Review: A warm welcome back to Jaga Jazzist, who finally return with a fresh album (this time on Flying Lotus's Brainfeeder imprint) after five long years away. As usual, the instrumental sounds offered-up by the long-serving Norwegian nine-piece are thrillingly hard to pigeonhole, blending the fuzziness of post-rock and the hallucinatory visions of psychedelic rock with elements of jazz and a myriad of influences from around the world. Check for example epic opener "Tomita", where warming spiritual jazz horns, Pat Metheny style vocalizations and glistening guitar motifs rise above a constantly changing space-rock groove, or the undulating, unfurling beauty of "Spiral Era", whose inherent dreaminess and musical intricacy is almost breath-taking.
I Need Your Love (feat Ledisi & Christian Scott ATunde Adjuah)
You Know What It Do
Feels So Good (feat Cecily)
Turn Me Up (feat Aloe Blacc)
Just The Way You Are
Baby Don't Cry (feat J Hoard)
Nobody Knows My Name (feat Laura Mvula & Kris Bowers)
Take Me Home (feat Lizz Wright)
I Found A Love (feat Taali)
Miss Me When I'm Gone (feat Marcus Machado)
Oracle (feat Erik Truffaz & Hindi Zahra)
Review: Astonishingly, eight years have passed since NYC soul man Jose James released the brilliant "No Beginning No End" album on Blue Note. He's released plenty of other impressive sets since, though few quite as effervescent and sonically perfect. This belated sequel is therefore hotly anticipated. Happily we can report that it's superb, with James offering up a suite of super-strong soul songs that variously join the dots between neo-soul, summery sing-alongs (see the catchy "You Know What It Do"), jazz-funk, flash-fired hip-hop-soul, slow jams and the kind of slick but bustling soul-jazz gems that he's always done so well. It's still only March, but we have no doubt this will be one of the soul albums of the year.
Review: Leifur James' 2018 debut album, "A Louder Silence", was that most rare of musical gems: a hugely entertaining album of eclectic, off-kilter experiments rooted in both jazz and atmospheric electronica. "Angel In Disguise", his long-promised follow-up, takes a similar approach, layering his own intricate piano playing and occasional vocals over skittish, off-kilter beats, droning electronics, ghostly ambient tones, Nathan Fake style fuzz-fuelled melodies and occasional up-tempo, almost club-ready beats. The obvious comparison is James Blake circa his 2011 debut album, but that doesn't really do justice to the boldness and inventiveness of James' compositions. The best advice we can give is to listen to the clips: we'd be surprised if you were disappointed.
Review: Mitchel Van Dither has been synonymous with the Kindred Spirits label up until now, an imprint that we have just so much time and respect for. He has, however, been branching out as of late, and his adventures have landed him a spot on Flying Lotus' mighty Brainfeeder. Two EP's containing tunes from Fool have already been released on the label, but the album format expresses their depth much more clearly, and with more freedom. Objectively, Fool is Brainfeeder through and through, a little work of art to fit in perfectly with the rest of this ever-surprising and always on-point catalogue. Recommended.
When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can (Complete take)
Review: In 1969, Bootsy Collins and his band were asked to record a demo for James Brown, who was looking for a new backing combo. As history proves, the recording they provided met with the Godfather of Soul's approval and the J.B's were born. This essential CD from Now-Again Records presents that demo recording, "Don't Mess On My Thing", for the first time. It's as heavy and energetic as you'd expect, though if anything the two accompanying unreleased tracks are even better. There's the deeper, jazzier warmth of "The Wedge" - all glistening guitar solos, low-slung grooves and fluid electric piano solos - and the complete take of "When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can", a 22-minute, jammed-out medley of two songs that's little less than incredible.
Review: The new Spacetalk label gets off to a flying start thanks to this compilation by French house shotter, Jeremy Underground. We know him, and you surely know him, though his My Love Is Underground label, an imprint that has produced some of the best deep house in the last five years. He's not in house mode today, though, and instead the DJ shows us his soul roots. Ron Rinaldi's opener "Mexican Summer" is a real peach of a song, then there's some Brazilian disco-funk through Leila Pinheiro's "Tudo Em Cima", and the supremely deep and sensual "Superstar" by NCCU. Other favourites include Maureen Bailey's bittersweet anthem "Takin' My Time With You", and June Evans' "Hardly Need To Say", a tune that we could just leave on repeat. A highly recommended comp!
Review: Durand Jones & The Indications earned lavish praise for their eponymous 2016 debut album, with critics comparing it favourably to conscious soul sets of the 1970s from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. This belated follow up is, if anything, even better, with the group's core offering - tight instrumentation and super-smooth vocals from the hugely talented Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer - being complemented by silky string arrangements, warm brass and lyrics that flit between social commentary and glassy-eyed, loved-up bliss. Highlights include "Morning In America" - a kind of 2019 update to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" - the super-sweet vocal harmonies of "Don't You Know" and "Long Way Home", a lilting look at homesickness blessed with the twin attractions of swooping strings and a killer bassline.
Review: Anthony Joseph is a poet, novelist, musician and lecturer described as 'the leader of the black avant-garde in Britain'. For his latest outing, he presents an album that had long lurked inside his mind. He formed a band in Trinidad's capital, Port of Spain (the aptly named Caribbean Roots) and they began recording - soaking up the intense effervescence of the local music - past and present. They locked themselves in a house that they converted into a studio in the earlier part of 2017, where among them were practitioners of the steelpan, soca and rapso right, alongside lovers of more contemporary R&B, soul and rock flavours. The steelpan's metallic overtones are the album's guiding musical thread throughout, helping to highlight Joseph's political lyrics, social commentary and conscience of black identity. The grooves are strong and they bring both the players and listeners together in a collective trance. People Of The Sun is sure to push Trinidadian music to new listeners, far beyond its sandy shores.
Review: The best editions of the long running "Back To Mine" series tend to be those where the chosen selector offers up a varied but loosely linked mix of surprising and lesser-known tunes. On their edition, Mercury Prize nominated duo Jungle has done just that. Beginning with the bluesy late night lament of Barbara Moore's "Steam Heart", the pair takes us on a warming and eye-opening journey through Afrobeat (Inflo), glassy-eyed wind-down deep house (Manuel Darquart, Admin's brilliant "Space Cadet"), skewed pop (Mocky), string-laden jazz-funk (Kamaal Williams), Serge Gainsbourg-esque chanson (Sam Evian), drowsy Balearica (Mansur Brown), and loved-up 1960s style dream pop (The Flying Stars Of Brooklyn NY, HNNY).
The Jazz Committee For Latin American Affairs - "Ismaaa"
Armand Lemal - "Souffle" (part 2)
Masabumi Kikuchi - "Pumu #1"
Joe Malinga & Southern African Force - "ITwenty Five"
Review: IF-Music record store chief Jean-Claude has quickly become one of BBE's go-to men when it comes to putting together compilations of obscure jazz gems. This eight-track selection of gems sourced from "the four corners of the globe" was curated in cahoots with fellow record dealer Victor Kiswell and follows hot on the heels of two volumes of the "A Journey Into Deep Jazz" series. There's much to admire, from the piano-powered springtime sweetness of Joe Malinga and Southern African Force's "ITwenty Five", the slowly building spiritual jazz-funk of Kafe's "Fonetik a Velo", to the bongo and organ-rich deepness of Armand Lemal's "Souffle".