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YouTube | January 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | January 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Dhafer Youssef - Street of Minarets

Street of Minarets

by Dhafer Youssef

Released 27 January 2023

Black Best Edition

*****

Oud master, vocalist and composer Dhafer Youssef is at the vanguard of a movement in contemporary music that brings East and West together. He is building bridges between different music. As one of the most inventive oud players, he has freed the instrument from its traditional role and brought it into jazz. And just look at the stellar lineup of players that he attracted to the cause of this amazing record:

Dhafer Youssef, oud, vocals
Herbie Hancock, piano
Marcus Miller, bass
Nguyên Lê, guitar
Rakesh Chaurasia, flute
Adriano Dos Santos Tenori, percussion
Dave Holland, double bass
Vinnie Colaiuta, drums
Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet

Jose James - On & On

On & On

by Jose James

Released 20 January 2023

Rainbow Blonde Records

*****

Jose James has been such a perennial favourite of ours that his records have all received four and five star ratings here - even his 2021 holiday release "Merry Christmas from Jose James".

His new release  "On & On" pays homage to Erykah Badu, revisiting seven of her most outstanding songs, from all stages of her career, representing them in his very own style.

He is supported on this project by a truly exceptional young group of musicians: Big Yuki (Fender Rhodes and Hammond), Ebban Dorsey (alto), Diana Dzhabbar (flute and alto). Ben Williams (bass). 

James uses the album cover artwork to pay further homage to the great Alice Coltrane: the cover photograph and typology replicas the cover of Coltrane's increasingly influential 1967 release "Journey in Satchidananda". Whereas Coltrane credited tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders on her cover, James credits rising saxophonists Dorsey and Dzhabbar. 

All class.

 

NOTE: If you'd like to hear the Badu originals alongside Jose James' covers, (and the Alice Coltrane album that inspired the JJ cover art) there's a playlist for that: On & On - Jose James covers Erykah Badu. Played back-to-back this way, the Jose James versions really stand up well.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - 12

12

by Ryuichi Sakamoto

Released 17 January 2023

Lee Ufan / Avex Entertainment

*****

As delicately beautiful ans anthing you're likely to hear this year, Ruichi Sakamotos's "12" comprises a dozen compositions titled only by the date that they were composed, and arranged in chronological order, from 20210310 to 20220304.

Thus, this is a diary of sorts, the beauty of which is underscored by the revelation that these pieces were written and recorded in temporary lodgings, while in convalescence after cancer surgery.

Over the years, I have often wondered whether and how the generation of musicians and pop stars of our youth would age - whether with dignity, good humor and poise, or as embarrassing, 3rd-rate self-caricatures. There are many examples of the latter, playing to audiences forever trapped in the aspic of nostalgia. Fortunately, many others, like Ryucihi Sakamoto continue to create new music that draws deeply from their lives.

The album is subtle in its gradual change of mood, presumably a reflection of the composer's recovery. The opening seven pieces, from 20210310 to 20220214, become progressively longer (from five to nine minutes) and are low in tone.

However, midway through the album on "20220302 - sarabande" (a slow, stately Spanish dance in triple time) there seems to be an awakening - the pieces now become progressively shorter (from three minutes to one) by 20220304 and more structured. 

The final track, the shortest of all, consists of only a naturalistic tinkling sound, perhaps of (wind?) chimes. It as if confinement is finished and the patient is enjoying the garden.

Margot Price - Strays

Strays

by Margot Price

Released 13 January 2023

Margot Price / Loma Vista

*****

Margot Price comes out of the blocks channeling Patti Smith's "Easter" and just keeps going. delivering a set of songs that span rock n roll, psychedelic country, rhythm & blues, and glistening, iridescent pop. Having been together since the days before Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, her 2016 debut that Rolling Stone named one of the Greatest Country Albums of All Time, Price and her band tracked live in the same room, in a recording studio in Topanga Canyon (which she describes as the hallucinatory hills of western Los Angeles), simultaneously expanding upon and completely exploding the notions of every other album they have made together.

Make no mistake.: this album is another Margo Price classic.

Bill Laurence & Michael League - Where You Wish You Were

Where You Wish You Were

by Bill Laurence & Michael League

Released 27 January 2023

ACT

****-

Snarky Puppy founder, multi-instrumentalist and Grammy winner Michael League and crossover piano icon Bill Laurance take us to an imaginary place full of beauty, peace and energy.

"Where you wish you were" their first duo album and - almost as an antithesis to the stadium act Snarky Puppy - its protagonists surprise, with an intimate, atmospheric, melody-driven dialogue.

Spanish resident and North Africa enthusiast Michael League draws colorful musical landscapes on oud, bass and guitar.

Bill Laurance, otherwise also known to us especially for dense walls of sound on keyboards and synthesizers, transfers their sound palette to the acoustic world of the piano.

This is an album of musical escapism, world jazz 2.0 and an invitation to a place where we wish to be..

John Cale - Mercy

Mercy

by John Cale

Released 20 January 2023

Domino Recording Co.

****-

Mercy is John Cale's first album of new songs in almost a decade. It's predecessor, M:Fans (2016) was recorded over a period of three years, under the profound influence of the death of Cale's former Velvet Underground colleague, Lou Reed. Mercy features collaborations with many other progressive musicians - Tony Allen, Laurel Halo, Weyes Blood, Tei Shi, Avey Tare (of Animal Collective), Panda Bear, Dev Hynes (of Blood Orange), Sylvan Esso, Actress and Fat White Family.

The presence of so many current-generation collaborators (all of whom would revere him as a pre-eminent role model for the advancement of the experimental in popular music) does not detract from the unity of the set.

The songs are inspired by current events such as Donald Trump's presidency, Brexit, COVID-19, climate change, civil rights and right-wing.

The album is less sonically challenging, often melodic and generally more accessible than much of Cale's mid-career. Like David Bowie's "Dark Star", Mercy finds Cale taking in the role of the Master Musician, comfortable in his skin and in full command of his craft. 

Sebastian Rochford, Kit Downes - A Short Diary

A Short Diary

by Sebastian Rochford, Kit Downes

Released 20 January 2023

ECM

****-

This “short diary (of loss)” as drummer Sebastian Rochford  calls it is offered as “a sonic memory, created with love, out of need for comfort.”

The album is dedicated to Rochford’s father, Aberdeen poet Gerard Rochford (1932-2019) and to his family. Seb, one of ten siblings, wrote most of the music for this album shortly after Gerard’s death and delivers it here, in performances of deep feeling and hymn-like clarity, together with pianist Kit Downes.

The final wistful piece, “Even Now I Think Of Her” was composed by Gerard Rochford. Sebastian explains: “It’s a tune my dad had sung into his phone and sent me. I forwarded this to Kit’s phone. He listened, and then we started.”

Rochford recalls how, after his father passed away, “music just seemed to come to me, sing inside me every day, sometimes even as I woke.

The album was recorded at Rochford’s childhood home in Scotland – its intimate acoustics captured comprehensively and with crystalline transparency.

A meticulous production process in collaboration with (ECM founder and artistic maestro, Manfred Eicher) followed. He, who then mixed the album in Munich. “Listening to Manfred’s mixes was like he was showing me what I had made and hearing the music for the first time. To be honest, I don't even know how he made the music sound the way it does, but I felt he had intensified and brought into focus everything about it.

”The poignancy of A Short Diary will touch many listeners.

Read more... ECM

Fragments - Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996-1997) The Bootleg Series, Vol. 17 (Remastered

Fragments - Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996-1997): The Bootleg Series, Vol. 17 (Remastered Deluxe Edition)
by Bob Dylan

Released 27 January 2023

Columbia Records

****-

The latest chapter in Columbia/Legacy’s highly acclaimed Bob Dylan Bootleg Series takes a fresh look at Time Out of Mind, Dylan’s mid-career masterpiece, celebrating the album and its enduring impact 25 years after its original release on September 30, 1997. Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996-1997): The Bootleg Series Vol.17 follows the evolution of songs written for the album, from intimate early incarnations in the previously unreleased 1996 Teatro sessions featuring Dylan (vocals, guitar, and piano), Daniel Lanois (guitar and organ), Tony Garnier (bass) and Tony Mangurian (drums and percussion) through incandescent live renditions (also previously unreleased) showcasing Dylan and his touring ensemble channeling the songs on-stage from 1998-2001.

Siv Jakobsen - Gardening

Gardening

by Siv Jakobsen

Released 20 January 2023

Siv Jakobsen / The Nordic Mellow

****-

Oslo singer-songwriter-acoustic guitarist Siv Jakobsen's third release draws from the same musical well as Sufjan Stevens' 2015 album Carrie & Lowell  This is a beautifully produced and mixed recording that places Jakobsen's expressive vocals (which range from high falsetto to breathy whisper) to the fore, complimenting her gorgeous tone, while  allowing strings or woodwind backing through where necessary. Throughout the album the use of the backing adds narrative to lyrics that are otherwise directionless, for example, on "Bad By Design", where the instrumentation alternatively pulses, soars and fades away: credit Jakobsen's co-producers Hans Olav Settem and Simen Mitlid.

Gene Noble - Feel A Way

Feel A Way

by Gene Noble

Released 20 January 2023

Foreground Entertainment Group / Globestone

****-

Feel A Way is soul singer Gene Noble's first album in eight years and on the strength of it, you wonder why he hasn't been more prolific. It is an album of shifting moods that he artist described as "...a project full of songs that I’ve recorded literally around the world in different feelings, in different moments, and having different thoughts.”

Noble's flawless vocal range, particularly his soaring falsetto, is a delight to behold and it is a relief that he eschews the attention-grabbing effects of many of his contemporaries, such as archival interludes and banks of guest vocalists & rappers. Instead, Noble deploys the triple threat of timeless lyrics, peerless vocal control and creative composition.

Whether played in headphones or aa background, Feel A Way sounds and feels like classic R&B. 

Emanuel Harrold - We da People

We da People

by Emanuel Harrold

Released 20 January 2023

Gearbox Records

****-

Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Emanuel Harrold is an educator, entrepreneur, producer, master drummer, two-time Grammy Award-winning musician and touring artist with the likes of Damon Alburn, Gregory Porter, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, De La Soul and Roy Hargrove.

After a couple of excellent EP's already Look Forward (2017) and Funk La Soul (2022) Harrold's debut album is an uplifting blend of R&B, jazz, soul, gospel, and funk that might well an undiscovered gem from Summer of Love.

This album surely propels Harrold to the forefront of American Jazz as a solo artist and astute collaborator, this time around with vocalist Gregory Porter, actor & performance poet Malcolm Jamal Warner, rapper Shareef Keyes, trumpeter Keyon Harrold and trombonist Saunders Sanders. 

"I Think" features Porter's gospel-tinged soul vocals, jazz-funk inflected guitars, uplifting orchestral strings, groovy heavy bass that is interweaved with Harrold’s precise, high energy drumming.

In "We da People", Malcolm Jamaal Warner's spoken-word performance of Harrold's inspired lyrics recall the best of The Last Poets.

"See" recalls Roy Ayers' masterpiece "In The Sunshine".

Iggy Pop - Every Loser

Every Loser

by Iggy Pop

Released 20 January 2023

Gold Tooth Records

****-

"Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." 

So wrote Dylan Thomas in his famous 1947 poem (reputed to have been written for his father, although he did not die until just before Christmas 1952).

Few individuals have taken Dylan Thomas' advice to heart as Iggy Pop, the angry Peter Pan of rock; the mellifluous vocalist; the impossible gymnast; the snake charmer and snake combined.

Every Loser finds Iggy, now 75 years of age, maintaining his rage in front of a hot young(er) super-group comprising Duff McKagan (Guns'n'Roses, on bass), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, on drums) and Josh Klinghoffer (Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Perl Jam, on guitars, keyboards). Guest contributions are made by members of Jane's Addiction (Dave Navarro, Eric Avery and Chris Chaney), Pearl Jam (Stone Gossard), with appearances by drummers Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters, recently deceased) and Travis Barker (Blink-182).

With pedigrees like these the album delivers the goods, revisiting various stages of Iggy's career, without descending into parody. Like Iggy in his prime, it is tight, taught and terrific. 

Låpsley - Cautionary Tales of Youth

Cautionary Tales of Youth

by Låpsley

Released 20 January 2023

Believe

****-

Written during a Covid-imposed stay in South Africa, UK (Liverpool) native Låpsley's autobiographical third album is a lushly-produced delight. Låpsley adds further layers to her introspective sound, weaving in elements of Afrobeats, club and R&B alongside her long-standing love of pop bangers. Even as each track’s production is constantly interesting and wide-ranging and her voice remains consistently impressive – especially on the choral-style ‘Smoke & Fire’ – it’s her talent for songwriting and storytelling that shines through most clearly.

Read more... NME

Tujiko Noriko - Cr​é​puscule I & II

Crépuscule 

by Tujiko Noriko

Released 20 January 2023

Editions Mego

****-

Crépuscule in the French describes the uncertain light immediately preceding sunrise or following sunset. It's a perfect title for Tujiko Norito's mesmerising collection of sonic landscapes.

The dozen compositions on the album vary in length from two minutes to twenty four, and moods shift often, though always maintaining a sombre, often gentle, ambience.

Most tracks are instrumental, but on the occasions where she sings Norito's ethereal vocal and production ventures past territory explored by Baldementi & Cruise for Twin Peaks.

The synthesised instrumentation is  monumental in scale and cinemescopic in effect.

Go ahead, get lost in it.

Velvet Negroni - Bulli

Bulli

by Velvet Negroni

Released 13 January 2023

4AD

****-

From Minneapolis, Minnesota meet Velvet Negroni (real name Jeremy Nutzman) a his lively sophomore album, Bulli. The collection is a little uneven, but the highs are well worth a listen. Bulli is a musical collage, mixing rap, R&B, rock and electronic elements at will or whim. It's a thoroughly engaging style - a dozen shortish songs that are brimming with spirit and musical ideas. 

Simply, brilliant.

J.D. Simo - Songs From The House Of Grease

Songs From The House Of Grease

by J.D. Simo

Released 13 January 2023

Crows Feet Records

****-

I love that the well of the Southern Blues gets deeper as time goes by. If you love Furry Lewis and Mose Allison, Dr. John and Allan Toussaint, J.J. Cale and Little Feat, R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, The Black Keys and Alabama Shakes  - you will love this too. His Bandcamp bio says it all: The Chicago-born, now Nashville transplant is like a one-man crusade dedicated to keeping music real, raw, and honest. No matter the setting and no matter his role (whether it’s wingman or bandleader)
J.D.’s presence infuses the situation of the moment with the music that’s been fueling him pretty much his whole life, spiced with influences that straddle both decades and dimensions.

Now dance.

Emile Londonien - Laziness (EP)_edited.jpg

Laziness (EP)

by Emile Londonien

Released 27 January 2023

Omezis

****-

You would be forgiven for mistaking that the broken beats, funky bass lines and meandering improvisations from the exciting three-piece Emile Londonien come from deep within the London or Melbourne New-Jazz  scenes when, in fact, they are actually from Strousburg, France.

The band - whose individual members (so far as I can find) have (perhaps following SAULT's lead) not identified themselves in press releases or websites - describes their first release as "a tribute to jazz, interplay and collective improvisation".

We love it.

Read More... Secret Eclectic

Adrian Younge, Ali Shakheed Muhammed, Phil Ranelin, Wendell Harrison - Phil Ranelin and Wendell Harrison JID016

Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison JID016

by Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Phil Ranelin, Wendell Harrison

Released 27 January 2023

Jazz Is Dead

****-

Each edition of Chicago-based Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammed's magnificent series Jazz Is Dead focuses on bringing a different legend from the past to the forefront and highlighting their deep contributions to Jazz and popular music

The sixteenth edition spotlights the work of Phil Ranelin (trombone) & Wendell Harrison (bass clarinet, tenor saxophone) and Chicago's own Tribe Records, a record label and magazine from the 1970's that provided a platform for local jazz artists to record and release albums, and had community members taking full control of the promotion and distribution.

The album represents a symbolic passing of a generational torch, celebrating the continued dedication of both groups (i.e Renelin & Harrison, Younge & Muhammed) to remaining independent, and continuing to produce compelling and unique Jazz music.

Wolfgang Haffner - Silent World

Silent World

by Wolfgang Haffner

Released 27 January 2023

ACT

****-

"Silent World" is perhaps the most personal album yet, of drummer, composer, and bandleader Wolfgang Haffner.

It is scarcely two years since everything suddenly went quiet, and we all found ourselves living in a "Silent World". For Wolfgang Haffner, the most prominent German drummer of our time, things came to a particularly abrupt halt, not least because his regular schedule is so packed and his habitual work-rate is so prolific. He is normally travelling across all five continents, playing with stellar artists from all kinds of genres; his own exceptional craft as a drummer is to be heard on no fewer than 400 albums. Rather than choosing to respond to challenging times by burying his head in the sand, Wolfgang Haffner has continued to create and to develop. "The album is about having a commitment to life," he says, "and a return to the origins." "Silent World" is the antidote for a world which is in the process of speeding up again, and is doing so far too fast.

Rachael & Vilray - I Love Love Song

 Love Love Song

bRachael & Vilray

Released 13 January 2023

Nonesuch Records

****-

Rachael Price & Vilray met at the New England Conservatory of Music in the Fall of 2003 and became fast friends. Their duo grew from a shared reverence for the pop music of the 1930s and 40s and its wide range of emotions. With simple arrangements and only a guitar for accompaniment, they perform original works, and revive forgotten gems of the great jazz big bands and western swing small ensembles. Their sound recalls both the warmth of radio's golden age and the intimacy of parlor concerts in a time before recordings.

For those who previously indulged in the likes of Leon Redbones "On The Track" or Captain Matchbox Whoopie Band's "Wangaratta Wahine" and "Smoke Dreams".

 

Joe Henry - All The Eye Can See

All The Eye Can See

by Joe Henry

Released 27 January 2023

edelMUSIC / Worksong

****-

All the Eye Can See is a subdued folkish collection, his first album since The Gospel According to Water (2019), which was recorded after he'd been diagnosed with prostate cancer. All the Eye Can See's songs  reflect, written during the pandemic, with thanks on his remission.

Consequently, the mood of this set is very subdued - fourteen down-tempo songs delivered in a spare production which belies the assistance of numerous collaborators: core group Patrick Warren (keyboards), David Piltch (bass), Jay Bellerose (drums) and Levon Henry (Joe's son, sax and clarinet) and guests Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Daniel Lanois, Allison Russell, Milk Carton Kids and Madison Cunningham. 

Gabi Hartmann - Gabi Hartmann

Gabi Hartmann

bGabi Hartmann

Released 13 January 2023

27/29 / Sony Music Entertainment France

****-

The debut album from French artist Gabi Hartman is a middle-of-the-road slice of sheer delight from the part of the musical universe that gave us Jamie Cullum and Melody Gardot, for both of whom she opened while preparing this album. Similarly, her producer, Jessie Harris, has previously worked with Gardot, Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux.

So, don't expect many musical surprises or any boundaries to be crossed. Even so, her engagement of Juliuan Lage for "People Tell Me / Les gens me disent" is an unexpected highlight and the accompaniment supplied by Sudanese flautist Ghandi Adam a delight.

All except three of the album's fourteen tracks were written or co-written by Hartman, which combined with her innate musicality and warm vocal tone, suggests she is will soon be performing alongside, rather than merely opening for, her more famous mentors.

 

Little North - Wide Open

Wide Open

by Little North

Released 27 January 2023

April Records

****-

With their captivating cinematic sound and a warm and intense presence, Little North bonds with their audience from the very first note. In a melting pot of modern minimalism and Nordic jazz tradition and with an intensity that draws threads to the jazz scene of New York, Little North may just add the next exciting chapter to the history of Scandinavian jazz.

'Wide Open' (as the name suggests) examines their interplay in a freer setting. An abstract and introspective continuation of their musical narrative, the music is written and performed with openness, curiosity for the sound of the room and with a sensitivity for what the next moment may bring.

Read more... Bandcamp

Sam Smith - Gloria

Gloria

by Sam Smith

Released 27 January 2023

Capitol / EMI

****-

Sam Smith is an outstanding vocalist whose prowess attracts comparisons with the likes of Adele, Ed Sheeran and George Michael - a considerable artistic burden, to say the least. His new album Gloria, his best crafted collection so far, is heavily influenced by his emergence over recent years as a non-binary performer. Collaborations with other artists on five of the album's thirteen songs, include "Unholy", a duet with openly transgender German artist Kim Petras (and an international No. 1 single, the first by non-binary artists in many countries, including the US) and "Who We Love", the album's final cut, a duet with Sheeran.

Gloria is the product of a period of personal and artistic development for Smith, but remains generally within his musical comfort zone. It will be especially interesting - and perhaps elevating - if Smith takes more risks with future releases.. Perhaps to team up with an Inflo or Perfume Genius?

Samara Joy - Linger Awhile

Linger Awhile

by Samara Joy

Released 16 September 2022

Verve

*****

Samara Joy is an emerging artist on the way up fast. Her 2021 debut "Samara Joy" established her as an artist to watch and she has already built a considerable following. For her new album, she moves from the little-known Whirlwind Recordings to the mighty, storied Verve label, joining a stable of jazz greats that includes Billie Holliday, Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and on and on. As if to say "OK, I belong here" she delivers numerous classics from the mid-20th Century Jazz Songbook with great assurance. That includes "Can't Get Out Of The Mood" (Sarah Vaughn, 1950), "Guess Who I Saw Today (Carmen McRae, 1957); 'Round Midnight (Carmen McRae, 1961), Misty (Johnny Mathis, 1959), Someone To Watch Over Me (Frank Sinatra 1946, Ella Fitzgerald, 1950, 1959).

Gorgeous.

Rat Child - My Morning's Work

My Morning and Afternoon's Work

by Rat Child

Released 10 November 2022

Rat Child

****-

Although it was released in November, it is somehow appropriate that the debut album from Naarm (Melbourne) artist Rat Child has come to our attention this week, as we recall Renee Geyer's immense contribution to soul music in Australia, especially for women.

A new generation of women's voices is already being heard, led by the likes of Mai Tai (of Hiatus Kaiyote), Miiesha, Emma Donovan, Allysha Joy, Sampa The Great, Grace Cummings, Kylie Auldist ... the list is long. And on the strength of this debut, those ranks should shuffle up now to include Rat Child. 

For most of the album "My Morning and Afternoon's Work" features heartfelt blues vocals that bring to mind the likes of Rickie Lee Jones, Macy Gray and K.D. Laang and most tracks are enlivened by contributions from engaging collaborators including spoken word by Actor, Performance Poet, Movement Artist Tariro Mavondo on the opening track and rapper Cazeaux O.S.L.O (So.Crates) on "Love Interlude", while Gambian master musician Amadou Suso embellishes "Hard" with his delicate kora melodies. That the album tapers away over the final couple of tracks ("Forgiveness" and "So It Goes") is the only flaw in this otherwise beautifully conceived and delivered first release.

Elle Shimada - Home ≠ Location

Home ≠ Location

by Elle Shimada

Released 29 July 2022

The Jazz Diaries

****-

For Tokyo-born Melbourne-based artist Elle Shimada, the concept of home is ever changing. In fact, it's the current which flows through her debut album, Home ≠ Location. Home ≠ Location, out on seminal label The Jazz Diaries, is the product of several years of tinkering, culminating in a wholly unique project. "Home is multiple, complex, shapeless. [...] Home is in music, a space to share it with you', Shimada sings on the album opener. Lithe and loose, marrying incisive political commentary with deep introspection, Home ≠ Location certifies that Shimada is Australia's next bright talent. Across eight dizzying tracks which flow from lean, skittish skeletal beats upon which Shimada's climbs to agile blends of house, bass and candied keys, the album nestles in the subconscious long after the first listen.

Source: Forced Exposure

Contour - Onwards!

Onwards!

by Contour

Released 7 October 2022

Touching Bass Limited

*****

South Carolina-based Khari Lucas describes himself as multifaceted, including musician, score composer, film and radio programmer within his universe of practice. Contour — the musical alias he started in 2014 — is the vessel for his musical research, songwriting and production.

Released on London's Touching Bass label, 'Onwards!' is an evocative, twelve-track journey through black art both past and contemporary with soul, electronics and archival material at its core.

“The record exists as a bridge in conversation between today’s artists and art of the past which offered potential ways to navigate the world that we’re in; personally or on a larger scale” says Contour.

Read more... Bandcamp


 

Geir Sundstol - The Studio Intim Sessions Vol. 1

The Studio Intim Sessions Vol. 1

by Geir Sundstøl

Released 30 September 2022

Hubro/Grappa Musikkforlag

****-

Innovative Norwegian guitarist Geir Sundstøl fifth solo album is a distinct departure from his previous releases and from the hundreds of other local and international releases to which he has contributed as a session player and sideman par excellence.

For this release he gathered an eclectic group of musicians for weekly (Wednesday) sessions at an Oslo studio - below the "rather dubious" massage parlour from which the record gets its name.

The music is inspired by the contents of a chest a suitcase full of vintage American, European and Jamaican LP's, the bequest of an enigmatic, seafaring uncle that was left to Sundstøl when he was just 16 years old.

Though relatively brief in duration (only 31 minutes) the six compositions are always refreshing, original and thoroughly enjoyable. The lively collection is underpinned by dub reggae production and Sundstøl's distinctive use of various twangy strings - harp, pedal steel guitar, dobro, and (the sitar-like) Shankar guitar.

Let's hope Vol. 2 follows soon!

Also worth a listen: Sundstøl's 2019 album 

Brødløs which the artist's Bandcamp entry described as "...a fascinating place where ‘Paris, Texas’ might meet ‘Tubular Bells’, Ennio Morricone can rub shoulders with Brian Eno, and David Bowie really does run into John Coltrane"

Read More... Bandcamp

Andrew Combs - Sundays

Sundays

by Andrew Combs

Released 19 August 2022

Tone Tree Music / Andrew Combs

****-

Andrew Comb's gorgeous tenor vocals carry this album which was created after a mental breakdown during Christmas 2020, with a deliberate stripped-back four-piece backing band, recorded in mono and, guided by transcendental meditation, writing one song each week (yes, on Sundays).

Another healing project, like Ryuichi Sakamoto's "12", the results are exquisite.

Broken Bells - Into The Blue

Into The Blue

by Broken Bells

Released 7 October 2022

AWAL

****-

Broken Bells is the long-running but sporadic side project of collaborators Brian Burton (a.k.a. Modest Mouse), and James Mercer (of The Shins).

Although their output under this moniker has been minimal, it has always been first rate. Their eponymous 2010 debut "Broken Bells" was an instant critical and commercial success. Its 2014 successor "After The Disco" enjoyed chart success but received mixed reviews: many critics considered the album comparatively dull (an unworthy charge, in my opinion). "Into The Blue" sustains an even mellower mood throughout and has also disappointed some reviewers, but it's expansive melodic scope and lush production qualities sweep listeners away with an irresistible allure that recalls the classic pop of the last century including George Michael (One Night), The Beatles (Saturdays), The Carpenters (Love On The Run).

Okvsho - Orange Wine

Orange Wine

by Okvsho

Released 24 September 2021

Hip Dozer

****-

The Duo Okvsho is one of the most promising prospects among upcoming musicians and producers from Switzerland. The two brothers Christoph & Georg Kiss grew up in the city of Zurich with influences ranging from old-school beat-making and house/electronic music to the modern Jazz-Scene, Funk and Neo-Soul.

Orange Wine is short listen (just 26 minutes) that playfully sets flutes, horns and keyboard melodies over snappy dance beats and funky drums, for an lively yet relaxing overall mood that would be a welcome soundtrack for bedroom, bar, lounge or cafe.

Gilles Peteson, Lionel Loueke - HH Reimagined

HH Reimagined

by Lionel Leoueke, Gilles Peterson

Released 25 November 2022

Edition Records

*****

Gilles Peterson re-imagines Lionel Loueke’s 2020 album HH, featuring the music of his long-term mentor, the legendary Herbie Hancock. The result is a brilliantly chaotic clash of worldwide club rhythms and guitar loops. Hancock is a massive influence on the London based DJ and the Beninese guitarist and reimagined, refocused and reinvented by Gilles and co-producer Alex Patchwork with parts re-recorded by Lionel, this is a kaleidoscopic view of HH which realises the full range of colours inherent within it

Ghost Funk Orchestra - A New Kind Of Love

A New Kind Of Love

by Ghost Funk Orchestra

Released 28 October 2022

Karma Chief Records

****-

Each song on Ghost Funk Orchestra’s 3rd album, A New Kind of Love, resonates like the soundtrack to a scene from an imaginary movie. The music could score a romantic drama, an action thriller, or a modern twist on a classic film noir. The spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental orchestrations composed, performed, arranged and produced by multi-instrumentalist Seth Applebaum, whose latest brainchild was conceived and conceptualized during The Great Pause of 2020, a time of tension, bewilderment and isolation.

Read more... Bandcamp

Travel Jake - Side To Side

Side To Side

by Travel Jake

Released 24 November 2022

Royal Right Records

****-

I don't have and information to convey regards the background of this artist - his Spotify and YouTube profiles are silent. This is a smooth jazz piano with a Latin flavour.

He has a second album, also released November 2022, titled "Travel". The song titles are a mix of English, Spanish and Portugueese, so my best guess is that he's Brazilian. 

Whatever, his music makes for very cruisy atmosphere for the Cocktail Hour.

Cheers.

Various Artists - They're Energised

They're Energised

by Various Artists

Released 18 November 2022

Co-Op Presents

****-

"They're Energised" is an all-new compilation album put together by Naarm (Melbourne) artist Allysha Joy for London label CoOp Presents .

This 14-track LP gives us a solid glimpse into the current wave of Antipodean bruk / broken beat artists.

Allysha explains "the connection began with a guest mix for CoOp Presents Worldwide FM radio show. I was asked to guest on the show, so pulled together some heavy unreleased and unmastered "Australian" broken sounds. I immediately called Horatio, Close Counters and Setwun, some of my nearest and dearest inspirations and collaborators to get them in the mix!

Within 24 hours I had a brand new beat from Setwun called 'H.B.Y', I ran up some vocals on a Close Counters track and landed a wild jazz-bruk collaboration called 'Fly' from Horatio Luna and Nikodimos!

We all felt really blessed to be linking in with some of the innovators of the sound we love!

The London-Melbourne axis - just getting better all the time.

Read more... Bandcamp

Emile Londonien - Jazz Contenders

Jazz Contenders (EP)

by Emile Londonien

Released 9 September 2022

Omezis

****-

Combining broken beats, funky bass lines and meandering improvisations from deep within the London or Melbourne New-Jazz  scenes, the exciting three-piece Emile Londonien are actually from Strousburg, France.

The band (whose individual members have not identified themselves, so far as I can find) describes this, their first release as "a tribute to jazz, interplay and collective improvisation".  A follow-up EP "Laziness" is reviewed above.

Read More... Secret Eclectic

Matthew Halsall - Changing Earth (EP)

Changing Earth (EP)

bMatthew Halsall

Released 2 December 2022

Gondwana Records

****-

Matthew Halsall's 'Changing Earth' EP,  an exquisite and spiritual four track offering,  comes hot on the heels of his beautiful August 2022 EP, "The Temple Within".

Changing Earth features Matthew Halsall (trumpet and electronics}, Matt Cliffe (flute & saxophone), Maddie Herbert (harp), Liviu Gheorghe (piano), Gavin Barras, (bass), Alan Taylor (drums) and Jack McCarthy (percussion).

Nick Cave, Warren Ellis - Blonde (Soundtrack from the Netflix Film)

Blonde (Soundtrack from the Netflix Film)

by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis

Released 20 January 2023

Rainbow Blonde Records

****-

Another majestic soundtrack album from the team of Cave & Ellis, whose moody soundscapes have proven to be ideally suited to the medium of film. Remarkably, Blonde is the twelfth soundtrack that the pair have completed together over eighteen years: it follows Dahmer (2022),  La Panthere Des Neiges (2021), Wind River (2017), War Machine (2017), Mars (2016), Hell or High Water (2016), Loin des Hommes (2015), West of Memphis (2014), The Road (2009), The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (2008), The Proposition (2005). Ellis has contributed two more This Train I Ride (2020), Bad Girl (2017), Mustang (2015).

Not a bad side hustle away from the Bad Seeds!

Many notable musical & cultural identities passed during 2023 including Vangelis, Betty Davis, Chris Bailey (of The Saints), Mark Lanegan, Glen Wheatley, Olivia Newton-John, Judith Durham, Archie Roach, Christine McVie, Ronnie Spector, Meat Loaf, Ramsey Lewis, Irene Cara, Joey De Francesco, Jim Seals (Seals and Crofts), Klaus Schulze (of Tangerine Dream), Loretta Lyn, Anita Pointer (of The Pointer Sisters), Jerry Lee Lewis and Margaret Ulrich (not to forget legends Uncle Jack Charles, Shane Warne, Rodney Marsh, Caroline Jones, Sidney Poitier, Vivienne Westwood and Pele). A handful of particular favourites left the stage in recent weeks - Jeff Beck, Renee Geyer, Pharoah Sanders, Robert Gordon, Terry Hall, Tom Verlaine. Long may their songs be sung!

Jeff Beck - Blow By Blow

Blow By Blow

by Jeff Beck

Released 29 March 1975

Sony Music Entertainment

*****

Jeff Beck

(24 June 1944 - 10 January 2023)

The lyrical British guitarist, whose fusion of jazz, blues and rock spanned five decades - replacing Eric Clapton as lead guitarist in the seminal British band The Yardbirds in 1966, releasing a slew of solo albums and continuing to perform and record until last year's album "18" (a collaboration with Johnny Depp)!

Renee Geyer Band - Ready To Deal

Ready To Deal

by Renee Geyer

Released 1 January 1975

Mushroom Records

*****

Renee Geyer

(11 September 1953 - 17 January 2023)

The volatile Australian lady of soul, jazz and R&B, who described herself as "a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65 year old man from Alabama". 

Robert Gordon - Fresh Fish Special

Fresh Fish Special

by Robert Gordon w/Link Wray

Released 15 June 1978

Sony Music Entertainment

*****

Robert Gordon

(29 March 1947 - 18 October 2022)

Rockabilly revivalist, who collaborated with similarly-minded guitarists Link Wray and Chris Spedding and seemed to capture the genuine spirit of Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Johnny Cash and Sam Cook.

 

Pharoah Sanders - Karma

Karma

by Pharoah Sanders

Released 1 January 1969

GRP Records/UMG

*****

Pharoah Sanders

(13 October 1940 - 24 September 2022)

A major figure in the development of free jazz and spiritual jazz as part of John Coltrane groups during the 1960s, Pharoah Sanders is remembered also for his many solo albums and many exceptional collaborations, including: "Journey in Satchidananda" (1971) with pianist Alice Coltrane; "The Spirits of Our Ancestors" (1991) with Randy Weston; "Promises" (2021) with Floating Points and London Symphony Orchestra.

The Specials - The Specials

The Specials

by The Specials

Released 1 November 1979

Chrysilis Records

*****

Terry Hall

(19 March 1959 - 18 December 2022) Charismatic front-man singer and songwriter for Coventry's groundbreaking multi-racial band The Specials, whose songs expressed the angst of immigrant and working class youth amid the social decay of 1980's Britain. Hall and fellow Specials members Neville Staple and Lynval Golding subsequently formed the more pop-oriented Fun Boy Three, releasing two successful albums.

David Crosby - For Free

For Free

by David Crosby

Released 23 July 2021

Sony Music Three Blind Mice / BMG

*****

David Crosby

(August 14, 1941 – January 18, 2023)

Few musicians match the achievements of David Crosby - whether as a member of genre-shaping bands or as a solo performer. Consider his career path:

The Byrds (1964-1967 and 1972-1973)

Crosby & Nash (1971-2004)

CSN, CSNY Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1969 - 2015)

CPR Crosby, Pevar & Raymond (1996-2004)

Solo Performer (1971-2022)

Television - Marquee Moon

Marquee Moon

by Television

Released 8 February 1977

Elektra / Asylum

*****

Tom Verlaine

(13 December 1949 – 28 January, 2023)

Founding Member of seminal NY punk outfit Television with childhood friend Richard Hell (Richard Meyers), Tom Verlaine was a meticulous, influential guitarist. Television's breakout album Marquee Moon is often listed in critics' top albums of all times, however his subsequent solo career didn't receive the public acclaim that was afforded to him by music critics and his musical peers

Vivienne Westwood

Vivienne Westwood

(8 April 1941 – 29 December, 2022)

Westwood was an English fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. In 2022, Sky Arts rated her the 4th most influential artist in Britain of the last 50 years.

Westwood came to public notice when she made clothes for the boutique that she and Malcolm McLaren ran on King's Road, which became known as SEX.

Their ability to synthesise clothing and music shaped the 1970s UK punk scene, which was dominated by McLaren's band, the Sex Pistols.

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