'll be anxious to hear the whole album and I can confirm that it's all as good as the 'Lords Of War', 'Little Giants' and 'Eddie'.

In fact, the jazz-funk-beats-soul that Kris has enveloped into this 13 track album  as he 'Incarnated' an "everyone loves the sunshine" vibe and the nearly nine minutes of 'Lords Of War (Extended)' which is so laid back groovy.

So it's as much Al Green (if not more) as it is jazz/afrobeat but all containing that 'rebel' feel that's so evident in his 'tributes' to Bob Marley.

As you can tell, this is a quality album so it's not easy to say that any one track "Stands-out", so it's a bit unfair to say his collaboration with his cousin, Jeremie Omem, on 'KATIOPA' stands out: but it does; and in a very good modern jazz-funk dancer way (and lets hope there's an even longer version).

As Bob and his "small axe" so Kris has surrounded himself with these "small axes" [also as in 'Lords Of War'] to cut down any resistance to this album and his talent; expect to hear much more from this guy. 

Artist: Kris Tidjan  

Title: Small Axes

Release date: 26th May, 2023

Label : BBE Music

Catalog Number : BBE726 LP / CD / Digital / Bandcamp 

Thursday, 25 May 2023

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Annabel (lee) are husband and wife duo Sheila and Richard Ellis and thier lastest release is an 4 track EP of live covers called 'Live Covers' which was recorded 'live' in LA.

The four tracks are well known being 'Blackstar', one of Bowie's most atmospheric and haunting of tracks, 'River Man' (Nick Drake's classic that's equally atmospheric and haunting), 'Windmills' (Michel Legrand's big pop his and the recent passed Wayne Shorter (RIP) most popular, 'Footprints' (with new original lyrics by Sheila).

As any undercover agent will tell you, it's all about the added value and this large band with harp, flute and cello certain add a large amount to this project along with Sheila's words/vocals (she trained in New York with Andy Bey!)

We've recently seen that the electric guitar is much under-used in jazz (see Enrico Le Noci's 'Electric Nuts', review HERE with covers of 'Voodoo Chile' and 'Maiden Voyage') and Eric Klerks rocks out on 'Footprints' with Sheila doing her best ship wrecked ghost siren with the violin in 1930 swing with that harp; what was I saying about " atmospheric and haunting"?

If you haven't heard Annabel (lee) before, there's 'By The Sea... And Other Solitary Places' which came out on Ninja Tune/If..Music. and at the time, I'm not sure that they knew what to do with "abstract classical jazz on the leftfield" which, of course, they are far more familiar with now - check out what Coldcut are upto these days - see review HERE).  

Sheila and Richard are clearly guys are still 'out there' [in LA] or should I say Further Out [Recordings] there (their current label); These four tracks are like windmills in my mind like a 'live' version of the Cinematic vs Mahavishnu Orchestras doing cover versions - bring on the album.  

Sheila Ellis - Vocals, Richard E - Acoustic Guitar, Aniela Perry - Cello, Eric Klerks - Electric Guitar, Sonjia Hubert Harper - Flute & Backing Vocals, Jillian Lopez - Harp Anthony Lopez - Keyboards, Mark Gutierrez - Bass, Chris Parise - Drums

Artist: Annabel (lee)
Title: Live Covers
Release date: 26th May, 2023
Label: Further Out Recordings
Cat. No: FUR016
Format: Bandcamp / Digital.