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March 2021 Highlights

March 2021 Highlights

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Pharoah Sanders, Floating Points, LSO - Promises


by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, London Symphony Orchestra

Released 27 March 2021

Luaka Bop Records


"Promises" is the astonishing across-the-generations collaboration between young, Manchester, UK producer Floating Points (known to his mother as Sam Shepard), veteran US Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (best known for his work with John and Alice Coltrane) and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).

It is a seamless, timeless work of collasboration, five years in the making; 46 minutes of bliss in the form of a suite of nine connected Movements.

Floating Points surpassses all expectations (notwithstanding the quality of his previous releases (particularly 2019's Crush, one of sunneversetsonmusic's 2019 Highlights). He is the central figure, whose gorgeous keyboards and electronica are the binding elements throughout. But, rarely has free jazz, electronic and symphonic music been combied so delicately and seamlessly.

The session opens with the tones of what sounds like a vibrophone, but is in fact a harpsicord, with piano and celeste tracked on top, then slowed down 25%). This is soon joined by Sanders' mellow saxophone - the full-force blowing for which he is so famous does not feature here.

The harpisicord arpeggio is used repeatedly throughout the work, particularly at the opening of each Movement. This grounds the entire set by always allowing the music to return to and emerge from a common point.

The early four Movements seem to grow progressively quieter, until they achieve a calm that might have been borrowed from Max Richter's "Sleep". But near the middle of Movement 4, Sanders saxaphone stirs in a sustained duet with the harpsicord that is sustained until near the end of the following Movement.

The music resets for Movement 6, but soon a brief reprise of sax gives way to the LSO's strings which transform the soundscape to cinematic levels, providing the first of two outstanding centrepiece tracks.

Movement 7, the second highlight, again builds from the familiar harpsicord arpeggio to which Sanders adds floating saxophone melodies, as he did in the opening three Movements. However, for a few minutes, by application of  a combination of free-jazz sax and celestial electronic effects, Shephard and Sanders conjure an almost mystical, transcendent sound.

It is hard to imagine another release that will surpass Promises in 2021, for album of the year

Izy - Irene


by Izy

Released 26 March 2021

Hopestreet Recordings


Izy, pronounced eye-zee, is the world’s first Far North Queensland neo-soul supergroup, and their time has come. How did this improbable band come together? Three sensitive boys, seeking shelter from the cyclones and the heat and the homicidal jellyfish found themselves hanging out, swapping shifts in a music shop, jamming in a blues bar, selling ukeleles and distilling clandestine dragonfruit gin.

So reads Izy's Bandcamp bio - and hey, who am I to say it ain't so? 

These days, Izy is based in Melbourne and although “Irene” is their debut album and follows the young band's impressibe debut sngle "Moon", released in October 2019.  

Izy already shows great maturity, and appears destined to write an important chapter in the story of Australia neo-soul revival.

The band describes "Irene" as a 10 song collection of raw neo-soul grooves, rich vocal harmony and subtle jazz guitar. A stripped back, simple recording of a band killing it in a room. There’s a deep understanding of the canon of soul music on display here, with echoes of D’Angelo and Curtis Mayfield, but also a uniquely individual sensibility, rarely so clearly articulated on a debut record.
Deeply connected to their roots and their families, both the band and the album are named after Irene, Guitarist Ryo Montgomery’s paternal grandmother; an important source of support and comfort in the band’s formative years.

The band members have grown up surrounded by an eclectic range of mnusics and cultures. Ryo, bassist Warrigo Tyrrell and drummer Maru Nitor Zamatarro each cut their teeth young, playing with their parents in three very different musical families. Ryo grew up shifting between his mother’s home in rural Japan and his father’s blues bar in Cairns where he watched legends of guitar ply their trade and did his first shows. Maru was playing guiro in his parent’s cumbia band Los Caracoles before he turned five. Warrigo grew up jamming on Shadows covers and Aboriginal protest rock with his fathers and brothers, members of the Kalkadoon and Waanyi nations. Heritage is important to Izy and they bring these musical and cultural influences together proudly.
They describe themselves as "humble and hard working Gen-Z virtuosos who love their grandmas, representing an optimistic post-colonial version of Australian identity and music".

Prequel - Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)

Love Or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)

by Prequel

Released 19 March 2021

Rhythm Section Records


"Love or (I Heard You Like Heartbreak)" is Melbourne-based Prequel's impressive debut album, which follows a series of impressive singles and EP's over recent years, appreciated by a dedicated and growing on-line fanbase.

In an interview with Purple Sneakers Prequel said that he didn't set out to make a record about love, but recognising that his strength lies in sampling and to break a period of writer's block without any new records at hand, he went back to his own collection, much of which was purchased when he was a teenager. "The suject (of love)... just sort of kept coming up."he says. "So I wanted to have an album with a narrative, with not only my mood and my style of producing, or the “Prequel sound” I guess, if there is one, but I wanted to have it flow as a story, as a narrative, and I wanted it to flow musically. I wanted it to encompass all of my influences".

In a way, this album reminds me of "The Reels"1982 release "Beautiful" (originally released on the low-budget label, K-Tel). They applied early (Fairlight) synth pop instrumentation and a deeply ironic, world-weary sensibility to a selection of middle-of-the-road songs, years before David Lynch's adoption of similar similar homage in "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks", and decades before the likes of Lana Del Ray. Reels' drummer Stephan Fiddock has said the the notion for the album came from his practice, as a boy, of listening to 45's at 33 to 'get the chords'. 

Prequel is supported by:

Tamil Rogeon (Strings)“When Love Is New” & “I Tried to Tell Him”
Horatio Luna (Bass) “I Tried to Tell Him”
Josh Kelly (Sax ) “I’ll Never Stop Loving You”
Javier Fredes (Percussion) “I Tried to Tell Him” & "Unaware of Love”
Cazeaux O.S.L.O (Vocals) “Love Is"

Nubiyan Twist - Freedom Fables

Freedom Fables

by Nubiyan Twist

Released 12 March 2020

Strut Records - K7 Music GmbH


Nubiyan Twist describe themselves as "UK's leading light in Afro-Jazz". Lead by producer/ guitarist Tom Excell, Nubiyan Twist's live show boasts 10 musicians with powerful arrangements and live dub processing. Their records see collaborations with some of the greatest African musicians of all time: Mulatu Astatke and Tony Allen. As well as working with UK vocalists Cherise, Ego Ella May, Ruby Wood and Ria Moran.

Woven around soul searching, cautionary tales and parables for modern life, the Freedom Fables is the most accomplished yet by the Leeds / London collective, effortlessly fusing different soul, jazz and global styles with great musicianship and lyrics.

"Freedom Fables reflects on the power of narratives featuring U.K. vocalists Ria Moran, Cherise, Ego Ella May and Nick Richards; saxophonist Soweto Kinch and Ghanaen vocalists Pat Thomas and K.O.G. Each vocalist on this record explores their own memoirs, a freedom of expression underpinning the band's belief that music is the ultimate narrative for unity," explains Excell. “The record references a lot of music that we all loved during our formative years; you can hear touches of broken beat, blunted hip hop, highlife, Latin, jazz and UK soul running through the tracks."


Source: Bandcamp

Midlife - Automatic


by Midlife

Released 18 September 2020

Inertia Music


When Melbourn-based Mildlife’s debut album, Phase, was released in 2018 it didn’t so much explode on to the scene as ooze. Their mellifluous mix of jazz, krautrock and, perhaps more pertinently, demon grooves, was the word of mouth sensation of that year among open-minded DJs and diggers searching for the perfect beat.

Their emergence was backed up by European tours that demonstrated a riotously loose-limbed approach to performance that was every bit as thrilling as Phase’s tantalising promise. What was more impressive was how lightly they wore influences that took in Can, Patrick Adams and Jan Hammer Group, while primarily sounding precisely like Mildlife.

By the end of 2018 they’d been nominees for Best Album at the Worldwide FM Awards (Worldwide’s Gilles Peterson was a notable champion) and won Best Electronic Act at The Age Music Victoria Awards back home in Melbourne. Their progress post-Phase was cemented with a UK deal with Jeff Barrett’s Heavenly, who released How Long Does It Take? replete with Cosmic doyen Baldelli and Dionigi remixes, while last year they were officially anointed by DJ Harvey when he included The Magnificent Moon on his Pikes compilation Mercury Rising Vol II.

With Automatic, the band have made a step-change from their debut. It’s more disciplined, directional and arguably more danceable. As on Phase, they are unafraid to let a track luxuriate in length without ever succumbing to self-indulgence. The arrangements, tightly structured thanks to Tom Shanahan (bass) and Jim Rindfleish’s fatback drumming, permit space for the others to add spice to the stew, topped off with Kevin McDowell’s ethereal vocals as Mildlife effortlessly glide between live performance and studio songwriting. “The recorded songs kind of become the new reference point for playing the songs live,’ says Kevin. “They both have different outcomes and we make our decisions for each based on that, but they’re symbiotic and they both influence each other. It’s usually a fairly natural flow from live to recorded back to live.”

The centrepiece of Automatic is the title track where the band sound like Kraftwerk and Herbie Hancock on quarantined lockdown in Bob Moog’s Trumansburg workshop. It’s both a departure and quintessentially Mildlife. This is music you can dance to rather than ‘dance music’ and it’s all the better for it.

Source: Midlife Bandcamp

GuedraGuedra - Vexillology


by Guedra Guedra

Released 12 March 2021

On The Corner


From the spiritual polyrhythms of gnawa to the looping vocalisations of Sufism and the percussive tessellations of Berber folk, the world of north African cultures meet in the music of Morocco. Producer Abdellah M Hassak, AKA Guedra Guedra, has taken these rhythms as the core of his work. His name comes from the Berber dance music performed on the guedra drum; his debut EP, 2020’s Son of Sun, explored these diffuse roots through a dancefloor filter, with added field recordings and electronic Midi sequencing, a junglist collage that straddles tradition and contemporary dance musics.

Guedra Guedra: Vexillology album cover
Guedra Guedra: Vexillology album cover
Hassak’s debut album, Vexillology, extends this idea over the course of 13 propulsive and complex tracks. Seven Poets samples a group chant over birdsong and snappy hi-hats that evoke footwork’s stacked rhythms – encompassing the dancefloors of Chicago and the desert-scape of Berber song. The Chicago sound also leaves its mark on the bouncy Stampede Step with its shrill flute melody and growling bassline, and Aura samples the chants of the Zayane mountain community: chopping their circular incantations over rumbling sub-bass, the effect renders them as verse and a kind of crowd sound.

Instead of simply pasting decontextualised field recordings over bright electronics, Hassak integrates these folk elements into the mix and allows them to breathe. He incorporates the clatter of the bendir drum on the rollicking Aura, a smattering of hand claps over the house piano of Cercococcyx, and the shrill arpeggios of the taghanimt flute on the drum machine-heavy 40’ Feet. In this way, Hassak weaves tradition into his own interpretations of dance, allowing space for the acoustic to interact with the electronic, not remixing the former beyond the point of recognition (a common pitfall in this type of work). On Vexillology, Hassak extrapolates the underlying rhythms of the north African diaspora to present a new realisation of this enticing, pervasive pulse.

Source: The Guardian

A Winged Victory For the Sullen - Invisible Cities

Invisible Cities

by A Winged Victory For The Sullen

Released 26 February 2021

Artificial Pinearch Manufacturing


A Winged Victory for the Sullen is the collaboration between Adam Wiltzie & Dustin O'Halloran. Their new release ‘Invisible Cities’ is the stunning score to a critically acclaimed theatre production directed by London Olympics ceremony video designer Leo Warner. - a 90-minute multimedia theatrical stage show, adapted from Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel of the same name. Described by The Sunday Times as “a beautiful frenzy of movement”, it fuses theatre, music, dance, architectural design, and visuals and brings to life a series of fantastical places and disparate worlds, centered on the tense relationship between Kublai Khan, the volatile head of a vast empire, and explorer Marco Polo.

Originally conceived as a touring project, its last performance was in Brisbane, Australia before COVID-19 changed the world as we know it.

Transformed into 45 minutes of breathtaking beauty, ‘Invisible Cities’ opens with the numinous ‘So That the City Can Begin to Exist’, as Wiltzie and O'Halloran draw breath from distinctively enthralling and vastly expansive worlds.

The ominous soundscapes of ‘The Dead Outnumber the Living’ contrast with the new beginnings that are presented in ‘Every Solstice & Equinox’, while the jagged and uneasy ‘Thirteenth Century Travelogue’ is one of tension and dread.

Elsewhere, ‘The Divided City’ captivates and intrigues while ‘Only Strings and Their Supports Remain’ and ‘There Is One of Which You Never Speak’ are bold roars for survival before the choral ambience of ‘Desires Are Already Memories’ and piercing drones of ‘Total Perspective Vortex’ bring down the curtain on a spectacular and incredibly emotive body of work. 

Source: AWVFTS Bandcamp

Charles Lloyd - Tone Poem

Tone Poem

by Charles Lloyd & the Marvels

Released 12 March 2020

Blue Note


My first Charles Lloyd album, his 1996 ECM recording "Canto" is among my go-to's when I'm looking for a mellow, spiritual jazz. At that time Lloyd was already an elder statesman of the music scene in his fourth decade of recording, reflected in the album cover of an elder gazing thoughtfully into the distance. Well, Lloyd was at that time almost 60, but from ready to retire. He continued to record with ECM, releasing another 11 albums with the label, before changing to Blue Note in 2016 (and "Manhattan Stories" for Resonance in between). "Tone Poem" is his sixth album for Blue Note and his third with The Marvels, the piano-less band he formed (also in 2016) with Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Rueben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. It follows "I Long to See You", on which Norah Jones and Willie Nelson feature on vocals and "Vanished Gardens", a collaboration with singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams. 

At age 82, Lloyd is indeed a marvel, as he again brings his long legacy of spiritual jazz into fusion with the folk and blues inclinations of his collaborators, in the process reminding us of the unremitting potential for innovation in the genre. 

The band presents a mix of classics and originals commencing with two Ornette Colman pieces "Peace" and "Ramblin", the former an avant-garde serving of slide guitar; the latter adding a sultry southern R&B backing to the Coleman's original solitary sax. In a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Anthem" Frisell's guitar and Lloyd's sax weave in and out of one another, delicately caressing the melody of the song. The title song is a mid-album showcase for Lloyd's signature saxophone, a reworking  his legendary 1985 performance of this song for the jazz film "One Night with Blue Note". Other highlights include: "Monk's Mood", which featured as an ensemble piece on his previous release "Vanished Gardens", but is here reworked in an extended version, as a sax/guitar duet with Frissell; "Lady Gabor" - a reworking of a Gabor Szabo tune from Lloyd's distant past (the tune features on "Manhattan Stories" a double album released in 2014 that includes recordings from two 1965 New York concerts).

The album concludes with a virtuoso tenor sax performance by Lloyd on his original composition, "Prayer".

Monique diMattina - Tides


by Monique diMattina

Released 2 February 2021

Monique diMattina


Monique diMattina is an established jazz artist in Melbourne, with a numerous previous albums to her name: "Everybody Loves Somebody" (2015), "Nola's Ark" (2013), "Sun Signs" (2011) and "Welcome Stranger" (2010), "Live at the 55" (2009), "Senses" (2007), all of which feature her exquisite piano skills, sometimes accompanied by her sultry blues singing. The artist describes "Tides" simply, as "ten solo piano compositions composed in 2020 Melbourne lockdown". It is a return to the piano-based music of her early albums, such as "Senses" and "Sun Signs"

“All songs have to do with Tides and emotions rolling in and out and finding our balance and equilibrium in the face of all the waves that keep crashing on our shores. 

I wanted it to be accessible for others to play from home - that was in my mind when I composed,” Monique says. “Lots of people picked up their instruments that had been sitting in their homes for years and musical instrument sales went through the roof apparently. I was thinking about that and connecting with audiences in a different ways, seen that there were no gigs.”


Pat Metheny - Road To The Sun

Road To The Sun

by Pat Metheny

Released 5 March 2021

Metheny Group Productions / BMG


The first thing to know about this album is that it’s classical guitar and, apart from strumming on two tracks, Pat Metheny plays on only the final track - and that’s not even his own composition, but Arvo Pärt’s Für Alina.

But keep an open mind and open ears, because on this album you’ll hear some of the world’s finest classical guitarists playing new Metheny compositions of great beauty and virtuosity.

First off is Four Paths of Light, a four-part suite for solo guitar. It’s a credit to Metheny’s versatility that it’s often hard to recognise him as the composer, some highly arpeggiated passages played in strict tempo suggestive of classical etudes, and Part 4 a piece in 3/4 time with a strong flamenco flavour; but inevitably Metheny’s distinctive lyricism and personality shine through, particularly in Part 2.

Metheny’s also found the perfect performers for Road to the Sun, a six-part suite for four guitars that follows Paths of Light. The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet comprises John Dearman, William Kanengiser, Scott Tennant and Matthew Greif who, like Vieaux, perform across many genres, from Bach to bluegrass to rock. 

As with Four Paths of Light, the parts of Road to the Sun show great compositional complexity and a wide variety of moods, from the baroque feel of Part 1 to quiet nocturnal musings in Part 3 to the special effects that conclude Part 4: slithery glissandi that sound like the players running their nails along the strings, dry percussive strums on muted strings, and high-pitched tinkling that I suspect is picking the strings between the nut and tuning pegs. Part 2 and Part 5 sound like vintage Pat Metheny, concluding with sections that could almost be the Pat Metheny Group unplugged – perhaps because they’re the only two parts on which Metheny performs, raising the question of how much a musician’s sound derives from their compositions and how much from their playing style.

We certainly get Metheny’s playing style on the concluding piece, a reinterpretation of Arvo Pärt’s solo piano composition Für Alina. Metheny plays it on his famous custom-made 42-string Pikasso [sic] guitar, so named because its three curiously arranged necks and two sound holes make it look like a cubist interpretation of a guitar. Its sound is incredible, from deep resonant bass notes to bright ringing tones reminiscent of a zither – and Metheny beautifully captures the ethereal melancholy of the original.

For Metheny lovers or anyone interested in classical guitar, this album’s a must. And for anyone not yet familiar with classical guitar, this stunning album could well be their gateway drug to a whole new universe of wonders.

Source: London Jazz News

Pino Palladino, Blake Mills - Notes With Attachments

Notes With Attachments

by Pino Palladino, Blake Mills

Released 12 March 2021



Pino Palladino and Blake Mills are two great examples of skilled master musicians that usually play sessions for big-name artists, their names appearing regularly in the liner notes, but rarely getting the recognition they truly deserve.

Every so often though, one will break through and become feature a artist in their own right: Glen Campbell, Jimi Hendrix, Ry Cooder, Willie Nelson, Brian Eno and Leon Russell spring to mind.

Welshman bass player Pino Palladino (born 1947) has played for acts such as The Who, Tears for Fears, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Elton John, the John Mayer Trio, Nine Inch Nails, Gary Numan, Jeff Beck and D'Angelo.

American guitarist Blake Mills (born 1986) started his professional career touring with Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses, Cass McCombs, Julian Casablancas and Lucinda Williams. As a session musician, Mills has collaborated with Conor Oberst, Kid Rock, Weezer, The Avett Brothers, Paulo Nutini, Norah Jones, Carlene Carter, Jesca Hoop, Dixie Chicks, Zucchero, Pink, Lana Del Rey, Dangermouse, Vulfpeck and more. As producer for Fiona Apple, Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard, Laura Marling, Perfume Genius and John Legend. In 2020, he played guitar on Bob Dylan's album Rough and Rowdy Ways. His own album, Mutable Set, was one of sunneversetsonmusic's favourites in May 2020.

Although Mills could be Paladino's grandson, the two have great rapport and have made an unusual, but compelling album together. Fittingly, there's no album art per-se, only a list of credits.

With Palladino sharing creative control it is perhaps no surprise that this is an album that gives the bottom end of the sound system its best workout since Jaco Pastorius was alive.

The album opens with disjointedly funky compositions "Just Wrong" and "Soundwalk". In the first, a repeated opening note evolves to become the seed for many different interwoven melodies from Gendel and Goldings' muted saxes and Rob Moose's violas, all underpined by complex drumming patterns from Chris Dave and with Palladino’s bass underpining and embellished by Mills  nylon-string guitar, berimbau and electric sitar.

The funk level rises with "Soundwalk", where the bass/guitars/drum/sax palette, continues to work in the bottom register, as if they've taken Henry Mancini to the pub before he composed the Pink Pussycat theme. 

The third track "Ekute" moves the caravan over to West Africa, and gives the band a workout with a Fela Kuti-inspired groove, this time sweetened by some of Andrew Bird's fiddle. The short title track "Notes With Attachment" provides a sombre pause, which introduces "Djurkel" a semi-tonal piece that is evocative of North and West African musical heritage, without limiting itself to an identifiable style. Named for the drummer "Chris Dave" is indeed a showcase for his skills, but also an opportunity for complex interplay with Palladino's bass and Mills keyboards. "Man from Molise", a funky, minimalist interplay between the instruments, is captured with a live-sounding production of a chamber orchestra and the album closes out with the short, shuffling "Off The Cuff".


Musicians featured include:

Chris Dave: drums, baby kit, percussion, clavinet, Rhodes, brushes;

Sam Gendel: Poly-Sax with BOSS Super Shifter, saxophones;

Larry Goldings: Mellotron saxophone, celeste, Hammond B3, Prophet V;

Rob Moose: viola, violin;

Jacques Schwarz-Bart: sax section;

Bruce Flowers: IZotope synthesizer;

Andrew Bird: violin;

Marcus Strickland: bass clarinet, saxophone; Ted Poor: prepared piano;

Ben Aylon: Senegalese percussion;

Matt Chamberlain: timbales.


Pino Palladino contributes semi-acoustic bass, bass harmonica, bass, polyphonic bass synthesizer, calabash, guitars, fretless bass, Fender bass;


Blake Mills plays berimbau, nylon string guitar, electro guitar, Coral electric sitar, DI Neve Fuzz, percussion, polyphonic guitar synthesizer, rubberized guitar, ngoni, fixed reeds, string synthesizer, e-flute with Direct String Synthesizer, fretless baritone guitar, drums, slide guitar, marimba, wordless vocals,

Archie Shepp, Jason Moran - Let My People Go

Let My People Go

by Archie Shepp & Jason Moran

Released 5 February 2021

YES Records


Archie Shepp (born May 24, 1937) is an American jazz saxophonist, educator and playwright who since the 1960s has played a central part in the development of avant-garde jazz. His most notable collaboratios include John Coltranme, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra. He was also deeply involed with and influenced by North African music.

Jason Moran (born January 21, 1975) is an American jazz pianist, composer, and educator involved in multimedia art and theatrical installations. He combines post-bop and avant-garde jazz, blues, classical music, stride piano and hip hop.


"Neither Shepp nor Jason Moran are old, and neither are they young—except in spirit and delight. Moran is the more recent arrival, and he’s no new kid on the block. They carry age and experience in their playing as much as a youthful fascination with the songs and forms that define this tradition we call jazz. Let My People Go is the timely title of this collection, but when has that message not been relevant? Now, sadly, as ever.

This is their first recording together, a gathering of duet performances from 2017 and 2018, chronicling a relationship that can sound like the intimate huddling of two old friends: whispered asides, excited exclamations, utterances coinciding with practiced harmony, followed by bursts of laughter. “Ain’t misbehavin’!” cries out one. “Waahhhh!!”, says the other. (That’s really Shepp speaking both parts—but you get the idea.)

 There’s an old African-American proverb that says, “The spirit will not descend without a song.”

Let My People Go is a supreme example of this idea. In this music, one can hear how, when two deeply connected souls meet, the message in the music is clarified and amplified, how its power is increased exponentially. Listen to what they say to each other, and what their music has to say to us".

Ashley Kahn, Bandcamp, October 2020 

Naissam Jalal and Rhythms of Resistance - Un Autre Monde

Un Autre Monde

by Naissam Jalal, Rhythms of Resistance

Released 5 March 2021

Les Couleurs Du Son


"Un Autre Monde" (The Colours of Sound) is the work of quintet "Rhythms of Resistance" formed from a collaboration between Paris-born flautist Naissam Jalal, Saxophonist Mehdi Chaib, guitarist and cellist Karsten Hochapfel, bassist Damien Varaillon and drummer Arnaud Dolmen. 

This double album is a recording of a live performance that marks the tenth anniversary of the group which has issued two previous releases" "Osloob Hayati" (2015) and "Almot Wala Almazaba" (2016).

This is a delightful recording, capturing a band in complete musical harmony with Jalal's voice and flute alternating as lead instruments.

Although the musician's Arabic heritage studied is never far from the surface, this is innovative contemporary jazz in the first instance. Jalal's parents are Syrian and after studying music from the age of 6, moving from classical to jazz she returned to Syria to study the Nay ( a shrill, Arabic twin reed oboe) at the Grand Institute of Arab Music in Damascus. She then lived in Egypt for a time, before returning to France.

The album is divided into two discs. The first is recorded with the quintet only. The second is recorded live, with the backing of Orchester National de Bretagne (National Orchestra of Brittany).

Her heritage and multi-culturalism is expressed beautifully in the spoken word passage at the opening of the final song of Disc 1.

"Chère France, terre de notre naissance / Comment te dire notre colère, notre douleur / Méprisés alors que nous sommes fiers / Divisés alors que nous sommes frères / Nous rêvons que tu es notre mère / Que pleine de tendresse / Tu nous accueille à bras ouverts / Comme Des enfants longtemps désirés / Car d'ailleurs, nous sommes d'ici".

"Dear France, land of our birth / How to tell you our anger, our pain / Despised while we are proud / Divided while we are brothers / We dream that you are our mother / That full of tenderness / You welcome us with open arms / Like Children long desired / Because besides,

Jimbo Mathus, Andrew Bird - These 13

These 13

by Jimbo Mathus, Andrew Bird

Released 5 March 2021

Wegawarm Music & Southern Broadcast


Andrew Bird always entertains cleverly with his music, whether it's through his virtuosic fiddling, his use of looping pedals, his quirky song choices or his trademark use of whistling. Together again with Jimbo Mathus, his mate from the swing-jazz band Squirrel Nut Zippers, the two have produced an album of hokey southern music, which may seem like just another example of this flair, but there's nothing new about this pairing - these guys' back-story is founded in touring and recording together back into the 1990's.

From the album sleeve to the first musical notes, "These 13"comes across as an album of old-fashioned music - in fact, everything was recorded live and direct to analogue tape using one RCA 44 microphone. It is an album befitting and benefiting from the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And although the songs borrow from British and American traditional forms, the lyrics and approach are contemporary. This gives the songs the authenticity of new work, even if the record is a step away for both artists, from their normal stocks-in-trade.

Highlights include the Stephen Foster-like opener "Poor Lost Souls", the delightful "Encircle My Love" (surely an instant new standard for folksingers and fiddlers everywhere), "Red Velvet Rope", recalling Jimmy Reed and closer "Three White Horses".

For the majority of the album, the songs spring from essentially British or Scottish fiddler/folksinger roots, but at the centre of the album, sits a run of songs from the Deep South of America: a Charlie Patton style talking-blues, "High John", a faux-spiritual hymn, "Stonewall" and a church-organ instrumental, "Bright Sunny South". Their inclusion elicits deeper reflection on the nature of this project and indeed, the genre: in the year of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, is it still OK for white guys to sing the blues without the involvement of African Americans, or does such a project now represent a kind of musical Blackface? 

What if an African American collaborator of similar musical standing to Mathus and Bird (say, Rhiannon Giddens or Brittany Howard) had collaborated on these songs? Would have elevated the songs and the album?

Having grown up in the South, and coming up among black and white musicians, Mathus does not consider himself racist. Nevertheless, his swing-jazz band the Squirrel Nut Zippers is (as far as I can see) a predominantly white outfit that plays a musical form that draws freely from African American (and European) influences. 

But it is the intent of "Stonewall", a hymn to the Civil War Confederate General, whose statues are being torn down or relocated throughout the southern states, that is unsettling, as the lyrics essentially confer eternal forgiveness to the General, in spite of his sins:

"Though my bones are shot and shattered,

My body is tattered and torn,

Let us now cross the river to the Lord".

As cultural and political leaders increasingly promote racial stereotypes and division, it is important for artists (and especially those drawing upon cross-cultural influences) to model inclusive approaches to the craft, to eliminate lyrical ambiguities and to arrest the appropriation of minority art unless it is with consent and acknowledgement.

In spite of all that, this is the only flaw in an otherwise musically excellent set.

Kadri Gopalnath - Saxophone (2006)


by Kadri Gopalnath

Released 28 September 2006



Regular visitors to sunneversetsonmusic will know that one of our favourite albums of all time is "Jyothi" (1983) by American saxophonist Charlie Mariano, which brings together the improvisational traditions of South Indian music and American jazz in a collaboration with the husband and wife team of T.A.S. and R.A. Ramamani and the Karnataka College of Percussion.

Although Goponath died in 2019 he has left a legacy of many fine recordings, not least this one. Like Mariano, Goponath captures the spirit of the naadiswarum (a shrill, twin reeded Indian oboe) with his saxes, a sound that is central to Carnatic music. Purists of the traditional music consider that the sax is limited compared to traditional instruments, thereby limiting the repertoire to ragas and the exclusion of the gamakas (ornamentations), that characterise the form. Nevertheless, anything that's lost to the traditionalists is gained by the jazz audience. This is incredible music by any standards and Gopalnath's contribution is a welcome addition to both musical cultures.


Footnote: A similar East-West fusion may be found in "Southern Brothers", the 1999 album by Gopalnath, in collaboration with Indian percussionist P. Srinivarsan and American flautist James Newton. This is another interesting fusion album however, to this ear, the tone of the flute is too refined, compared to alto sax, and falls short in extending the naadaswaam-based spirit of Carnartic music


Jeff Tweedy - Love Is The King

Love Is The King

by Jeff Tweedy

Released 23 October 2020

Words Ampersound Records


Jeff Tweedy, is by now an elderstateman of American Music - a far cry from the troubled young man whose band Wilco produced the 2002 masterpiece "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" that scored a perfect 10 on Pitchfork, when they hailed the album as “complex and dangerously catchy, lyrically sophisticated and provocative, noisy and somehow serene … simply a masterpiece.”

"Love Is King", his fourth solo album (one a year since 2017), could almost be regarded as a Wilco Family Band album, as his sons Spencer (drums) and Sammy (vocals) are now also collaborators.

Like it's predecessors "Warmer" (2019) and"Warm" (2018) the Tweedys have taken a minimalist approach  - just guitars, drums and organ. It's an album of intimate music from a family in isolation, finding joy together.

There are few surprises here, and little to distinguish this album from it's predecessors, but like the dearly departed Tom Petty and John Lennon were able to do, Tweedy invites you into his confidence with his raspy falsetto, then without you noticing, he wraps you in a cloak of soaring guitars and spirits you away.

Jitwam - Honeycomb


by Jitwam

Released 2 May 2019



Jitwam’s new album Honeycomb reflect's the artists colourful and diverse upbringing and musical background. Born into the cultural heritage of Assam, northeast-India, the Brooklyn-based artist's enjoyable brand of psychedelic soul reflects his personal forages into indie rock, the hip-hop realm, and underground house music and encapsulates his diverse upbringing in India and Australia, before living in monasteries in Thailand, orphanages in South Africa, and finally the US, where he currently resides.

Album opener “busstop” finds him welcoming you into his world with warm guitar riffs, smooth basslines, and lyrics about the comforting chaos of urban life in India. Features are aplenty on the LP too: London artist Marie Bashiru adds croons to the buttery “diamonds” and “temptations”; trumpet is worked in by Henry Wu-collaborator Nick Walton; and frequent Brooklyn-based collaborator Aquiles Navarro features on the lullaby jam “hearts don’t lie.”

Hazy 90s hip-hop drums and warm synths bring the listener into “i’m a rock.” Going even deeper, jazz-funk enters the room on “trustt,” a tune that’s all groovy basslines and cosmic soundscapes. “opendoors” brings up the energy for one of the LP’s most full on, hands-up trips; it’s a mix of buzzing horns and uplifting vocals about the possibilities to be found in any moment if you just let go – and let loose.

Source: Bandcamp

Sam Amidon - Sam Amidon

Sam Amidon

by Sam Amidon

Released 23 October 2020

Nonesuch Records


Born in 1981 and raised in Vermont by folk-musician parents, Sam Amidon sings and plays fiddle, banjo, and guitar.

He's quite a vereran, having released sebven albums since 2008. 

The self-titled album, which Amidon considers the fullest realization to date of his artistic vision, comprises his radical reworkings of nine mostly traditional folk songs, performed with his band of longtime friends and collaborators.

Amidon produced the record, applying the sonic universe of his 2017 "The Following Mountain" to these beloved tunes, many of which he first learned as a child.

It's the subtle shift n voice, from the handed-down folkiness to a more melencholy, contemporay tone and a corresponding shift in 

Hiromi - Spectrum


by Hiromi

Released 18 September 2019



Spectrum is the eleventh studio album by Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara. It was her first solo album in 10 years after Place to Be (2009), a departure from her usual practice of working in a trio format, either with Anthony Jackson and Simon Phillips - Spark (2016), Alive (2014),  Move (2012), and Voice (2011) or Stanley Clarke and Lenny White - Jazz In The Garden (2009).

Over recent years she has also formed a deep musical relatioship with her mentor, Chick Corea. 

Thom Jurek of AllMusic commented "This 75-minute recital portrays the nearly spiritual command Hiromi has of her instrument and its various languages to extend her astonishing technical facility. More than this, however, it underscores the visionary, authoritative place her pianism commands in modern jazz".

Jim Worsley of All About Jazz stated "Remarkable in its scope and vivid in its illustration, Spectrum once again personifies the brilliantly gifted pianist's extraordinary skill set. Feeling and caressing every note empowers her to soar above the clouds and delicately shower her beauty upon us like heavenly drops of rain."

Writing for DownBeat, Phillip Lutz commented, "Few pianists exploit the potential of their instruments with the range of skill and emotion that Hiromi has at her disposal. Even at her most effulgent, she is the most intimate of pianists—an effortlessly charismatic communicator who, through her music, evangelizes for the instrument. And, in making that case, few documents testify more powerfully than Spectrum."

JazzTimes included the album in its list "The Year in Review: Top 50 Albums of 2019"

Source: Wikipedia

Joel Ross - Who Are You?

Who Are You?

by Joel Ross

Released 23 October 2020

Blue Note


In 2019, vibraphonist & composer Joel Ross issued his Blue Note debut "KingMaker" to peer acknowledgment and wide critical acclaim. An introduction to his longstanding outfit Good Vibes, the album received nods from The New York Times’ Best Jazz of 2019, NPR Music’s Jazz Critics Poll and Rolling Stone’s 2019 Jazz Listener’s Guide. Now, expanding the breadth of his expression with his second release Who Are You?, the young artist has actualized his sound.  

“This record is a culmination of our maturing - as people, as a band, within the music - it’s about figuring out who we are,” says Ross. "Who Are You?" features familiar Good Vibes associates Jeremy Corren on piano, Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone and Jeremy Dutton on drums, and introduces their newest collaborator, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass. Harpist Brandee Younger is also featured on five of the album’s tracks. 

Inspired by communication through storytelling – a method he absorbed, in part, working with such creative forces as Ambrose Akinmusire, Marquis Hill and Makaya McCraven – and with input from producer Walter Smith III, Ross assembled the album’s narrative in halves. Tracks 1-7 provide setting, as well as character introductions; tracks 8-15, plot twists. Each artist advances the spirit of risk-taking, while maintaining Ross’ vision for story structure.

Source: Bluenote

Dr Lonnie Smith - Breathe


by Dr Lonnie Smith (feat. Iggy Pop)

Released 26 March 2021

Blue Note


Veteran Hammond B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith pairs with punk icon Iggy Pop on his inspired and deeply funky 2021 album Breathe.

Smith initially came into his own in the 1960s, releasing a string of groove-based albums for Blue Note, including 1968's Think!, that helped define the sound of forward-thinking organ jazz. Over 30 years after his last album for Blue Note, he returned to the label with 2016's vibrant Evolution and 2018's All in My Mind; albums that found him recapturing the earthy energy of his original recordings. Continuing this latter-career resurgence, Breathe again finds him working with producer Don Was, and backed by an energetic ensemble of all-stars including guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake, who make up his core trio.

He also expands the group to a septet on several tracks, bringing trumpeter Sean Jones, tenor saxophonist John Ellis, baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall, and trombonist Robin Eubanks on board.

Smith's work with Pop bookends that album as they offer a smoky, Doors-esque rendition of Timmy Thomas' 1972 soul anthem "Why Can't We Live Together" and a relaxed, boogaloo-style work-up of Donovan's '60s classic "Sunshine Superman." Both of these songs were recorded in studio and feature added percussion from Richard Bravo. They are wry, ebullient recordings that make a surprising case for Pop as a jazz crooner.

The core of the album finds Smith leading his band through a series of energetic performances captured live at The Jazz Standard in New York City.

Among these are several inspired Smith originals including "Bright Eyes," a breezy 3/4 anthem that brings to mind his '60s work. Equally engaging are the slow-grooving "Track 9," which spotlights a fiery solo from trumpeter Jones, and the gospel-inflected "Pilgrimage," featuring vocalist Alicia Olatuja. Smith also jumps into a bug-like take on Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" that evokes the spacy sound of Herbie Hancock's 1973 Sextant album. Few legacy artists are as capable at conjuring the urgency and youthful energy of their classic recordings as Smith has been since returning to Blue Note, and Breathe is no exception.

Source: AllMusic

BPMoore - Komorebi


by BPMoore

Released 17 April 2020



“Komorebi”- a Japanese word with no exact English equivalent, but one that has been roughly translated to describe the sensation of ‘sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees' is the title of British composer Ben Moore’s debut album.

The record is a collection of seven tracks, opening with the ambient “From All Who Came Before” and culminating with a building electronic piece of the same name: “Komorebi”. The genre is something of a mixed one: electronic and ambient music infused with organic-sounding instrumentation and spirited drum grooves. It is a pleasant amalgamation of Ben’s neoclassical, ambient, pop, and post-punk influences, and an epic of work that reflects the original intention of the album - a story of seven tracks that are intertwined and brought to completion.

The final track that shares the same name with the album is particularly special to Ben: in his own words,“Komorebi was written for my stepfather, John, who passed away at that time. He was in his early fifties; it was sudden. He had this great enthusiasm for appreciating the details in the simple things; music, sunlight, a breeze, being with people you love, laughter, to mention just a few. This radiance he had for grasping and making the most of the simple moments in life is still a huge influence on me. Komorebi is a reminder of this.”

Source: Bandcamp

Ariel Marx - Luthier


by Ariel Marx

Released 13 November 2020

Node Music


"A master of both acoustics and woodworking, the luthier is the creator of the instrument, the keeper of its secrets, the giver of its voice. Born of concepts of acoustics, lutherie, and explorations of string techniques,  Luthier  was written as a love letter to strings.” So says eclectic composer and mult-instrumentalist Ariel Marx about her absorbing  album "Luthier", released late last year.

Marx is best known for film and television scores including "Ted Bundy: Falling for as Killer" (2020), "Far From The Castle" and "To Dust (2019), "The Tale" and "West of Her" (2018).

By contrast, this album limits its scope and scale to that of a chamber orchestra. It is a serene collection of original compositions, written primarily for strings (violins, cello, double bass) and unobtrusive electronics. Each of the 8 pieces in this short (22 minutes) recital is titled according to a particular musical term that may be associated with the luthier's craft": cymantics (the technique for making sound "visible" by placing filings or liquid on a surface that is vibrated by sound), diapason (a grand swelling burst of harmony), interference, pitch, tonewood (specific wood varieties that possess tonal properties that make them good choices for use in woodwind or acoustic stringed instruments), node (a point along a standing wave where the wave has minimum amplitude), mortise and tenon (a particular kind of interlocking woodworking joint), antinode (opposite of node - a point where the amplitude of the standing wave is at maximum). 

This is an album of soothing music whose only flaw is it's brevity. For best effect, play it on repeat.

Jon Batiste - We Are

We Are

by Jon Batiste

Released 19 March  2021



The concept of “WE ARE” has been in the works since 2014, when Batiste and fellow musician Marcus G. Miller would write together in various locations, including Batiste’s apartment and random flights, before eventually recording at Electric Lady Studios. 

“The essential ingredients for this album were assembled then: the desire to bring the essence of jazz beyond its traditional audience, draw from the rich musical heritage of New Orleans and speak to the universal needs of a healthy culture,” Miller writes in a brief introduction of Batiste.

Despite initial progress on the album, further work was postponed until late 2019 due to the general social and political climate of recent years alongside Batiste’s role as the bandleader and musical director of "Stay Human", the house act for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and his work with Nine Inch Nails band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composing a score for the Disney and Pixar-produced film “Soul,” and an album "Meditations" with Cory Wong (like "Soul", nominated for a Grammy this year).

“WE ARE” is a blend of soul, jazz, R&B, rap and gospel and features Batiste playing 12 different instruments alongside artists like Mavis Staples, Quincy Jones, Zadie Smith, PJ Morton, Trombone Shorty, his father Michael Batiste and grandfather David Gauthier. 

Batiste calls “WE ARE” an “expansive, genreless … Black, pop masterpiece.”

“It is a novel, and if you close your eyes, it is a movie … It is one piece,” he said. “You just listen to it in one sitting and you will leave feeling full, like a 45-minute meditation you can take every day.”

Source: The Observer

Sophie - Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

Oil Of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

by Sophie

Released 15 June 2018

MSMSMSM Inc / Future Classic


I wasn't familiar with Sophie, the astonishing Scottish musician, record producer, singer, songwriter and DJ until her until tragic, accidental death in Greece, in January 2021 following an accidental fall from the rooftop of a three-storey building while attempting to take a photograph of the full moon. Since then I've been listening to her music - an adventurous, often-abrasive mix of pop, disco and the avante-garde. She leaves behind only one studio album, destined to become a touch-point for a new generation of creatives.

According to one source, the title may be a variant spelling of the phrase "I love every person's insides". The release was met with widespread acclaim by critics and received a nomination for the Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. A remix album, with additional new material, was released in July 2019.

Opening track "It's Okay to Cry" is a ballad that begins with Sophie softly and intimately singing with 80s-style synthesizer arrangements, before the song intensifies and Sophie's vocals crescendo to a wail. It was Sophie's first song as a singer-songwriter, and its lyrics and music video were taken as Sophie publicly coming out as transgender.

Writing for Pitchfork, Sasha Geffen praised the album as "sprawling and beautiful, while still keeping the disorienting, latex-pop feel of her fascinating production technique" and said that while Sophie's "early singles exhibited a keen feel for economy and a killer sense of humor, OIL makes a bid for transcendent beauty."

It is an immersive, often challenging work that broadens the cannon of euphoric pop pioneered by predecessors including Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins and Anonhi and lays similar quality groundwork for new generation of artists to follow.

Budjerah - Budjerah (EP)

Budjerah (EP)

by Budjerah

Released 26 March 2021

Warner Music Australia


Budjerah is a star, and his debut self-titled EP is a true testament to that. Produced by Matt Corby, the soulful, vulnerable and ultimately honest collection of tracks explores the coming of age moments in his life with rich melodies and delicate arrangements providing a soothing soundscape. 

The four-track body of work opens with the smash hit debut single ‘Missing You’ that immediately put the 19 year old North Coast singer-songwriter on the map as one to watch. Laying the foundations for the rest of the material sonically, he contrasts guitar and RNB interpolated pop production that has a real nostalgic and wholesome 90’s feel to it. Expressing his deep feelings of missing being around people after dropping out of school to focus on music and the COVID pandemic forcing the world into an isolation, he provides a moment of reflection that we can all relate to. “And why does the evening sun have to leave me for so long? When I barely can sleep, cause I’m wishing to be with everyone” he sings. 

Interpolating an 80’s influence with follow up single ‘Higher’, he provides the EP’s boldest and most upbeat and euphoric moment. “Keep taking me higher” he proclaims in the gospel inspired hook which is one you will want to singalong to at massive festival during sunset. 

But ‘Shoulda Coulda’ is the EP’s real star. This is a song that you’ll immediately fall in love with. Through its soulful and uplifting production, they provide a beautiful contrast to the moody lyrical representation of not wanting to get out of bed and falling into a self sabotaged depression. “I’d rather have to let the rain fall than make the sun go shine. Said I’d rather have to let the rain fall. Nothing seems to work out” he honestly sings. It’s a beautiful song that you’ll need (and want) to press replay on immediately. 

Closing out the EP is ‘Pyro’ which is sonically one of the most experimental tracks on this offering. With the layering of vocals and echoing synthesisers, they build this sound that feels other-worldly, and it’s a great contrast to the rest of the tracks and shows the different directions his sound can and will head in. 

If Budjerah is not on your radar as of yet, then he really needs to be. The talented singer-songwriter is only just introducing himself to the world, and with rich vocals and honest reflections like the ones captured in these tracks, he’s going to find a special place in a lot of people’s hearts. 

Source: Thomas Bleach

Genesis Owusu - Smiling With No Teeth

Smiling With No Teeth

by Genesis Owusu

Released  5 March 2021

Ourness; House Anxiety


Genesis Owusu proves his versatility of voice and style on Smiling with No Teeth. The refined sound maintained across fifteen tracks is made more impressive given it is his debut album – one that pays its respects to ‘60s soul and funk, punk and dips into ‘80s pop rock, while retaining Owusu’s unique sound.

Title track, ‘Smiling with No Teeth’, hits you with Owusu’s haunting chorus: “Everybody wants the summer without holding the rain/Everybody wants the feeling without touching the pain.” This chorus transitions the artist’s deep spoken word verses, laid over a bass-driven instrumental. The lyrical tune about perseverance reaches its conclusion with the brooding repetition of “smiling with no teeth“.

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Track six, ‘Drown’, is a deviation to ‘80s pop rock, which gives you a moment to realise you haven’t accidentally changed albums. A collaboration with Kirin J Callinan, the song continues hip hop’s long history with reappropriating genre to create something new.

Owusu flexes his sensual tone with ‘Waitin’ on Ya’. “I’ve been laying on ya/And waiting on my phone for you, on my phone for you, uh uh,” the involved soul instrumental driving the chorus’ groove between unbound licks in the verses and intro.

The synergy between the vocals and beat in ‘Don’t Need You’ is arresting and infectious, leaving an earworm you’ll never escape. ‘A Song About Fishing’ is an excellent ode to the storytelling of folk rock and early soul. And to conclude the album, Owusu reminds us of his origins in rap with ‘Bye Bye’. His talent is sealed in strong delivery and poetry: “How do I glide with angel wings that’s burning all up in the flames/How do I never take a loss if all I’m playing is a game.”

Smiling with No Teeth offers musicality and lyricism that touch on identity, prejudice and perseverance. It’s a full picture in what proves to be the large scrapbook of Genesis Owusu’s immense talent.

Source: Beat

Equiknoxx, Feel Free Hi Fi - Equiknoxx Meets Feel Free Hi Fi

Equiknoxx Meets Feel Free Hi Fi

by Equiknoxx, Feel Free Hi Fi

Released 26 March 2021

Digital Sting


Wickedly zonked, naturally perpendicular dancehall from JA’s widely adored Equiknoxx, dicing with the Twin City’s Feel Free Hi Fi in a one-for-one mixtape style.

In turn, the wayward basement unit and their spars trade tune for tune on a low-key, minimalist, digi-dub tip ripe for MC’s to do their thing, or for DJs to work up a sweat in back yards and basements. There’s one percolated bubbler from Gavsborg, pairing quizzical strings and canny sighs on ’11am with Frankie Bubbler’, plus three nuggz from Time Cow; the clipped gyrations and furtive bleeps of ‘The President Eats The Children’, an unmissable Goldeneye N64 style bullet named ‘Birds of Passage Dub’, and the spaced out Sleng Teng stylings of ‘Chipheads Dub’ for those that know. Feel Free Hi-Fi spin those results thru the echoplex in tidy form, generating tight highlights in the laggier attack of ’11am Dub’, lending a rude tension to ‘The President…’, and accentuating the lurky anticipation of ‘Birds of Passage.’ 

Source: Boomkat


The 63rd Annual Grammy Awards were handed out on 16 March and although I normally ignore them as being too US-centic and the antithesis of progressive, this year I took a look. The following albums drew my attention

Taylor Swift - Folklore


by Taylor Swift

Released 24 July 2020

Taylor Swift


For those at the back, "Folklore" (and it's 2021 successor "Evermore") marked Taylor Swift's career-changing shift in musical genres - from "Pop" to "Alternative".  In it's way, the move was to her fans as Dylan's move to electric was to his, back in the day. 

The album opens with three soft-rock ballads "the1". "cardigan" and "the last great american dynasty". Each song is as skillfully crafted as any of her Top 40 hits, and her delivery (as ever), is bell-clear, searing the lyrics directly to the brain. But rather than individual pop tales, this is a set of lyrically connected by their emphasis on relationships. Musically, it is takes a soft-rock path, with traces of Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver and The National. Swift is forking into a third musical genre, having commenced her career in Nashville Country and diverted spectaculary int the pop arena. 

The production, under the influence on The National's Aaron Dessner, is contemporary but unobtrustive and effective in placing Taylor's distinctive voice front and center - a positioning that was standard in the 60's and 70's, but has been too-often missing in recent decades the recording of many contemporary songwriters, presumably due to their lack of vocal range and control. 

Other than "exile", a duet with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, it's Swift's voice that heard throughout the album and she has the skill to remain entertaining throughout. 

Nevertheless, although this is a pivotal moment in the career of Taylor Swift and is a polished pop album in general, it is not otherwise groundbreaking in it's music, subject matter or the delivery.

WINNER! "Folklore" received the 2021 Grammy in the Best Album category. 

Fantastic Negrito - Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?

Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?

by Fantastic Negrito

Released 14 August 2020

Cooking Vinyl


Superposition is a Los Angeles based ambient music dup of Justin Boreta, a member of another LA based ambient group, The Glitch Mob and programmer and musician Matthew Davis, who does A/V work for Drake and performs in the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

WINNER! "Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?" received a 2021 Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category.

Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Brian Blade

Trilogy 2 (Licve)

by Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Brian Blade

Released 3 April 2020



2013's Trilogy showcased the engaging collaboration between pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Virtuoso leaders in their own right, Corea, McBride, and Blade found common ground as a trio, exploring a mix of sophisticated standards as well as originals culled from Corea's extensive book. The album cracked the Top Ten of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart and earned two Grammys, including for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The super-trio's follow-up, 2018's Trilogy 2, features further in-concert performances captured during their various tours between 2010 and 2016 in places like Ottawa, Bologna, Zurich, and St. Louis. Once again, the performances reveal yet more layers to their intuitive, almost psychic interplay. Part of what makes Corea, McBride, and Blade's work together so compelling is how rhythmically kinetic it is. McBride and Blade are both immensely rhythmic, muscular performers who punctuate every phrase and accent with deft articulation. They are a perfect match for Corea, who balances his deeply layered chordal harmonies with ear-popping rhythmic motifs and architectural lines that dance and spin right along with his bandmates. It's a tactile sound that elevates standards like their opening take on "How Deep Is the Ocean" and their swaggeringly loping rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Crepuscule with Nellie." Elsewhere, they offer similarly bewitching versions of Corea's 1968 classic "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" and an expansive rendition of his 1973 Return to Forever Latin fusion number "500 Miles High." We also get a propulsive reading of Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," an equally brisk take on Miles Davis' "All Blues," and a vibrant closing interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom."

Source: AllMusic

WINNER! "Trilogy 2" received the  2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.

Priya Darshini - Periphery


by Priya Darshani

Released 15 May 2020

Chesky Records


It seems there's not much that 37 year old Indian vocalist Priya Darshini can't do, or hasn't already done - her Wikipedia entry lists her as singer, voice over artist, composer, actress, athlete, and entrepreneur from Brooklyn, NY, USA, best known for musical recordings in Bollywood and western productions, her role in The Letters, and becoming the first Indian woman to complete the 100-mile Himalayan Ultra Marathon. Oh, she founded an adventure racing company, The WindChasers, in 2011, organizing ultra marathons across India.

Her music is an engaging meeting of classical indian and western influences - collaborating instrumentalists include cellist Dave Eggar, hammered dulcimer Max ZT (Darshani's husband), percussionist Chuck Palmer and drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour).

"Periphery" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best New Age Album category.

Anoushka Shankar - Love Letters

Love Letters

by Anoushka Shankar

Released 7 February 2020

Mercury KX


Sitarist, composer, and producer Anoushka Shankar is the daughter of legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar. She is a singular, genre-defying figure within the classical, contemporary, and progressive world music scenes. 

"Love Letters" is six-time Grammy Award-nominated artist's debut EP for Mercury KX - and represents a shift in style and subject. 

Having overcome serious health issues, heartbreak, and domestic upheaval, this set shows a new, vulnerable and raw side of her as a songwriter and musician.

“These were difficult times, which pushed me into some very vulnerable places,” she says. “I’ve written from a personal place before, of course, but there was something particularly tender about the process this time, and it was a creative challenge to be brave enough to allow the music to remain as raw as it began.”

Writing and recording Love Letters was cathartic for Anoushka Shankar – a “gentle, organic process” that saw her collaborating almost exclusively with female peers. During the toughest parts of that 2018-2019 period, Shankar found the practical and emotional support that her friends, fellow artists and performers offered became, quite naturally, artistic in nature.

A host of trail-blazing women feature on Love Letters including the principal collaborator Alev Lenz, twin sister vocal duo Ibeyi, singer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson, renowned Indian singer Shilpa Rao, Brooklyn-based mastering engineer Heba Kadry (Björk, Slowdive) and British audio mastering engineer Mandy Parnell (Aphex Twin, The XX).

Source: Udiscovermusic

"Love Letters" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Global Music Album

Bonny Light Horseman - Bonny Light Horseman

Bonny Light Horseman

by Bonny Light Horseman

Released 19 March 2021



Bonny Light Horseman is an American folk "supergroup" consisting of Anaïs Mitchell and  Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats and The Shins), and Josh Kaufman (The National and Hiss Golden Messenger).


The band first came together at the Eaux Claires festival in 2018 when invited by the festivals co-founders Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (of The National). From the early sessions for this performance, the trio decided to form the band in a more official capacity. Their self-titled debut album was released on January 25, 2020.

The album contains a mixture of traditional British folk songs and original material

"Bonny Light Horseman" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Folk Album category and Best American Roots Performance category, for the song "Deep In Love".

Max Richter - Ad Astra (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Ad Astra (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

by Max Richter, Lorne Balfe and Nils Frahm

Released 23 October 2019

Deutsche Grammophon


Ad Astra (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) is another series of masterfully controlled mood pieces from three exceptional contemporary composers. Releases by Richter and Frahms feature regularly in SunNeverSetsOnMusic, as they rarely release anything less than breathtaking works.

Lorne Balfe (born 1976) is a Scottish composer and producer of film, television, and video game scores. A veteran of Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions, Balfe is known for his composing music for big-budget films.

In deceribing his apppoach Richter says "(the) score takes as its inspiration both the psychological dimension of its lead character, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), as well as the physical journey he takes across space".

While developing his concept for the score Richter recalled NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Mission, launched in the late 1970s. He took the plasma wave data, detected and transmitted by the Voyager probes as they passed planets in our Solar System, and used this data (via a specifically commissioned virtual instrument) as an element in his writing. As Roy passes through space we hear probe data from the same locations being applied to the score.

Ad Astra, adds Richter, involves the marriage of music and science – Richter’s compositions lean heavily on his love of mathematics. But they are also characteristically moving. The score employs electronics, strings and vocals to intensify onscreen emotions, to mark transitions between Roy McBride’s inner and outer worlds, and build what Vanity Fair has praised as “a stunning kind of symphony” of sound and cinematic images.


"Ad Astra (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category.

Jon Batiste, Cory Wong - Meditations


by Cory Wong, Jon Batiste

Released 30 May 2020

Cory Wong and Jon Batiste


The collaboration between musician and producer Cory Wong and bandleader musician John Baptiste is the result of three nights of raw improvisation in the studio and features performances from American drummer Nate Smith (Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Chris Potter, José James, John Patitucci, Ravi Coltrane, and Somi among many others.) and pianist and hammond organist Sam Yahel (Bill Frisell, Wycliffe Gordon, Ryan Kisor, Maceo Parker, Madeleine Peyroux, and Joshua Redman). Meditation relies on instinct alone. It is a cathartic, spontaneous record derived from the immediate musical and spiritual bond between Wong (guitars and bass) and Batiste (piano) with the intent to heal through music.

Wong and Batiste met while performing on "Live From Here" (the syndicated radio show formerly known as A Prairie Home Companion with Chris Thile) and immediately formed a bond.

On Meditations, Wong says:  “The album is called Meditations because of the origin and intent of the music. Jon and I both have a pretty hectic schedule on a regular basis. Music is both our job, and our escape. The intention of making this album was to find ourselves in a healing place with the music. We’re not chasing radio play or a Billboard hit with this particular collection of music…we’re chasing that feeling of freedom and healing that comes from that place that gives us that deep connection on a human and spiritual level. Hopefully the listener will connect with the music in a way that allows them to connect to themselves in a new way.”


Superposition - Form//Less (EP)

Form//Less (EP)

by Superposition

Released 3 April 2020



Superposition is a Los Angeles based ambient music dup of Justin Boreta, a member of another LA based ambient group, The Glitch Mob and programmer and musician Matthew Davis, who does A/V work for Drake and performs in the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The group describes its aims: "Found within the open space of consciousness, Superposition is an immersion into the inner universe, a meditative antidote to a world of digital overwhelm. Created by Justin Boreta and Matthew Davis, this ambient project and record label emerged from a shared search for serenity".

Other projects on Superposition label include"

"Prescence, Guided Meditation" (2021)

by Eckhart Tolle and Superposition

"Awareness: Guided Meditations" (2020) by Ram Das, Boreta and Superposition

"Listen, Dream: Guided Meditations" (2019) by Alan Watts, Boreta and Superposition

I found this music emotionless and unimaginative compared to others in this genre. How this particular group came to be nominated for a Grammy is beyond me. 

Source: Superposition website

"Form//Less" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best New Age Album category.

Antibalas - Fu Chronicles

Fu Chronicles

by Antibalas - Fu Chronicles

Released 7 February 2020

Daptone Records


With a globetrotting 20-year career renowned for being a voice for the people across four decades of political and societal upheaval from the late ‘90s to today, Antibalas celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a stark return to their Williamsburg roots on its latest Daptone Records studio album, Fu Chronicles.

Pre-gentrified Williamsburg serves as the backdrop for Fu Chronicles, voyaging back to the early days of when Antibalas and Daptone Records spawned out of lead singer Duke Amayo’s kung fu dojo.

A senior master of the Jow Ga Kung FuSchool of martial arts, Duke Amayo along with Antibalas founder/baritone saxophonist Martín Perna guide listeners through an epic journey of where kung fu ingeniously intersects with Afrobeat on Fu Chronicles.

"Fu Chronicles" received a 2021 GRAMMY Nomination in the Best Global Music Album category.

Source: Bandcamp

Joshua Redman - RoundAgain (feat. Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Brian Blade)

RoundAgain (feat. Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Brian Blade)

by Joshua Redman

Released 10 July 2020

Nonesuch Records


A reunion of saxophonist Joshua Redman's original acoustic quartet, 2020's ebullient RoundAgain showcases his long-running creative friendship with bandmates pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade. Redman first documented the sound of this group on his acclaimed 1994 album MoodSwing.

Even then, the quartet was a supergroup in the making, featuring four of the most highly touted players of their generation. While they have continued to work together in various incarnations throughout their careers, RoundAgain is the first proper recording by the quartet in over two decades.

As with MoodSwing, RoundAgain features all-original music with each player bringing along a composition. As each of the four musicians here have distinguished themselves as distinctive bandleaders in their own right, it's fascinating to hear their individual styles come to the fore throughout the album.

They kick off with Redman's classical-leaning "Undertow," an introspective and noirish piece built around a descending circular piano pattern from Mehldau. Conversely, Mehldau's "Moe Honk" evokes the frenetic cartoon music of Carl Stalling as he and Redman chase each other like jealous hummingbirds over the song's spiraling melody.

Equally compelling is McBride's "Floppy Diss," a soulful, off-kilter blues that allows for some wryly inventive improvisational stretching out. We also get Redman's funky, gospel-inflected "Silly Little Love Song," and Mehldau's harmonically nuanced "Father" with its wave-like 3/4 groove. The album ends evocatively with Blade's dusky, rubato ballad "Your Part to Play." Beginning with a sweetly attenuated bass line from McBride, the song builds slowly as Redman joins in, doubling the minor-key melody, before Mehldau and Blade push the group to the song's peak: a mélange of brushes, cymbals, and woody hand percussion, crystalline piano flourishes, and Redman's breathy sax tones.

In some ways, RoundAgain feels like the perfect follow-up to MoodSwing, an album that could have arrived in the late '90s. Yet, it is hard to imagine Redman and his quartet summoning the same warmth and relaxed intensity that they do here without the decades of experience and deep familiarity they've cultivated with each other over the years.

Source: AllMusic

"RoundAgain" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.

Black Pumas - Black Pumas

Black Pumas

by Black Pumas

Released 21 June 2019



Black Pumas is an American psychedelic soul band based in Austin, Texas, led by singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada.

Their back story is one of the meeting of two irresistible forces. Lead singer and songwriter Eric Burton had made his way from his home in the San Fernando Valley, California through the Western states to Texas around 2017, having grown up singing in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He started busking at the Santa Monica Pier, where he brought in a few hundred dollars a day and developed his performance skills.

Meantime, Grammy Award-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada was looking to collaborate with someone new. Through a mutual friend, Quesada connected with Burton, Quesada felt that Burton's vocals were a match for the retro-funk-R&B-flavored tracks Quesada had been working on, and the two joined forces in 2018 as Black Pumas

This is an album of joyous, soulful music for lovers of soul from James Brown and Staples Singers to  Alabama Shakes and Black Keys.


The group received its first Grammy Award nomination in 2020 for Best New Artist and their debut album "Plack Pumas" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Album category. 

Ambrose Akinmusire - on the tender spot of every caloused moment

on the tender spot of every calloused moment

by Ambrose Akinmusire

Released 20 October 2020

Blue Note


Ambrose Akinmusire is another of the new generation of jazz trumpeters who have emerged in the past decade, whose careers are founded on both bandstand and in academic training.  Born and raised in Oakland, California, Akinmusire was a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, where he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman who was visiting the school to give a workshop. Coleman hired him as a member of his Five Elements band for a European tour. Akinmusire was also a member of the Monterey Jazz Festival's Next Generation Jazz Orchestra.

Akinmusire studied at the Manhattan School of Music before returning to the West Coast to take a master's degree at the University of Southern California and attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles. In 2007, Akinmusire was the winner of both the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, two of the most prestigious jazz competitions in the world. The same year he released his debut recording "Prelude... to Cora" on the Fresh Sound New Talent label. He moved back to New York City and began performing with Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding, and Jason Moran and others.

Alongside Akinmusire on "On the Tender Spot of every Calloused Moment" is his quartet of longtime bandmates: Sam Harris (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), and Justin Brown (drums). 

The album title refers to a trip home to Oakland in 2016, during where he was taken by the changes caused by gentrification, the local population having substantially changed due to the expansion of Silicon Valley, which had driving the long-term, often impoverished residents out of the city

Including the album in its top 10 of 2020, Jazzwise commented: "Ambrose Akinmusire’s fifth studio album finds the 38 year-old trumpeter in as reflective a mode as ever, asking questions about black identity and avoiding clichéd pathways just as he opts for musical roads less travelled".

"on the tender spot of every calloused moment" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.

Jim Kimo West - More Guitar Stories

More Guitar Stories

by Jim "Kimo" West

Released 14 August 2020

Westernmost Music


Guitarist Kimo West (aka Jim West) is probably best known as the guitarist in musical satirist "Weird Al" Yankovic's band. Anyone familiar with Yankovic's music knows that is an eclectic gig, but West is even more eclectic on his own. He jokingly describes this album, a sequel to Guitar Stories: Slack Key & Beyond (Westernmost Records, 2016), as a "Slack Key, New Age, Jazz, Funk, Celtic, Americana and Indian Classical mashup." Crazy as that sounds, it is about right; West uses slack key open guitar tunings for all of his main guitar parts, which are named and spelled out in the liner notes. Try them at home!

But the music demonstrates how stylistically flexible they can be.

"Mele Ahiahi-Evening Song" opens the set with a gentle evocation of the evening. Despite the Hawaiian title, it has more of a general Americana sound, with the unique coloration of West's pedal steel imitation in the accompaniment. "Windward" has more of a band sound, led by Charlie Bisharat's violin, with a fine Jimmy Johnson fretless bass solo as well. In fact, the whole album includes a larger cast of guest musicians than its predecessor.

"Birimintingo" is a term from West African kora playing. West employs two slack-key tuned guitars to create a remarkable emulation of that instrument's sound, as well as a West African feel.

"Tin Roof Shing-A-Ling" sounds like a rural village party, with a funky feel aided by Ben Powell's violin and Dan Lutz's upright bass (both players also contributed to the first album).

The beautiful ballad "Moonbow" features a singing Moog guitar part (not a synthesizer, but an electric guitar with unique sustain and filter possibilities) accompanied by a string orchestra and cellist Simone Vitucci (another veteran of the previous record).

"The Lydian Sea" takes inspiration from Indian classical music. The picture is completed by Cenk Erdogan's fretless guitar (sounding like a sarod) and two Indian percussionists.

West's only solo guitar track, the slack key blues "Sugar Cane Blues" demonstrates his potent storytelling skills without accompaniment.

It is hard to imagine a fan of finger-style guitar playing who would not find something to like here. West is in full command as guitarist and composer, crafting a diverse series of musical portraits, with the aid of a large cast of empathetic guest players. Here's hoping for a shorter wait until the next installment

That the album was nominated in the New Age category, rather than folk or jazz instrumental, is another Grammy mystery.


"More Guitar Stories" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best New Age Album category.

Jacob Collier - Djesse Vol. 3

Djesse Vol. 3

by Jacob Collier

Released 14 August 2020



"Djesse Vol. 3", the fourth album by wunderkind UK composer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, is a vibrant mix of contemporary R&B, funk and hip-hop, all woven together by his virtuosic production. As with previous Djesse Series albums Collier again collaborates with a bevy of guest artists. The album represents a further musical progression, with a shift of musical focus towards R&B, EDM, funk and neo soul, and less of the Classical and Jazz Fusion of previous releases.

Collier's music is relentlessly kaleidoscopic in it's assembly of disparate styles and voices and on first listen, Collier may seem over-indulgent or confused. But on repeated listens the changes of rythm and style are less abrasive and indivisdual guest artists' contributions begin to emerge, revealing an intricate and sustained musical celebration of contemporary music.

"Djesse Vol. 3" received a 2021 Grammy Nomination in the Best Album category. 

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