Review: Amadou et Mariam is a Malian duo made up of Mariam Doumbia (vocals) and Amadou Bagayoko (guitar and vocals). They are a couple and both are blind musicians who met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind. They came together through a shared love of music and have put out no fewer than 15 albums. 'Baara' from 2009 on Sacred Rhythm proved one of their biggest hits and now fetches high sums on Discogs. This reissue is a welcome one featuring the title track - a joyous mix of live afro drumming, vocal chants and freewheeling melodies, and the touching 'Ja Pense A Toi,' with its pained male leads, desert blues and aching guitar solos. Lovely stuff.
Review: Second time around for Banda Achilifunk and Original Jazz Orquestra's sought-after 2011 cover of disco classic "I Believe in Miracles", original copies of which now change hands for serious sums online. The expansive Spanish crew's baggy, sun-kissed and rumba-soaked Latin disco cover of the Jackson Sisters' classic is perfectly pitched, adding layers of crunchy Clavinets and punchy horns to a sumptuously summery groove. Over on the flip we get two different takes on McFadden & Whitehead classic "Ain't No Stopping Us Now": a decidedly Balearic Spanish language cover ("No Nos Pararas"), and an instrumental cover full to bursting with superb grooves and even more scintillating horn solos.
Review: Funk Night Records continues to offer up new slabs of fabulously fuzzy funk from The Blassics, a nine-piece outfit from Finland that has been operative for the best part of a decade. Remarkably, this is the band's fifth single this year. On the A-side you'll find the "Slofat Version" of their tribute to the polyrhythmic percussion, raw bass and dancing horns of Afro-funk, which is aptly named 'Afro Cookie'. It's a chunky musical biscuit that looks set to energise dancefloors with its sugary delights every time it's dropped. Despite its title, flipside 'Psych Afro Funk' is not that psychedelic; it is, though a rather fine and pleasingly laidback ramble through the more relaxed end of the Afro-funk spectrum.
Review: This is a perfectly obscure record of lush Brazilian jazz that can be either a perfect entry point into this sound or yet another fine piece for the collection of veterans. It is the first ever record of Jaime Alem and Nair De Candia, both of whom sing on it, and has a super cool jazzy feel, with high class and luxurious stings, Latin percussive patterns and a steamy warm atmosphere. Reminiscent of all your favourites but also with a style that is uniquely theirs, this is a cult classic packed with gems like 'A Bica De Chororo' and 'Olhos Para Sao Paulo'.
Review: Innovative multi-percussionist Kahil El'Zabar has put together a superb full length here. Composed, arranged and conducted by the man himself, it's a powerful listen that conveys the turbulent state of the United States in 2020. It's not all bleak, with a certain sense of hope managing to shine through fantastic turns by the late Hamiet Bluiett, as well as Corey Wilkes, Tomeka Reid & the James Sanders String Qt. The jazz here is spiritual, melodic and improvised with a mix of urgency and drama and love and hope all going to the fore throughout. This is an essential listen for all jazz fans, old and new.