Another gem has been released from the jazz vaults. “Soul Of Africa” is wonderful work from pianist Jef Gilson and Tenor saxophonist Hal Singer that was recorded in Paris during burgeoning jazz scene in the seventies. Jef Gilson was already building a reputation as a talented pianist in Paris while Hal Singer was best known for his RnB work. Together, they create timeless pieces that serves up an African flavor thanks largely to the percussion work of Del Rabenja and Gerard Rakotoarivony. On “Mother Earth”, the track starts off with Del and Gerard laying down the groove while Hal’s tenor floats above it. This tune is also enhanced by Bernard Lubat on vibes. “Garvey’s Strut” is a real winner as well. Gilson’s work here is spirited and uplifting while Hal’s robust playing is the perfect complement. Soulful and rhythmic, “Soul Of Africa” is essential listening.
It’s been over a year since Eric Lau dropped his ep titled: “Eric Lau Presents Dudley Perkins and Friends”. Still, it seems like he came out of nowhere and instantly delivered some serious beats. The promise he showed on those tracks was evidence that a special talent had arrived. Finally our patience has been rewarded with “New Territories”, a gorgeous collection of soulful beats combined with lush vocals from some of the most exciting up and coming vocalists in the game today. One of those vocalists is Tawiah and she is featured on the track “I Don’t Do It To”. Tawiah’s vocals overlap with the dreamy keys and the head nodding beats. On “Time Will Tell”, Eric lays down a melancholy tantalizing soul gem topped off by Sarina Leah’s blissful vocals that springs hope for brighter tomorrows. Newcomer Tosin Tao’s voice may remind you of Donny Hathaway and the track “Don’t Let Them” is a funky soul burner that simmers with every beat. It’s clear that Eric Lau can make beats but he’s not satisfied with just that. The man is serious about making quality soul music with great vocals. I say mission accomplished.
Eric Rico may not be a household name to many but with a voice as golden as his you are sure to love him. In addition, having worked with hip hop artists like “Planet Asia”, “Ladybug Mecca” and “Mystic”, he is equally skilled at producing and songwriting. Eric combines his distinctive voice with some progressive spacey beats to create an impressive debut. He touches on a variety of topics like the future of our youth on the stirring “Children Of The Night”. “Making Love” is a silky soulful slow jam that will draw comparisons to Frankie Beverly. “Too High”, the Stevie Wonder classic receives an overhaul to give it more of a hip hop feel. Eric has been in the game for a long time and it’s clear his time has finally come. “Journey Back To Me” is an impressive debut that will certainly thrust him into the company of emerging nusoul artists.
Finn Peters has been on the scene for a while but it was in 2006 he made his debut as a leader with the critically acclaimed “Su Ling”. With his second release “Butterflies” there are two noticeable differences. One is the reliance on his flute playing than on his sax playing. His tone on the flute is impressive and his compositions take these tunes to greater heights. The other difference is while “Su Ling” was more of an acoustic record, “Butterflies” has more of a classical vibe. The title track, "Butterflies", highlights Finn's engaging and spirited solo with guitarist Dave Okumu. “Atlas” is a brilliant composition that finds Finn on alto sax creating subtle harmonic images while drummer Tom Skinner is interactive with his every move. All selections here are rich in melody and the band approaches each song with passion and tenderness. This is simply another great release by Finn Peters that would be a welcome addition to your collection for those quiet moments.
There are DJ’s/producers dropping albums everywhere but few can boast to have an album as strong as this one. Simbad’s “Supersonic Revelation has been a couple years in the making but the wait has been well worth it. Simbad has assembled a little bit of funk, house, rnb and dancehall and the result is a soulful uplifting disc that will move your body. The immensely successful “Soul Fever” needs no introduction. This electronic funk track with the wicked synth lines was one of the biggest records of 2006.The legendary Robert Owens adds his signature vocals to the atmospheric “Someone for Me”. There’s also the title track, which has also become a huge hit, and why not? The killer organ riff and Abdul Shyllon’s lush vocals gives this the feel of a simmering downtempo house track that never builds momentum but it's bangin’ nonetheless. There are many other great selections worth mentioning so you owe it to yourself to invest in what is definitely one of the hottest releases of 2008.
There's always great anticipation to hear a new release by The Roots. If nothing else they've been consistent throughout their career for bringing raw authentic hip hop via live instrumentation to the table. Their latest, “Rising Down” ranks among their best to date and certainly their most politically informative. Even though all but three tracks have someone teaming up with Black Thought, these appearances feel like a family reunion. On “Rising Down” Black Thought is joined by Mos Def and Styles P to discuss some of the problems that plague the world today. On “Criminal”, Truck North and Saigon drop by to wax poetic about the hard life and injustice of the streets. On “Rising Up”, joined by Chrisette Michelle and newcomer Wale, the group dips into the world of gogo and bangs out a track that is funky and fresh. Where “Game Theory” was very dark, “Rising Down” illuminates with fire. With lyrics to make you think and beats to make you move, what more would you expect from the Roots?
Simon S of Futuristica has shown to be on the cutting edge of soul music with releases by Electric Conversation and Low Budget Soul, just to name a few. It appears that he has a good ear for quality hip hop as well because “TheUnclosed Mind” by Cleveland native Replife is easily one of the biggest releases this year. With an all star production team featuring Dego, Kaidi Tatham, Mark De Clive Lowe and Atjazz, Replife takes chances on this disc that few rappers dare to take. On “Elevation”, Replife is joined by Deborah Jordan and Noni Limar on this mellow soul jazz flavored track. The Dego produced “Spirit” is a funky synth laden tribute to the late J Dilla. “Out Of Soul”, produced by Don Ray is a wonderful slice of broken soul with a touch of jazz thanks to the trumpet playing of Sean Winters and the scatting of Ki Allen. Some of you may remember Replife from The Politik release last year. The promise he displayed on that project is fulfilled beyond expectations here. Replife sounds wise beyond his years in his delivery and his lyrics offer insight to the depth of knowledge and intelligence the man brings to the table. It all adds up to an outstanding record that delivers quality hip hop and progressive beats from start to finish. There’s no doubt that this disc will remain in the cd rotation for quite some time.
Ubiquity records has become one of my favorite labels over the last few years. Their commitment to releasing quality music by independent artists has resulted in some outstanding projects. One of those standout projects was the Rewind compilations, specifically Rewind 4. It was on Rewind 4 that I was introduced to the band known as Orgone. Their cover of “Funky Nassau” is every bit as funky as the original. Now Orgone finally blesses us with their debut cd, The Killion Floor. Armed with eighteen tracks, Orgone takes us on a journey through the sounds of soul, funk and boogaloo with a laid-back California vibe. On the track “It’s What You Do”, the band demonstrates it’s robust horn and gritty organ playing on this medium tempo funk pleaser . On “Dialed Up”, the band steps out of their easy going vibe by delivering this refreshing uptempo sophisticated soul gem. As the weather begins to heat up, “The Killion Floor” would make a great companion for your barbecue. As a multi-instrumentalist band, Orgone, has laid down the groove for several hip hop acts in the game today. Now it’s their time to show they can rightfully stand out on their own.
As I think about some of the latest hip hop releases of the past year, I reflect on the golden age of the genre. That was when we were consistently treated to now classics from The Native Tongues, Brand Nubian and The Pharcyde. One element that was prevalent within the music of those artists was the inclusion of jazz samples or collaborations with jazz artists. Those samples were from some of our most respected jazz musicians and gave the listener greater appreciation of jazz music. The artists, I'm sure gained a greater appreciation. Well, thanks to the Jazz Liberatorz and some of the most respected MC’s in the game today, that feeling comes to life with their remarkable debut “Clin d’oeil”. The theme throughout this disc is the love and respect for 70’s Jazz expressed by the Jazz Liberatorz and the MC’s on board. On the track, “Ease My Mind", I don’t know what sounded better, the smooth chords and accompanying flute or hearing Fat Lip and Tre Hardson together again. “Indonesia” finds Tableek of Maspyke flowing over some cosmic jazz funk reminiscent of Lonnie Liston Smith. On “U Do”, Stacey Epps sings over a smoothed out rhythm guitar enhanced so that has a summertime vibe to it. What is also equally enjoyable is the interludes that feature each MC or vocalist expressing their love for jazz while a jam session serves as the backdrop. The Jazz Liberatorz succeed by capturing the essence of one of hip hop’s prime moments in its history. I can’t get enough of this cd. I have no doubts that you’ll feel the same way.
Australian born Kylie Auldist first came to my attention from appearing with the Bamboos on their previous release "Rawville". When performing with the Bamboos, Kylie is clearly part of an ensemble but with her debut CD "Just Say" she stands out on her own. "Just Say" is a wonderful disc that embraces the formula that reaches back to the golden era of 60’s soul music. "Still Into You" is a nice track with a mean groove that features some funky horn play, courtesy of the Bamboos. "Community Service Announcement" is a great record that feels like one of those summertime songs you grooved to in the park with your girlfriend by your side. Kylie shifts gears on "Pretty Things" and creates a nice mid tempo acoustic gem that displays her powerful voice. Kylie succeeds in creating songs that are rich in melodies and despite the old school feel, sounds fresh and current. At just under 50 minutes, it has just the right amount of songs to keep you engaged from start to finish. Kylie is part of the new generation of artists making uncut quality soul music. A real gem.
I can’t count how many dope singles have emerged from the Wah Wah 45s label. So when I heard about the latest installment of Underground Hits & Exclusive bits 3, I couldn’t wait to hear it. Right off the bat, I was rewarded with the seductive vocals of Stac on "Balls Bounce." The tune starts out soft and warm and after several minutes goes into another gear bursting with energy. "Step Forward" by Jamie Finley is a pensive ballad driven song that's equally enjoyable. Jamie’s voice is similar to Prince's falsetto. Jamie's forthcoming debut, also on Wah Wah 45s is going to be huge. Another anticipated project will be the "Middle Sessions." They contribute two tracks here“ "Used To Be" is a nice up tempo vocal track with strings. "RedWaters" closes the disc with a flurry of high energy jazz that could easily be embraced on any dance floor. It’s always a treat when an anticipated release exceeds your expectations. Treat yourself to one of the most satisfying compilations to arrive this year.
VA - Carolina Funk
Thank goodness for labels like Jazzman Records to search where no man has searched before to resurrect the rare grooves of the 70’s. Last year, they released "Florida Funk" and it was a huge success. They've done it again with "Carolina Funk." The man responsible for this year's release is North Carolina resident and record collector, Jason Perlmutter. He's assembled 22 of the rarest funk gems to emerge from the Carolinas. There are songs that will make you get on the good foot like Dynamite Singletary’s "Super Good," a high energy track similar to James Brown’s "Super Bad." The Soul Drifters certainly burned up the dance floor with "Funky Soul Brother." The mood slows down for a moment with Paul Burton’s "So Very Hard To Make It” Make no mistake, this disc lays the funk down hard and heavy from start to finish. It provides a glimpse into an era so rich in musical talent that the artists displayed here are now getting the attention they never received before. When you think of vintage soul, you can now add the Carolinas as a contributor to the conversation. We have Jason Perlmutter to thank for that.
It’s become obvious that when soul music reached it’s peak in the 60’s and 70’s, it planted seeds all over the world. One area where those seeds are continue to bloom is the Netherlands. Say hello to the Soul Snatchers, a nine piece band that delivers 12 original songs of hot buttered soul. They don’t reinvent anything here but prove that they can burn, and they burn real well. On "Crushed Ice" the strength of the band is in full display with blaring horns, a pulsating rhythm section and stellar organ work. Special guest, Jimi Bell, lays down his soulful vocals to the high energy, guitar driven "People People." Not be outdone, vocalist YoYo adds warmth and passion to the slow jam, "Ask For Love." I’m not certain how long these guys have been together but they sound like seasoned veterans. The Soul Snatchers take you back to an era when raw funk was the rule and not the exception. Quality soul music that shouldn’t be missed.
George Evelyn, the man behind Nightmares On Wax (NOW) has built an impressive resume of quality discs that have featured experimental downtempo beats that are supported by a soulful landscape and hip hop beats. His latest release, “Wax On” doesn’t stray too far off course. George has assembled a list of musicians to elevate “Wax On” beyond a studio unit. The opening track “You never Know” is a perfect example of that. A nice chilled out lounge track with lush vocals. Paris based DJ Guts Le Bienheureux , now a member of the Waxon records roster reworks two selection here. “Skunkfunk” is a downtempo bass heavy tune with an infectious beat. The classic “And The Living Is Easy” gets the reggae dub makeover courtesy of The Dynamics. A solid release by George Evelyn but it’s not one of his best. If you’re new to the work of Nightmares On Wax I would suggest “Smokers Delight” or Carboot Soul” before you get this one.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of remakes, especially an entire album. So initially I was skeptical of the “A Tribute To Prince” project. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to listen to it. What’s refreshing about this collection are the alternative takes each artist brings to the table. D’Angelo comes out of hiding to deliver a lively version of “She’s always In My Hair”. Blue States takes “AlphabetStreet” and turns it into an atmospheric trip hop offering that is very satisfying. Osunlade’s rendition of “Crazy You” is also tastefully done. It may be the only track here that might bear some similarities the original. Broadway Project puts a cinematic spin on “The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker” and, as a result, creates a song that aims for the depths of your soul. Kudos to the musicians involved in this project. This is how remakes are supposed to be done. It’s a beautiful thing when artists tear a song apart and recreate it all over again. This is wonderful work that deserves to be heard.
James Pants - Welcome
Upon listening to James Pants debut, I felt as though I stepped into a time machine. When I stepped out, it was 1980 and boogie music was filling the airwaves. Indeed, “Welcome” has a bit of a retro feel to it with the heavy use of synths and percussions. Somehow, he manages to make it sound fresh and current. “Ka$h Feat. Deon Davis” is a mid-tempo electronic soulful track that has an irresistible groove. “We’re Through” is a classic 80’s boogie tune that reminds you of all the jams you loved dancing to in the clubs back in the day. This disc has more to offer however. “Good Things” is a funky hip-hop track that demands to be turned up and is woefully too short. James is really on to something here. He has managed to tap into a multitude of musical styles from boogie to punk and hip-hop and has molded them into a fun and entertaining debut. Kudos to Stones Throw for recognizing his talents.
Jack Splash, the man who blessed us with “The Return Of Jack Splash” in 2004 is back. Like his debut, “Time Traveler” provides plenty of soulful eighties styled funk that made Jack so enjoyable to listen to. Thanks to the soulful horns, the laidback groove and the sunny upbeat vibe it projects, the title track is certainly one of the highlights. “Your Love” is another rhythmic track that is tailor made for Jack’s appealing vocals, again capturing that warm happy feeling that he receives from his girl. Except for a couple of misfires like “Take It Off” and “U Mess It Up, So We Took It Back”, Jack maintains a tight funky groove throughout. He wraps up the disc with the ballad “Fool For U”, which sounds very much like the Isley Brothers “Don’tSay Goodnight”. It shows Jack is equally skilled at massaging a ballad as he is bringing the funk. JackSplash provides us with an entertaining disc full of lighthearted funky grooves. If you enjoyed the first disc, you will certainly enjoy this one.
Clutchy Hopkins - Walking Backwards
"Who is Clutchy Hopkins?" Everyone seems to be asking that question. With this disc, “WalkingBackwards”, he shows that he is a talented producer with smooth beats to lure you into his spaced out world. The disc starts off with “Sounds Of The Ghost”, a dark mid-tempo instrumental that is drenched in funk with sketches of jazz layered underneath. “Love A Woman” is the only track with vocals, courtesy of Darondo. Darondo’s voice is similar to Al Green and is perfect for the sonic landscape of Clutchy’s beats. Combining elements of jazz and funk reminiscent of Madlib, Clutchy Hopkins provides us a snapshot of his skills. It won’t be long before he becomes a household name.
Two albums to their credit, Connie Price & The Keystones have established themselves as masters of the funk. While their first record was an instrumental offering, this release showcases a list of some of the most hardest working mc’s in the game today. Percee P starts the disc off the powerful “International Hustler”. This track has everything, a thumping bass, funky horns and an inspired Percee P. It makes you wonder, "Why did it take this man so long to get a deal?" “Masters At Work” features Ohmega Watts spitting over a soul drenched track complete with the wah-wah guitar and strings. Aloe Blacc fits perfectly on “Tell Me Something”, the only vocal track featured here. Connie Price is bringing the funk that takes you back to the Stax era. If you like your hip-hop dipped in hot buttered soul then you can’t pass on this.
Picking up from where they left off with “Second Guess” Reel People returns with “Seven Ways To Wonder”. Once again Mike Patto has assembled some great vocalists to compliment the wonderful collection of tracks here. The opening cut, “Alibi” features Mount Vernon, NY native Darien. A Latin influenced soul gem, this is a jam that will have dance floors filled whenever it’s played. A surprise guest is UK darling Omar on the socca flavored “Outta Love”. Having Vaneesa Freeman appear on a track feels like the standard for a Reel People record. The sublime “Rise & Fly” is simply a beautiful record that is worthy of repeats whenever played. As long as Reel People continues to create music like this, UK soul is in good hands.
Known for embracing the rare groove sound, Will Holland adds a little Latin flavor to his latest project “Tropidelico”. The talented Quantic Soul Orchestra storm through an array of styles ranging from Psychedelic Soul, Hip Hop and Cumbia. The latter largely influenced by Will’s relocation to Colombia. In addition to the usual cast of great musicians is famed Peruvian pianist Alfredo Linares and UK drummer Malcolm Catto. Plus many others. The new sound shines bright on the track “Melidous Wayfarer” an energetic number filled heavy percussion and lively horns. Brooklyn born rapper J-Live assists on the funky “She Said What?”. Noelle Scaggs of The Rebirth does wonders on “Lead Us To The End”, arguably the hottest cut on the disc. “Tropidelico” is an exciting exploration into the sound of Colombia. Once again WillHolland taste in music pays dividends for the listener.
Zed Bias has released a number of projects under many different aliases, it’s hard to keep track of them all. So it’s nice to finally have a disc under his own name. “Experiments In Biasonics” has a little bit of every-thing from hip-hip, house and broken beat. There’s also a handful of guests that we’re all familiar with. “Smile Within” is a soulful blissful house track that features the lovely voice of Fyza. Known for their work together with Phuturistix, they recreate some of that magic here. “Secondary Power” is a high energy broken beat gem that features Pete Simpson & Jenna G. Mark De Clive Lowe contributes stellar synthesizer work on the equally heart pounding “Cottonmouth”. If I have one complaint it would be the annoying interludes of Zed Bias the Mad Scientist. I suppose that’s what the skip button is for. That being said, “Experiments In Biasonics” provides plenty of pulsating beats from beginning to end. An exciting journey into the world of one of the most talented producers on the scene today.
Back in the day there were so many funk bands that it would be impossible to mention all of them here. While some have faded away, very few have picked up the torch. Unknown to many however, Galactic has been jamming for quite a while now. Their fifth studio album contains their usual brand of high octane New Orleans funk. In addition, they have invited an eclectic assortment of some of today’s hottest mc’s. “Think Back” featuring Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 is some serious funky swamp music. The title track “From The CornerFrom The Block” is hip hop with plenty of gumbo mixed in, thanks to Juvenile and the Soul Rebels BrassBand. Ladybug Mecca also stops by to assist on the mid-tempo Tina Marie inspired “Square Biz”. All in all another great effort by Galactic. Perhaps maybe they will finally receive the recognition they rightfully deserve.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been six and a half years since “World Wide Underground”, Erykah Badu’s last release. Despite the gap, Ms Badu has been active working with the likes of Madlib and Sa Ra Creative Partners with their own projects. Both of whom are featured on New Amerikah along with Karriem Riggins, Questlove and 9th Wonder. Together they have created a vintage soul gem with spaced out elements sprinkled throughout to challenge the listener. This is the first of three scheduled releases. Each one released six months apart. On “The Healer”, a song about the power of hip hop (hip hop is bigger than religion/hip hop is bigger than the government). Erykah softly sings over a Madlib beat that is dark and hypnotic yet totally irresistable. On the Karriem Riggins produced “Soldier”, Erykah sings about a young boy growing up in a tough neighborhood who manages to rise above the negativity of his environment. Another standout track is the melodic “Telephone”. Produced by Questlove and James Poyser, this is a lovely mood track that was written for the late J Dilla that is simply one of the highlights of this exceptional record. A record that once again displays the creativity of Erykah Badu as well as showcasing some of the hottest hip hop producers in the game today. I will have your head examined if you don’t go purchase this.
The third release in a series of mixing compilations from the Jazzanova label. Dego of 4 Hero takes us on a musical journey with an assortment of funk, soul and hip-hop classics from the seventies to the present. Classics like Patrice Rushen’s “Message In The Music” fit nicely along side Georgia Anne Muldrow’s “Blackman”. Dego takes it back to the electronic synth era of the eighties with Two Sisters “High Noon”. He follows that up with a track he produced himself, Face’s “Act Like All Is Right”. Other highlights is the sound of Detroit that is sprinkled throughout this disc by the likes Dabrye, Wajeed and the late J Dilla. The one downside to this disc is that the total time of forty two minutes feels like a tease when it comes to the end. This is one minor quibble to an otherwise entertaining cd. A disc that manages to relive many moments in the evolution of black music.
VA- World’s Rarest 45’s compiled by Quantic
Will Holland, aka Quantic has been exploring the world of deep funk for some time now to critical acclaim. With this project he dusts off some obscure funk 45’s from back in the day to give them new life. There are a few moments that merit your attention. The disc starts off with “Clap Your Hands” by Reginald Milton and the Soul Jets. A deep funk track with heavy drums, a thumping rhythm guitar and nice horns to match, the youngsters on the vocals don’t do the song justice however. The vocals on “Baby Don’t Cry” by “The Third Guitar” are a lot better. Armed with a tight groove that could easily be placed on a James Brown record, this is easily one of the best cuts on the disc. This was also the track sampled by Large Professor for the Main Source classic “Looking At The Front Door”. The problem with this disc is that hardly any of the tracks stand out from the pack. I kept waiting for something to knock me off my feet and never found it. That being said, this is still a solid disc that should please fans of the rare groove sound. Quantic has done a nice job of assembling a collection of songs you would have a difficult time finding on your own. Certainly worth your time checking out.
Raheem DeVaughn - Love Behind The Melody
If anyone thought that Raheem DeVaughn would rest on the huge success of “The Love Experience” then they can all relax. “Love Behind The Melody” is a great disc that shows Raheem taking his game to another level. The man proves that his genuine love and affection for all women isn’t just a fleeting moment. Evidenced by the lead single “Woman”, he continues the theme that all women are to be appreciated. “Mo Better” is a soulful ballad that captures the essence of the genre that was routinely released generations ago when guys spoke from their hearts without shame. “Marathon” simmers with sensuality, thanks in part to the lovely voice of Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosius. The only misstep on this disc may be “Friday.”Sampling the Temptations “My Girl”, the track doesn’t measure up to the rest of the disc. One average track out of sixteen however is a percentage that anyone can live with. The self proclaimed rnb-hippie-neosoul-rock star is laying down the blueprint for quality soul music with a slight edge, yet never reaching the tipping point. All you other rnb singers need to take note. This man is setting a new standard in the game today. Don’t be the one to miss out on this exceptional record.
Jose James - The Dreamer
There are Jazz singers that come and go and then there are the ones whose voices swirl around in your head long after the song has finished. Like the way the taste of your favorite meal remains on your lips long after it’s gone. Upon one listen of “The Dreamer”, the debut by vocalist Jose James, you may also want to help yourself to seconds as well. Two years in the making, “The Dreamer” is a fantastic debut that will enchant you from start to finish. The disc opens with the title track, a lovely, dreamy (no pun intended) ballad that will send chills down your spine. “Blackeyedsusan” is a seductive gem that simmers at times and mildly intense in other moments. “Love” is a romantic offering that tweaks your emotional heart strings and resonates deep within your soul. I could go on about every track as each one is truly a delight. Instead I urge you to go listen to the most exciting new voice in jazz today. Kudos to Gilles Peterson for having the wisdom to sign him. Highly recommended.
I have known about Aaron Jerome strictly through dj’ing but on this disc he shows that his talents expand far beyond the turntables. He is a talented drummer, plays keyboards and strings as well. His BBE debut “Time To Rearrange” is a wonderful record. A collection of soul and dance fused together in a style reminiscent of 4Hero’s recent release “PlayWith The Changes”. For one thing there is the assortment of guest appearances, seven to be exact. In addition, Aaron’s skills as a producer and arranger shine throughout this disc. Particularly the string arrangements on “Kwa Kungasa feat.Simphiwe Dana” and “Reason To feat. Kathrin DeBoer”. Simphiwe Dana, from South Africa is a voice not familiar to most but her talent is evident here. The Terry Callier song “Dancing Girl” is properly remade thanks to Mozez, who sounds very much like Terry himself. Another artist not familiar to many is the rapper Voice. On the track “Reel Time” she displays her customary rhyming skills to drum n bass beat. “Time To Rearrange” is a record that doesn’t fit into any type of genre. However it is soulful, warm, lush and refreshing. It is uplifting and simply an enjoyable listen.
While Mark De Clive Lowe isn't known as a Jazz purist, he has proven to be a wizard on the keyboards and synthesizers. His latest project, "Journey To The Light", is a snapshot of the live Freesoul sessions he has performed over the last year or so. This project is a combination of cosmic Jazz improvisation and break beats. You may find yourself wanting to dance to this one minute or simply just enjoying the live instrumentation the next. One of those tracks that will make you move is "Voices Whisper". Bembe Segue's wonderful voice and scatting towards the end graces this track and the others as well. However, it is the work of Jason Yarde on Sax, Richard Spaven on drums and percussionist Sammy Figueroa that really move this disc. Jason Yarde's solo work is powerful and a real treat while Richard Spaven's drumming pushes everyone to greater heights. "Peace Be Central" offers more of the same. Mark's rhythmic piano playing has never sounded better and the energetic playing left plenty of space for the lyricism of Bembe Segue's scorching vocals. Mark and Bembe have been making beautiful music together for some time now. This is just another major achievement of the great music these two have collaborated on. This is not easy to find but certainly worth the effort. Recommended.
Domu Presents Pete Simpson - Look A Little Further
When you think of Dominic Stanton, aka Domu, you think of one of the hottest producers of dance music. Not to mention his roots in soulful drum n bass. His latest project "Look a Little Further" featuring the gospel flavored vocals of Pete Simpson may be his boldest move yet. The result is a wonderful collection of classic soul that incorporates some of synthesized sound that revolutionized soul music of the 80's. Domu does a masterful job on the production in that the music sounds vibrant and fresh. Pete Simpson has a voice cut from the mold of Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway. On the opening track "Don't Hide", his voice floats beautifully over this breezy up-tempo groove. The joyous "Won't Give Up" is a samba flavored gem that is simply marvelous. However, it's the title track "Look A Little Further" that takes this disc over the top. The song, inspired by Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, is full of pulsating beats while Simpson's vocals offer passion and optimism that better days lie ahead. Domu and Pete Simpson have delivered a disc that may propel them on to bigger projects. Clearly, this will make Pete Simpson a house hold name and well it should. This is a disc that celebrates life, hope and love. Music that is uplifting and timeless. Certainly the first great release of 2008.