The Wanted Collection is designed for the music lovers and diggers and aims to offer them a selection of true musical gems. Wanted Funky Soul is a selection of vintage tracks inspired by the late ’70s Soul and Funk with artists such as Bobby Byrd, Mavis John or Lowell Fulson.
The Heliocentrics, the UK’s cosmic, psychedelic-funk ensemble issue their second album on maverick producer Madlib’s label, Madlib Invazion. 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. It’s only six months since The Heliocentrics released their last album, ‘Infinity of Now’, but boy how the world has changed since then. To reflect that, this new collection of songs is more intense, dark, paranoid, uncertain and, well, angry. It makes for a typically out there record that pulls together disparate worlds and defies familiar conventions. There are moments of sweetness and light such as “Space Cake” but also pixelated realms of jazz complexity that glisten and glean. This is an album that will lead you to strange, thought provoking places, but will also greatly reward any time you spend there.
Black Fire was an influential spiritual jazz and conscious soul label that is now the subject of a first ever compilation. It has been put together by Strut and covers the years 1975 to 1993, showcasing a rich mix of jazz, deep African polyrhythms and empowering lyrics across plenty of classics and rarities. The highlights are plentiful and the comp also comes with extended sleeve notes around the black-owned label’s rich history, as well as a reprint of one of the original Black Fire magazines published by founder Jimmy Gray. This is a real piece of black music history.
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.
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.
Arp Frique returns with a brand new release on his imprint Colorful World Records in collaboration with Rush Hour. A compilation of 12 Cape Verdean gems assembled with the help and knowledge of Americo Brito, there is a very special story behind it. Americo Brito, who features on Arp Frique’s original Nos Magia, is a proud and important member of the Cape Verdean community in Rotterdam. His story reveals the historical connections between radio, vinyl, Cabo Verde and Rotterdam’s international music scene in the 70s and 80s. Cape Verdeans have migrated all over the world, mainly to cities with big harbours, like New York, Boston and Rotterdam (Holland). Rotterdam became one of the main destinations (next to Portugal) on the European mainland. When Americo, like many of his friends and relatives moved to Rotterdam, he quickly became infected with the music virus. Surrounded on a daily basis by Cape Verdean music in Portuguese pensions and small hotels, this was where sailors ingested a dose of “sodade” through the interpretations of their beloved music by the local Cape Verdean artists. Americo took to the stage with his band Djarama in the 70s and 80s. Here he works with Rotterdam local Arp Frique to serve up Cape Verdean music old and new with plenty of traditional Funana and Coladeira sounds next to jams influenced by wave, disco and funk, jazz, reggae and Latin pop.
Ready for an adventure running parallel to their lives in common units, the quartet boarded a starship to set off on an astral expedition. The mission began perfectly, according to plan. From the very first measures, the travellers were released from the Earth’s gravity. Very quickly, their home planet appeared tiny and distant, before disappearing completely. Comets and novae lit the way through the fathomless depths of interstellar space. Their preliminary, in-depth studies of seventies jazz-funk were a great source of inspiration. Very early on, they knew that this sonic esthetic would allow them to travel even farther, navigating only with organic instruments and no digital backing or enhancements. Commander Virgile Raffaëlli’s bass lines guided their journey, offering a calm, yet vibrant foundation for the smoother phases and turning up the power to bring them through turbulence and meteor showers safe and sound. Like a compass, the bass indicated the direction and traced a groove that the loyal, valued crew could follow as their travels continued. Mathieu Edouard’s drums solidly locked down the rhythm to avoid any sudden jolts, working in tandem with Erwan Loeffel’s jet-propelled percussion. On the keyboards, Florian Pellissier drew harmonies and riffs from the synthesizers and electric pianos to oil the machinery and lighten the load when the ensemble needed to rise a few feet. The crew’s almost telepathic cohesion was key to their success, allowing them to express interior emotions with just a few notes.
Fantastic and rare album by Manu Dibango, the Afro Soul Maestro. These files were recorded in 1971 at Pathé-Marconi studio (Boulogne Billancourt) for professional sound illustration intended for the cinema, television and advertising. The jazzman experimenting with all genres was then beginning to convert solely to what soon to be called “Rare Groove” somewhere between Soul, Jazz and Afro-Funk, with a hint of Latin clave. In 2019, these tunes have not aged and the sound can be considered as “Huge” by many crate-diggers. These recordings were not supposed to reach the club or radio audience, it was more free sessions, a moment during they can open their imagination and test their “Afro something”, like Manu Dibango call it. Theses recording sessions included the best of the french soul scene at this time, Yvan Julien (Trumpet), Slim Pezin (Guitar), Jacques Bolognesi (Trombone), Lucien Dobat (Drums), Emile Boza (Percussions, Manfred (Bass) and the conductor himself at the vibraphone, marimba, saxophone, organ. This album is a wonderful return to the future and should satisfy the need of the Afro-Soul
From the opening drum pick up of ”Soul Fanfare #3” it is clear that The Mandatory Eight are here to make you move. With proud horn lines reminiscent of something that you might find in the Stax vaults, Soul Fanfare definitely takes it’s lead from backing bands such as the Barkays and the funkier side of Booker T and the MGs. One can imagine that this was definitely a set opener for the group, guaranteed to put foot to floor. Guitar and bass have a care free movement and feel, conjuring up tones of late 60’s summer soul hits. The B-side ”Turn It Out” has a darker, moodier feel to the previous side. Still a dance floor filling groove, the band take a direction more similar to below the radar funk outfits such as Amnesty or LA carnival. Biting minor horn lines set the tone backed by a bubbling bed of congas, rhythm guitar, unruly bass and drums which don’t dip below boiling for the duration. ”Turn It Out” features a manzarek-esque farfisa organ solo which sets the sonic tone of a band without funds but with plenty of soul in the bank. Both sides will reflect well for different moods on the same dance floor.
Rich, deep, percussive soulful folk album from master Togolese singer, Akofa Akoussah. The album moves through uptempo afro-folk-funk on ‘Tango’ to deep ballads of ‘Ramer Sans Rame’ and ‘I Tcho Tchass’ and lighter moments on ‘G Blem Di’ and ‘Mitso Aseye’. Akofa’s exceptional songs and soaring vocals are decorated with percussion, guitar lines, subtle backing vocals and horns to create a unique, rich sonic. The album was recorded for release by French label Sonafric in 1976.
Lucky Brown delivers another album for Tramp Records. Since he joined the Tramp family in 2007, Lucky has developed his own trademark production and sound whose depth and honesty form a basis from which his work will ever remain timeless. On “Mesquite Suite” he is forging new paths by soaking up musical styles from all over the world to infuse with his own totally unique way of producing. It has been Lucky Brown’s aim to paint for the world a picture of the vernacular jazz that America’s neighborhoods once crafted as their own homegrown cultural heritage. Lucky Brown’s music is a rejection of the elitism, classism and status of the music industrial complex and is an antitoxin to it’s resultant homogeneity. He wants with his heart and his art to transmit an everyday people’s sound, made by everyday people, dedicated to the upliftment of all people.
“Cold Turkey Time” from Ernie Hawks’ debut album gets a single treatment here arriving back to back with the 45 only track “Tracking Down”. The latter should make the b-boys move even if heard in the relaxing steams of a Turkish bath, where its breezy melodies eventually point at.
Seems strange that Tommy Stewart’s seminal rare groove funk anthem ‘Bump And Hustle Music’ has never had a 45 release but Mukatsuku has set out to re address this issue with volume 2 of their First Time On A 45 Classics series. On the flipside we find the sublime version of Stella ‘ from Bridge via the originally unreleased album ‘Crying For Love’ recorded in Boulder, Colorado in 1981. First Experience reissued that album in 1999 but this is the first time ‘Stella’ written by Paul Tillman Smith has been made available as a 45.
A new colossal star rises in the twilight of funky soul jazz as Ernie Hawks aka Erno Haukkala releases his debut album ”Scorpio Man” on Timmion Records. The impressive trombonist/flutist, is known to hold no punches, when performing live in the ranks of The Soul Investigators. Here he delivers a fierce selection of S.O.U.L. and Cymande flavored instrumentals that also bring to mind some of the finest sample-fodder library music. The album’s name, ”Scorpio Man” might come from the stinging and slightly intimidating style Hawks handles the trombone slide, known to pierce the hearts and souls of the ladies in the front row during his live performances. On this album, Ernie rides to battle equipped only with the flute, but this does not mean we will be exposed to some smooth jazz snooze fest. Rather Ernie handles his instrument with muscular rawness at times and moody ambiance at others, sliding with ease into any groove that the extended Soul Investigators band lays down. ”Scorpio Man” is no one trick pony, and the listener will be shifted around from the exhilarating psych funk of ”Scorpio Walk” all the way to the airy moods of ”Street of Tears”. Take a chance with the Scorpio Man, his sting will give you a funky high much better than what they sell in the streets.
All City spent years putting together this superb compilation, which shines a light on Ireland’s previously unheralded underground and alternative music scenes of the ’70s and ’80s. It’s packed with obscure and lesser-known gems covering a myriad of related styles, from the jazz-funk inspired soul smoothness of Pumphouse Gang’s “Welcome Back Into My Life” and dub-fuelled, post-punk synth-pop brilliance of Natural Wild’s 1985 cut “Hot & Sexable (Mega Mix)”, to the slow and intoxicating, delay-laden throb of Stano’s “White Fields (In Isis)” and the Stiff Records-ish cacophony of Micro-Disney’s “Leper”. In other words, it’s a great example of a compilation that not only tells a previously untold story, but also includes some genuinely must-have tracks.
“Dilla” by Abstract Orchestra has been generating a buzz since it’s inception in 2016 and subsequent UK tour, during which the album was presented to the public in its live form. Led by Saxophonist Rob Mitchell, Abstract Orchestra seeks to reflect the diversity of music sampled by Hip-Hop producers by presenting music that has the complexity of jazz, framed within the simpler structures of Hip-Hop. Complex harmonies are framed within simple loops and complex bar structures and time signatures can pass by unnoticed. “I selected the tracks on the album with very much the live performance in mind” says band-leader and arranger Rob Mitchell “So the album is a reflection of the tour and the music we performed”. Inspired by the legendary live performances of The Roots with Jay-Z and the 40 piece orchestral arrangements by Miguel-Atwood Ferguson of the work of J Dilla, classic arranging techniques underpin modern loop-based structures.The band itself is based on the classic jazz big band instrumentation of saxes, trumpets and trombones and features the cream of the north of England’s jazz scene who collectively have played with Jamiroquai, Corinne Bailey Rae, Mark Ronson, Martha Reeves, John Legend & the Roots, Roots Manuva and Amy Winehouse. “Dilla” by Abstract Orchestra is a tribute to the work of the highly acclaimed and influential producer.
Nomade Orquestra return from the stratosphere via Brazil with their second offering: Entremundos (Between Worlds). Gazing outward through a kaleidoscope from the heart of Sao Paulo’s jazz scene, the collective consciousness of the ten-man orquestra has dreamt up an adventurous amalgam of earth’s most far reaching musical cultures. Recorded at Red Bull Studios, Sao Paulo, Entremundos is like a cosmic musical playground where Ethio-jazz, Indian classical and Oriental sounds dance around Afro-Brazilian roots rhythms and Northern hemisphere jazz, funk, soul, library music and hip-hop influences. The sheer vastness of the album is astounding, Nomade Orquestra have quite literally conquered the world in sound.
vinyl / CD
Reissue from this soul/jazz-funk fusion album originally released in 1982 on Poet Records. This sought-after album is an amazing and unique creative project produced and composed by David Eric Tillman including outstanding performances by some of the highest-level musicians whose common thread was their ability to kill up tempo and modal bop and excel in this jazz-funk/fusion style thanks to their up bop think quick knowledge.
A regular triple-figure fetch on the auction sites, it was only a matter of time before Henry Thomas & Rise’s beautiful 80s soul doublet experienced the strong-armed justice of Fryer. Not just reissued but sourced and tracked down – this is just the start of what will hopefully be a whole load of criminally slept on and unreleased soul from Henry and his troupe. “My Dreams Are Clouded” is a verified club banger with its FM synth ripples and low-down bass bumps while “Don’t Wait Too Long” is the ultimate come home record. Slinky, swooning and soaked in raw dollops of emotion – Henry Thomas is, once again, on the rise.