Climbing Up My Own Life Until I Die (feat Rob Auton)
Derashe (feat Mulatu Astatke)
Review: Famed for their New Orleans style brass band covers - most notably a riotous Prodigy medley and tasty takes on Toto's "Africa" and Blackstreet's "No Diggidy" - the Hackney Colliery Band has decided to do things differently on their latest full-length excursion. As the title suggests, "Collaborations Volume 1" sees them join forces with a dizzying array of artists from the worlds of jazz, soul, funk, Afrobeat and hip-hop. The results are uniformly excellent, with highlights including the Afro-gospel brilliance of Angelique Kidjo and Roundhouse Choir hook-up "Mm Mm", the sunrise Afro-jazz breeze of Netsanet (featuring Mulatu Astatke), and the urgent stomp of percussion-laden workout "Crushing Lactic" with Tom Rogerson.
Review: Available on CD for the first time outside Japan, these eight tracks come from the Kyle Hall archives, all recorded by the young producer before the turn of the decade, and is presented as a homage to where Kyle lived at the time in his father's basement on the west side of Detroit on Joy Rd. From the outset, Hall's second album is loose, melodious, heady and synthesizer-heavy, with broken beats and wild, experimental rhythms combining effortlessly with jazz, jazz-funk, boogie, soul, Herbie Hancock and '80s electro influences. It makes for thrilling and hugely enjoyable listening and offers proof of Hall's musicianship and ability to repackage a wide range of influences.
Review: Since he released his first album 11 years ago, bandleader, trumpeter and composer Matthew Halsall has proved to be one of British jazz's standout talents. In recent years he's delved into soul-jazz and big band jazz territory, so it's intriguing to find that "Oneness" is a much more spiritual, pared-down and minimalistic affair. Using a mixture of droning Indian instrumentation, languid and leisurely harp motifs, selective horn solos, melancholic trumpet lines and occasional traditional jazz instrumentation, Halsall has conjured up a series of meditative pieces that count among his most beguiling works to date. It may surprise a few listeners, but many more will find it enchanting, otherworldly and emotion-rich.
Review: We've now come accustomed to sometimes unlikely cross-cultural musical fusions, though this album is the first we've come across that takes North African Gnawa music - one of the oldest Moroccan cultural traditions, fact fans - and fuses it with 21st century electronics and dancefloor-centric rhythms. It features vocals and traditional instrumentation from a renowned master of Gnawa, Rabii Harnoune, blended with the infectious grooves, contemporary synthesiser sounds and bass-weight of VB Kuhl, a Frankfurt-based producer whose roots are in off-kilter hip-hop. It's perhaps an unlikely pairing, but the results are simply superb. Don't take our word for it though - check it out for yourself. We'd be surprised if you weren't impressed.
Review: South London pianist and composer Ashley Henry is a versatile musician who can move between all niches within his musical realm: hip hop, broken beat, jazz and fusion flows from his finger tips and all characterise his expansive and expressive new album "Beautiful Vinyl Hunter". Stellar collaborators Makaya McCraven, Judi Jackson and MC Sparkz amongst others all help enrich this album as it flows from post-bop to classic jazz to neo-soul in thrilling fashion. Rooted in tradition but with a distinctly London edge that soars to new heights, this record sets a new benchmark for the contemporary scene.