There are a number of credible beatmakers out there but when it comes to merging hypnotic beats and soulful rhythms few do it as well as Slakah The Beatchild. The Toronto native returns with Volume 2 of "Soul Movements" and like "Vol.1" features an array of talented vocalists also from Toronto to lift these tracks to greater heights. Among the guests is Glenn Lewis who croons over the piano driven "Number 1". On "Keep Up" songstress Ayah and Slakah venture into Deep House territory while maintaining their signature soulful sound. "Love Fool" is filled with wicked guitar rhythms and highlighted by the stirring vocals of Tamika Charles. Slakah knows the value of a tasty groove to keep the disc bumping throughout no matter what the tempo might be. There's no sophomore jinx here, just another superb record..
Algebra Blessett Recovery
Five years after her debut, Algebra Blessett returns with "Recovery". This fourteen track release showcases Algebra's broad range with a mix of soulful bass heavy tracks, acoustic tunes and some tasty ballads to balance everything out. "Right Next To You" and "Nobody But You" are filled with thick beats and certain to keep your head on a steady nod. "Writers Block" is a tender tune that finds Algebra wrestling with penning a love song while managing her own emotions. "Better For Me" is a bittersweet ballad where she laments about the unfulfilled dreams of a lost relationship. Indeed Algebra's superb songwriting skills combined with tight production leads to an entertaining record that serves notice that quality RnB is alive and well.
Ross McHenry Distant Oceans
Bassist Ross McHenry may be familiar to some from his work as a member of the Shaolin Afronauts. As a result he has been on the radar for some time now so it's great to experience his debut entitled "Distant Oceans" for First Word Records. McHenry shows that he isn't messing around by enlisting an impressive roster of musicians. Keyboardist Mark De Clive Lowe needs no introduction and Drummer Myele Manzanza's career has soared since emerging with Electric Wire Hustle. Ross has wrote all but one track here and has served up a fusion of rhythmic spacey experimental jazz. His compositions provide a perfect canvas for Adam Page's Tenor Sax and flute phrasings, not to mention Luca Spiler hearty Trombone riffs. Manzanza's drumming sets the foundation for everyone to improvise and they do so in grand fashion. There are many highlights to savor but let's start with "Intercosmos". Page and Spiler combine for a soaring ethereal intro that eases intro Ross's laid back bass groove. On "Griffith Park" Ross's rhythmic bass licks complement Page's hearty solos. "Malmsbury Shale" and "Prayers" are spirited excursions into celestial territory, particularly on the latter. MDCL sprinkles in some tasty Rhodes alongside the explosive horn section of Page, Spiler and Jon Hunt on Bass Clarinet. Normally you would be concerned that a lineup this impressive would give in to excessive soloing but this group sticks to the script by playing their roles well and taking these compositions to another level. This is simply a superb record that certainly merits your attention. Here's hoping this is the first of many releases from Mr McHenry.
B Bravo & Teeko Tempo Dreams 2
Bastard Jazz delivers a second installment of Tempo Dreams, this time enlisting the talents of Bay area funkateers DJ/Producer Teeko and B. Bravo. Together they create an lp filled with electro-funk jams reminiscent of the eighties funk revolution. Highlights include Don't Stop", a wicked bass heavy tune with spacey synths. "Come Too Far" eases along with a laid back groove and features the deep bass vocals of Black Spade. "Back To The Mitten" is another funky gem with sweet synths augmented by Tony Ozier holding down the vocals. Teeko's production is solid throughout and the vocal arrangements are on point. There's a new generation of funk enthusiasts on the scene delivering the funk and Teeko and B. Bravo are two of many newcomers doing their part to push it along. Much to our delight.
Reggie B DNA
Reggie-B has been sprinkling eps and singles showcasing his brand of electro-funk for several years now. With his full length debut on Tokyo Dawn, he's poised to strike a chord with funk enthusiasts past and present with the aptly titled "DNA". Reggie's rich vocals serve as the main ingredient within a deep dish of bass heavy up-tempo gems featuring an impressive collection of contributors like DJ Spinna, Dam Funk and many more. There are many highlights here to ignite your funk groove like "Light Horizon" featuring Onra and Ubiquitous. "Her Own Way" is a smooth mid-tempo soul funk groove. In addition there are a number of gentle ballads that are treated with a delicate touch as well. "Just enough" features a romantic verse from D-Lok. "Love The Way" is another soothing track that features the Moog and synth wizardry of Kan Sano. With seventeen tracks in total I was afraid there might be some filler tracks but not to worry. This is a superb album with an assortment of contributors fully committed to bringing the funk. Along with emerging artists like Dam Funk, B-Bravo and Teeko, Reggie-B is spearheading a renaissance of deep funk with wicked hooks. With an album this good it's assured that the future of the funk is in good hands.
Sons Of Kermit - Burn
"Burn", the aptly titled debut from the quartet known as Sons Of Kemit doesn't just burn, it scorches. The ten track debut is a fusion of African, folk and spiritual Jazz rhythms that is engaging, intense and defies categories. Clarinetist/Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings apprenticeship with Courtney Pine and Tomorrow's Warriors has served him well here. His explosive playing and ambitious compositions is complimented by the dual drumming of Tom Skinner and Seb Rochford. On "Inner Babylon" Hutchings and Tuba player Oren Marshall rhythmic explorations and lyrical content extend into Afro-Caribbean ancestry. "Adonia's Lullaby" evokes deep passion and emotions highlighted by Hutching's melodic clarinet rhythms. Each member is a leader in their own right yet they come together focused on their take on the movement of the African Diaspora and the result is one of the best records of the year.