Wednesday, November 27, 2013



A fantastic set of tracks that was recorded at the cusp of the 70s, but which wasn't (for some strange reason) released until many years later! Donald Byrd's playing here with two different larger groups, and the music is a perfect bridge between his spacey late 60s attempts to mimic Miles Davis, and his tighter early 70s jazz funk work with Larry Mizell. The instrumentation's a bit different than usual, and includes a warm frontline of Frank Foster on tenor, Lew Tabackin on flute and tenor, and William Campbell on trombone – all working with these charts that are full and flowing – really strong, soulful elements that get some further great touches from Duke Pearson on Fender Rhodes! Rhythms echo some of Pearson's own great music of the time, with lots of Brazilian undercurrents – no surprise, given that Duke produced the record – and titles include "Kofi", "Fufu", "Perpetual Love", and "Elmina". Special limited edition also features a bonus 10" piece of vinyl – with the group's own version of Frank Foster's "Loud Minority". (Collectors edition is limited to 300 copies.)  ~  Dusty Groove


Afro Funk mixed with lots of wah wah guitar – a wonderfully wicked set from the Polyrthmics, and one that's got an even sharper groove than ever before! These guys have all the right rhythms and horns to get an Afro Funk groove just right – but the guitar is often a bit tighter and more prominent than in other combos of this nature – played with this force and wide-spaced power that really brings a deeply funky undercurrent to the record – one that's not just Nigeria 70s, but which has plenty of echoes of the funky 45 generation as well! The mix of modes is wonderful – and titles include "Libra Stripes", "Pupsa Strut", "Snake In The Grass", "Chingador", "Skin The Fat", "Mr Wasbi Rides Again", and "Retrobotic". ~ Dusty Groove


All star team 12-inch with Med & Blu on the mic and Madlib in the production booth – plus superstar guest appearances by Mayer Hawthorne and Dam-Funk! Buzz is the intoxicating lead off track of three great ones – with a gritty beat and soul string sample in the backdrop, busy rhymes and Mayer's classic Detroit soul inspired vocals on the hook. Includes a main mix, radio version, instrumental and bonus beat. The flip "Peroxide" co-stars Dam-Funk and has a heady funk vibe in place of the soul-styled A-Side. It's another major win - with a main mix, clean radio version, instrumental and acapella. (Nice packaging, too – wrapped like a premium bottle of booze!) ~ Dusty Groove


Following a string of celebrated releases for the likes of Island and Metalheadz, drum ‘n’ bass legend Peshay turns his midas touch to live funk, jazz and tropical compositions in a vibrant new direction on his first album for Tru Thoughts. Entitled ‘Generation’, the album follows the upfront EP of the same name which has gained early airplay from Gilles Peterson and Craig Charles on BBC 6Music, and excited reactions from seasoned tastemakers worldwide including Sinden, Danny Krivit and Ashley Beedle.

Inspired by his lifelong love of all sorts of sounds from jazz and disco to funk, house and Latin American music, this new material finds the London based producer using only live musicians, each of whom bring a little of their own style, and creating an evocative world within each track. While some of his previous releases – most notably his highly acclaimed 1999 debut LP ‘Miles From Home’ – hint at this wider spectrum of influences, this is the first time that Peshay has produced a full album that gives no clues as to his drum ‘n’ bass stalwart status.

“Maybe it will be a shock for some people,” says Paul Pesce, the man behind the moniker; “but I love different styles and don’t want to only make drum and bass. Tru Thoughts is a fantastic platform for me to express myself in a different way, and I look forward to doing more eclectic productions as well as more drum and bass in future.”

Fans will be relieved to find that Peshay does not neglect the dancefloor here, as the ‘Generation’ LP packs as many party tunes as it does melodic, post-club jams; and punchy production holds sway throughout. The tribal rhythms and transporting groove of opener “Bronx Life” lead into a vibrant, vintage swing-jazz feel and experimental, shifting tempo on “Vanguard”. Strong instrumental hooks characterise the carnivalesque, Latin-inspired house tune “Seville”; “Dirty” brings a sleazy, cheeky retro electro kick; while “Kickin’ It With The Piano Trio” – a live, freeform and snaking jazz jam with propulsive drums – ups the feelgood factor and demonstrates top drawer musicianship. Coming over like a lost ’70s film soundtrack, “Midnight Express” drives things in a decidedly suspenseful, funk-fuelled direction; beautiful woodwind and brass flourishes on “Sundown” mix with a woozy early-hours vibe and big breaks; and the title track closes the album on an upbeat and playful, Hammond-heavy jam.

Tracklisting: 01. Bronx Life / 02. Vanguard / 03. Indigo / 04. Seville / 05. Dirty / 06. Daydreaming / 07. Never Let You Go / 08. Kickin’ It With The Piano Trio / 09. Midnight Express / 10. Sundown / 11. Solar /

12. Generation



A thundering 16 tracks produced by Lee Perry that takes us through the key period of his output at the Black Ark. Many of the tracks come from a single master tape. The remaining tracks are from dub plates. As re-issues go this is pretty remarkable. Maverick Productions that showcase Perry at his most imaginative.

1976 was the third year in the short life of the Black Ark studio. It also marked more than a decade since Lee ‘King’ Perry started in the business as a vocalist and it proved to be a defining year for the man’s music.

Scratch’s deal with Island Records meant that three albums and a dozen singles received the marketing and promotion from the coolest label in the mainstream UK & US markets. Scratch’s Black Ark studio enabled him to continually pursue developing his production signatures. The studio was now generating a unique sound with its bouncing bass, atmospheric and textured mix and its cultural currents. Perry himself was in creative overdrive – in his search for ‘that’ sound. Everything else, from paying bills to family life, slipped into the background as he drove himself and his musicians ever forward.

His studio built vision was delivered on vinyl & acetate, not live. Now, some 37 years later, Roaring Lion delivers unknown tunes and mixes from that crucial year. With a dozen tracks straight off a single master tape our set offers a unique snap-shot of Perry’s creative vibrations as Producer, and re-mixer, to the rising cultural religion of Rasta. The Black Ark was peaking in the red as he revved himself to full throttle and created his finest ever work. Scratch was the fizzing, joking ringmaster – whose studio buzzed with a positive vibe of creation and roared with the voices of the new kings of Kingston. By now Perry was ‘anointing’ master tapes with great clouds of weed smoke. There’s a trio of tracks from Jah Lion – the nom de guerre that Scratch gave the erstwhile Jah Lloyd, when he was recording at the Ark.

They are built from a lexicon that defined the era. ‘Generation from Creation’ uses the obscure Hombres ‘Africa’ to DJ over whilst ‘Truth and Rights’ finds Jah Lion chatting over Winston Heywood & the Hombres anti capitalist ‘Backbiting’.

This sets’ title track sets the tone with its open lines: ‘When the Lion Roar the weak heart tremble!’ It’s quintessential Black Ark with its bouncing bass and Augustus Pablo’s melodica lines drifting over the top. LION! And if you listen carefully you can hear Perry reminding Jah Lion of the next line. The Fantels ‘Stand & Look’ is a first issue of the track and its dub as Perry recorded and mixed it. A strange UK issue, with different mixes and running times, surfaced a while later but this is the real deal. ‘Speak the truth & speak it ever’ cries the Fantels as they seek witnesses to what’s happening on the streets: ‘Babylon kill a Rastaman & don’t even know the reason why!’

Roaring Lion is built around a 50 minute celebration of Perry’s developing production style, and cultural vision, as the Black Ark reached its pinnacle of creation.

Culled from Dub plates and rare vinyl offer a handful of tasty morsels for Scratch-a-holics! Junior Byles revoiced ‘Beat Down Babylon’ as a political tune in support of Michael Manley, who actively courted the rising Rasta following: a piece of social history. ‘Upsetting Walk’ is another mix of the classic Skylarking rhythm that only appeared on plate circa 1974. ‘Loco Negril’ is a bizarre combination of a tame Althea & Donna tune and Scratch’s mixing. He cranked it through his desk toward the end of the Black Ark’s life: it’s chock full of signature moves and effects. Extraordinary. Cut in 1975 ‘Natural Mystic’ is the original dubplate mix, of what became one of Bob Marley’s most iconic tunes when re-recorded for Island. Originally cut for Jah Wise’s ‘Tippertone’ Sound, it’s Bob with the Upsetters and Scratch at the controls. Later Perry added harmonies from the Meditations: this latter mix was used for the tracks first ever vinyl issue, posthumously, in 1981. (when it was mastered at the wrong speed and also used the flat studio take!)

Sixteen tracks most of which have never been released before. Alternative mixes of some of his better-known dubs make Roaring Lion possibly the strongest Lee Perry album we have ever released on Pressure Sounds. Excellent packaging on the CD and a double vinyl musical extravaganza!!!

01. Truths And Rights – Jah Lion & The Upsetters (previously unreleased)
02. Upsetters Shuffle – The Upsetters (unreleased Dub plate mix)
03. Roaring Lion – Jah Lion & The Upsetters (previously unreleased)
04. Pride – Augustus Pablo & The Upsetters (previously unreleased)
05. Loco Negril – Althea & Donna
06. Big Gal Sally – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)
07. Generation From Creation – Jah Lion & The Upsetters (previously unreleased)
08. Big Boy Wally – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)
09. Beat Down Comrade Man – Junior Byles & The Upsetters (previously unreleased Dub plate)
10. Stand And Look – The Fantels (unreleased mix)
11. Rocky Road Dub – The Upsetters (previously unreleased)
12. Natural Mystic – Bob & The Upsetters (unreleased original Upsetter Dub plate Mix)
13. Anasawa Dub – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)
14. Dub Dyon – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)
15. Emotional Dub – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)

16. Dub Stand – The Upsetters (unreleased mix)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Jean Wells’ story is not an extraordinary one in the world of soul, although her voice certainly was. Her biggest hit ‘Have A Little Mercy’ from 1967 was a glorious slice of deep soul, a plea to a lover, whom she is addicted to, but who doesn’t seem to notice. Her gospel-trained voice perfectly encapsulating those feelings, whilst a stark arrangement dominated by an ethereal organ and dramatic horn stabs heightens the unbearable effect this man is having on Jean’s life. Yet at the time this record only reached number 25 in the R&B charts, just another bit of genius amongst many, thrown out by the black American music industry at one of its most creative and profligate periods.

Born in West Palm Beach Florida in 1942, Jean Wells was brought up in Belle Glade near the state’s Lake Okeechobee. As a youngster she sang in gospel choirs, and taught herself piano. Unlike some her family didn’t object to secular music and in her teens she formed a girl group with friends whilst she was at High School. With the musical desire firmly in her bones at the age of 17 she left home and headed for Philadelphia, a city that would become her musical base throughout her career.

Philly at the time was at the centre of the American music industry due to it being the place where Dick Clark’s American Bandstand was filmed. This pop TV programme was nationally syndicated and could break records to the important post rock and roll teen audience. As such a slew of local record labels led by Cameo had grown up around the town. Jean went looking for a record deal and soon found herself recording for the tiny Quaker Town label. Her first single – ‘Song Of The Bells’ – was successful enough locally that the label released two further releases ‘If He’s A Good Man’ and ‘I Know He Loves Me’, neither of which managed to build on the success, and they remained unknown outside of the local area.

Jean went back home to Florida, but the desire to be part of the music industry remained and she returned to Philly to record a single record, ‘Don’t Come Running Back To Me’ b/w ‘Little Boots’ for ABC-Paramount, before heading back south once more. Yet she was back again in 1966 and it was at this point that she managed to get traction in the industry. Meeting up with producer and A&R man Clyde Otis, who decided to sign her to his production company Argon. Otis had had great success at Mercury Records where he had produced Brook Benton, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan in the late 50s and Clyde McPhatter who he signed to the label in 1960. Since striking out on his own he had produced some of Aretha Franklin’s finest pre-Atlantic recordings for Columbia including the wonderful ‘One Step At A Time’ which has recently been revived by soul DJs and producers of re-edits alike.

With Jean he saw a singer who could be every bit as good as Aretha or Dinah Washington, similar big sounding singers. His first single with Jean is perhaps the most obscure. The glorious deep soul ballad ‘If You Ever Loved Somebody’ was coupled with ‘Hello Baby- Goodbye Too’ and released on Juggy Murray’s Sue Records subsidiary Eastern. It failed to trouble any charts, but it did put down a calling card for Jean. It was quite clear that this was a singer who could cut high quality material that could match the best of what was coming out at the time.

As Jean worked on new material with Clyde, her producer was sorting out a new label for her to appear on, following the demise of Juggy Murray’s labels late in 1966. He signed a deal with Nate McCalla’s Calla Records. McCalla was a well known face around 1960s New York, and was closely associated with the notorious Morris Levy of Roulette Records, and it fact had his office in Roulette’s building. Stories abound about this colourful figure, who was a decorated hero of the Korean War, but he was a tough guy and his life was prematurely ended when he was murdered in Florida in 1980. His label is a gem, with brilliant records by the likes of Bettye Lavette, Little Jerry Williams (later known as Swamp Dogg) and many others through to its close in 1977. The label always had close ties to Philadelphia, and it is perhaps this link that brought him to Jean.

Her first single on the label was the self-written ‘After Loving You’ a storming club soul cut with a relentless beat. It was coupled with ‘Puttin’ The Best On The Outside’ which sounded as if it could have been written several years earlier. It was a successful start to her time at the label charting at number 31 in Billboard’s R&B chart. The follow up ‘I Feel Good’ was another dancer that peaked at number 33. It was the next release that was the big one and ‘Have A Little Mercy’ burst out of the speakers over the Christmas period of 1967 heading to a peak of number 25. On the flip was a glorious northern soul style dancer ‘With My Love And What You Got’, complete with a vibes filled rhythm section.

Otis took the logical step of following ‘Mercy’ with another deep soul ballad his own ‘Sit Down and Cry’. Once more Jean reaches far inside herself and drags every ounce of emotion from the song in a jaw-dropping performance. It was perhaps a little too intense to be popular, and the single became her first on Calla not to make the R&B charts. She returned to the charts with her very next single, though it would be for the last time. This time the lead number ‘Try Me & See’ was firmly uptempo and is firmly written to sound like Aretha Franklin’s then current hits such as ‘Respect’ or ‘See Saw’. It reached number 45 backed with ‘Best Thing For You Baby’.

At this time Calla also tried to capitalise on her success by releasing the album ‘World, Here Come Jean Wells’ in 1968, it sank without a trace and is now a sought after collectors item. Jean released three more singles on Calla, each one either trying to replicate the success of her previous work or the then current sounds in the pop charts. The best of these was her December 1968 ‘What Have We Got To Lose’ a swaying soul dancer written by Jean, and which in recent years has seen action in the rare soul clubs. Despite Calla losing interest after the 1969 single ‘Our Sweet Love Turned Bitter’ b/w Keep Your Mouth Shut (and Your Eyes Open)’ Clyde Otis kept the faith, and Jean’s next single appeared on the Philadelphia independent Volare recycling ‘Keep Your Mouth Shut’ with the slow funk of ‘I Couldn’t Love You More Than I Do Now’.

Jerry ‘Swamp Dogg’ Williams Canyon label was where her next single turned up. This was the stridently funky ‘He Ain’t Doing Bad’ and the wah wah laden ‘Somebody’s Been Loving You’. These two tracks were recorded in Philadelphia by Earl Young, Norman Harris and Ron Baker. The trio would become the basis of the 1970s Philadelphia Sound and were on hundreds of classic disco and soul recording as well as being the men behind the legendary disco group the Tramps. Clyde Otis employed them for what was supposedly lined up to be an album project on Jean, but only 5 tracks were recorded. As well as the two that appeared on the single, there is the atmospheric ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves, Come Out Lovin’ which features a very advanced - for the time - synthesiser led backing track, and ‘Take Time To Make Time’ which to my mind features one of Jean’s finest vocal parts. The final number ‘Keep On Doing It’ takes us back to the world of funk, but with a very Philly swing to the rhythm section. It appeared briefly as a single on Law-Ton in 1972

These were to be the final recordings that Jean made in this part of her career. She left the industry and according to Clyde Otis she went into the gospel field. She made two slight returns to secular music. In 1979 she made the disco/ boogie single ‘I Just Can’t Stop Dancing’ for the Philadelphia based TEC label. Two years later she was back again, still in the city that she had so often called home, this time recording the disco-fied album ‘Number One’ for Sunshine Recordings.

After this Jean disappeared from sight. Probably back into the world of gospel, she left us with a fantastic recorded legacy, of which her recordings for Clyde Otis, which are gathered here, are the choicest cuts. Vinyl track listing:

1 A: What Have I Got To Lose B: Have A Little Mercy / 2 A: With My Love And What You've Got (We Could Turn This World Around) B: Take Time To Make Time For Me / 3 A: Somebody's Been Loving You (But It AIn't Been Me) B: He Ain't Doing Bad



Featured this week on The Jazz Network Worldwide: Award-winning Jazz and Classical French Hornist, Yuko Yamamura with her debut CD “Dancing in the Dialog”.

Yuko Yakamura, french hornist, composer/arranger shares her debut CD “Dancing in the Dialog” with The Jazz Network Worldwide social network community while performing show-stopping performances on tour from New York to Japan.

Award-winning french hornist, Yuko Yakamura brings much experience to her new CD project “Dancing In The Dialog”. As grand-prize winner in the jazz catagory of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest 2012 and finalist of the 18th Annual USA Songwriting Competition 2013 she is surely equipped to release her debut CD project to the world. Her composition was selected by in-flight airplay of Virgin America airlines for summer 2012.

Hailing from Kobe, Japan, Yuko Yakamura started her musical studies as a singer at a very early age. Graduating from the Osaka College of Music in 1998, she studied classical music with Hiroko Fushimi and Shigekazu Ikeda, wind ensemble arranging with Toru Takahashi and jazz improvisation with Hiroshi Munekiyo at the Arrow Jazz Orchestra Music School.

As an educator, Yuko taught at the Yamaha School for Wind Orchestra. It was then that she led her own jazz quintet, and enjoyed performances at Kobe and Osaka, which culminated in a CD, which was recorded at XEBEC Music Production Studios.

“Music stays with us strongly and gently. Music is also a guide that leads us deeply into our memory. Life is full of stories, such as joyful, painful, happy and sad stories. Each story never happens in good order but rather does it happen at the same time or sometimes one after another. My songs were created as my thoughts were wondering over these things. Music has a gentle but lasting effect on us, sometimes acting as a guide to the thoughts we keep inside” says Yuko.

Yamamura’s met her goal when she to traveled to the United States to attend Berklee College of Music and successfully graduating as a professional music major in both jazz French horn and composition. While there, she studied jazz improvisation with Tiger Okoshi, Christine Fawson, and Jeff Galindo.

Having worked with Victor Jones, Jay Rodriguez, Hector Martignon, Schott Collery, Jerry Granelli, Gerard Angel, David "Pic" Conley and  Sweet Plantain Strings Quartet she has become a mainstay on the international jazz scene.

Currently she performs with Japanese traditional Taiko, in the band "Ajarria" in Japan and the U.S. She is also a member of the Victor Jones/Jay Rodriguez Band and regularly performs in New York City. Yamamura continues to perform, compose and working with other artists offering her compositions in a wide variety of genres.

“Yuko’s new CD is a true expression of her musical excellence, no matter what geographical coast she is graced with the influences of many great teachers. Yuko is a pure musician who can master any stage from working with a duo to a big band.” says Jaijai Jackson, creator and owner of The Jazz Network Worldwide.



On Craig Handy's OKeh Records debut, Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith, funk and groove supply the motive and the motivation. The album, available January 21, 2014, is the saxophonist's first recording as a leader in more than a decade. The repertoire consists of 10 numbers from the songbook of Jimmy Smith - the founder of modern jazz organ expression, a creative inspiration that evolved from Handy's realization several years ago that his distinguished resume included no opportunities "to cut my teeth with any of the great organ players." As an added---and surprising---turn, Handy's reinterpretation of Smith's work includes rhythm and grooves derived from the tight second-line funk of New Orleans.

For his band Handy recruited soul jazz specialists Kyle Koehler on Hammond B-3 and Matt Chertkoff on guitar (both New Jersey neighbors and members of his working band), sousaphone virtuoso Clark Gayton, and well known New Orleans drummers Jason Marsalis, Herlin Riley and Ali Jackson. Trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and blues singer-guitarist Clarence Spady make their trademark appearances on the record as well.

In approaching the session, Handy recalls, "I realized that two of Jimmy's hits-'The Cat' and 'High Heel Sneakers'-used modified second-line rhythms. A light bulb went off in my head. I said, 'That's it-we'll do a Jimmy Smith record in the second-line vein.' New Orleans is one of the furnaces that jazz comes from, and I saw no need to change my stripes to suit the style."

Nor do Handy's colleagues. Koehler, a Philadelphian, is intimate not only with Smith's entire corpus, but also with the vocabularies of Philly contemporaries Don Patterson, Shirley Scott, and Charles Earland. Handy observes that Chertkoff, who is equally in demand, effectively channels "the mood and vibe of Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, and Quentin Warren," who are among the most eminent of the guitarists who served as Smith's foils during his years with Blue Note and Verve. There is no busier low-end brass player in New York than Gayton, Handy's band mate in the Mingus Big Band since the mid '90s.

"Matt and Kyle serve as the jazz element, keeping us honest as a modern jazz quintet," Handy says. "Clark and the drummers add the second line element, and I straddle both." That's a perfect description of Handy's treatment of the Muddy Waters blues "Got My Mojo Working." Playing drums and washboard, Riley unleashes a relentless quasi-zydeco shuffle as Spady delivers a gritty vocal. Wynton Marsalis counterstates with fierce growls and hollers that coalesce into an inflamed, cogent solo, from which the leader piggybacks into his own soul-drenched declamation.

Riley's Zigaboo Modaliste-meets-Clyde Stubblefield funk beats propel Handy's intense soprano solo on "Mellow Mood" and his tenor statement on "Ready 'N Able," and "I Got Rhythm" line that Smith presented on his 1956 Blue Note debut, A New Sound, A New Star.

Old-school New Orleans comes forth in the tasty press rolls that Jason Marsalis executes with control and taste to animate the classic Ivory Joe Hunter ballad "I Almost Lost My Mind." He also incorporates tambourine into the groove of "Road Song," a Smith-Montgomery classic; enlivens Handy's soulful alto solo on "Organ Grinder's Swing" with inexorable march cadences; and synchronizes the ride cymbal and bass drum swingingly on Stanley Turrentine's "Minor Chant."

"Minor Chant" is one of several homages to Turrentine that Handy offers on Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith. "The older I get, the more I relate to Stanley," Handy says. "Everything he does appeals to me, like I've been walking for 10 miles and there's a water fountain. I have to drink. I liked him from the very beginning, though as a kid I was drawn to Dexter Gordon and John Coltrane, who were playing more straight-ahead bop, although Stanley was no slouch in that department. Things were wide-open in the Bay Area, and the level of musicianship was high. Nobody was saying, 'Here's what you have to do and this is the way you have to do it.' I'm also a product of the funk movement. The Pointer Sisters lived around the corner from my house, and I listened to Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Parliament-Funkadelic as much as jazz."

In a sense, Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith marks the first time that Handy has coalesced all of these influences into a unified statement. In part, he credits Bridgewater, a frequent employer since 2010, who sings "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" in her inimitably saucy manner: "Playing with Dee Dee, watching her assume a different role for every song, has rubbed off on me," Handy says. "A singer has to sell the song, and Dee Dee becomes that song every time. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have had the chutzpah to pull off this project. I would have been too self-conscious, concerned about how people perceive me. I wasn't musically ready to handle this kind of project, though I've been heading here for 25 years. Now this seems like the hippest thing I've ever done. As long as I stay in the groove of the beat, I can play anything I hear, be it angular or abstract, and it will sound cool over the bands foundation. Just talking about it is making me excited-I can't wait to get to the next gig-we have so much fun on the bandstand!"

Friday, November 22, 2013


Ascendant trumpeter and composer Takuya Kuroda is set to make his Blue Note debut with the February 18 release of Rising Son, which was produced by José James. Kuroda, who is best known for his inspired presence in James’ band, steps forth here to helm that remarkable band which features keyboardist Kris Bowers, electric bassist Solomon Dorsey, drummer Nate Smith, and trombonist Corey King. James mostly stayed on the other side of the glass in the producer’s chair except for a hypnotic version of the Roy Ayers classic “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” to which he lends his captivating baritone. The imaginative guitarist Lionel Loueke also contributes a bluesy, percussive solo to one of the album’s standout tracks “Afro Blues.”

In addition to anchoring James’ horn section for the past several years, the 33-year-old Japanese-born, Brooklyn-based Kuroda has been leading his own bands and has self-released and self-produced three previous albums. While on the road with James in support of the singer’s recent Blue Note debut No Beginning No End he let James listen to some of his newer material. James enjoyed it but wanted to hear more of Kuroda’s playing and so the idea developed to have James produce the next album.

“No one sounds like Takuya,” says James. “His tone, warmth and most of all his storytelling have inspired me for years. His writing is soulful, modern, and effortlessly bridges the gap between jazz and soul, and between history and tomorrow.”

Afrobeat rhythms play a crucial role throughout Rising Son, reflective of Kuroda’s six-year participation in the New York-based Afrobeat ensemble, Akoya. Afrobeat’s entrancing shuffle propels several of the album’s tracks including the tantalizing “Afro Blues,” one of the album’s six original tunes on which Kuroda’s spiky trumpet melody with urban swagger evokes Lee Morgan, one of Kuroda’s significant influences along with Clifford Brown and Miles Davis. The album also features two Roy Ayers’ gems – “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and “Green & Gold.”

Kuroda and James’ partnership dates to a decade ago at the New School of Music in Manhattan. Kuroda was graduating during the time when James arrived at the school. Nevertheless, they performed on a mutual friend’s senior piano recital. James’ liked Kuroda’s playing and invited him to participate on his 2010 sophomore disc, BlackMagic. Kuroda made a memorable contribution on James’ composition “Promise In Love” from that album. James later recruited Kuroda for live shows and the recording sessions for No Beginning No End, on which Kuroda also wrote the horn arrangements.

Before Kuroda arrived in the U.S. in 2003, he grew up in Kobe, Japan and followed his older, trombone-playing brother’s footsteps by joining the junior high school jazz band. While in Japan, Kuroda played in jazz bands for 12 years, from junior high school through college jazz big band. But he says that he really got into jazz by playing on the local jazz scene with the smaller combos. “The big band was just playing music charts; it didn’t have much improvisation,” Kuroda explains, “I sat in with a lot of the elders on the local scene. They showed me so much love.”

Kuroda eventually came to the U.S. where at the Berklee College of Music he had his first formal jazz studies. “I never had a jazz music teacher in Japan. I took my first music theory, ear training and jazz ensemble classes for the first time in my life in English, which made it even crazier,” he says, “ But that made me want to come to New York.”

With his close association with James, Kuroda is primed to become a major voice on the 21st century modern soul-jazz scene with Rising Son signaling a new dawn.

~ Blue Note


For guitarist Nir Felder, the song's the thing. His debut album Golden Age (OKeh), out January 21, puts his skills as a composer and songwriter at the forefront of his creative design, supported by virtuosic technique, not the other way around. 

The guitarist recruited pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Nate Smith to help bring his unique musical vision to life. "They are musicians who understand the bigger picture of a song, and approach a song as a song, not just as a vehicle to express their own virtuosity," explains Felder.

The album, as a whole, was not born of a concept, Felder notes. But the title does provide a unifying sentiment-one of ambiguity and duality. "The album is called Golden Age, and it's more of a question than a statement," he says. "We've seen a lot of change in recent years - in the music industry, in music technology, in our world, our country, and our city, New York. When I was writing this music, there was a lot of hope in the air, and excitement about change, but also a lot of insecurity and fear about the world post - 2008 economic crisis. It looks bad for the arts in New York City at the moment, and some people are nostalgic for the 1980s and early '90s, when times were rough and unsafe but art and culture were flourishing. Was that a 'golden age'? Is this one? Has there really ever been one? The question is always, according to whom? So, there is a lack of clarity about whether things are going great or they're really bad, and the music reflects that."
To augment the band's instrumental take on those questions, Felder studied dozens of legendary speeches by politicians, civil rights leaders, and cultural heroes and mixed spoken-word samples from Mario Cuomo, Barbara Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Hillary Clinton, Malcolm X, Richard Nixon, Lou Gehrig, Elie Wiesel, William Jennings Bryan, Russell Conwell, and others into "Lights" and "Sketch." The results are sweeping, cinematic impressions of history brought into the present moment.

Felder, a native of Katonah, New York, began playing guitar at 13. In the beginning, it was the blues that drew him to jazz: Albert King, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan-three masters of tone, with an exciting sound and the tradition of storytelling in their playing. Felder initially bought a $250 Mexican Stratocaster and put heavy strings on it "like Stevie Ray did." He has played it ever since. Except for the acoustic guitar on "Bandits II," that Strat is the only guitar on Golden Age.

In high school, Felder relied on guitar magazines, his imagination, and commercially available records for his musical education. In college, he caught the jazz bug, focusing on the roots of the music-Dexter Gordon, Charlie Christian-and falling asleep at night listening to Hank Mobley's 1960 Blue Note classic Soul Station. By the time he graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston and moved to New York City in 2005, he'd won the Berklee guitar department's Jimi Hendrix Award and the Billboard Endowed Scholarship for musicianship and academic performance. In New York, he hit the ground running, gigging immediately at Small's with saxophonist George Garzone and rapidly amassing credits that include sessions and performances with Greg Osby, Terri Lyne Carrington, Meshell Ndegeocello, José James, Esperanza Spalding, Jack DeJohnette, Eric Harland, and the New York City Opera. It was not long before NPR labeled him "the next big jazz guitarist."

In finding his own voice as a jazz musician, Felder did not follow the common practice of abandoning the styles and techniques he had already mastered (such as "bending strings and playing open chords"). "You hear a lot of great advice to play jazz guitar like a horn, like a piano," he concludes, "but I don't think it's necessary to reject what the electric guitar was meant to be-I've kept one foot where I came from. That said, I'm ready to explore new sounds, and I have a lot of ideas for new projects, while in the immediate future I hope to keep this band together and continue in the direction we started on Golden Age."


In 2010, against all odds, Angola Soundtrack Vol.1 was awarded the German Record Critics’ Prize in the category “Black music”. This victory was all the sweeter for its triumph over the predicted winner, Aloe Blacc’s multi platinium record, “Good Things”. Many were surprised that the award was handed to a compilation that covered obscure music, but it didn’t surprise the team behind Analog Africa who believed such award should have come much earlier. Since discovering the music of Angola 15 years ago, styles such Kazucuta, Rebita and Semba have become an addiction for Samy Ben Redjeb, the compiler, who proclaimed a serious warning in the first edition liner notes:

“Listening to these tracks may cause addiction and provoke heavy rotation!”

Angola Soundtrack Vol.2 – Hypnosis, Distortions & other Sonic Innovations 1969-1978: The unique blend of incomparable musicianship, passionate delivery and regional rhythms that make these tracks so combustible are no accident. An exceptional set of circumstances existed in the history of Angola before Independence that created the giant leap in the style and standard of bands and recordings of the time.

When Portuguese repressive measures prevented the small Turmas, street musician groups, from being able to perform in Carnaval celebrations in 1961, a Portuguese civil servant, entrepreneur and Angolan music fan named Luis Montês was already in a position to capitalise on Luanda’s need for a live music scene. His self-designed “Kutonocas”, Sunday afternoon live music festivals, delighted a Luandan population hungry for a communication between the city and musseques (townships). It also forced groups to adapt to a different style of playing that would accommodate large stages and broader audiences. They equipped themselves with electric guitars, and fed on the musical influences from Cape Verde, Congo and the Dominican Republic, while staying patriotically true to their own musical legacy and unique rhythms.

The intimacy of those participating in this musical revolution meant they playfully and professionally wanted to trump each other’s style; communication between the groups was frequent as everyone studied each other’s records and concerts and players were under a lot of pressure to outdo each other due to the limited recording and performing opportunities. Development of skill and ingenuity was a must, as well as addressing the highly politicised climate. The optimism of Independence can be heard in these recordings; a common goal between the audience and musicians.

Upon reading the characteristically generous liner notes of this new Analog Africa release, you will be given more hints of the crucial melting pot that allowed this short period to have such an outstanding productivity. Featuring 44 pages acquired in coordination with the National Library of Luanda and the art magazine “Note E Dia”, Analog Africa head honcho Samy Ben Redjeb has managed to collect newspaper clips, extremely rare pictures of the bands on stage and printed interviews from the 70s.

The stunning pages of passionate photography and artistic design also include interviews with many of the original artists and their families, biographies of the three labels that made it all possible, and of Luis Montês, who was the pulse of the live music scene in Luanda. This compilation is a dedication to the short lived recording industry in Angola, a brief moment of history between 1969 and 1978 in which three recording companies produced approximately 800 records, mostly singles. They are rare jewels, each song with a significant story and feel behind it. You will hear exciting music blazed with the anticipation of emancipation, tracks fuelled with a sense of unity, community, importance and immediacy.

This addictive, outlawed music from Angola shakes and grooves with the smoothness of staccato machine gun fire. Do yourself a favor and submerge yourself into some of the most addictive music created by mankind!

Tracklisting:: 01. Os Angos – Avante Juventude / 02. Quim Manuel – Senhor Doutor / 03. Tony Von – N’Hoca / 04. Urbano De Castro – Kia Lomingo / 05. Jovens Do Prenda – Bina / 06. Oscar Neves – Mabelé / 07. Africa Ritmos – Agarrem / 08. Os Kiezos – Saudades de Luanda / 09. Kito – Bongololo / 10. Muhongo – N’Ga Kunu M’Butu / 11. Negoleiros Do Ritmo – Lemba / 12. Dicanzas Do Prend – Snipes / 13. Carlo Lamartine – Bazooka / 14. Cisco – Divua Diami / 15. Levis Vercky’s – Meca / 16. Elias Diá Kimuezo – Chamavo / 17. Africa Ritmos – Olha O Pica / 18. Urbano De Castro – Fatimita / 19. Africa Show – Inspiraçáo De Nito / 20. Dimba Diangola – Despedida / 21. Teta Lando – Fuguei Na Escola (Para Jogar A Bola)


Since the release of Volume 1 in 2012, Craig has barely had a chance to change his socks, presenting his massively popular radio show on BBC 6 Music and having been on an almost constant DJ tour - dragging his Trunk Of Funk far and wide to play for increasingly large audiences, including kicking off the Glastonbury Festival with a four-hour set, causing all manner of musical mayhem at WOMAD 2013, tearing the roof off the Soundwave festival in Croatia - as well as hosting his regular club nights at Manchester's Band On The Wall - with block rocking live shows from names like US funk legend Lee Fields, Spain's Sweet Vandals and Australia's toughest raw funk collective Deep Street Soul amongst many others.

And so - the man, the myth, the legend, the not-so-tall, the not-so-dark, the not-so-handsome Craig Charles has hand picked fresh and classic nuggets from the very best soul, funk & dance floor grooves around for Volume 2 of his top selling compilations series.

This edition contains some 100% completely brand new exclusive tracks not heard anywhere before, including Dr. Rubberfunk's 'Creek Walk', Emma Beatson and The Hawkmen's track 'Do It', and Lack Of Afro's 'The Outsider - Part 2' which was recorded specifically for this album.

You have to hear Cookin' On 3 Burners Hammond funk version of Gary Numan's 'Cars', you will flip your lid twice when you hear funk royalty Fred Wesley & Anthony Joseph join forces on Mop Mop's 'Run Around', and your ears will buy you flowers in gratitude once you have treated them to The Hot 8 Brass Band's version of The Specials' 'Ghost Town' and the original acid jazz troubadours James Taylor Quartet's debut 1987 single 'Blow Up'!

Of his second selection for Freestyle Craig says: "Whilst my 6 Music radio show features much of the music from the golden age of American soul & funk music, my compilations for Freestyle are a showcase for the contemporary bands that are all part of the worldwide response to the original pioneers and innovators of that sound - all the artists featured are doing their funky thing now - this is no history lesson!"

There are indeed living legends featured, not only Jocelyn Brown featuring on Jessica Lauren's funking gospel style stomper 'Happiness Train', but two appearances from the recently honoured Omar LyeFook MBE - who not only guests on Lack Of Afro's remix of The Hidden Jazz Quartett's 'High Heels', but also as impressively on the brand new version of his massive early 90's hit 'There's Nothing Like This' - which features bass player to the gods Pino Palladino.

The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol 2 is the gift that just keeps on giving - it's like having Craig himself DJ-ing in your house. This selection is his greatest yet - and if you don't wear out your carpet getting down to these tracks - you should check your pulse - as you may already be dead!



Some of the best work we've heard in years from the legendary Eddie Palmieri – sounds recorded especially for a film on pick-up basketball in New York City, and done with a style that really takes us back to Eddie's best records from years back! The music is very jazzy – with long passages that feature strong solos on piano from Palmieri, vibes from Joe Locke, and baritone sax from Ronnie Cuber – played with a freewheeling intensity that goes way beyond any scene-setting need of a film score, and which is filled with the mix of spontaneous energy and sophisticated ideals of Palmieri's best compositions. The percussion is wonderful, too – very rootsy, and beautifully recorded – and the whole thing is punctuated by a few short spoken bits from the film. A true treasure to file next to your Fania classics – with tracks that include "Jibarita Y Su Son", "Bata 2nd & 3rd Movement", "Give The Drummer Some", "Coast To Coast", and "More Moves/The Chef". ~ Dusty Groove


One of the best albums in years from percussionist Kahil El'Zabar – a really wonderful set that features lots of great guest vocals from soulful singer Dwight Trible! Kahil's sung himself on other records – and does so on two tracks – but Dwight's presence here is really amazing, and the group provides Trible with some of the sharpest musical accompaniment he's had in years – a really dynamic setting that's filled with soul and spirituality, thanks to work from Ari Brown on tenor and piano, Junius Paul on bass, and Kahil himself on drums, kalimba, and earth drum. The album also features another excellent guest – the Chicago legend Duke Payne, who worked famously in the 60s with Odell Brown & The Organizers – heard here on second tenor, and on some ultra-cool bagpipes too – played in a mode that's like Rufus Harley! Two titles feature El'Zabar vocally duetting with Trible – "Great Black Music" and the coolest version of "Grandma's Hands" you'll ever hear, done with deep acoustic basslines and percussion – and other titles include "Inner Heart", "Follow The Sun", "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise", "Our Journey", and "Up Your Mind". ~ Dusty Groove

We always love the trumpet work of Wadada Leo Smith – a player we've been digging since the 70s – but it somehow sounds especially great here in the company of pianist Angelica Sanchez, whose lines on the keys bring out this sense of soulful flow that we haven't heard from Leo in years! Make no mistake, the music is still relatively free and improvised – but there's a combination of tone and color that's really tremendous – two voices that really find a great space in each other, as melodic moments mix with starker passages – on titles that include "Retinal Sand", "Cones Of Chrome", "Twine Forest", "Ultimate Causes", "In The Falls Of", and "Light Black Birds". ~ Dusty Groove

Thursday, November 21, 2013



The 70s genius of Les McCann – opened up here wonderfully in the space of a double-length live performance! Tracks are all nice and long – and Les steps out strongly on Fender Rhodes and clavinet, ringing out with amazing tones that are really wonderful – kind of the electric depth of the Circles record, mixed with some of the sharper soul of other early 70s albums! The small group features great conga work from Buck Clarke, who kicks in some great elements to really drive the rhythms – and the open space of the record really gives Les plenty of room to sing alongside his keyboards. Titles include "Carry On Brother", "Home Again", "Get Yourself Together", "Compared To What", "Cochise", and "Price You Got To Pay To Be Free". ~ Dusty Groove


A sweet soulful stepper from the mighty Hank Crawford – a set that's got a bit of the bluesy lines promised by the title, but which also has some snappier soul jazz modes played by a larger ensemble! Hank plays a bit of piano, in addition to his trademark alto sax – and the set's got a style that bridges his roots with Ray Charles and some of the cooler, groovier modes of Atlantic Records jazz in the 60s. Other players include Wendell Harrison on reeds, and Sonny Forriest on guitar – and titles include the originals "Mr Blues", "Smoky City", "Hush Puppies", and "The Turfer" – plus versions of "Danger Zone", "Route 66", and "Lonely Avenue". ~ Dusty Groove


Rare live work from Quincy Jones – recorded in Sweden at the start of the 60s, with an ultra-hip lineup that really helps Q hit some wonderful lines throughout! The players are a mixed assemblage of American and European musicians – the kind of groups that Jones had been putting together on the continent for the past few years, in a way that really helped create a strong crossbreeding of jazz talents – with a legacy of expatriate players for years to come! The group features Benny Bailey and Clark Terry on trumpets, Melba Liston and Ake Persson on trombones, Phil Woods on alto, Budd Johnson on tenor, Jerome Richardson on tenor and flute, and Sahib Shihab on baritone sax – and the tunes include lively readings of "Ghana", "Birth Of A Band", "Big Red", "Walkin", "Moanin", "I Remember Clifford", and "Phantom Blues". ~ Dusty Groove



A surprisingly great album from these two former member of The Supremes – Scherrie Payne & Susaye Greene-Brown – put together with production help from Eugene McDaniels, who really helps give the whole thing a hipper spin than some of the girls' more famous work from before! There's a slight Minnie Riperton touch to the vocals a times – a really great sense of range – and the best tracks have a warm modern soul vibe that really lets the girls move forward strongly, especially at the few points when there's an undercurrent of funk. The material's arranged by Alan Silvestri, Odell Brown, and Leon Pendarvis – and the whole thing's definitely not the usual 70s bag from Motown. Titles include "You've Been Good To Me", "Luvbug", "I Found Another Love", and "Leaving Me Was The Best Thing You've Ever Done. ~ Dusty Groove


 Stellar spiritual soul from Samuel Jonathan Johnson -- an artist who only ever cut this one full album (in 1978 for Columbia Records) during his career, an album we'd rank right up there with the best ‘70s work by jazzy R&B contemporaries like Roy Ayers or Norman Connors!  The record's got a wonderful blend of mellow moments and more groove-heavy tracks -- all handled with wonderful keyboards from Johnson, who gets nice and spacey at times. Our Real Gone/Dusty Groove reissue features liner notes by his daughter (and fine singer in her own right) Yolanda Johnson, with added photos and remastering by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in NYC. Very tasty, long-requested and oft-sampled ‘70s soul sounds! Tracks include: My Music; What the World Needs Now Is Love; Sweet Love; Because I Love You; It Ain’t Easy; You; Just Us; Yesterdays and Tomorrow; Thank You Mother Dear; and Reason for the Reason


Soul singer Bettye Swann first came to international prominence with her now-classic 1967 No. 1 R&B hit, “Make Me Yours.” Following a couple of years of recording for Capitol Records, the Louisiana-born songstress was signed to Atlantic Records where she recorded for close to five years (1972-1976). Now, for the first time ever, “Bettye Swann:  The Complete Atlantic Recordings” – compiled by noted soul music historian David Nathan for Real Gone Music and SoulMusic Records - documents her tenure with Atlantic with a 23-track collection containing everything she recorded for the label, featuring the seven singles released by Atlantic, two of which - “Victim Of A Foolish Heart” and “Today I Started Loving You Again” - became R&B charted hits. The set also features two tracks only released on UK compilations; five previously unissued cuts; and both sides of Bettye’s one-off duet with noted R&B songwriter/recording artist Sam Dees.  Liner notes by renowned UK music journalist Charles Waring include quotes from Bettye, who resurfaced from retirement in 2013 to perform a one-time show in Britain. Tracks: Victim of a Foolish Heart; Cold Day (in Hell); I’d Rather Go Blind; Today I Started Loving You Again; Your Until Tomorrow; I’m Not That Easy to Lose; ‘Til I Get It Right; The Boy Next Door; Kiss My Love Goodbye; Time to Say Goodbye; When the Game Is Played on You; All the Way In or All the Way Out; Doin’t for the One I Love; I Feel the Feeling (unreleased); Either You Love Me or You Leave Me (unreleased); This Old Heart of Mine (unreleased);  Suspicious Minds (unreleased); I Want Sunday Back Again; The Jealous Kind (unreleased); Heading in the Wrong Direction; Be Strong Enough to Hold On
Storybook Children (w/ Sam Dees); and Just As Sure (w/ Sam Dees).


They were a pioneering jazz-rock outfit and a hit singles band (which shows how progressive pop music got in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s) that wowed fans and critics alike. They were Blood, Sweat & Tears—and this two-CD, 32-track set offers not only the most comprehensive collection ever compiled of their work, but also the most appropriate lens through which to view their long and often chaotic career. 

Very few bands experienced the kind of turnover that Blood, Sweat & Tears did and lived to tell the tale—the group began with the Blues Project’s Steve Katz and Al Kooper as their visionary leaders, but Kooper left after their first album, to be replaced by David Clayton-Thomas as lead singer, thus launching the band’s “classic” period punctuated with such hits as “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “And When I Die” and “Spinning Wheel” (here in their rare mono single mixes). After their fourth album, B. S. & T: 4, Clayton-Thomas and original members Fred Lipsius and Dick Halligan left en masse, yet the band soldiered on, winding up with only one original member—drummer Bobby Colomby—by the time they called it quits with Columbia. 

Yet, through it all, Blood, Sweat & Tears maintained a remarkably high level of musicianship and material throughout their stint with the label, and their innovative use of jazzy horn arrangements in a rock context paved the way for such bands as Chicago, Cold Blood, Chase and If. Along the way, they also integrated elements of psychedelia, R&B, folk and classical music into their jazz-rock framework to produce an eclectic mix of recordings unlike that of any other band of the era. Blood, Sweat & Tears: The Complete Columbia Singles follows the band through every phase and configuration, and features five single versions/mixes making their first appearance on CD. Producer Ed Osborne’s notes include fresh quotes from Steve Katz, and the entire set is beautifully remastered by Vic Anesini at Battery Studios in NYC. The ultimate look at an underrated band.

Disc One: I Can’t Quit Her / House in the Country / You’ve Made Me So Very Happy / Blues—Part II /  Spinning Wheel / More and More / And When I Die / Sometimes in Winter / Hi-De-Ho / The Battle / Lucretia Mac Evil / Lucretia’s Reprise / Go Down Gamblin’/ Valentine’s Day / Lisa, Listen to Me / Cowboys and Indians

Disc Two: So Long Dixie / Alone / I Can’t Move No Mountains / Velvet / Roller Coaster / Inner Crisis / Save Our Ship / Song for John / Tell Me That I’m Wrong / Rock Reprise / Got to Get You into My Life / Naked Man / No Show / Yesterday’s Music / You’re the One / Heavy Blue


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