Review: Helmed by The Haggis Horns saxophonist Rob Mitchell, the Abstract Orchestra is a "hip-hop big band" from Leeds that specializes in jazz-fired cover versions of classic head-nodding beats. Having first impressed with a set of J Dilla interpretations in 2017, last year they turned their attention to Madlib and MF Doom's collaborative Madvillain project. As the title suggests "Madvillain 2" picks up where its predecessor left off, offering up sumptuously orchestrated, funk-fuelled and jazz-wise takes on such familiar cuts as "Meat Grinder", "Rainbows", 'Fire In The Hole" and "Operation Lifesaver". There's a tasty bonus cut, too, in the shape of the Abstract Orchestra's remix of their collab with Dabrye and MF Doom (yes, that MF Doom), "Air".
Review: He's perhaps best known as a member of Tedeschi Trucks Band, with whom he won the 2011 Grammy for Best Blues Album, but trumpeter, composer and producer Maurice Brown is also a successful artist in his own right, and here he presents his fourth solo album. Soul-jazz and hip-hop influences predominate, with the album moving inexorably into smoother territory as it progresses, and Talib Kweli making a guest appearance on 'Stand Up'. Bound to be big with support from the likes of Gilles Peterson and Snowboy, 'The Mood' is never less than an engaging listen.
The Shared Stories Of Rivals [KEITA] (feat Saul Williams)
Forevergirl (feat Chris Turner & Mike Larry Draw)
Songs She Never Heard (feat Logan Richardson)
Ritual (Rise Of Chief Adjuah)
Before (feat Elena Pinderhughes)
Ancestral Recall (feat Saul Williams)
Review: New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah returns with his first album in almost two years, an essential set of spiritually conscious Afro-jazz that wraps his bold, mesmerizing and memorable trumpet solos around a variety of skittish tribal rhythms, Mariachi style horn riffs, soulful vocal arrangements and 21st century jazz instrumentation. It's a unique and thoroughly absorbing signature sound, with the assembled guests - most notably Saul Williams, Elena Pinderhughes and Logan Richardson - adding much to Scott aTunde Adjuah's intoxicating sound soup. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the slow burn soundscape of "Diviner (Devan)" and wonderfully percussive "Ritual (Rise Of Chief Adjuah)", to the intergalactic drowsiness of "Prophecy" and breezy "Double Consciousness".
A Caged Bird/Imitations Of Life (feat Roots Manuva)
Wait For Now/Leave The World (feat Tawiah)
The Workers Of Art
Zero One/This Fantasy (feat Grey Reverend)
A Promise (feat Heidi Vogel)
Review: Given the rise in popularity in new school jazz in recent years, it seems a fitting time to welcome back Ninja Tune stalwarts The Cinematic Orchestra. "To Believe" is not only their first album in some seven years, but also one of their strongest releases to date. Opening with the poignant neo-classical/soul fusion "To Believe", the set sees Jason Swinscoe and company attractively saunter between jazz-electronica fusion (Roots Manuva collaboration ("A Caged Bird/Imitations Of Life"), pastoral jazz epics (the sunset ready epic that is "Lessons"), gentle downtempo songs ("Wait For Now/Leave The World"), ambient jazz ("The Workers Of Art") and slowly unfurling dancefloor workouts (killer closing cut "A Promise"). In a word: stunning.
Review: With their penchant for off-kilter psychedelic explorations, deep-rooted spiritual jazz excursions and cacophonous, otherworldly workouts, The Comet Is Coming is undoubtedly one of the most groundbreaking and essential jazz combos of recent times. It's for this reason that "Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery" - their first outing on legendary jazz label Impulse - feels like an event release. It is another stunning album, with the inspired trio flitting between sweaty, dancefloor-ready tracks soaked in psychedelic electronics and more melodious, laidback numbers that sail closer to traditional jazz pastures. Throughout, the level of imagination, creativity and uniqueness remains dizzyingly high.
Review: This time last year, French combo Cotonete joined forces with Brazilian singer Di Melo to deliver what became one of the sleeper hits of last summer - the Latin disco/jazz-funk fusion of "A.E.I.O.U.". Here they continue their partnership with a first collaborative full length. It's a quietly impressive outing, with Di Melo's distinctive vocals rising above cuts that variously doff a cap to sultry Brazilian disco-funk, Azymuth-esque jazz-funk, soundtrack-friendly cinematic soundscapes, Astrud Gilberto style sweetness and humid salsa-funk (standout "Kilario (2019 Version)". It's a warm, loose and hazy set that feels authentically South American despite its Parisian roots.
Review: African-American consciousness is the primary theme of this 10-track collection from Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, a 15-piece musical collective headed up by eponymous improvisational artist Damon Locks, who's based in the Windy City. Sampled Civil Rights-era speeches, Afro-gospel harmonies, heavy 909 kicks and found sounds all find their way into freeform jazz excursions, providing the primary ingredients for a musical stew that defies easy categorisation. If you're looking for soothing, lounge-y vibes you're in the wrong place, but if you like your music 'challenging' both rhythmically and intellectually, this is an album that's worth investigating.
Sarah Davachi - "Track 1" (live In Portland - Excerpt - Exclusive track)
Carlos Walker - "Via Lactea"
The Rationals - "Glowin'"
William S Fischer - "Chains"
Max Roach - "Equipoise"
Abu Talib (Bobby Wright) - "Blood Of An American"
Sweet & Innocent - "Express Your Love"
Robert Vanderbilt & The Foundation Of Souls - "A Message Especially From God"
The Defaulters - "Gentle Man"
Alain Bellaiche - "Sun Blues"
Alain Bellaiche - "Sea Fluorescent"
Kara-Lis Coverdale - "Moments In Love" (Excerpt)
Azimuth - "The Tunnel"
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - "Milk" (Excerpt)
Toshimaru Nakamura - "Nimb#59" (Exclusive track)
Floating Points - "The Sweet Time Suite" (part 1 - Opening - Exclusive Kenny Wheeler Cover version)
Lauren Laverne - "Ah! Why, Because The Dazzling Sun" (Exclusive Spoken Word Piece)
Review: Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points has long been known as a producer, DJ and selector with a staggeringly good record collection. It's for this reason that his edition of "Late Night Tales", a series dedicated to the joys of post-club home listening, has been so eagerly anticipated. The resultant mix is a triumph, with Shepherd showcasing a largely rare and obscure mix of new age ambient, high-grade jazz, sumptuous folk-soul (see Abu Talib's impeccable "Blood Of An American"), psychedelic soul weirdness, intergalactic jazz-funk, Satie-style piano movements and the drowsy, liquid electronics of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. The set also includes a handful of exclusive tracks, including a wonderful new Floating Points cover of Kenny Wheeler's "The Sweet Time Suite (Part I - Opening)". In a word: essential.
Climbing Up My Own Life Until I Die (feat Rob Auton)
Derashe (feat Mulatu Astatke)
Review: Famed for their New Orleans style brass band covers - most notably a riotous Prodigy medley and tasty takes on Toto's "Africa" and Blackstreet's "No Diggidy" - the Hackney Colliery Band has decided to do things differently on their latest full-length excursion. As the title suggests, "Collaborations Volume 1" sees them join forces with a dizzying array of artists from the worlds of jazz, soul, funk, Afrobeat and hip-hop. The results are uniformly excellent, with highlights including the Afro-gospel brilliance of Angelique Kidjo and Roundhouse Choir hook-up "Mm Mm", the sunrise Afro-jazz breeze of Netsanet (featuring Mulatu Astatke), and the urgent stomp of percussion-laden workout "Crushing Lactic" with Tom Rogerson.
J Rawls presents The Liquid Crystal Project - "A Tribute To Troy"
Sons Of Time - "Before Sundown" (feat J-Live)
Sam Krats - "Revive Rap" (feat El Da Sensei & Gee Bag - Jim Sharp remix)
Space Invaders - "Done It Again"
Melvin Sparks - "If You Want My Love" (with Jimmy Scott)
Smith & The Honey Badgers - "The Billionaire Strut"
Laura Vane & The Vipertones - "Man Of Your Word"
Osaka Monaurail - "No Trouble On This Mountain" (feat Shirley Davis)
Ann Sexton & The Baltic Soul Orchestra - "You're Losing Me"
Marc Gregor - "Mabusso"
Benjamin & The Dreamdancers - "Not One More Tear"
Djar One - "The Get Down" (feat Andy Cooper)
Misumani - "Prove Your Love" (feat First Touch)
Skyy - "Call Me"
Hollie Cook - "Postman"
Review: In 2008, German label Unique asked crate-digging party starters Soulinus and Pun to put together the first volume in their "This is DJs Choice" compilation series. Only one further instalment - with tracks selected by Keb Darge and Lucinda Slim - appeared before the series was shelved. Happily, Unique has decided to re-launch it, with Marc Hype and DJ Suspect in charge of the track list. They've done a bang up job, all told, offering up a sizzling, 15-track selection that giddily sprints between steel band reggae (Hollie Cook), soul-jazz (Melvin Sparks), heavy funk (Smith & The Honey Badgers, Osaka Monoaurail), boogie (Skyy), Afro-latin heaviness (Marc Gregor) and head-nodding hip-hop (Sons Of Time, Benjamin & The Dreamdancers).
Review: Since he's such a prolific collaborator and creator of bands, it's easy to overlook the fact that Will Holland hasn't released a solo album as Quantic for almost five years. "Atlantic Oscillations", then, is a welcome return - particularly since Tru Thoughts boss Robert Luis thinks it's Holland's "most cohesive and intricate album to date". It's certainly a strong collection, with Holland wrangling multiple styles, tempos and musical influences to create cuts that defy easy categorization. While there are downtempo moments, "Atlantic Oscillations" includes more bona-fide club cuts then he's delivered in recent years, with sun-kissed disco cut "September Blues", Cuban disco-funk workout "Atlantic Oscillations" and Afro-Latin house bumper "Motivic Retrograde" standing out.
Review: Since launching a few years back, Matthew Halsall's Gondwana Records has released some terrific albums from a string of talented but often little-known artists. This brilliant set is another. It comes from Hania Rani, a pianist, composer and producer better known for her collaborative work with the likes of Christian Loffler, Dobrawa Czocher and Hior Chronik. "Esja" is Rani's solo debut and sees her sashay between atmospheric, often poignant pieces that put her impeccable piano playing at the heart of the action. It's exceedingly elegant and picturesque, with Rani's subtle use of field recordings and crackling background noise only enhancing the listening experience.
Review: David Hanke's Renegades Of Jazz project has been relatively successfully in achieving its initial aims, namely "bringing the jazz back to the dancefloor". After a three-year hiatus Hanke and company are back with a new album, "Nevertheless" - a funk-fuelled romp through bustling breakbeats, elastic double bass, fuzzy Stax style horns, jammed out piano lines and groovy guitar riffs. Hanke has roped in a number of guest vocalists and collaborators to put their stamp on the set, with stellar contributions from rapper Donnie Numeric (the hip-hop/jazz/funk fusion of "Hot Wired"), soul singer Clair Fallows (see the punchy floor-rocker "Light Me Up") and Afrika Fuentes (check the tropical funk brilliance of "Don't Break My Love").
Review: Tenderlonious' prolific explorations of contemporary jazz continue unabated with this new album from his supergroup, Ruby Rushton. With Mo Kolours and Yussef Dayes (formerly of Yussef Kamaal) amongst the highly skilled players in this ensemble, the quality spilling out of their fourth album need not be questioned. The band leader's signature flute stylings skip and twirl across the top of the music, with the overall brew striking that elusive but oh-so-sweet balance between loose, free-wheeling expression and rock solid groove. Fresh and satisfying at every turn, this is proof of why the modern jazz scene is so vibrant right now. Ruby Rushton can do no wrong!
Review: This debut album from Jo'burg via Doncaster's Skinny Pelembe comes with a weight of expectation. The distinctive soul maverick has been turning heads with his output on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings for the past two years, and now he's come good on the promise of those singles and EPs with a wonderful, many-sided LP that oozes personality, depth, and a dusty, hand-wrought musicality that hits on an instinctive level. There are flurries of broken beats, low slung wood-carved percussion, rugged neo soul and weather-beaten funk aplenty, with the lines between organic and electronic beautifully blurred. This album deserves to be huge, positioning Pelembe as a vital new talent in the vanguard of UK soul music.
Review: Jazz Re:freshed has a knack of snapping up rising stars of British jazz at just the right time. They're at it again, here, offering up the debut solo album from Sarah Tandy, a pianist best known for her work with Camilla George and SEED Ensemble. "Infection In The Sentence" is a hugely vibrant and colourful affair, with Tandy and her musical collaborators jauntily dancing through a sextet of bustling original compositions. There's a rich, warm and sunny feel to the meandering trumpet solos and twinkling pianos of "Nursery Rhyme", while "Bradbury Street" and "Under The Skin" are high-octane workouts full of sweaty thrills and spills. Arguably best of all, though, is "Timelord", a silky jazz-funk number that sits somewhere between Bob James and Tenderlonious' Ruby Rushton band.
Review: Given that he's been rather busy with 22a's jazz house band Ruby Rushton, it's quite a surprise to discover that Tenderlonious has found time to record another solo album, his first full-length solo effort for three years. It's a deep, woozy and atmospheric affair, with the storied Peckham producer flitting between jazz-funk-fuelled deep electro ("Buffalo Gurl"), lapsed lo-fi deep house ("Hard Rain", "Casey Jr"), blunted beats ("GU22"), sparkling ambient jazz ("Low Tide"), wonky futurist synthesizer grooves ("Another State Of Consciousness"), and cuts so deep, jazzy and off-kilter that they defy definition ("Aesop Thought", where his distinctive flute playing takes centre stage).