Review: Last year, Strut reissued the earliest albums in Mulatu Astatke's catalogue - 1966's "Afro-Latin Soul Part 1 & 2". This quality collection from Buda Musique picks up the story three years later, when the man who would become known as the "Godfather of Ethiopian Jazz" was beginning to establish himself as a true pioneer. The compilation draws on work recorded between 1969 and '74 in Boston, New York and London, most of which explores Astatke's unique and distinctive fusion of turn-of-the-'70s US jazz, dancefloor-friendly jazz-funk, Afro-Cuban rhythms and traditional Ethiopian music. While some of the recordings are fiendishly fuzzy and lo-fi, there's no arguing with the quality of Astatke's composition, playing and production. In fact, it's a near perfect introduction to his now familiar "Ethio-jazz" style.
Tokyo Academy Philharmonic Chorus Group - "Taharazaka"
Cesar Roldao Vieira - "Ze Do Trem"
Elias Rahbani - "Dance Of Maria"
Galt MacDermot - "Coffee Cold"
Review: The crate-diggers behind the Mr Bongo label can usually be relied upon to showcase some seriously good tunes old and new. That's certainly the case on this third volume in their occasional "Record Club" series of compilations. Spanning sunshine soul, obscure samba, spacey jazz-funk experimentation, wide-eyed underground disco, fiery funk, weirdo rock, cheery South African bubblegum, synth-laden early '80s highlife, Ramsay Lewis style workouts and the psychedelic Middle Eastern disco-funk of Elias Rahbani, the compilation's 20 tracks are not only near faultless, but genuinely surprising and eye-opening. To quote a cliche, this collection genuinely is all killer and no filler.