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: One of this year's Mercury Prize nominees, Wisdom Of Elders sees London saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings hitting a new ambitious high as he recorded the whole body of work with a troupe of South African musicians led by Mandla Mlangeni in one single day. Aptly described as afro-futurism, the collective melt down nuances of jazz, psychedelia and traditional South African music to paint a unique picture that's delightfully frenzied yet soulfully smooth all at once. From the big Rhodes washes and vocal textures of "The Observer" to the dramatic percussive tumbles and lonely trumpet of "The Observed" by way of epic multi-suite adventures such as "The Sea" and the incendiary opener "Mzwandile", Wisdom Of Elders lives up to its name with a spirit that's at once both future and timeless.
Shabaka Hutchings - "Black Skin, Black Masks" (6:59)
Triforce - "Walls" (5:07)
Joe Armon-Jones - "Go See" (7:38)
Kokoroko - "Abusey Junction" (7:03)
Review: We Out Here, Brownswood Recordings' latest compilation, was born out of a desire by label boss Gilles Peterson to capture the essence of London's contemporary jazz scene. To ensure a sense of there "here and now", Peterson invited some of the city's brightest young bands and musicians into the studio in August 2017, recording the results over three action-packed days. The resulting never-heard-before tracks are, for the most part, joyous and thrilling, and range from trad jazz, jazz-funk and Latin jazz to acoustic-electronic fusions and groovy, guitar-laden downtempo explorations. It feels like a glimpse of a scene on the rise, and we wouldn't be surprised if many of those involved become modern British jazz greats in the years to come.
Review: There have been plenty of column inches devoted to this collaborative debut album from hyped producer Kamaal Williams (AKA Rhythm Section International sort Henry Wu), and fast-rising Afrobeat drummer Yussef Dayes. With such raw talent to choose from, it's little surprise to find that Black Focus is as good as the critics claim. Their sound is distinctive: a London-centric take on jazz-funk that's loose, rich, organic and shot through with soul. Their major influences seem to be the work of West London broken beat pioneer Kaidi Tatham, and his inspiration, jazz-funk legend Herbie Hancock. These touchstones, combined with Dayes' brilliant drumming and Williams' superb synth solos and jammed-out Rhodes lines, makes Black Focus a hugely alluring set.
Review: Brownswood Recordings has high hopes for this debut album from the previously unheralded Yussef Kamaal, which brings together hyped producer Kamaal Williams (AKA Henry Wu) and fast-rising Afrobeat drummer Yussef Dayes. With such talent to draw on, you'd expect Black Focus to be rather good. Happily, it is, with the duo delivering a typically London-centric take on jazz funk. That means that they take as much inspiration from the work of Kaidi Tatham as, say, Herbie Hancock. The key to the album's success - and, yes, it is generally as special as Gilles Peterson suggests - is the fluid combination of Dayes' brilliant drumming and Williams' superb synth solos and effortlessly groovy Rhodes playing.