Review: Joe Armon-Jones has been a driving force in the resurgence of contemporary jazz and now makes something of a victory lap with this new album on the always essential Brownswood. It's a very modern mix of bass and dub, du jour club culture and his own jazz styles featuring peers like Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Frankly, the whole record is silky, starry-eyed and sublime and the excellent artwork also hist at the cosmic subtleties of this album, but our picks of the bunch are the neo-soul, summery stroll through the park vibes of "Yellow Dandelion", "Gnawa Sweet" which glows with mellifluous Rhodes chords and the uncompromising yet accessible sax and big brass action of album highlight "You Didn't Care".
Review: African-American consciousness is the primary theme of this 10-track collection from Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, a 15-piece musical collective headed up by eponymous improvisational artist Damon Locks, who's based in the Windy City. Sampled Civil Rights-era speeches, Afro-gospel harmonies, heavy 909 kicks and found sounds all find their way into freeform jazz excursions, providing the primary ingredients for a musical stew that defies easy categorisation. If you're looking for soothing, lounge-y vibes you're in the wrong place, but if you like your music 'challenging' both rhythmically and intellectually, this is an album that's worth investigating.
Review: The latest volume in BBE's J Jazz Masterclass series is something of a stone-cold classic: then young Japanese pianist Makoto Terashita's 1983 album-length collaboration with legendary tenor saxophonist Harold Land. Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time that the sought-after set has been reissued since, making it something of a must-have for serious jazz fans. Both players are clearly audible throughout the LP, with the accompanying bassist and drummer generally kept low in the mix. It's an approach that pays dividends from start to finish, with highlights including the poignant and picturesque "Dear Friends", the epic dancefloor flex of "Dragon Dance" and the raucous, high-octane thrills of "Crossing".