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Best New Albums | June 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

Best New Albums | June 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Bob Dylan - Shadow Kingdom

Shadow Kingdom

by Bob Dylan

Released 2 June 2023

Columbia Records

*****

With the Never-Ending Tour grinding to a halt due to the COVID-19 lock-downs, Bob Dylan staged a startling original concert in Shadow Kingdom, a live-in-the-studio show captured in a noir-ish black & white film. Stripped of those striking visuals on this 2023 album -- released two years after the film aired for a brief time on the internet -- the music sounds remarkable, a genuine re-imagination of Dylan's warhorses. The key to Shadow Kingdom is that he's not performing any of these songs like he did at the time they were written. They're given inventive arrangements that are right in the vein of the pan-American roadhouse music he's been making since the dawn of the 21st century: they're blues and rockabilly, they're soul and country, they're standards meant to be crooned in a saloon. Dylan plays with his vocal phrasing, relying on all the tricks he learned cutting record after record of tunes associated with Frank Sinatra. The result is surprising and singular, revealing new twists in songs that seemed to be set in stone decades ago.

Read more... AllMusic

Jonny Greenwood, Dudu Tassa - Jarak Qaribak

Jarak Qaribak

by Dudu Tassa, Jonny Greenwood

Released 9 June 2023

Dudu Tassa, World Circuit Limited

*****
‘Jarak Qaribak’ is the collaboration between celebrated Israeli singer, musician and producer Dudu Tassa and award-winning composer and guitarist Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead, The Smile), produced by Tassa & Greenwood and mixed by Nigel Godrich, ‘Jarak Qaribak’ brings together vocalists and musicians from throughout the Middle East for a very special album of cross-border collaborations.
Tassa and Greenwood have known each other a long time and have collaborated before. Jonny, who is married into an Israeli family hailing originally from Iraq and Egypt, remembers hearing Dudu’s music twinkling amid the prevailing gloom of mid-noughties Israeli rock when Radiohead first visited.
“Jarak Qaribak” translates, more or less, as “Your Neighbour Is Your Friend”. It’s an expansive, inclusive sentiment. The songs on the album, and the singers, are drawn from all over the Middle East – and, in keeping with the theme established by the album’s title, each singer takes a turn at a tune from a country other than their own.

Read more... Jarak Qaribak

Meshell Ndegeocello - The Omnichord Real Book

The Omnichord Real Book

by Meshell Ndegeocello

Released 16 June 2023

Blue Note

*****

Over the past 30 years, German-born American bassist and vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello has lent her unique blend of spacious melodies, rooted grooves and intricate fingerpicking to tracks by everyone from Madonna to Herbie Hancock and Robert Glasper. Across her own albums, Ndegeocello has been honing this sound to create soulful music that interpolates R&B and hip-hop as much as the virtuosity of jazz. Most recently she produced 2018’s Ventriloquism, which reinterpreted R&B tracks from the 80s. On her latest album Ndegeocello now looks forward, producing a futuristic, original soundscape of jaunty synthpop and electronic R&B.

As a whole, it’s a confident imagining of her infectious future funk sound.

Read more... The Guardian

Julia Bullock - Walking in the Dark

Walking in the Dark

by Julia Bullock

Released 9 December 2022

Nonesuch Records

*****

Julia Bullock is an American classical singer who combines versatile artistry with a probing intellect and commanding stage presence. She is also a prominent voice of social consciousness and activism. Bullock's notable positions have included artist-in-residences of London’s Guildhall School, the San Francisco Symphony, and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art

For this, her debut solo album, Bullock is joined on the album by London’s Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Christian Reif for Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and an aria from John Adams’s El Niño. With Reif on piano she also performs a traditional spiritual and songs by Connie Converse, Oscar Brown, Jr.; Billy Taylor; and Sandy Denny.
Of the album’s varied repertoire, Bullock says, “This music and poetry have contributed to my development as a classical singer. Over the years, I’ve returned to this material with reconsideration, revision, and review, and that makes me undoubtedly call these songs ‘classics’—classics, which are inclusive of traditions across cultures, and celebrate a diversity of thought, expression, and experience.”

Read more... Bandcamp

Watchglass - Every Conversation In June

Every Conversation In June

by Watchglass

Released 22 May 2023

Duchess Studios

*****

Watchglass began in 2017 as a Sydney based four piece band and has over time morphed into a recording duo of Gina Graham (vocals and lyrics) and Mark Vee (guitars, synths, arrangement and production), creating electro/guitar indie songs of the esoteric vibrational musing variety, delving into relationships with people and places, always with a positive spin no matter how desperate.

Gina Graham writes: "This album came about after I practically got down on my knees and begged Mark to send me some tracks to write to. We had been in period of being fallen out for over two years and I frankly wasn’t going to suffer needlessly any more. Mark was the reason I discovered I could not only sing well enough to lead a band but also write songs! We started our music journey five years ago after Mark answered my "singer available" ad in the local classifieds.
This is our 5th album in 5 years. Eight songs written and recorded between June 2022 and February 2023. We have begun again. The songs herein are primarily a reflection of the journey and the joy of returning home".

Read more... Bandcamp

Rick Deitrick - The Unguitarist: Complete Works, 1969​-​2022

The Unguitarist: Complete Works, 1969​-​2022

by Rick Deitrick

Released 16 June 2023

Tompkins Square

*****

Ohio-born Rick Deitrick took up the guitar at 16 and decided to approach his playing as if he was the only guy on an island and the instrument had just washed ashore one day. According to Rick, "I completely divorced my playing from any formal music knowledge, but it was very important to me to use original tuning. During those years, the ‘60s/70's, there was a lot of acoustic guitar playing, often using open tuning as a base. I wanted to create whole tones without de-tuning and keep access to the complex sounds stock tuning provided."
Rick pressed 500 LPs of his tranquil solo guitar record, Gentle Wilderness, in 1978. He gave copies to libraries and left a few in the middle of the wilderness, next to trails, "so people would find them." Rick sought inspiration in nature and in particular the various rivers scattered around the Western United States, often composing songs while seated beside them.
Now, Tompkins Square is proud to present a 5CD retrospective box set, Rick Deitrick - The Unguitarist : Complete Works, 1969 - 2022 , which makes a strong case for Rick as one of the most individual voices in acoustic guitar music over the past half century.

Read more... Bandcamp

Aja Monet - when the poems do what they do

when the poems do what they do

by Aja Monet

Released 9 March 2023

Night Dreamer

*****

aja monet’s poems are a work of gravity. A surrealist blues poet, storyteller, and organizer born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, aja won the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam poetry award title in 2007. In 2018, she was nominated for a NAACP Literary Award for Poetry and in 2019 was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry for her cultural organizing work in South Florida. Her work moves, constantly, between origin and outcome, allowing them to exist in converse. In her debut album when the poems do what they do, releasing June 9 via drink sum wtr, we glimpse her indefatigable commitment to speak. Those thematic origins of this album at times center around Black resistance, love and the inexhaustible quest for joy.

In when the poems do what they do, aja monet appears as a woman of letters and storm, her poems do not roar in pentameter - but rather in storm surge because, “Who’s got time for poems when the world is on fire?!.” And this work isn’t one to pull apart into one liners, these are poems of things felt. There is a fullness here that can’t be encapsulated in even the boundaries that language offers.
aja is joined in effort on this album by musicians Christian Scott (trumpet), Samora Pinderhughes (piano), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), Luques Curtis (bass), Weedie Braimah (djembe) and Marcus Gilmore (drums). Together, creating music that is insistent and unrelenting.
When you finally reach the end of this album, you are left with a similar feeling you get when heartbroken, the gravity of barrelling back down to earth, sopping wet with tears, out of breath, overcome with love, despair, hope, and all too aware that all of this, is over far too soon. When the poems do what they do, they do absolutely everything.

 

Read more... Bandcamp

Luke Una (Various Artists) - Luke Una Presents E Soul Cultura Vol. 2

Luke Una Presents E Soul Cultura Vol. 2

by Luke Una (Various Artists)

Released 9 June 2023

Golden Angel / Interscope

*****

Mr Bongo presents a much anticipated second volume of ‘É Soul Cultura’, curated by the charismatic Manchester based DJ Luke Una. In May 2022, ‘É Soul Cultura’ Vol.1 seemed to land at exactly the right moment. Post-lockdown, optimism was back on the rise and the dance floors swelled again. For many listeners, Luke Una’s intriguingly woven pattern of new, old, rare and under-discovered music from around the world became the soundtrack to rejuvenated positivity. Piccadilly Records made the release their top compilation of the year, with Rough Trade placing it as their number two. The enthusiasm from the industry was mirrored by record buyers and demonstrated that in the right hands, moving through genres, tempos and decades can make perfect musical sense.

It was clear from the get-go that the concept warranted a series, there are many sides to É Soul Cultura and many musical stories to tell. This second volume gives another opportunity for Luke to share his journey of the past four decades of staying up late and getting transcendental whilst listening to holy grail music as the city slept. It follows on from where Vol.1 left off, at times venturing into the deeper, spiritual, soulful, downtempo, experimental aspects of his tastes

Read more... Bandcamp

Luke Una (Various Artists) - Luke Una Presents E Soul Cultura Vol. 1

Luke Una Presents E Soul Cultura Vol. 1

by Luke Una (Various Artists)

Released 6 May 2022

Golden Angel / Interscope

*****

With some of the best DJs and selectors there is a certain mysterious sound or underlying feeling which unites the music they play, regardless of genre, year or tempo. Luke Una is a master of telling a story through music and this compilation is a perfect example of his musical alchemy in action. Featuring tracks from Yusef Lateef, Airto Moreira, Crooked Man, Henri Texier and many more, it is a collection of new, old, rare and under-discovered music from around the world, all united by Luke under the banner of “E-Soul Cultura”.
It’s best described by Luke himself, who writes: “As the 5AM city sleeps and the strobe lights are slowly turned off, we gather on the wrong side of town in a transcendental journey alone together. We are the late night disenfranchised holding on in various after parties, flats, lofts, random kitchens and basements into the outer cosmos with É Soul Cultura. Music from exotic tear jerkers, Afro-spiritual jazz, cosmic Brazilian celestial grooves, machine street soul, dark horses, lost B-sides, £1 bargain-bin bombs, hidden gems, late night Italo dubbing, deep velvet N.Y.C garage, bass buggin sonic futurism, wrong speed 33BPM pitched up +8 new beat, majestic sunset strings, sweet vocals from heaven, no half steppin jazz dancing in outer-space and odd numbers. Yes… magical moments, together, holding on in witness protection suburban cul-de-sacs and Castle Court flats. Cosmic É high, 3000ft above the city getting evangelical to murky, wonky timeless beautiful music. This thing of ours dreaming of better days. Fail we may, sail we must, the sun will come up again.”

Read more... Bandcamp

Secret Night Gang - Belongs On A Place Called Earth

Belongs On A Place Called Earth

by Secret Night Gang

Released 23 June 2023

Brownswood Recordings

*****

British jazz, funk and street soul masters, Secret Night Gang return with their highly anticipated second studio album ‘Belongs on a Place Called Earth’.

Led by Manchester natives and childhood friends Kemani Anderson and Callum Connell, Secret Night Gang spread their uplifting, transcendent, and genre blending street soul sound through, dynamic melodies, striking brass accents and jazz inflected soul prowess, renewing the musical frontiers of the genre. 

 

Read more... Brownswood Recordings

San of the Rambutan - The Legend of Rabona (EP)

The Legend of Rabona

by San of the Rambutan

Released 13 February 2023

SOTR

*****

Purely created from a mistake, as an experiment for ‘The Experiment’, ‘SOTR’ through thick and thin, formed a five piece cinematic jazz fusion band over the years. The members of San of the Rambutan, Emmanuel Maas (pianist), Liam Thompson (drums), Pat Carroll (bass), Sam Holland (electric guitar) & Stephen Brooks (saxophone) have connected through the love of music from different locals of Naarm (Melbourne).

SOTR’s sonic escape is a combination of influences with the key elements of all players coming from very different worlds of music, being, 90’s hip-hop, various electronic styles, rock & metal, high school classical and improvisational jazz.

Inspired by influences such as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) Herbie Hancock, BBNG (BadBadNotGood) & Kamaal Williams, 'The Legend of Rabona' takes on genres such as Jazz-fusion, Funk, Hip-hop, Electronic, Soul & RnB

Read more... Bandcamp

Surprise Chef - Friendship (EP)

Friendship (EP)

by Surprise Chef

Released 2 June 2023

Crown Records

****-
Surprise Chef are Coburg’s cinematic soul journeymen, pushing moody shades of instrumental jazz-funk with a DIY mentality.
Surprise Chef’s output reflects a meticulous education of 1970’s soul, touching on the legacies of composer/producers David Axelrod & Isaac Hayes, with cues also taken from the catalogues of Daptone and Truth & Soul.

Friendship is a six song 12” EP that picks up where the last album left off and pushes their sound in new directions as they take on different energies and make them their own. The EP opens with “Rosemary Hemphill”, a gorgeous yet haunting tune that takes the listener through a myriad of musical changes and moods. “Friendship Theme” is a bouncy and energetic number with an infectious and driving topline that is sure to move dancefloors around the globe. “Over The Moon” is pure mood music that puts Surprise Chef’s restraint and tasteful use of space front and center while “Spiky Boi” is a frantic upbeat number drenched in percussion and keyboards.

Read more... Bandcamp

Uriel Herman - Different Eyes

Different Eyes

by Uriel Herman

Released 30 June 2023

Ubuntu Music

*****

Uriel Herman, the young pianist and composer from Jerusalem, studied classical piano and composition with exalted Israeli conservatoire teachers during the 2000s, but has recently toured the world as a soloist and bandleader in pursuit of an increasingly personal and spontaneously-evolving music. When he released his 2014 debut album, Awake, it was evident how far the then 26 year-old Herman had moved from the orthodox roots of his training - songs by Nirvana and Radiohead joined originals framing words by revered Hebrew-language poets Yehuda Amichai and the gifted but short-lived Tirza Attar.

Different Eyes, Herman's third release, and a vivid collage of the sounds of his childhood on Jerusalem streets, mergers of rhythmic and melodic ideas spanning the Middle East, a little Chopin, and a closing lullaby dedicated to his young son – is the most powerful evidence so far of his formidable promise. T

If there are any racing certs for the 2023 poll winners' lists so far, Different Eyes sounds like one of the front-runners.

Read More... Jazzwise

Jason Moran - Valiant Hearts Calling Home (Original Computer Game Soundtrack)

Valiant Hearts Calling Home (Original Computer Game Soundtrack)

by Jason Moran

Released 26 May 2023

Ubisoft Music

****-

Some of the best contemporary music to be discovered these days escapes the publicity and critical acclaim of mainstream releases because it awaits discovery in soundtracks and computer games. "Valiant Hearts Calling Home: is a prime example, even as a the soundtrack album released by Ubisoft, the publisher of the computer game.  

A sequel to "Valiant Hearts: The Great War", "Valiant Hearts: Coming Home" has been described as "a heartfelt emotional narrative game that follows four unsung heroes dealing with the overwhelming nature of war in a story about survival, sacrifice and friendship".

The soundtrack is composed by notable American jazz pianist, composer, and educator Jason Moran, who has a long association with multimedia art and theatrical installations and a musical repertoire that typically draws upon post-bop and avant-garde jazz, blues, classical music, stride piano and hip hop.

In this instance, he has been influenced by and respectful of the period in which the drama is set, supporting the story with a Joplin-esque piano and brass ensemble. Although some tracks run less than a minute in duration (and all except the opening track running under three minutes), Moran's instrumental choices provide such continuity and a musical narrative that binds this nineteen-track set as a stand-alone musical offering - even without the graphical support (or perhaps, distraction) that the computer game would likely provide.

Michael Blake - Dance of the Mystic Bliss

Dance of the Mystic Bliss

by Michael Blake

Released 26 May 2023

P&M Records

****-

This mesmerizing new album features Michael Blake's saxophones and flute immersed in a vibrant musical universe of his own making. Bringing to mind palm trees growing out of the frozen tundra. Blake calls the project Chroma Nova which includes a small string section (Skye Steele, Chris Hoffman, Michael Bates) and electric guitar (Guilherme Monteiro) whose sharp edges contrast beautifully with the dense yet delicate percussion work of Mauro Refosco and Rogerio Boccato.

"Dance of the Mystic Bliss" is the result of years of effort; created and recorded during the global pandemic in 2020. Some of the music reflects the grief Blake experienced processing the death of his mother Merle in 2018 and the ensuing political and public health crisis of 2020. But other pieces are full of heart bursting optimism, representing the artists unrelenting pursuit to evolve. On Dance of the Mystic Bliss, Blake proves once again that he is a formidable saxophonist with a lot to say.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Baby Rose - Through and Through

Through and Through

by Baby Rose

Released 28 April 2023

Secretly Canadian

****-

D.C. bred, NC raised and Atlanta based newcomer Baby Rose (born Jasmine Rose Wilson) is a soulful singer, songwriter, and producer known for her deep expressive contralto vocals and eclectic mix of musical genres, including soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Born to a jazz connoisseur father and hiphop manager mother Baby Rose was in love with the music from a young age and has been writing, composing, and singing since.

The piercing honesty and vulnerability she brings to her lyrics in turn helps others process their feelings and find a place of healing. For Rose, it’s a journey that’s still ongoing. “If I’m going to leave anything behind, it’s going to be getting people back to themselves,” she says. “As I get back to myself, it’s a constant reset: Remember who you are, remember who you want to be.”
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Janelle Monae - The Age Of Pleasure

The Age Of Pleasure

by Janelle Monae

Released 9 June 2023

Wonderland / Bad Boy Records

****-

Dedicated to those "around the diaspora and those seeking to join us," (The Age of Pleasure)'s delights are earthly in a way that echoes Monáe's listed track-by-track inspirations, which most pertinently acknowledge those finding communality and liberation in basement parties, ballroom culture, and (Atlanta) strip clubs. Objects such as "the weathered copy of Doggystyle (Snoop Dog's debut album) framed in my cousin Myron's clogged bathroom" are cited too. In addition to the Afrobeat element often brought in by (collaborators Sean Kuti and) Egypt 80, and appearances from a mix of legends and up-and-comers, The Age of Pleasure is threaded with interpolations and samples of numerous reggae classics. It still sounds just like a Wondaland production -- soulful, left-of-center pop that is ornate and tasteful, brimming with ideas from subtly dazzling vocal arrangements to crafty song transitions. There's joy in every moment. It's no coincidence that Monáe chose Pride Month and Black Music Month -- ten days before Juneteenth, to be precise -- to release a multicultural album of unrepressed (sometimes explicit) spirit, built for playing in the sunshine.

Read more... Bandcamp

Lanterns on the Lake - Versions Of Us

Versions Of Us

by Lanterns on the Lake

Released 2 June 2023

Night Dreamer

****-

Tyneside's Lanterns On The Lake have been releasing music on Bella Union records since 2011. Their 2020 album Spook The Herd was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.
The band were joined by Radiohead's Philip Selway on drums for their latest album Versions Of Us.

The (album's) nine songs ... are existential meditations examining life’s possibilities; facing the hand we’ve been dealt and the question of whether we can change our individual and collective destinies.

Singer and songwriter Hazel Wilde has no doubt that motherhood fundamentally shifted her perspective. “Writing songs requires a certain level of self-indulgence, and songwriters can be prone to dwelling on themselves,” she says. “Motherhood made me aware of having a different stake in the world. I’ve got to believe that there’s a better way and an alternative future to the one we’ve been hurtling towards. I’ve also got to believe that I could be better as a person, too.”
Mixed by the band’s guitarist Paul Gregory, in the bedroom of his home in North Shields, there is a sense of time and place that runs deep throughout this record.

Read more... Bandcamp

 

Ane Brun - Songs 2013 - 2023

Songs 2013 - 2023

by Ane Brun

Released 12 May 2023

Balloon Ranger Recordings

****-

A decade ago, the Scandinavian artist Ane Brun released Songs 2003-2013 to celebrate her first ten years in the spotlight. Now, music producer and singer has shared plans for a follow-up compilation album: Songs 2013-2023.
Brun wanted to chronicle the past decade since it was one filled with so much change, loss, and immense growth for the singer/songwriter.
“These 10 years have been filled with so much, from loss and sorrow to love and security, both sides of life’s spectrum,” said Brun in a previous statement. “I think the passing of my father was one of those massive life changes that we go through, and of course there’s the two years of the pandemic, which ended up with me moving to Oslo after two decades in Sweden.”
She continued, “But I’ve gone through personal processes that have made me more confident, braver, healthier, calmer and also happier. My life has become a lot better in many ways.”
Also paying homage to some of the songs she’s covered throughout her career, Portrayals features Brun’s majestical renditions of Beyoncé‘s “Halo,” Cyndi Lauper‘s “True Colors,” “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave, and Alphaville’s “Big in Japan,” among others.

Read more... American Songwriter

Durand Jones - Wait Til I Get Over

Wait Til I Get Over

by Durand Jones

Released 5 May 2023

Dead Oceans

****-

As one of the singers and principle songwriters of his band Durand Jones and the Indications, Jones’s professional creative efforts have been, for the most part, in aggregate. On Wait Til I Get Over, Jones leans into the vulnerability of his singular perspective, delivering something utterly distilled and potent. Of these songs, most of which were conceived as far back as 2014, Jones writes in the album’s liner notes that “They called out to me at truck stops. In tour vans and buses. In James Baldwin’s novels and lonely diners. A backstage mirror. An Eartha Kitt documentary. Or any random piano along the way…”
Ultimately, Wait Til I Get Over is a study in Jones’s relationship to his roots: to a Black, country, barefoot childhood; to the verdant Gulf South; to his elders; to his queerness. “Through this process I’ve come to learn that I am a proud descendent of Longshoremen on the river, and sugarcane and rice farmers on the land—all in the deep rural south of Louisiana. I am a proud son of Hillaryville and I am proud to be a part of its legacy. This is my story.”

Read more... Bandcamp

Jenny Lewis - Joy'All

Joy'All

by Jenny Lewis

Released 9 June 2023

Blue Note

****-
Largely written during a week-long workshop run by Beck, Jenny Lewis’ fifth album casts her as a hard-nosed Stevie Nicks. ‘Psychos’ and ‘Balcony’ have the wide-screen, soft-focus of ’70s Fleetwood Mac but there’s usually a bite in her lyrical specificity.
She may joke about being “a rock-and-roll disciple”, with songs referencing AM Radio standards such as ’64 Malibus and John Denver, but this is a picket-fence America that, under its Nashville pedal steel and bouncing soul, is full of danger for teenage girls and where the essence of life is suffering.
The edge is easy to ignore given Dave Cobb’s production quality, which gives it a vintage classic rock vibe and captures the intimacy of a live band. This works particularly well on the stomping country-rock of ‘Love Feel’ and ‘Apples and Oranges’, which draw a thread to her Rilo Kiley days and make it sound like classic rock was always her destination.
If there are moments that slip close to cliché, such as the break on ‘Love Feel’ and the ’60s girl-group spoken word introduction to ‘Chain of Tears’, then it’s done with knowing intention. This means that Joy’All is less about cynicism than the hardened will to survive.

Read more... Loud And Quiet

WITCH - ZANGO

ZANGO

by WITCH (We Intend To Cause Havoc)

Released 2 June 2023

Desert Daze Sound

****-

WITCH – an acronym, “We Intend To Cause Havoc” – were the most popular band from Zambia’s thriving 1970s music scene, but fizzled out at the turn of the 1980s. Authoritarianism snatched control of the left-wing Southern-Central African country, and harsh curfews all but wiped out the zealous nightlife scene of Lusaka. Where Zamrock was given life by one government that deliberately cultivated the country’s music – then-president Kenneth Kaunda enforced a policy that 95% of all music on Zambia’s airwaves was to be from Zambia – the next government killed it dead in the water, and Zamrock would be a pasture unturned for decades.
As well as this, the area was ravaged by the AIDs crisis in the 1980s and 90s, and other than Emmanuel ‘Jagari’ Chanda – the group’s talismanic frontman, the whole of the original WITCH lineup lost their lives to the epidemic.
But now, in the year of 2023, back from beyond the brink and fresh off nearly a decade of worldwide reunion tours, we have before us a new album by WITCH, Zango, their first in 39 years.
Zango demonstrates not only a group that has “still got it”, but showcases a band that has improved spectacularly over time. Aged like a cask of the finest wine. Châteauneuf de WITCH.

World tours, precocious new members (Jacco Gardner and Nic Mauskovic make up the rhythm section), and four decades of new influences have made the WITCH sound far more potent than ever before – heavier, groovier and far more psychedelic. Absolute sonic sorcery.

Read more... The Quietus

Moor Mother - Jazz Codes

Jazz Codes

by Moor Mother

Released 9 May 2023

Moor Mother / Anti

****-

Called “the poet laureate of the apocalypse” by Pitchfork, ‘Jazz Codes' is Moor Mother's second album for ANTI and a companion to her celebrated 2021 release ’Black Encyclopedia of the Air‘.
’Jazz Codes’ uses poetry as a starting point, but the collection moves toward more melody, more singing voices, more choruses and more complexity. In its warm, densely layered course through jazz, blues, soul, hip-hop, ’Jazz Codes’ sets the ear blissfully adrift and unhitches the mind from habit. Through her work, Ayewa illuminates the principles of her interdisciplinary collaborative practice Black Quantum Futurism, a theoretical framework for creating counter-chronologies and envisioning Black quantum womanist futures that rupture exclusionary versions of history and future through art, writing, music, and performance.

Moor Mother - aka the songwriter, composer, vocalist, poet, and visual artist Camae Ayewa – is also a professor at the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music. She released her debut album Fetish Bones in 2016 and has since put out an abundance of acclaimed music, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other musicians who share her drive to dig up the untold. She is a member of many other groups including the free jazz group Irreversible Entanglements, 700 bliss and moor jewelry. She has also toured and recorded with The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Nicole Mitchell. 

Read more... Bandcamp

Theo Parrish, Maurissa Rose - Free Myself

Free Myself

by Theo Parrish, Maurissa Rose

Released 2 June 2023

Sound Signature / Whobody Records

****-

Theo Parrish and Maurissa Rose are both veterans of the Detroit scene, having collaborated on a select few singles since 2019. Now they present a full album together of luscious, meditative loops and smooth vocal explorations. Free Myself is another of Parrish’s signature deep house productions with a lofi flair, seeing Rose release a soulful stream of consciousness over these extended cuts. The tone is woozy with her wispy sighs, shown best in ‘Purify Me’ with crisp, strutting rhythms, jazzy brass beeps, and synths twinkling like wind chimes.

Read more... Bleep

Syrup - The Questions

The Questions

by (Twit One, Turt & C.Tappin)

Released 2 June 2023

Melting Pot Music

****-

Second album by British-German jazz rap super group Syrup. Syrup consist of Twit One (beats), Turt of Summers Sons (rap) and C.Tappin (vocals & keys). Twit is from Cologne, Turt and Tap are from London. They share a friendship and musical partnership based on similar musical tastes and live values. Their first album „Rosy Lee“ was released in 2021 on Melting Pot Music and was also released on LP.

Read more... Bandcamp

Syrup - Rosy Lee

Rosy Lee

by (Twit One, Turt & C.Tappin)

Released 18 September 2020

Melting Pot Music

****-

Technically, Syrup are a hip-hop group with unmistakeable leanings towards soul and jazz. The group consists of an MC (Turt), a pianist/singer (C.Tappin) and a beatmaker (Twit One). Their music is rooted in the tradition of collectives like Native Tongues and Soulquarians, and they have come up with a pretty appropriate term to describe their sound, which is „cool bap“.
But if we put formailties aside and look at the bigger picture, Syrup are also a perfect example of how music can connect people beyond national borders, language and tradition. And furthermore how Afro-American culture has influenced not only the musical taste but the views and opinion-making of generations of young people worldwide.

Read more... Bandcamp

Portugal. The Man - Chris Black Changed My Life

Chris Black Changed My Life

by Portugal. The Man

Released 23 June 2023

Atlantic

****-
There may not be a more difficult to pin down band in pop music than Portugal. The Man. Led by singer/songwriter John Gourley, the Alaska-born, Portland-based outfit has carved out a distinctive niche on the pop landscape since 2006, exploring a literate, cut-n-paste brand of indie rock that's artfully left of center while still consciously embracing many of the dance, R&B, and electronic traditions that one might expect in modern contemporary pop. It's an eclectic approach that helped make their 2017 album, the '60s psych-influenced Woodstock, and its Grammy-winning single, "Feel It Still," such a surprising breakthrough.

The album is named after the group's close friend, filmmaker Chris Black, who toured with them in 2016 as a kind of unofficial DJ and hype man, and who died tragically in 2019 just as his career was taking shape. Black's death, as well as Gourley's own need to decompress and rethink the group's creative direction in the wake of Woodstock's success, found Portugal. The Man taking a long-needed break before reentering the studio. Thankfully, the time away finds them recharged.

Read more... AllMusic

Jonny Mansfield - The Air In Front Of You

The Air In Front Of You

by Jonny Mansfield

Released 16 June 2023

Jonothan Mansfield

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Jonny Mansfield's new quintet puts the focus solidly on original material and features an unusual ‘chamber jazz’ line up featuring two string players, violinist Dominic Ingham and cellist Midori Jaeger. Will Sach fills the bass chair and James Maddren is behind the drum kit, allowing Mansfield to specialise on vibraphone.

Mansfield says of this latest project;
“This music was composed specially for these artists to express themselves fully through their instruments. There is an underlying shared commitment to create beautiful, rich textures through the use of extended string and percussive techniques that allow for familiar folk-like melodies to guide the listener through sonic landscapes. 
Improvisation is at the core of the performances, which is emphasised by the contrasting musical perspectives each member brings, having grown up in different countries. 
Influences are drawn from Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen, Scottish fiddler Aiden O’Rouke and Chilean guitarist Camilla Meza”. 

Semi-classical in feel, but very much jazz in spirit, this is distinctive and adventurous music from a very unusual (possibly unique) instrumental configuration. It may only suit so many ears but those that have enjoyed Mansfield’s playing in other contexts will hopefully appreciate this music also. It’s the kind of album that is likely to reveal new facets with each subsequent listening.

Read more... The Jazzmann

Greg Foat & Gigi Masin - Dolphin

Dolphin

by Greg Foat & Gigi Masin

Released 16 June 2023

Strut Records

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Recorded remotely during 2021-2022 the album took shape in the form of mutual compositions, gradually developed and embellished online. Final recording sessions took place at the majestic Chale Abbey Studios on the Isle Of Wight with Moses Boyd (drums), Tom Herbert (bass) and Siobhan Cosgrove (flute, clarinet) adding elements to several pieces. Tracks include the reflective, wistful single ‘Viento Calido’ and drifting ambient piece ‘Sabena’, a beautiful tribute to Gigi’s wife who sadly passed away during 2022.

Greg Foat has recorded prolifically in recent years for Athens Of The North, Jazzman and Strut including acclaimed albums Symphonie Pacifique (2020) and The Mage (2019). Best known for his 1986 ambient masterpiece Wind and as a member of Gaussian Curve, Gigi Masin has enjoyed a revival in recent years through his Calypso album on R&S’s Apollo label and renewed touring. Dolphin represents Greg and Gigi’s first landmark recording collaboration together. “I first heard Gigi’s album Wind in 2016,” remembers Greg. “I was living in Miami and I heard it playing one Summer evening. Since then, it has always been in my mind to be able to record together.”

Read more... Bandcamp

Laura Jones - Fig

Fig (EP)

by Laura Jones

Released 16 June 2023

Laura Jones Music

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Lara Jones is a London-based experimental saxophonist but listen to this track before you pass judgement on what you think that might sound like. ‘Fig’ is an electronic powerhouse of giddy arpeggios, gritty electronic swells, pinched synths and blown-up drum sounds.

The title track from the EP takes as its source a field recording of a conversation between Jones and her wife in the shower and you hear the line “queer love, it’s just love you know.” Jones says “I wanted to be bolder with this EP in how I presented my message, I chose to use my voice audibly for the first time and ultimately aimed to start a conversation about queer love and identity from an intimate perspective.”
There is a lot going on in its three-minute running time. It’s a pulsating drama that seems to breathe in electricity and exhale pyroclastic clouds of dancefloor energy. It’s as anarchic as waves hitting rocks or meteors striking distant moons and the crackling power of it will give your fingers enough of a jolt to have them reaching for the repeat button.

Read more... Joyzine

Already part of the London based avant-garde trio J Frisco, the EP is a promising start to Jones' solo career. The song "Look" expresses the desire to "...live like a girl who looks like a boy wearing a dress". Let's hope she reaches the heights of another artist named Jones, who about 50 years ago might have written something similar, and to create his Ziggy Stardust persona.

Samuel Sharp - Consequential

Consequential

by Samuel Sharp

Released 16 June 2023

Blackford Hill

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London-based saxophonist and composer Samuel Sharp presents 'Consequential', his second solo album and first release with Scottish label Blackford Hill.

A playful, mellifluous and sometimes dizzying brew, Samuel layers and weaves his saxophone notes into intriguing, soporific and occasionally slapstick patterns, with only a small batch of effects pedals for accompaniment.

Samuel Sharp has two secret weapons for captivating his audiences. His saxophone and his storytelling. Innovatively crafted soundscapes blur the lines between classical, jazz and electronic music. He uses harmoniser and delay pedals to create live loops as he plays, but there’s a folksy, grassro

Over nine tracks, Samuel dips into his childhood memories, merging pastoral snapshots from frogspawn-spotting holidays in the Lake District with more recent family trips, where the sight of darting rabbits in the moonlight leaves him standing transfixed on a quiet country lane. Based in Hackney, with a recording studio on the edge of Walthamstow Marshes, Samuel lets East London seep into the record too, as heard on the steady rhythms of 'Train Across The Meadow', where he counts carriages thundering past him on his run, or 'Canal Crash', where sharp, punchy bass notes build steadily to a loud splash as he recalls a bicycle accident which propelled him over his handlebars into the Regent’s Canal.

Read more... Bandcamp

Svaneborg Kardyb - Over Tage

Over Tage

by Svaneborg Kardyb

Released 21 April 2023

Gondwana Records

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Svaneborg Kardyb are Nikolaj Svaneborg - Wurlitzer, Juno, piano and Jonas Kardyb - drums, percussion a multi award winning duo from Denmark, where they won two "grammys" at the Danish Music Awards Jazz 2019: New artist of the year and Composer of the year. 
Drawing on Danish folk music and Scandinavian jazz influences, including Nils Frahm, Esbjörn Svennson and Jan Johansson's landmark recording Jazz På Svenska, their music is an exquisite and joyful melding of beautiful melodies, delicate minimalism, catchy grooves, subtle electronica vibes, Nordic atmospheres and organic interplay, all underwritten by the sheer joy of playing together. "We started in the earliest of mornings over the blackest of coffee, sometimes even without talking, just music. The vibe from these early sessions is still the backbone of our little band".Their music is intentionally simple at first glance, but evolves and unfolds through listening over time, with plenty of room for exploration, reflection and improvisation. Their aim is to create music that is as honest and intimate as possible "with melodies and rhythms so strong that we are left as only the messengers". And their fast-developing music chemistry allowed them to give little thought to what their musical influences were. Giving their music a captivating charm.

And it is that mixture of elevation and thoughtfulness, honesty and intimacy that makes the music of Svaneborg Kardyb so special and Over Tage such a joy to listen to. The world awaits.

Read more... Bandcamp

Dorian Holley, Nayanna Holley - DNA

DNA

by Dorian Holley, Nayanna Holley

Released 9 March 2023

Night Dreamer

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Dorian Holley, backup singer for Michael Jackson (Dorian was singer and Vocal  Director on the This Is It tour), Rod Stewart, James Taylor,  etc. partners with his  daughter Nayanna Holley, herself a veteran  backup singer for Kelly Clarkson, P!nk,  St. Vincent, Sheryl Crow, et  al, fully realizing a cross-generational musical legacy. 

This is the  first album for the father-daughter singing tandem, a collection of   favorite songs from the 70s and 80s, chosen at the height of the global  pandemic to  recall our ability to heal and to hope for better days  ahead.

The album is produced  by bassist Kaveh Rastegar (John Legend,  Sia, Bruno Mars, Bruce Springsteen), and  features legendary keyboardist  Larry Goldings (John Mayer, James Taylor), guitarist  Chris Bruce  (Seal, Meshell Ndegecello), and drummer Abe Rounds (Ndegecello, Blake   Mills, Sara Bareilles). 

Read more... Ropeadope

Peter Brotzmann, Majid Bekkas, Hamid Drake - Catching Ghosts

Catching Ghosts

by Peter Brotzmann, Majid Bekkas, Hamid Drake

Released 28 April 2023

ACT Music

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The 2022 Jazzfest Berlin performance by revered, iconoclastic reedist Peter Brötzmann, Moroccan Gnaoua adept Majid Bekkas playing the two-stringed, camel skin-backed guembri, and Chicago-bred drummer Hamid Drake, documented as Catching Ghosts, is historic.

It’s a return to performance by 81-year-old Brötzmann after pandemic years affected his health, and recalls his prior Gnaouan encounters, like The Catch of a Ghost (2019) with guembri master Maâlem Moukhtar Gania, and a 1996 meet with Maâlem Mahmoud Gania at Austria’s Music Unlimited Festival (Hamid there both times). It also is a triumph of musical universalism, made in the moment without even one rehearsal, proving that “free” spontaneous interactions can transcend cultural lines, still deriving power from age-old traditions.

Improvising on incantations from Gnaoua liturgy, Brötzmann, Bekkas and Drake convey “Chalaba,” “Mawama,” “Hamchia” and “Balini” so directly a listener without Arabic or Berber gets the messages. Hear saxophone, clarinet and tárogató cries as summons and statements; feel drums awaken inner impulses; sense strings, plucked and strummed, tying it all together, and a voice stressing the songs’ immediacy. But make no mistake: The music’s  vitality and credibility are earned by its players’ decades of practice, career-long study of heritage, and embrace the paradox that the past must be reinterpreted, anew.

These Gnaouan chants have endured numerous modern Arabic adaptations, and jazz giants Ornette Coleman, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp and Randy Weston have previously applied themselves to similar crossovers. But for Brötzmann, Europe’s exemplar of unfettered blowing, grapple with such material so deeply is to witness its greatest stretch yet, entering new territory.

Read more... ACT Music

Balmorhea - Pendant World

Pendant World

by Balmorhea

Released 16 June 2023

Deutsche Grammophon

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Classical musicians have been wise to broaden their sound and style. Even if Bach, Mozart and that Nutcracker guy continue to hold up the genre, classical music has a bad rap of being elitist or unapproachable. However, contemporary artists have done a good job of keeping it fresh.

Balmorhea, a six-piece sometimes four-piece ensemble from Texas, has done a terrific job of keeping their music lively and forward-thinking. Pendant World is stylish and brings a sturdy but delicate sound that will excite listeners.

Experimenting with restraint, the group shows that classical music doesn’t have to be a bunch of white guys playing old, dead white guys.

Founded by Rob Lowe and Michael A. Muller in 2006, the album features a great line-up of guest artists: violinist/vocalist Aisha Burns, cellist Clarice Jensen, experimental jazz saxophonist Sam Gendel, Joseph Shabason on tenor sax and flute, clarinettist Jonathan Sielaff, percussionist Jason Treuting, and vocalists Steph Jenkins and Lisa Morgenstern. Jonathan Low adds synths and percussion and also produced the album. 

The group’s sets range from pieces that sound like Debussy to more folksy works, showing their appreciation for music and, better still, making others appreciate it all the more.

Overall, Pendant World has a sense of sophistication, playing with sound and silence. 

Read more... Spectrum Culture

Sam Gendel - Cookup

Cookup

by Sam Gendel

Released 24 February 2023

Nonesuch Records

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Saxophonist Sam Gendel has sent out an invitation to an unusual sonic Cookup. So what is he serving? Who will be there? Will beat poets merge with experimental musicians in a smoky jazz grotto? Will it be a cryptic musical labyrinth or a collection of meandering songs? Is it a transcription of ancient African organic rhythms or something more modern?
The answer is elusive and, by design, a moving target. There are bits and pieces of all the above, yet the improvisational signposts point to jazz at its most experimental. Not in the free form Albert Ayler meets Ornette Coleman sense but more in keeping with the esoteric musings found on many of the ambient recordings released by ECM Records. Saxophonist and leader Gendel deliberately charts his own course and, if he is referring to any type of musical map, he is not letting us in on the coordinates as he wanders into uncharted territory. Sonic twists and turns flow from his acoustic saxophone (as well as electronic wind controllers) forming quirky soundscapes that may well have been inspired by previous innovators including Laurie Anderson, Meredith Monk and others.
This collection is ostensibly rooted in early '90s / mid-2000s R&B and soul songs but good luck following the sonic breadcrumbs to the supposed original source.

Read more... All About Jazz

Dr. John - The Montreux Years

The Montreux Years

by Dr. John

Released 2 June 2023

Montreux Sounds

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New Orleans is considered the birthplace of jazz. In the late 1800s, the city was a melting pot of different cultures, including African, European, and Caribbean. This cultural diversity had a profound impact on the music of the city. The new sounds of Dixieland and ragtime became the foundation in the evolution of jazz. Artists such as Buddy Bolden, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and Jelly Roll Morton became the leaders of this new music.
It was the pianists who later became the heart and soul of the New Orleans style of music, combining many different aspects and genres into an increasingly diverse jazz gumbo soup. Pianists like Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair and James Booker continued that evolution. However, no musician epitomizes all the styles present in the history of New Orleans music like Dr. John (Mac Rebennack). Dr. John: The Montreux Years is a remarkable testament to both the breadth and talent he was able to convey, especially in a live setting. The 14 tracks on the album (recorded between 1986 and 2012) are a cumulative masterclass that showcases his diversity of style, all the while staying true to the essence of the New Orleans DNA evident in his playing and singing.

Read more... All About Jazz

Bawo - Legitimate Cause

Legitimate Cause

by Bawo

Released 30 January 2023

Say Nothing Records

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Rising star and London-based rapper Bawo releases EP ‘Legitimate Cause’. After dropping a handful of singles - ‘Same Team’ and ‘Not Just Yet’ from the highly anticipated project, the artist gifts a complete and steady 7-track EP proclaiming his focus on his music. A theme often explored in his music, the artist gets candid on his craft, leaning in to examine several subjects namely friendships, romantic connections, and his music being his solemn calling.
Flagged as one of the UK’s promising new talents, the artist has carved a space for himself on the scene. From the outset, Bawo has garnered leading support from his break-out fan faves like his 2020 ‘No Sleep’ through to his ‘Starts with a Text’. Pulling in audiences with his contemporary take, the rapper experiments with his sound adding elements of trap, drill, and Baile funk, neatly packaging his work with an alternative essence to match his signature and musing lyrical flair. Throughout the new offering, the rapper's endless flow and confidence are present as ever as this release seemingly signifies a new journey and even application for the artist as he labors his craft to reach new heights.
 

Read more... New Wave Magazine