Review: Klaus Waldeck is well aware that his most commercially successful album, 2007's 1920s and '30s-influenced "Ballroom Stories", played a role in defining the electro-swing sound. While he's spent the 11 years since trying to shake off these shackles, his latest album, "Atlantic Ballroom", is at least in part a sequel of sorts. There's little actual electro-swing, though many of his influences - blues, classic jazz, tango, Dave Brubeck, Henry Mancini, John Barry and Lalo Schifrin amongst there - are apparent in this album, peppered with vintage downtempo grooves and smoky Viennese electronics. The results are by and large hugely enjoyable, with the presence of some of the producer's most trusted vocalists and collaborators giving the whole thing a joyful, celebratory feel.
Review: With a title that translates as "soul creole", it's perhaps unsurprising to find that David Walters' new album is a warm, woozy and tropical-tinged delight. It was produced by Favorite Recordings in house producer Bruno "Patchworks" Hovart, and you can hear his hand in the warm, authentic and vintage blend of African, South American, Caribbean rhythms and instrumentation. Walters says he was inspired by the melting pot that was New York at the turn of the 80s, too, and that's evident throughout. Add it all up and you have an eclectric, retro-futurist treat held together by the dual appeal of Hovart's production and Walters' fantastic multi-lingual vocals.
Review: There's a growing feeling both inside and outside jazz that Kamasi Washington could well turn out to be one of the style's all-time greats. He's certainly making all the right moves, delivering thought-provoking concept albums of eyebrow-raising length that simply refuse to settle on one sound, rhythm, style or sub-genre. Heaven & Earth, his first album for almost three years, continues this trend, comprising angry instrumental answers to America's growing issues with class division and racism, Rotary Connection style workouts, Sun Ra-esque spiritual workouts, funk and soul-influenced burners, spiraling choral and orchestral affairs, and electric fusions of rubbery synth-funk and mind-altering jazz-blues. Typically, the results are never less than sublime, with Washington's virtuoso saxophone playing taking centre stage throughout.
Review: Norwegian jazz pianist and composer Bugge Wesseltoft rose to prominence in the late 1990s on the back of a string of records that joined the dots between jazz, techno and hip-hop. Since then he's collaborated with many electronic producers - Laurent Garnier and Henrik Schwarz included - so it's little surprise to see him joining forces with Scandolearic hero Prins Thomas. The eponymous set was recorded at Oslo's legendary Rainbow Studio, where the pair improvised for a couple of days before editing down the results. There's much to admire, from the spaced-out brushed percussion and sorrowful piano of "Sin Tempo", liquid ambient vibes of "Norte Do Brasil" and wonky kraut-jazz bubbler "Bar Asfalt", to the slowly building brilliance of 16-minute opener "Furuberget". File under "ambient jazz".
Review: Kamaal Williams has described The Return, his debut solo album, as "a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project". Yet while that was made in collaboration with drummer Yussef Kamaal and played around with jazz in its myriad forms, The Return sees the man sometimes known as Henry Wu stamp his own mark on proceedings. So while "visionary jazz" (as the press release puts it) is his aim, this manifests itself in a range of ways. Contrast, for example, the leisurely jazz-funk flex and stoned feel of opener "Salaam" with the more groove-driven, dancefloor vibes of "High Roller", where sinewy strings tumble down over hip-hop influenced live house beats, meandering Herbie Hancock style synths and a superb bassline.
Review: After building a career as ambient, electronica, dubstep and glitch-hop fusionist Slime, Will Archer reset his career in 2017 and re-emerged as Wilma Archer with a new jazz-flecked sound. On debut album "A Western Circular", he goes one step further, delivering a set four years in the making that's undoubtedly his most ambitious and impressive work yet. Mixing and matching elements of jazz, neo-classical, softly-spun pop, folk, hip-hop (MF Doom makes a surprise appearance), Jon Hassell style 'fourth world' fusion, slow burn soul and opaque electronica, Archer offers up a collection of songs and instrumentals united by a shared sense of late night atmosphere and intricate musical detail. It's a staggeringly good set that should be at the top of your shopping list.