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: 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.
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.
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: 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.