Review: We're rather excited by the prospect of Blue Note's forthcoming "Reimagined" compilation, which sees a variety of rising stars from the UK's jazz, soul and R&B scenes delivering new interpretations of classic cuts from the legendary jazz label's vast back catalogue. This teaser single features two of the more striking and talked-about covers. Jorja Smith takes on St Germain's early noughties jazz-house masterpiece "Rose Rouge", brilliantly re-imagining it as a deep, fluid and dreamy nu-jazz number rich in authentic instrumentation, shimmering electronics and effortlessly soulful vocals. It's genuinely brilliant. Over on the flip, the Ezra Project takes on Wayne Shorter's "Footprints", somehow mixing up hip-hop, post-bop jazz, funk and Afrobeat to create a stunning new interpretation. There aren't many of these around, so act fast to avoid disappointment.
Review: If you don't already own a copty of Gil Scott-Heron classic "The Bottle", one of the many highlights from the pioneering spoken word artist and musician's 1974 collaboration with Brian Jackson, "Winter In America", then we'd heartily recommend picking up one of these limited-edition, white vinyl singles. For the uninitiated, the track features Scott-Heron musing on alcoholism and poverty over a killer flute-laden soul-funk groove. This time round it comes backed by another Scott-Heron/Jackson gem, "Johannesburg" - a more musically inventive and bluesy meditation on arpartheid first featured on the pair's 1975 album "From South Africa To South Carolina".
Review: More must-have reissue action here, as Soul Brother Records offers-up an ultra-limited, Juno exclusive white vinyl "45" featuring two revered gems from Washington D.C funk heavyweights The Soul Searchers. On the A-side you'll find "Blow Your Whistle", a deliciously weighty, energetic and infectious funk stomper laden with wah-wah guitars, punchy horns, bustling grooves and, as you'd expect from the title, whistles. Over on the B-side you'll find "Ashley's Roachclip", a more laidback chunk of breezy instrumental soul goodness from 1974 whose headline-grabbing attraction is a seriously good - and extensive - flute solo.
Street Dreams (feat Miguel Atwood Ferguson) (2:12)
One More Time (3:10)
1989 (feat Miguel Atwood Ferguson) (3:25)
Toulouse (feat Miguel Atwood Ferguson) (2:48)
Big Rick (3:29)
Save Me (feat Mach Hommy) (5:57)
Mr Wu (3:37)
Hold On (feat Lauren Faith) (3:12)
Early Prayer (5:02)
Review: Given that keyboardist and producer Kamaal Williams' 2018 debut album "The Return" was such a rip-roaring success critically and commercially, hopes are naturally sky-high for this delayed sequel. Happily, we can confirm that Williams has arguably excelled himself on "Wu Hen", once again blurring the boundaries between jazz-funk, seductive downtempo grooves, hazy space jazz, deep house influenced dancefloor workouts (see "Mr Wu", whose title references his other artistic alias, Henry Wu) and soft-focus soul - all with the assistance of an expanded line-up of guest musicians and vocalists. Perhaps the biggest impact is made by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, a composer whose string arrangements add an ear-catching new dimension to Williams work. Stunning stuff all told.
Review: Those who've studied Tony Allen's distinctive drumming style often cite Art Blakey as an influence, so it's little surprise to find him paying tribute to the legendary jazz drummer on this superb album. Joined by his regular band, Allen covers a quartet of tracks written and recorded by Blakey and his band, the Jazz Messengers. The results are predictably impressive, with Allen's loose and polyrhythmic percussion providing a rock solid foundation for the horns, piano and double bass that sits atop. It's naturally closer to all-out jazz than to Afrobeat, but still bristles with the kind of punchy horns and life-affirming playing that characterizes Allen's work. "Thunder Suite", in which Allen drops a number of sweaty drum solos, is particularly potent.