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.
Research Records continue their voyage into Elite Beat’s extraordinary back catalogue with their second compilation Selected Rhythms Vol. 2. The chosen tracks are lifted from the Portland collective’s three-part cassette series Casual Rhythms; a treasure chest of meditative and genre-defying instrumentals where percussion and dub accents prevail. Remastered for the first time on vinyl, Selected Rhythms Vol. 2 adds to the immersive and interstellar tapestry of Elite Beat. The compilation delves deep into the healing and hypnosis that characterizes the collective.
For their first outing, new London-based reissue label Foam On A Wave resurface the remarkable debut album from one of the UK’s foremost artists of ‘ambient techno’, Ultramarine’s ‘Folk’. Like the surrealist collage of the sleeve designed by Benoît Hennebert, Ultramarine weave together unique instrumentation and sonic influences into rich, ethereal soundscapes, now fully remastered for its 30th anniversary. Conceived at a time when technology began reshaping the process of recording and production, the band’s interest in fusing the organic and the electronic is apparent, and one that has remained with them throughout their career. ‘Folk’ both sits apart from and serves as a precursor to the ‘pastoral techno’ sound Ultramarine went on to pioneer.
The Badge Époque Ensemble group came out with a surprise album on Telephone Explosion Records, the fittingly titled “Future, Past & Present”. A compilation of sorts, the album collects instrumental, alternate mix versions of all BÉE songs which originally featured guest vocalists. In practice this results in a pseudo-greatest-hits survey of the Ensemble’s catalogue to-date, touching on highlights from all three releases while emphasizing the group’s strength as versatile mood-conjurors. Where these songs once featured vocal heavyweights like Meg Remy, Jennifer Castle, James Baley and Dorothea Paas, they are now strung together instrumentally in a sequence which represents the purest distillation of BÉE’s collective musical chemistry to date.
Modern sounds for the 21st century featuring modal, progressive and esoteric contemporary jazz. The 13th volume of the Spiritual Jazz series turns our attention to what’s happening NOW. Over the course of 24 tracks and spanning 2 x 2LPs, Jazzman presents an overview of the contemporary exponents of Spiritual Jazz; musicians who are intent on bringing something personal to the table, as much as they recognize the importance of those who have paved the way for them. This is music recorded within the past 20 years and from 15 different countries, including modern classics from veterans Steve Reid and Idris Ackamoor, providing a vital link between the past masters and the enlightened new generation. It’s pioneers such as John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders et al, with their innovations in reaching another plane of consciousness that was and remains uppermost in the minds of exponents of Spiritual Jazz. Fittingly, several of the artists featured on this compilation, such as Cat Toren and David Boykin, are practitioners of the art of music therapy and sound healing, and have absolute conviction in the role of song as solace. The pioneers may no longer be with us, but their saintly selves loom large, shining a light in the darkness, inspiring many a brave new disciple today, as this album will testify: the new wave of jazz is gathering pace and still sounds fresh, vibrant and as relevant as ever.
Created in Brussels in 2015, Azmari is a weaving musical odyssey that expertly fuses ethiogroove, dub, psychfunk and eastern sounds. Azmari, literally “one who praises” in Amharic, is an Ethiopian singer-musician, comparable to the European bard or the West African griot often accompanied with a masenqo – one-stringed fiddle or krar – lyre, two traditional ethiopian instruments. The nine tracks that make up debut album ‘Sama’i’, released via Sdban UItra, is a deeply hypnotic experience where mesmerising rhythms and winding improvisations send the listener in to a higher state of consciousness. From the magical sax of album opener ‘Zegiyitwali’, to the dubby template of ‘Cosmic Masadani’ and joyous horns of ‘Kugler’, Azmari seamlessly blend African and oriental melodies with effortless precision, providing a fresh take on the ethiojazz sound. Elsewhere, the heavy, rhythmic sounds of ‘Tariq Al Sahara’ and the mystical and cosmological ‘Azalai’ continue our sacred journey full of raging saxes and wig-out percussion, while the free-spirited, trippy ‘Kadikoy’ coming in at nine minutes in duration, lends a trance-like quality to proceedings where psychedelic jazz meets afro-funk.
Strut present the first ever international reissue of one of the most sought-after albums from the Black Fire catalogue, Lon Moshe & Southern Freedom Arkestra’s life-affirming ‘Love Is Where The Spirit Lies’ from 1977. This first international reissue of the album features new sleeve notes including interviews and commentary by Lon Moshe, Plunky Branch and band members with original illustrated artwork by Mary E. Greer. Audio was remastered from original tapes by The Carvery. “Lon was creating his own path in his music life at this time,” remembers Black Fire’s Plunky Branch. “We had met in San Francisco and he had become an original member of JuJu during the early ’70s. He then wanted to pursue his own music, primarily in jazz; he was an avant-gardist and loved Tribe, Strata-East and Sun Ra.” For his Love Is Where The Spirit Lies album, Moshe drew from musicians within the Black Fire stable. Oneness Of Juju’s Jackie Eka-Ete sang and helped to write songs and members of Southern Energy Ensemble contributed, including their bandleader Marvin Daniels. “The band name, Southern Freedom Arkestra, was a proud declaration that this music was from the U.S. South,” continues Branch.
Asolutely stellar jazz from Sun Ra alongside John Gilmore, Luqman Ali & Michael Ray. This quartet version of the title song appeared on 1978’s ‘New Steps’ LP. Over on the flip is the ‘Alien vocal version’ of Somewhere In Space, recorded in 1957. Two expertly plucked out (fully licensed) Sun Ra essentials, presented on a heavyweight (70gram) Art Yard styled 7″.
Wamono A to Z Vol. I – Japanese Jazz Funk & Rare Groove 1968-1980, Selected by DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite & Chintam. Dig right now into the Wamono sound – the cream of the Japanese 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 Akira Ishikawa, Jiro Inagaki, Chikara Ueda, Kifu Misuhashi, Toshiko Yonekawa and more! Tracks selection by Japanese super diggers and Wamono specialists DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite and Chintam.
Finnish multi instrumentalist Jaakko Eino Kalevi & Norwegian producer Han Sotofett (aka DJ Sotofett) teamed up with Estonian drummer Andres Lõo on the “Jazzsomdub” album for a wide & improvised excursion within a narrow world of drums, percussion, saxophone, flutes, electric piano, monophonic synths and tape delays. Besides distinctively exploring Lõo and Kalevi’s batterie & percussion work with deep-listening quality drum mixes there are elements of impulsive beauty, particularly on “Essens” free carrying sax solo. The album partly reaches for well known directions of jazz in the vain of the cosmic, psychedelic, improvised, atonal and spiritual, but the particularness lies within the rhythm & mix – like a rubber band stretched in 4 dimensions.
The planets align this October as the mighty Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of the maestro Marshall Allen, release their first studio album in over twenty years, ‘Swirling’. Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, the new recording represents the continuation of a heartfelt rebirth of the Arkestra under Allen’s guidance since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, gaining new generations of followers from their regular touring across the globe. With a big band line-up featuring long-standing Arkestra members including Danny Ray Thompson (RIP), Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Knoel Scott, Cecil Brooks, Atakatune (RIP), Elson Nascimento and Tyler Mitchell, the album is a full-blooded celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy. Tracks include brand new arrangements of Arkestra staples ‘Angels And Demons At Play’, ‘Satellites Are Spinning’, ‘Door Of The Cosmos’ and ‘Rocket No. 9’ alongside lesser known gems; the rousing blues ‘Darkness’ is recorded here for the first time, resurrected from the Ra archives by Marshall Allen. Other highlights include an epic version of ‘Seductive Fantasy’ (first recorded on Ra’s ‘On Jupiter’ LP in 1979), the freeform sonic blast of ‘Infinity / I’ll Wait For You’ and a first ever recording of the Marshall Allen swing composition, ‘Swirling’. “We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration,” states saxophonist Knoel Scott. “We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.” “This new release is the Arkestra’s love offering to the world,” concludes Marshall Allen. “Beta music for a better world.”
Pat Thomas is one of the most extraordinary pianists of our time. In a first time duo with saxophonist Matana Roberts, the lyricism of his distinctly dexterous and curious approach to the piano paints pathways for Robert’s poignantly vocal saxophone. Together the two speak; locked grooves and neat switchbacks on the keys form dialogue with long deliberate lines on the alto, punctuated by Roberts’ ecstatic vocalisations.
Producer/drummer Teppo Mäkynen shares a new release with his celebrated alias The Stance Brothers. ”On Top” is a solid gold Stance groover which appears on this We Jazz Records 7” vinyl single as two versions. On side A, the track is led by guitar and flute (the latter courtesy of Diamond T aka Timo Lassy) and the flip introduces a soul jazz scorcher with organ & vibes. Both cuts are ripe and ready to be enjoyed by DJs and home listeners alike.
Habibi Funk’s 13th outing is a release by Sharhabil Ahmed, the actual King of Sudanese Jazz (he actually won that title in a competition in the early 1970s). Sonically it sounds very different from what Jazz is understood to sound like outside of Sudan. It’s an incredible unique mix of rock’n’roll, funk, surf, traditional Sudanese music and influences from Congolese sounds.