Review: Jazzman's dusty-fingered diggers recently did a deal to reissue some of the "holy grail" albums released by Austin-based Fable Records in small numbers back in the early 1970s. Forty Seven Times Its Own Weight's "Cumulo Nimbus" is the first of these. It's a pleasingly warm and evocative set of tracks from the one-album combo that offers an enjoyable and cutting edge fusion of hard-wired jazz-funk, post-modal fusion, horizontal slow jams and low-slung goodness that pairs free-jazz style solos and spiritual grooves with just the right amount of funk-fuelled instrumentation (see "Jig"). The set includes both dancefloor-friendly and laid-back fare, with the jaunty title somehow managing to tick both boxes at once.
Review: Last year, civil rights era proto-hip-hop group The Last Poets marked their 50th anniversary with their first album in 20 years. 12 months on they return with "Transcending Toxic Times", an expansive double album that sees the pioneering prototype rap group take aim at America's ills in the same incendiary, hard-hitting fashion that once provided inspiration for Public Enemy and many other early hip-hop pioneers. Musically, it's rich, warm and varied, with the involvement of avant-jazz bassist Jamaldeen Tacuma ensuring a heady mix of jazz, hip-hop, jazz-funk, soul, folk and art-rock grooves. In other words, it's a triumph.
Review: Soul Jazz has previously dug deep into the back catalogue of American flautist Lloyd McNeill, reissuing a number of albums including two made with his acclaimed jazz quintet. Their latest rummage through the vaults has resulted in the reissue of one of his most sought-after sets - 1976 private press LP "Treasures", original copies of which now change hands for significant sums online. It remains a fine album, all told, with McNeill's breezy, ear-catching flute solos rising over backing tracks that are variously sublimely sun-kissed (the bright pianos and cheery madrigal mood of "Salvation Army"), suave and swinging ("As A Matter Of Fact") and effortlessly soft and seductive (the unfurling beauty of "You Don't Know What Love Is").
Review: For the 30th volume in the label's ongoing "holy grail" series of rare jazz reissues, Jazzman has once again mined the vaults of obscure Texan label Fable Records. Starcrost was a short-lived six-piece whose members included trumpeter Mike Mordecai, the man who founded Fable in part to get the band's music onto wax. Their self-titled 1975 debut album has long been a favorite of crate-digging jazz-funk and soul-jazz heads, so this reissue is long overdue. It features a mixture of sweet and soulful vocal numbers, solo-rich instrumental workouts and heady cuts that throw suitably spiritual influences to the band's fizzing, funk-fuelled take on mid '70s jazz.
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.
Solomon Ilori - "Igbesi Aiye (Song Of Praise To God)"
Review: The latest instalment in Jazzman's "Spiritual Jazz" compilation series is something of an epic. It was initially released as two separate double vinyl compilations, but is here brought together on one two CD set. It's epic for a reason, though, as it explores the little known and under-celebrated spiritual gems lurking within Blue Note's vast catalogue. Given the staggeringly high quality throughout, picking a mere handful of highlights is tough. That said, we'd suggest checking the wide-eyed dreaminess of Duke Pearson's ambient-jazz cut "Cristo Redentor", the entrancing African drums of Solomon Ilori's "Igbesi Aiye (Song Of Praise To God)", the gentle breeze of Bobby Hutcherson's "Verse" and the "Rose Rouge" style grooves and heady chants of Eddie Gale's "The Rain".