Getatchew Mekurya is probably the most revered veteran of Ethiopian saxophone. A real giant, both physically and musically. Not only is he at the very top level of Ethiopian saxophonists, but he is the ‘inventor’ of an extremely distinctive musical ‘style.’
Alèmayèhu Eshèté is no less than one of the great voices of the heyday of modern Ethiopian music, the swinging sixties which, in this country, went on until the fall of the Emperor Haile Sellassie 1 in 1974. On a par with Tlahoun Gèssèssè, Bzunèsh Bèqèlè or Mahmoud Ahmed, Alèmayèhu is a star at the top level of the constellation that once lit up the wild nights in the capital.
Amateur Dramatics is Awkward Corners AKA Chris Menist’s second LP in the space of a year. In 2020 – a time when the global pandemic gave artists more time and space to think about their music – Chris took his collaborations and compositions to a different level. Having already collaborated remotely with Sarathy Korwar, as well as Kitty Whitelaw through Karthik from Flamingods’ Isolate/Create/Collaborate community, Chris turned his thoughts towards a new project. Amateur Dramatics is influenced by the events of early 2021 and alludes to the general atmosphere of political life in the UK right now where we are chivvied along by people who seem woefully unqualified to be commanding authority. Musically, the LP builds on foundations of the meditative, devotional electronic aspects of previous LP Dislocation Songs but this time frames it more in a jazz context with significant collaborations with Collocutor and Maisha’s Tamar Osborn on four tracks.Vocals (from Kitty Whitelaw) feature on an Awkward Corners track for the first time, as well as double bass provided by David Leahy.The result is a thoughtful and deep listening 40 minute listening experience.
Psycho Banda is the eighth release of Rue du Nord, a Lausanne-based ensemble active since the year 2000. Navigating between psychedelic rock, progressive free fanfare and trippy, repetitive electronic music, the piece extends over 30 minutes, focusing on the ensemble’s obsessive riffs and collective energy.
Strut presents the first full international release for another lost classic from the Black Fire Records archives, ‘Southern Energy’, the only album recorded by R’n’B and jazz collective Southern Energy Ensemble in 1977.
Research Records indicate their inclination for cosmic instrumentation and kraut pervaded polyrhythms once again with an introduction to newcomer Glass Beams. Recorded at the beginning of 2020, Mirage is the first release from the artist, issuing four compositions that lend from a profusion of sounds and influences.
Strut present the definitive edition of Sun Ra’s classic ‘Lanquidity’ album from 1978 with brand new 4LP box set and 2CD editions, featuring the widely distributed version of the album alongside alternative mixes by Bob Blank originally released in limited quantities for a 1978 Arkestra gig at Georgia Tech. Recorded overnight at Bob Bank’s Blank Tapes on 17th July 1978 after the Arkestra had appeared on Saturday Night Live, the album is unique in the Ra catalogue. “Most critics felt that it was more of a fusion-inspired record,” explains Michael Ray. “As the name suggests, the album is liquid and languid.” Bob Blank continues, “Musically, it was very ad hoc and freeform. There were horn charts but most tracks came out of improvised jams. Sun Ra just did his thing.” Comprising five effortlessly fluid pieces, the album eases in with Lanquidity. Danny Ray Thompson remembers, “This was one of Sun Ra’s on-the-spot compositions. It is almost like an Ancient Egyptian Stargazing Ceremony, mapping out the stars and the planets.” Where Pathways Meet is “Sun Ra’s funky version of an Egyptian march. Pharaoh is sending his troops off to fight and this is his pep-talk!” continues Thompson. “The music seems to take different pathways but still converges.” The loping groove of That’s How I Feel, features the reflective trumpet lines of Eddie Gale with solos by John Gilmore and Marshall Allen: “Marshall comes in with that snake charming oboe.” Says Thompson. The funky Twin Stars Of Thence weaves around Richard Williams celebrated elastic bassline while the haunting closer, There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of), is pure “space music.” The poet Mama Nzinga described it as ‘The essence of light. Spirit takes a ride inside the deep dark space of just being.”
Axis Records presents the latest release from the heterogeneous Raffaele Attanasio. The multifaceted Italian has delivered an eclectic sound over the years, from devious techno to melodious rhythmic beats. Attanasio delivers a jazz-tinged, angular, progressive and championing album by coalescing influential factors: a musician father, a multifarious palate in music, and prowess as a multi-instrumentalist. “Nuovo Futuro” is creating a new future by travelling to the past. Digging into the Zeitgeist of Naples post-second world war, Attanasio extrapolates the sound to present day, combining modern flair with an enriched sound. The influence of American blues and jazz is felt in his hometown, celebrating the lore of Neapolitan musicians through the track ‘Parlesia’. The history comes to life through these compositions, influenced by 70s spaghetti films and rich Italian exuberance. Ardour, lust and avidity ensnare the listener in ‘Indagini Sospette’. This album is a journey through the streets where he grew up, but also, encapsulates a wandering mind, meandering into the harmonious Mediterranean under the watchful eye of Mount Vesuvius. ‘Equilibrio Dinamico’ is a snapshot of the working mind of Attanasio, balancing the impromptu of jazz with a gentle caress of his honed craft. Melodies are soft, smooth, progressive and fulminating the constraints of contemporary music. It emanates a renaissance for a sound that Axis is espousing in their releases.
Wildflower, the project comprising Idris Rahman, Leon Brichard and Tom Skinner, continues its journey with the third release Better Times, setting ahead with a deep, relentless and unique sound, constantly evolving and effortlessly hitting the aim. The beauty of Blue, Yellow, Green and Red, recorded in London in 2019, lies in the openness to form and structure these tunes, whilst a sense of groove and melodic development is maintained throughout. The confidence and versatility of the musicians is key, and so is the interaction between them, characterising a natural flow of unfolding musical ideas and embracing a New York musically care-free ethic, without having to wear their combined influences on their sleeves. Each song has a colour reference suggestive of mood tone and internal balance, enabling the audience to concur that Wildflower is not just a band, it is as ever an experience and one that allows its listeners to emerge and engage in a time where a perfect fusion of global sounds and jazz exists as a remedy, one you can feel and enjoy the benefits from everyday. Better Times by Wildflower is the debut release on Tropic of Love Music.
First Word Records presents a brand new album from Kaidi Tatham. On ‘An Insight To All Minds’, Kaidi says it’s ”not about a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going. Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts… We are all going through it. We can all feel what the next person is feeling, believe it or not. It’s learning how to tap into it”. The album is comprised of an assortment of Kaidi’s unique flavours – uptempo jazz-funk bruk, laced with rhodes, flutes, live bass and delicious percussion. Using that blueprint he moves effortlessly through latin and samba, half-step, deep afro house and a sprinkle of curveballs, all presented in Kaidi’s inimitable way.
Have you ever wondered what King Crimson or Emerson, Lake & Palmer would have sounded like, had they originated from behind the Iron Curtain?
This may sound like the usual hype promoters write to draw attention, but click on the audio files from this album’s track-list and listen closely. “Amintiri din viitor” [Memories from the Future] will take you back to a time when progressive music was truly forward looking, experimental, and original. The band Experimental Q was formed in the early 1970s, by a group of music students from the Gheorghe Dima Conservatory, in Cluj (Romania). Eugen Tunaru (keyboards), Valentin Farcaș (guitar), Nicolae Bucaciuc (bass), and Nicolae Delioran (drums) were joined by Gheorghe Marcovici (flute), and this line-up recorded a series of songs and compositions for radio and TV, without ever releasing any album on Electrecord, the sole record company in Romania at that time.
Their music was mostly instrumental and featured titles that touched upon intergalactic, or art themes. The band members may have been music students, but while their education was classical, their inspiration drew from pop music’s avantgarde. Prog and jazz-rock fans might find influences and echoes of bands that were carving out new paths in the unexplored music jungle of the late 1960s and early 1970s: King Crimson, The Nice, Jethro Tull, ELP, VDGG. After a few listens, however, it will dawn upon the listener that this music was more than just an East European response to the Western hype of the day. Facing the prejudice of their professors, the skepticism of some of their peers, as well as the numerous material drawbacks and technological limitations, Experimental Q improvised not only musically. In the end, they made their own instruments and adapted what they could get their hands on, to create some of the most intriguing music made on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain.
“Amintiri din viitor” opens the first chapter in this still untold story of one of Romania’s best hidden music secrets. With the approval of and collaboration from the remaining band members, this project features restored and remastered audio, original artwork, as well as an in-depth essay about the band and its musical output in the socialist historical context, with exclusive photos and memorabilia.
This project is curated by Claudiu Oancea (artwork, liner notes), Adrian Matala (co-producer) and Remus Miron (restored, remastered audio and producer).
Far Out Recordings presents Mora!, and for the first time ever on vinyl Mora! II. Mexican-American percussionist and former member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Francisco Mora Catlett originally recorded and released his debut solo LP as a private press in 1987, but the sequel he recorded over the course of the next few years with an expanded Detroit jazz brass section was shelved for decades to follow. A pan-American melting pot of hypnotic afro-cuban rhythms, frenetic batucadas and fiery sambas, Mora I & II are holy grails of latin jazz, masterminded by an unsung hero of the genre.
Kumasi, New Orleans’ own 14-piece Afrobeat orchestra, is back with their third LP and first live record. After two private-press releases, Kumasi is presenting Live at Marigny Studios to an international audience for the first time via Hiatt dB’s New Orleans-based Mystery Zone Records. Live at Marigny Studios, features 4 original compositions: jazz-centric interpretations of Fela’s classic form that incorporate rhythms and sentiments from New Orleans and the surrounding Afro-diaspora, namely Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil. It’s a bold effort that perfectly captures the infectious mix of heavy rhythms, spontaneous, improvisatory musicianship, and inclusive, participatory style that characterize Kumasi as a group, as well as Afrobeat as a whole.
By the late 1960s, drummer Roy Porter had already worked with some of jazz’s true greats (Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie included), spent time in prison and weened himself off heavy drugs. It was at this point that he founded Roy Porter Sound Machine, a heavyweight jazz-funk combo with a penchant for raw rhythm and blues. The band’s 1971 debut LP, Jessica, is one of the most magnificent sets in his vast discography. Featuring sweaty, floor-ready rhythms from Porter, beefy bass, wild electric piano licks, fuzzy guitars and some fine brass arrangements, the album is as good a collection of jazz-funk/funk fusion tracks as you’re ever likely to hear.
A new 6-track mini album from a musician with a long list of credits including South African trumpet legend Hugh Masekela, afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen and Ethiopian jazz originator Mulatu Astatke as well as many Brit-jazz and other international roots artists. “It’s Time” blends Afro-jazz groove, free improv, spoken poetry and other-worldly atmosphere, with lyrics and titles hinting at unorthodox takes on reality and the times we live in.
Wamono A to Z Vol. II: Japanese Funk 1970-1977, selected by DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite & Chintam. Following the highly acclaimed Volume I, dig further into the Wamono sound – the cream of the Japanese jazz, funk, soul, rare groove and disco music developed throughout the years since the end of the sixties in Japan. Fully licensed Nippon Columbia and Victor Japan masters available for the first time outside of Japan, featuring rarities from Jiro Inagaki & Soul Media, Hiroshi Sato, Bread & Butter, Hatsumi Shibata, Fujio Tokita and more.
Official replica re-issue of a South African jazz-funk rarity from Teaspoon & The Waves. Released in 1977 on Soul Jazz Pop, a subsidiary label of Mavuthela Music Company / Gallo, Teaspoon & The Waves’ self-titled album is an absolute masterpiece. Best known for the song ‘Oh Yeh Soweto’, which is an astonishing adaptation of Lamont Dozier’s anthem ‘Going Back to My Roots’, this track has become a contemporary underground club classic in recent times and has been featured in sets from a cross-section of DJs. ‘Saturday Express’ is a jazz-funk/disco stomper which will soon be lighting up dancefloors again. ‘Wind and Fire’ is true afro-jazz-funk excellence, with great spacey synths and reggae-inspired guitar grooves riding throughout. The opener, ‘Friday Night’, also has a slightly reggae-tinged tropical groove, whilst ‘Got Me Tight’ finishes off the session with a feel-good jazz-funk workout that features cool, quirky, Patrick Adams-esque synths.
Strut continue their in-depth archive reissues from the Black Fire label with a definitive edition of JuJu’s ‘Live At 131 Prince Street’, recorded in 1973 at Ornette Coleman’s gallery in New York. After forming in San Francisco while working on the Marvin X theatre piece ‘The Resurrection of the Dead’, JuJu began to hone their uncompromising fusion of Afro-Latin rhythms with free and spiritual jazz before signing to Strata-East for the ‘A Message From Mozambique’ album in 1972.
Lancaster had initially cut his musical teeth with the avant-garde on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1960s and in Paris during the ‘70s but, throughout his career, his path was built around community engagement, positivity and “the Philly jazz sound, Germantown style.” He became an ambassador for the music of the City Of Brotherly Love, starting his own Dogtown label, helping launch the Philly Jazz imprint and campaigning tirelessly to improve the circumstances of the city’s street musicians. Lancaster’s sessions for Black Fire were planned following a gig at Caverns Jazz Club in Washington DC. “Jimmy Gray of Black Fire and I originally met during the ‘riotous blisters’ of the late Sixties there,” explained Lancaster. “We became the best of friends.” Backed by a band of Philly musicians including percussionist Keno Speller and Baba Robert Crowder (drummer for Olatunji and Art Blakey), the album also featured the Drummers From Ibadan led by Tunde Kuboye, another influential figure dedicated to community jazz with whom Lancaster had bonded while teaching in Lagos. The result was a free-flowing set of spirituality and positivity, built around full band groove workouts, solo pieces and heavy African roots. “We had big fun documenting this music,” remembered Lancaster. The message of the album remains as relevant today as ever, “I dedicate this album to all African Americans in the USA. To the youth, I ask ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?’”
A transcendental journey that takes in meditative musical mantras, sprawling tenor sax improvisation and mesmeric percussion, the new album by Work Money Death, titled ”The Space In Which The Uncontrollable Unknown Resides Can Be The Place From Which Creation Arises”. Originally conceived as a large scale group performance of a single extended piece the album was written by Tony Burkill and bassist Neil Innes through a series of extended improvisations similar to the extended meditation sessions that both musicians practice. These sessions enabled a state of flow through which Tony’s compositional approach to improvisation yielded meaningful melodic fragments that would be returned to and developed in a way similar to someone returning to the mantra. Also featuring on the record are drummer Sam Hobbs, pianist Adam Fairhall percussionist Pete Williams.