Review: Roberto Aglieri is a noted Italian flutist and composer, and his 1987 album Ragapadani stands as one of his finest achievements. Archeo Recordings are ever hip to the finest treasures hidden away in the folds of esoteric music, Italian or otherwise, and have done a great service in reissuing the album so that it might reach a wider audience. Aglieri's flute sounds haunting and evocative over the range of delicate synth treatments, largely orbiting the minimal realm but with a naive charm that makes the music wholly accessible at the same time. Soothing, thoughtfully crafted music for tender times.
Review: The Awakening is the seventh and final studio album from The Ahmad Jamal trio. It was originally released way back in 1970, and in the years since has become something of a must-have for jazz collectors. Given that finding original vinyl copies is getting increasingly difficult, this reissue is more than welcome. Musically, it's a boisterous and hugely entertaining affair, with Jamal's virtuoso piano playing taking centre stage. With an accompanying drummer and double bass player providing steady, if unspectacular, backing, Jamal tickles the ivories like a man possessed. Along the way, he doffs his cap to a number of then popular jazz styles, remodeling them in his own image.
Review: Serious reissue business: Be With take us back to 1971 for Air's one and only album. The brainchild of Googe Coppola (who you may recognise from Fire Island or cameos with Jeremy Steig) and her partner in jazz Tom Coppola, you can hear vapour trails of the pastoral, laidback folk of the late '60s with a more forthright funk energy and jazz mindset as the lovers and their bandmates dazzle us with meandering melodies and stories; from The Doors level organ frenzy of "Baby I Don't Know Where I Love" to the galloping momentum of "In Our Time" that suddenly stops dead into an almost medieval breakdown by way of ballads such as "Sister Bessie" and Afrobeat-style horn chaos like "Lipstick", this really captures an exciting time in music and, if the music is as honest as it seems, a rather exciting time in the lives of the Coppolas too...
Review: Saxophonist and flautist Harold Alexander recorded and released his debut album, Sunshine Man, way back in 1971. Now considered something of a must-have for fans of both jazz-funk and fusion, it was recorded with the assistance of some notable musicians including legendary drummer Bernard Purdie and prolific session bassist Richard Davis. There's no doubt, though, that Alexander was the clear star of the show. As this essential reissue proves, his saxophone and flute playing was on-point throughout, arguably reaching its' peak on the incessant and epic title track (which, incidentally, also includes some sublime keys-work). Other highlights include the restless hustle of "Mama Soul", where Alexander's urgent flute solos are accompanied by note-for-note scat vocals, and the relaxed fusion flutter of "Anguilla".
Review: Tony Allen is on record as saying that The Source, his first album on iconic jazz label Blue Note, is the best recording he's made. Given his length of service and vast discography, that's a bold claim. Certainly, it's a fine album, with the legendary drummer and his selected musicians - mostly jazz players from Paris, plus a Cameroonian guitarist and previous Allen collaborator Damon Albarn on one cut - effortlessly blur the boundaries between Afrobeat and the kind of jazz pioneered by Allen's percussion heroes Art Blakey and Max Roach. It's a brilliant hybrid that fits Allen's unique style of drumming like a glove, and there's no doubt that the former Fela Kuti sticks-man is the real star of the show.
Review: For the uninitiated, Ambiance was an American jazz-funk, fusion and boogie outfit fronted by spiritually minded, Nigerean born saxophonist, flautist and clarinetist Daoud Abubakar Balewa. The band's 1979 album, "Ebun", has long been sought-after by collectors, hence this timely High Jazz reissue. There's much to admire amongst the eight tracks on show, from the Afro-tinged Latin fusion flex of "Bossa Moniife" and Azymuth style jazz-funk of "Camouflage" and "Ebun", to the high-tempo intergalactic goodness of "Turnaround". Closing cut "Last Tango", a high-octane fusion of operatic style female backing vocals, dueling instrument solos and skittish jazz drums, is also sublime.
Review: 1981's (Gida-Gida) Tight & Tidy by Ambiance is a rare-as-hens-teeth LP that has just been in the bags of serious collectors for too long. Led by saxophonist Daoud Abubakar Balewa, this singular work of jazz fusion has been the product of serious training and attention from the likes of Frank Mitchell and Jackie McLean but, like so many incredible albums from that era, you could say that it has been lost in the mix; thankfully, High Jazz have done us the favour of remastering and reissuing. The sax features prominently on this sublime piece of work, but the arrangements are loose, free-minded and even considerably spiritual in look-and-feel. Moreover, there are notable elements of disco thanks to the funky bass tones riding magnificently beneath the jazzy instrumentals. Don't miss...
Tombstone (Movement 1 Good Doer - feat Zap Mama) (5:19)
Tombstone (Movement 2 Mami Water Town - feat Zap Mama) (5:34)
Tombstone (Movement 3 Gates Of Zion - feat Zap Mama) (4:34)
Review: Martin Perna's infamous Antibalas crew, or 'bulletproof' as we like to call them, have been one of the most consistent sources of quality afrobeat since the late 90s, first coming through on the then fledgling Ninja Tune, out of the UK. Over the last five years, Brooklyn's ever-impressive Daptone Records have snapped them up, with this new album, Where The Gods Are In Peace, being the group's second LP for the afro powerhouse label. "Gold Rush" opens with a frenetic, supremely funky ode to Fela, all nervous and cosmic, followed by the comparatively deeper and more laid-back groove of "Hook & Crook". "Tombstone", on the B-side, receives three mixes, each of them featuring Zap Mama on the vocals - the deepest shade of afrobeat you'll find out here. Antibalas gives us hope that new music can be just as powerful as the original material from the 70s. 10/10.