Born in 1981 in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape, Ayanda Sikade is one of South African jazz’s most in-demand and respected drummers, a familiar face on the scene for years and a driving force behind its growing prominence on the world stage. Dedicated to his grandmother who raised him, Sikade’s long-awaited sophomore album as a bandleader, Umakhulu, follows his 2018 debut Movements. Recorded in Johannesburg in early 2021, it features the talents of frequent collaborator Nduduzo Makhathini on piano, young Simon Manana on alto sax and Nhlanhla Radebe on bass. The album’s nine tracks, composed and produced by Sikade, pay homage to the artist’s heritage — most noticeably on ‘Mdantsane’ and ‘Nxarhuni River’ — while forging onwards to a brave new world on others, like ‘Imithandazo Yeengelosi’ (Prayer of Angels) and ‘Space Ship’.
Belgrade’s Tapan debut on Offen with an EP that has been a long time in the making but finally arrives in grand fashion. It is an exotic and intoxicating take on Balearic music with ‘Missing’ defined by snaking and hypnotic synths and tumbling drums. There is brilliantly loose drum programming and tons of echoing hits on ‘Samo Prolaznost’ that make it impossible not to shake your limbs to and ‘Rain Dance’ is a ten-minute slow-motion workout. ‘Novi Svet’ closes with more crashing drums and intense dance floor feels.
Strut present the first box set release to bring together the 1970s recordings of The Pyramids, led by Idris Ackamoor. As students at Antioch College, Ohio, alto saxophonist Idris Ackamoor, flautist Margaux Simmons and bass player Kimathi Asante created three lasting monuments in sound – Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth / Speed / Merging, a trio of albums produced without any label backing or distribution between 1972 and 1976. Their music is unique among the varied canon of avant-garde and experimental music of 1970s America: high intensity African-styled percussion topped with songs, chants, and horns, laced with African instruments and arranged into long, flowing suites that surge and roll.
Techno legend Jeff Mills and keyboard wizard Jean-Phi Dary embark on a live musical trip, documenting their most recent performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland – and encapsulating their mission to fuse techno and jazz. In the past Jeff has spoken of the need to “take a few steps back and try and assess what has been done, and what might need to be approached to be able to go forward.” Jeff’s reassessment manifests as jazz-hno, film music-hno, conceptechno… anything to happily build of the mad range of influences he’s drawn on over the years. Paradox: Live at Montreux is the result. Jeff Mills – electronics; Jean-Phi Dary – piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer; Zaf Zapha – electric/upright bass.
Internationally recognized and much-loved festival from Japan, Rainbow Disco Club’s offshoot project ”Beyond Space And Time” record label presents their sophomore release. Their second compilation has been compiled by none other than Antal. Also known as the festival’s headliner and the man behind Amsterdam record shop/label Rush Hour, all 11 tracks are selected by Antal in a 2 x 12-inch + bonus 7-inch format. From local Dutch newcomers to ’80s Japanese cult music, rare grooves to danceable house music, and rare Caribbean soul, this compilation is a portrait of music enthusiast Antal Heitlager’s enormous collection and 30-year DJ career, a work of art that can be enjoyed by all music fans.
Flock is a brand new collaboration between five leading musicians from London’s open-minded jazz and experimental scenes: Bex Burch (Vula Viel), Sarathy Korwar, Dan “Danalogue” Leavers (Soccer96, The Comet Is Coming), Al MacSween (Maisha) and Tamar Osborn (Collocutor).
Strut continue their deep dive into the archives of Black Fire Records with a new reissue of Oneness Of Juju’s Bush Brothers & Space Rangers, showcasing the band at the peak of their powers in 1977. Primarily recorded at Arrest Studios in Washington DC, the album ispacked with landmark Oneness tracks including ‘Be About TheFuture’ (“possibly the first ecology-themed song that I know of”) the George Clinton-influenced ‘Plastic’, an acoustic alternative version of ‘African Rhythms’ and strong covers of Caiphus Semenya’s ‘West Wind’ and Bobby Womack’s ‘Breezin”. Plunky continues, “The album is composed of several different sessions featuring different personnel and only first came out as an album in its own right when Black Fire MD Jimmy Gray started working with P-Vine Records in Japan during the ’90s. For me, it’s one of the hottest periods for the band.”
Sdban Records will reissue several installments of the legendary library series ‘A Special Radio ~ TV Record’ on vinyl. These were originally released on Belgian imprint ‘Selection Records’ between 1975 and 1981. N°15 in the series was the Belgian milestone jazz album ‘Solis Lacus’ released in 1975. Solis Lacus is the cult group around renowned Belgian pianist Michel Herr, a pioneer of electric jazz in the 70’s in Europe. Michel Herr rose to international prominence after winning the first prize at the jazz festival in Loosdrecht, The Netherlands, in 1971. He accompanied many European and American jazz stars on foreign tours and ran the group Jazztrack with saxophone player Wolfgang Engstfeld in Germany. At the same time, he set up his own band Solis Lacus, which consisted of Belgian musicians who had all made a name for themselves on the national jazz scene of the 1960s including Richard Rousselet and Bruno Castelluci both from Placebo. Inspired by the reigning jazz-rock sound of the day, Herr expanded his musical vocabulary and started to play electronic keyboards. Solis Lacus recorded its only album in the course of 1974 and 1975, before the members of the group headed in their own direction.
On a balmy Brazilian night in February, 1981, a crowd gathered in Rio de Janeiro’s Gávea neighbourhood under the iconic dome of the city’s Planetário (Planetarium). Alongside musicians like Helio Delmiro and Milton Nascimento (who were in the audience that night), they were there to see the great ”Bruxo” (sorcerer) Hermeto Pascoal live in concert, with his new band formation which would become known simply as ”O Grupo” (The Group). Most of the compositions performed that night at the Planetário had never been recorded before, and many are unique to this album, including the wild ‘Homônimo Sintróvio’, the exaltant ‘Samba Do Belaqua’, ‘Vou Pra Lá e Pra Cá’ and ‘Bombardino’, which features Hermeto’s wonderfully absurd call and response mouthpiece soliloquy. Then there’s the stunning 7/4 Samba ‘Jegue’ which builds with inventive dissonance, before releasing yet another celestially colourful, celebratory refrain. The show also features the first recorded performances of ‘Era Pra Ser e Não Foi’ and ‘Ilza na Feijoada’ (inspired by Hermetos’ wife Ilza’s famed black bean and meat stew), which Hermeto later recorded on his 1984 studio album ”Lagoa Da Canoa Município De Arapiraca”. Across the recording of the Planetário concert, wild improvisation meets groovy, virtuosic vamping on progressive, extended psychedelic jams. The tracks are generally built around a beautiful, transcendent melody; instantly recognisable as being Hermeto’s, and for the most part, the musicians then solo over extended two chord vamps. There’s a plethora of powerfully delivered rhythms, wild solos and the performances are punctuated by Hermeto’s unpredictable, at times comical sonic antics.
Four Flies presents a super juicy treat for all 7-inch vinyl devotees: the first of its 45s series singles to feature tracks from Giuliano Sorgini’s masterpiece Zoo Folle. The psychedelic funk number “Mad Town”, on Side A, drags you in with its infectious drum breaks and the rapid yet hypnotic flute of Nino Rapicavoli. “Ultima Caccia”, on Side B, is sheer afro-tribal bliss, with drums by Sorgini himself and massive funky percussion by legendary session player Enzo Restuccia.
Acclaimed saxophonist, producer and composer Yasuaki Shimizu will release Kiren, his unreleased album from 1984, on the Palto Flats record label. Kiren is Yasuaki Shimizu’s work for experimental dance music. Employing cutting edge production to create lush new wave soundscapes, it bridges the gap between his early 80s recordings and his later work with the Saxophonettes, filling a key lost chapter in his discography. By the early 1980s Yasuaki Shimizu had established himself on the Japanese new wave scene, producing many important experimental pop records and releasing several albums as the bandleader of Mariah. Following the release of his widely regarded solo classic Kakashi, from 1982, and the otherworldly Utakata No Hibi, by Mariah in 1983, he went into the studio the following year with frequent collaborators, producer Aki Ikuta and Morio Watanabe (bassist of Mariah), to record a mystifying collection of experimental dance music. Utilizing cutting-edge technology and studio trickery, Kiren showcases Shimizu’s trademark playfulness, marrying richly layered production techniques to off-kilter, sometimes traditional sounding rhythms and melodies. Portending his work with the Saxophonettes as well as forecasting trends in techno, new wave, and futuristic rhythmic music, this formerly lost album represents an important period of Shimizu’s artistic expression, an artist at his peak, while successfully exploring the intersections of fusion, synthpop, new wave, and jazz.
Following the already classic Wamono A to Z trilogy, 180g presents an exceptional collection of jazz funk / rare groove tunes recorded in the mid-seventies at the Nippon Columbia studios by three giants of Japanese music: arranger Kiyoshi Yamaya, koto legend Toshiko Yonekawa and shakuhachi master Kifu Mitsuhashi.
‘Space 1.8’ is Nala Sinephro’s debut album; each contributing piece is part of a connected, collaborative and deeply personal body of music. Performed and recorded at Pink Bird Recordings in Wanstead and in the comfort of Sinephro’s bedroom, tracks one through eight allow experimentation to breathe and borrow from jazz, electronic and folk influences. On the LP, Sinephro invites a host of talented musicians to enjoy its confines, providing a quiet place to dissolve the edges of London from the senses.
In 1977, in the midst of a period of political turmoil and social unrest that went down in Italian history as “years of lead”, screenwriter and director Massimo Pirri made a film no one else had the courage to make: Italia: ultimo atto? (Could It Happen Here?). Here, Pirri explores the controversial (and, in the 70s, very current) topic of left-wing armed struggle. He does so through a storyline that is almost prophetic: in the film, a mysterious ultra-leftwing armed group plans and executes the killing of the Ministry of the Interior; in 1978 Christian Democrat leader and former premier Aldo Moro was kidnapped and killed by the Marxist-Leninist Red Brigades).
The violence of Pirri’s storyline is fully captured by the score composed by Lallo Gori, who uses obscure synths, analog keyboards, and dry-sounding acoustic drums to create an extremely tense and frenzied soundscape of electronic textures. The result is an album that combines dark, haunting jazz-funk with ambient atmospheres and suspenseful electronic sounds, and which ends up sounding like an instrumental proto-hip hop record where Moog synths take the lead together with drums. At the time, this must have seemed like a low-budget, ramshackle soundtrack – essentially, a B-movie soundtrack. Indeed, the extensive use of electronic sounds was meant to compensate for the lack of acoustic instruments, such as the bass or (alas!) brass, which were replaced by keyboards and MiniMoog synths. Today, however, Lallo Gori’s odd and minimalistic style of arranging makes this score sound unexpected, avant-garde, and innovative. In short, modern and contemporary. Previously unreleased in any format, all tracks have been remastered from the original master tapes.
Planet E Communications releases ‘Electric Worlds’ LP by Francisco Mora-Catlett, marking Francisco’s first electronic album in celebration of 30 Years of Planet E. Francisco Mora-Catlett’s career spans decades, genres and astral realms, perpetually defined by the quest for survival and being free. The Mexican-American percussionist, composer, and producer makes his solo debut on Carl Craig’s renowned Planet E Communications with his first electronic music album, ‘Electric Worlds’. Whether pushing the limits of free jazz with the Sun Ra Arkestra in the 70’s, studying at Berklee College of Music and touring with Max Roach in the 80’s, or playing in Carl Craig’s “The Innerzone Orchestra” in the 90’s, Francisco’s passion has always been for the capacity that the music created by black and brown people has to free the human spirit.
Beautiful album on the Motorcity Wine Recordings label dropping some genuine Motor City Funk. Step into the hazy musical minds of Glenn Echo and Daniel Meinecke on Partly Cloudy, their debut full-length on MotorCity Wine Recordings. Mr. Echo, repping the Sol Power family out of Washington, DC, reached back to his 90s downtempo, acid jazz, and golden era beat-making roots to create 11 psychedelic, breakbeat-and-space-echo-infused tracks that serve as the perfect dreamy backdrop for Mr. Meinecke’s commanding and virtuosic New Orleans gospel funk. Hot tip for those into Amp Fidler, Mark De Clive Lowe, KDJ etc.
Sun Ra’s disciple and multiface artist Jamal Moss is back to Modern Obscure Music after his debut on the label with the “The Anticipatory Organization” under The Sun God alias back in 2018. J. Moss more known as Hieroglyphic Being is back to the Barcelona based record label with a new aka, Our Souls Are In The Hands Of The Translator. The new EP is composed by two 18 minutes long freejazz-psychedelic improvisations. A trip to the dark holes of the space eternity.
Following a definitive first volume jam-packed with forward-thinking musical talent working in the South African creative improvised music idiom, New Horizons returns with a fresh iteration of young artists who continue in the same tradition and tone. The compilation showcases recent recordings from 14 more leading lights in South Africa’s contemporary jazz scene: pianists Thembelihle Dunjana, Afrika Mkhize, Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane, Blake Hellaby and Siphephelo Ndlovu’s The SN Project; saxophonists Sisonke Xonti, Muhammad Dawjee and Linda Sikhakhane; singer Spha Mdlalose; drummers Ayanda Sikade, Leagan Starchild and Tefo Mahola; and trumpeters Ndabo Zulu and Marcus Wyatt accompanied respectively by Umgidi Ensemble and The ZAR Jazz Orchestra. Together they form part of a vibrant, connected community charting new sonic territory that speaks to today’s troubled times while building on the country’s unique and proud jazz history.
Four Flies presents the first Italian 7-inch release of “Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti” (also known as “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue” and “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie”), the soundtrack that gave Giuliano Sorgini eternal and worldwide fame as an occult composer \ occult-oriented composer, one who, being perfectly at ease with a certain type of Italian horror cult films, has gradually come to represent the essence, the quintessence of Italian scary music, horror soundtracks.
Strut return to the rich archives of Black Fire Records for the ”Drum Message” album by Ghanaian master percussionist Okyerema Asante from 1977. Featuring members of Oneness Of Juju and Brian Jackson on piano.