Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids – Shaman! [STRUT214LP]

IDRIS ACKAMOOR/THE PYRAMIDS - Shaman!

Influential jazz collective Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids return with an epic new opus, ‘Shaman!’, featuring a fresh line-up including original 1970s Pyramids member Dr. Margaux Simmons on flute, Bobby Cobb on guitar, long-term associate Sandra Poindexter on violin, Ruben Ramos on bass, Gioele Pagliaccia on drums and Jack Yglesias on percussion. The band transitions from the political and social commentaries of 2018’s acclaimed ‘An Angel Fell’ into more introspective themes. “I wanted to use this album to touch on some of the issues that we all f ace as individuals in the inner space of our souls and our conscience,” explains Ackamoor. “The album unfolds over four Acts with personal musical statements about love and loss, mort ality, the afterlife, family and salvation.” Evolving around Ackamoor’s intricate compositions, the album takes us effortlessly across moods and emotions through a series of expansive, extended pieces. Starting with ritual, soul-searching, and masculine vulnerability on the title track, the band explores timeless existence on ‘Eternity’ and mourns the sudden loss of loved ones in the prescient ‘When Will I See You Again?’, a track which gains new relevance amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. Ackamoor pays tribute to his mentor Cecil Taylor on the angular ‘Theme For Cecil’ and renders homage to the ancestors on ‘Salvation’ and ‘The Last Slave Ship’, recalling the last ship to bring slaves to the US from Africa, the Clotilda. The superb ‘Virgin’ is an anthem of forgiveness, new beginnings and self-healing.

vinyl / CD

Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids – Shaman! [STRUT214LP]

Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Roy Ayers – Roy Ayers [JID002LP]

YOUNGE, Adrian/ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD/ROY AYERS - Jazz Is Dead 2

In February 2018, Roy Ayers performed four sold out shows in Los Angeles as part of the Jazz Is Dead Black History Month series. It wasn’t until 2020 that fans of Ayers discovered that in addition to those shows, the legendary vibraphone player had also recorded an entire album of new material with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Over the course of its eight original compositions, written collaboratively by Younge, Shaheed Muhammad & Ayers and recorded at Younge’s Linear Labs in Los Angeles, the resulting album sounds both like an unearthed an unreleased album from Ayers’ classic period in the 1970s (which produced the oft-sampled “Red, Black & Green,” “We Live In Brooklyn, Baby,” “Everybody Loves The Sunshine,” and “Running Away), as well as something startling, new and unexpected. Joining Ayers, Younge & Shaheed Muhammad onthis musical journey are drummer Greg Paul, vocalists Loren Oden, Joy Gilliam, Saudia Yasmein, Elgin Clark & Anitra Castleberry, as well as Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison of the legendary Spiritual Jazz label Tribe Records. The 8 tracks on this album testify to the love not only of a legendary musician’s legacy, but to the vitality & necessity of this music and these sounds in the present era, a thread that will likely run throughout all of the upcoming releases from Jazz Is Dead Records.

vinyl / CD

Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Roy Ayers – Roy Ayers [JID002LP]

Oneness of Juju – African Rhythms (1970-1982) [STRUT233LP]

ONENESS OF JUJU/VARIOUS - African Rhythms 1970-1982

Strut kick off a brand new deal with the seminal independent black jazz and soul label Black Fire in May with ‘African Rhythms 1970-1982’, a comprehensive 2CD / 3LP compilation of Oneness Of Juju, led by Plunky J. Branch. Tracing their career from the band’s earliest work in 1970 with South African exiled jazzman Ndikho Xaba in San Francisco, the compilation covers the band’s journey to New York’s loft jazz scene, forming Juju and releasing two landmark albums of hard-hitting percussive jazz on Strata-East. “I saw myself as a cultural warrior,” explains Plunky. “We studied about Africa and tried to infuse our music with an African spirit.” Moving back to his hometown of Richmond, Virginia during the mid-’70s, Plunky drew in a superb new group of musicians and vocalists and created the band’s new incarnation, Oneness Of Juju, retaining the African influence but fusing his sound with funk and R’n’B on the classic ‘African Rhythms’ album. “We realised that, if we put a backbeat to the Afro-Cuban rhythms, people in Richmond and Washington D.C. could be drawn into it; it didn’t change anything about our message.” The change would lead to a series of enduring soul-jazz classics on Jimmy Gray’s Black Fire label, including ‘River Luv Rite’, ‘Plastic’ and ‘Don’t Give Up’ and their biggest crossover international hit, ‘Every Way But Loose’ in 1982, later famously remixed by Larry Levan. The band received renewed interest in their music during the mid-’80s as Washington D.C.’s go-go innovators cited the band as a major influence and rare groove DJs revived their albums for London dancefloors.

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Oneness of Juju – African Rhythms (1970-1982) [STRUT233LP]

Massimo Guanti – Diapositive [LON002LP]

Beside the telluric year in pop music and culture, 1977 was still ranked as the future for Italian leftfield composers. Published by Roman imprint Gemelli and credited to the elusive Massimo Guantini (none else than influential jazz player and composer Sandro Brugnolini), Diapositive is a fully cinematic journey in the realm of sci-fi and cool jazz. Fully produced at famous roman Emmequattro Studios (home of many fascinating recordings by piano player Enrico Pieranunzi) the album is deeply rooted in the coolness of italian libraries, showing up such an incredible music craftsmanship. Fully adorned by a vibrant rhythm section, an acoustic piano, a clavinet, a Fender Rhodes and a proper ‘acid jazz’ guitar-playing, this album will lift your mind and soul for good.

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Massimo Guanti – Diapositive [LON002LP]

SimfOnyx – Magenta Skyline / The Unresolved [APDLT015]

Delights label is getting back on its way-out tracks with a new 45. Two cinematic funk cuts, recorded shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown by Markey Funk and Shuzin under a new moniker – SimfOnyx: slow and haunting “Magenta Skyline” on the A-side, backed by heavy uptempo slasher chase theme “The Unresolved” on the flip.

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SimfOnyx – Magenta Skyline / The Unresolved [APDLT015]

Ghost Horse – Trojan [MRI107]

Sprouting from a rich humus of Latin and African polyrhythms, Ghost Horse creates a fusion of free jazz, hip hop, blues & loop music. The result is fascinating but quietly menacing, pulsing & breathing with the visceral force of nature reclaiming abandoned structures.

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Ghost Horse – Trojan [MRI107]

VA – Pyramid Pieces 1: Modal & Eco Jazz From Australia 1969-1979 [PYR01]

Borrowing its title from an infamous Australian jazz composition, Pyramid Pieces is a long overdue compilation which documents a period of Australian modern jazz that flourished during the late 1960s and 70s. A brief yet vital survey which examines an isolated yet thriving vibrant scene that was largely unheard outside of its own country. Whilst many local musicians found success abroad in the UK or the USA, those that remained found limited support for jazz from the commercially-minded mainstream music industry, thus an empowered independent movement was born, represented by labels such as Jazznote and Horst Liepolt’s 44 Records. This compilation is a showcase of this period and the various forms of modern jazz indicative of the scene, from modal and deep spiritual jazz through to avant-jazz film soundtracks and the unique sub-genre ‘Eco Jazz’ (a distinctive style which drew vivid inspiration from Australia’s natural environment). Featuring essential tracks from celebrated Australian jazz icons such as John Sangster and Alan Lee, the collection also asserts the importance of other often overlooked groups including Jazz Co/op and The Brian Brown Quintet amongst others. Pyramid Pieces is the first entry in a new series that will explore the largely unheard yet incredible sound of Australian modernist Jazz.

listen1 / listen2

 

VA – Pyramid Pieces 1: Modal & Eco Jazz From Australia 1969-1979 [PYR01]

VA – Early Works: Funk, Soul & Afro Rarities from the Archives [ATA019]

ATA Records announces the release of Early Works: Funk, Soul & Afro Rarities From The Archive, a compilation of tracks that were recorded at the very outset of the label and haven’t been available since the initial limited run (Released as Funk, Soul & Afro Rarities: An Introduction To ATA Records on Here and Now Recordings) sold out 5 years ago. The compilation features 12 tracks that include the very first 3 tracks from The Sorcerers that led to their self-titled debut LP & the first proper release on ATA, as well as the first recordings by The Mandatory Eight and The Yorkshire Film and Television Orchestra.

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VA – Early Works: Funk, Soul & Afro Rarities from the Archives [ATA019]

Project X – Project X [BLACKLP006]

A non-partisan group primarily operational in the late 20th Century. Their only confirmed action was creating and compiling previously unreleased music to highlight various events of the time. Although there continue to be persistent rumors of technological inventions and other creative diversions, no evidence exists to support these ideas. The plans outlined in the half completed and frankly garbled manifesto was to distribute the music and text to several sources simultaneously in the hope of sharing the stories of the various situations that best needed attention. Most contacted media outlets initially postponed the release saying the information could interfere with ongoing operations and that disclosure might have minor effects on their prime narrative. Whilst the music survives, the text has been scrambled beyond recognition. The names of the situations, locations and characters have been changed but the story remains the same.

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Project X – Project X [BLACKLP006]

Malcolm Strachan – About Time [HRLP004]

Scottish trumpeter Malcolm Strachan is a founder member of top UK funk/jazz-funk band The Haggis Horns as well as being one of the busiest session musicians in the UK today. After a professional career spanning 20 years, now he’s finally releasing his first solo album, aptly titled “About Time”, on Haggis Records and he’s going back to his original roots… Jazz. The album is a collection of original compositions, all written and arranged by Malcolm, which are firmly rooted in the classic acoustic modern jazz style typified by the great 60’s and 70’s recordings on the legendary Blue Note Records label. A nice variation of themes and tempos feature throughout the album. From full-on latin vibes to beautiful ballads, soul jazz grooves to cinematic soundtrack flavours, all woven together by a great group of experienced musicians.

vinyl / CD

Malcolm Strachan – About Time [HRLP004]

Organisation – Tone Float [ISPLP2201]

Pre Kraftwerk, Florian Schneider and Ralf Hütter formed Organisation in 1968. Their music was a mixture of sounds, feedback and rhythm, with the line up being Fred Monicks on drums, Butch Hauf on bass, Basil Hammoudi on percussion, Florian Schneider on flute and violin and Ralf Hütter on organ. The original sales were poor but nowadays it is highly sought after, also because Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider later continued as Kraftwerk, and became one of the most important electronic music formations ever.

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Organisation – Tone Float [ISPLP2201]

Victor Cavini – Japan [BEWITH076LP]

The first Be With foray into the archives of revered German library institution Selected Sound is the super in-demand Japan from Victor Cavini, originally released in 1983. Rare and sought-after for many years now, this is one of those cult library LPs that never turn up. With Daibutsu the giant Buddha of Kamakura’s presence gracing the hefty front cover, this is a record bursting with dope samples for adventurous producers: it’s koto-funk madness. Victor Cavini was the library music pseudonym of prolific German composer and musician Gerhard Trede. He was known for exploring instruments and styles from around the world (he played over 50 different instruments himself) and Japan is his collection of 14 musical sketches painted with traditional Japanese wind and string instruments. These are the sounds of traditional Japanese folk music re-interpreted through Western ears, with the occasional contemporary twist. Contemporary for 1983, of course.

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Victor Cavini – Japan [BEWITH076LP]

The Heliocentrics – Infinity Of Now [MMS037LP]

The UK’s cosmic, psychedelic-funk ensemble issue their first album on maverick producer Madlib’s label, Madlib Invazion. The Heliocentrics’ albums are all confounding pieces of work. Drawing equally from the funk universe of James Brown, the disorienting asymmetry of Sun Ra, the cinematic scope of Ennio Morricone, the sublime fusion of David Axelrod, Pierre Henry’s turned-on musique concrète, and Can’s beat-heavy Krautrock, they have – regardless of the label on which they’ve released their music – pointed the way towards a brand new kind of psychedelia, one that could only come from a band of accomplished musicians who were also obsessive music fans. Drummer Malcolm Catto and bassist Jake Ferguson are the Heliocentrics’ masterminds and producers, and they are obsessive weirdos in today’s musical climate, searching, progressive humans who are often out-of-time with current trends. They have been playing together for nearly two decades and their collective drive is to find an individual voice. The Heliocentrics search for it in an alternate galaxy where the orbits of funk, jazz, psychedelic, electronic, avant-garde and “ethnic” music all revolve around “The One.” With Madilb’s label Madlib Invazion for Infinity of Now, the Heliocentrics have returned to develop their epic vision of psychedelic funk, while exploring the possibilities created by their myriad influences, Latin, African, and more.

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The Heliocentrics – Infinity Of Now [MMS037LP]

The Sorcerers – In Search of the Lost City of the Monkey God [ATALP018]

The Sorcerers began working on the new album during the winter of 2018 and it was during the writing sessions for this album that the concept for the LP began to take shape. The name for the album was taken from the title of a National Geographic article read by Bassist Neil Innes and was used as the starting point for the entire concept. The library music scene of the 60s and 70s has always been an intrinsic part of the sound of ATA Records and so it made perfect sense to envisage the album as a soundtrack, given the cinematic quality of The Sorcerers music. Each track was written with a particular scene in mind and the music was then shaped in the studio to best reflect the essence of that scene. Drums, Bass and Percussion provide the solid foundation onto which Flutes, Bass Clarinets, Xylophones and Vibraphones add the atmospheric and melodic counterpoint, deftly weaving between one another to conjure up images of the unforgiving environment of the dense jungle, unknown eyes watching the protagonists of the imagined film as they make their way towards their ultimate goal, their pursuit by unseen assailants, the arcane mysticism of undiscovered cargo cultists and the ancient ruins of long passed civilisations.

vinyl / CD

The Sorcerers – In Search of the Lost City of the Monkey God [ATALP018]

Frank Hatchett – Body Shots [MOCR003]

Frank Hatchett was a legendary dance instructor and originator of VOP. VOP is not an abbreviation but, as he himself puts it: “VOP is a style”. It’s used to flavour the choreography and to communicate and translate emotions to the audience. The record produced by Don Alan Tipton is a wonderful complement of said VOP style. It features 11 tracks made for dancing that are produced and arranged in a moving and funky fashion.

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Frank Hatchett – Body Shots [MOCR003]

The Sorcerers – Summoning the Monkey God [ATA017]

‘Summoning The Monkey God’ covers a wide range of influences: Ethiopiques Ethio-Jazz rubs up against European library music of the 60s and 70s. The Sorcerers seamlessly blend these disparate elements into one cohesive sound. Based in ATA Records’ home of Leeds, The Sorcerers form the backbone of the ATA Records house band including drummer Joost Hendrickx (Kefaya, Shatner’s Bassoon, Abstract Orchestra) and ATA label heads Neil Innes (Bass & Guitar) and Pete Williams (Woodwinds & Percussion). Bass clarinets, flutes, and esoteric percussion that sit alongside bass, guitar and drums are essential to The Sorcerers sound providing cinematic textures on top of a solid rhythmic foundation.

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The Sorcerers – Summoning the Monkey God [ATA017]

Ambros Seelos – Ambros Seelos [369.059]

Private Records is back with the archives of SONY Music and the library archive of Ambros Seelo. The German musician Ambros Seelos recorded this psychedelic Disco, Afro Funk and Jazz magic during the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

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Ambros Seelos – Ambros Seelos [369.059]

VA – Form is Vision LP [GFTDCVLTR004]

Form is Vision is a collection of music unified by the same vision but not by the same form. It’s the vision making the form, without being influenced by the form itself. Here, visionary electronic artists as Afrikan Sciences and Juju & Jordash meet cross over jazz bands like Hobby Horse and Where is Mr. R?!. The music was compiled by Autre & Two Thou, whose productions here form a bridge across different moods. The result is a synergistic leap away from genre-bound music.

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VA – Form is Vision LP [GFTDCVLTR004]

VA – Spiritual Jazz 10: Prestige [JMANLP117]

‘Esoteric, modal and deep jazz from Prestige Records, 1961-73’. The tenth edition of Spiritual Jazz takes a closer look at the music Prestige was recording at the start of the 1960s. This was the period when the modal jazz sound pioneered by Miles and Coltrane was starting to percolate through the jazz underground. In its heyday, Prestige was the only jazz label that could hold a candle to Blue Note. Prestige was always quick off the mark to record new artists, and in the years after Kind of Blue the label was quick to release some of the most innovative early explorers of the new style. Founded as New Jazz in 1949 by 20-year old jazz fan and entrepreneur Bob Weinstock, Prestige was the only other imprint besides Blue Note to capture the iconic jazz sounds of the 1950s, and like its rival it grew to be an icon itself. If Blue Note documented the sound of hard bop in its most carefully crafted and beautifully presented form, the low-key, jam-session approach that Weinstock preferred meant that the music captured by Prestige has a tough, unfiltered energy that was a lot closer to the way it was being played live, night after night, by New York’s most prominent jazz musicians. Featuring Afro-Eastern visions from Yusef Lateef and Ahmed Abdul-Malik, deep modal excursions from Mal Waldron and Walt Dickerson, and essential spiritual jazz grooves from Gary Bartz and Idris Muhammed, Spiritual Jazz vol. 10 documents the sound of modal jazz in full flight, unabashed and authentic from the pioneers.

vinyl / CD

VA – Spiritual Jazz 10: Prestige [JMANLP117]