This Is What You Are (feat The High Five Quintet - radio edit) (4:21)
This Is What You Are (The Brazilian Rime) (4:53)
Review: "This Is What You Are" is undoubtedly Mario Biondi's most celebrated work. He first sung it for original composers Was A Bee in 2004, before re-recording it for his debut album (alongside the High Five Quintet) in 2006. Since then it has been reissued or remixed on numerous occasions. Here it gets reissued on a tidy 7" single, with a punchy radio edit - a swinging, Sunday afternoon style chunk of Latin soul-jazz rich in jaunty grooves, soaring orchestration and smooth vocals - being joined by the "Brazilian Rime" rework. This tasty re-recording re-casts the song as a breezy, samba-fired slab of early 1970s style Brazilian MPB. It's an inspired interpretation and could well become the definitive version of the track.
Review: The music that makes up Harmony of Difference, Kamasi Washington's first EP of note since the release of acclaimed 2015 album The Epic, was premiered live as a "six-track movement" earlier this year. The "suite" - here stretched across both sides of an essential 12" - sees Washington continue to explore the idea of what it means to be black in America in the 21st century. Musically, the EP contains some of his smoothest and most laidback compositions yet, with all his musical collaborators being on fine form. The headline attraction is undoubtedly 14-minute flipside "The Truth", an almost operatic jazz epic full of swelling choral contributions, fizzing drum solos, rising horns and, of course, plenty of Washington's distinctive saxophone.
Review: Wow, classics don't come much more special than this. A like-for-like repress of the 1970 RCA release, both sides here are soaked in Scott Heron's raw troubled soul. The endlessly sampled, hugely powerful and perfectly funky "Revolution" remains almost as poignant and prophetic as it was the day it was penned. "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" is much more personal and reveals his talent as a singer as much as the lead track boasts his poetry and ability to deliver a strong message.
Review: A modern day Scott-Heron, without the myriad of demons on his back, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Porter has such a distinctive voice, charm and band command. He clearly lends himself well to edit culture (as proved by the huge success of the many "1960 What?" versions in recent years) and this 7" from Expansion is no exception. "On My Way To Harlem" is straight up narrative jazz with fantastic attention paid to the subtle samba and solemn horns. "1960 What?" speaks for itself; far more authentic to the original than the other versions that have popped up, if you've not already got a favourite edit - Jazz & Cole have the answer.
Review: Ahead of a fresh album due later in the year, Nat Birchall fires up his quartet and returns to the Jazz45 series with a second seven-inch salvo for the Jazzman offshoot. A-side "Obeah Man" is wonderfully sweet, soulful and breezy, with Birchall and company layering jaunty spiritual jazz style piano riffs and snaking solos (think Clarinet, sax, trumpet etc) over a warm, loose and bustling groove. They continue on a similar vein on the slightly bolder flipside cut "Seeking", where bandmembers trade solos atop a classic jazz style bassline and fizzing drums. That forthcoming album should be killer.
Review: Rich gutsy soul from a man who's regularly described as Brazil's James Brown, "O Journalerio" is a blueprint funk jam. Released in 1971 (on his hyper-rare album BR-3) it's all about the orchestrated swing, bluesy groove and Hammond licks so lavish you need to towel on every listen. Flip for Som Tres... An off-shoot of the Sambalanco Trio, it's the sound of Cesar Camargo Mariano controlling a restrained rolling slice of filmic instrumental funk where horns, keys and drums gather momentum with big band drama. Neither have been released on 45" before, making this all the more special.
Review: Despite not releasing all that much in 2018, Canadian nu-jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD's reputation continued to rise. That was in no small part due to their eye-catching collaboration with Little Dragon, which resulted in the digital release of "Tried" back in September. Now the track has been given a deserved seven-inch single release by Ninja Tune. With LD lead vocalist Yukimi Nagano doing her best to channel the spirit of Minnie Riperton, "Tried" has a similarly languid, jazz/folk/soul fusion feel as some of the best works by Rotary Connection. BADBADNOTGOOD's admiration of the Charles Stepney-produced band comes through loud and clear through the choice of instruments and arrangements. For further proof, check the accompanying flipside instrumental mix.
Review: Two crucial moments from Gil Scott Heron's immense repertoire; "When You Are Who You Are" takes the lead. Taken from his 1971 album Pieces Of A Man, it's a straight up homage to clarity and honesty told in the context that only Gil knew best. Flip for a very special alternative take of "Free Will". The title track of his following album, released a year later in 1972, the variations of this take (which has never been released on vinyl before) are subtle but strong enough to justify it a place in your collection.
Review: Two premium Latin funk documents on one limited 45, Mr Bongo deliver once again: Marcos Valle needs no introduction to Brazilian music enthusiasts. "Mentira" is a self-cover as Valle takes his 69 classic "Mentira Carioca" and develops the dynamic with a vocal style that's highly reminiscent of Donovan. Flip for Toni Tornado's Black Rio anthem "Me Libertei". Fusing sleazy rock n roll with jazzy Latin soul, madly this is the first time it's ever graced a 45!
Review: Samba flavours do not come more authentic than this. The sixth in Mr Bongo's Brazil 45 series, here they unearth two foundation pieces from Rio collective Os Origianais Do Samba. Forming in 60s Rio, they're still highly active today and have a discography peppered with Brazilian gold. This 45 does well to showcase their breadth... "La Vem Salgueiro" is quintessential samba. Heavy rhythm, punctuated vocals and a dynamic that leaps from bold and delicate in a flash, it charms you instantly. "Tenha Fe" has a softer soul as it strums and sways and more of a folky sensation, tight harmonies and alluring naked instrumentation.
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: Those with a deep knowledge of Berlin's Ghanaian ex-pat "burger-highlife" scene may already be familiar with Lee Dodou, a singer who recorded a number of classic singles and albums during the 1980s as part of bands Georg Darko and Kantata. He retired from music in 1991, but has been persuaded to return to action by the Philophon team. This comeback single is pretty impressive all told, with A-side "Basa Basa" - a triumphantly celebratory chunk of 1960s "concert party" highlife rich in punchy horn lines and Dodou's full-throated vocals - being joined on the flipside by the slower, synth-laden "Sahara Akwantou". Brilliantly, the label describes this as "kraut-life" due to its unique (and rather good) fusion of highlife and German kosmiche.
Review: There are many things that make Sons of Kemet a unique proposition, not least the London jazz combo's unique musical make-up (saxophonist and main man Shabaka Hutchings is joined by a tuba player and two drummers). There's also the small matter of their music, which goes above and beyond the traditional confines of jazz. On 'Your Queen Is A Reptile', Hutchings and company go even further, delivering what one critic described as "party music with a purpose". In reality, that means a selection of scorching tracks rich in dueling drum-work, booming tuba basslines and fizzing sax refrains, many of which touch on a combination of heavy Afro-jazz, spiritual jazz, New Orleans brass bands and even the guttural pulse of British bass music. Impressive stuff, all told.
Review: The Nat Birchall Quartet debuts here with Tunji, a new 7" special out through the inimitable Jazz45 imprint, home to some of the best contemporary jazz - of all shapes and sizes. The title tune "Tunji" is a sax-led masterpiece, slow yet constantly building and morphing into something new and exciting, taking the term 'broken beat' onto a new platform. Conversely, the B-side's "Mode For Trane" lingers at a slow tempo, transporting you into a bittersweet lullaby with Nat Birchall's sax very much in the spotlight. What a cracking little 7" - TIP!
Review: Formed in 2017, the Sokratis Votskos Quartet is fast becoming one of the leading lights in Greek jazz. Later in the year they'll be releasing a brand new album on Jazzman, from which this tasty double A-side is taken. "Almopian Etude" is a veritable humid summer breeze of a track: a loose and languid fusion of spiritual piano motifs, languid double bass, bustling drums and alternately snaking and intoxicating horn solos. B-side "Sevenates" is an altogether funkier proposition, with cyclical saxophone motifs increasing in intensity over a jumpy, piano-driven rhythm track. It's not exactly jazz-funk, but it's certainly travelling in that direction. Either way, it's ace.