Friday, July 25, 2014

New Releases - The Brand New Heavies - AllAboutTheFUnk; T-Bone Walker - Super Black Blues; Akira Sakata, Johan Berhtling, Paal Nilssen-Love - Arashi


Long gone are the heady days of the Acid Jazz explosion led by artists such as JTQ, Corduroy, Jamiroquai and at the centre of it all, the Brand New Heavies. All About the Funk, the band's first album for some time doesn't hanker after days gone by, instead it draws influence from the latter day hip-hop soul scene and fuses it with their own very British sound.  The Brand New Heavies, along with Incognito, have been pioneers of the acid-jazz movement and for more than 25 years have remained a vital force for fans of soulful, jazzy club-oriented funk ‘n’ groove.  Aside from their great grooves, the band has been known for outstanding female vocalists ranging from N’Dea Davenport and Siedah Garrett to talented newcomer Nicole Russo.  All Abou the Funk finds The Brand New Heavies delivering just what the title implies - a strong set of grooves leaning on the funk-oriented end of their classic sound.  The extremely passionate and fiercely loyal fan base will find this great “lost” Brand New Heavies album (from 2004 and only previously availalable in Japan)  to be a “must have!” Essentially the main line up of the original three remains with former pop-R&B wannabe Nicole Russo taking the mic, a tough act to follow after N'Dea Davenport, Siedah Garrett and briefly Carleen Anderson, but her fresh voice makes the band seem more current, sounding a lot like Fergie from Black Eyed Peas, especially on the catchy "How we Do This". Another such example of adapting to the modern day is "Need Some More", a mid-tempo groove clearly influenced by Ms Dynamite. However, it's not all change; "What Do You Take Me For?", "Surrender" and opener "Boogie" are classic Heavies--bass up, choppy-guitar and keys with light breezy vocals injecting a bit of summertime into the album.  ~ Amazon/Shanachie


A great little set from T-Bone – recorded at the end of the 60s, with a lineup that includes other blues musicians like Joe Turner, Otis Spann, and George Harmonica Smith, plus jazz funk players like Paul Humphrey and Ernie Watts. The vibe is very laidback – and most tracks on the album stretch out in an extended free-form style that's quite unusual compared to T-Bone's other records. As usual, his guitar and vocals are very soulful – and titles include "Paris Blues", "Blues Jam", and "Jot's Blues". features four long titles that include "Arashi", "Ondo No Huna-Uta", "Dora", and "Fukushima No Ima".  ~ Dusty Groove


Akira Sakata is a player who's never been known to hold back – but he sounds especially powerful here in the company of Paal Nilssen Love on drums and Johan Berthling on bass – two younger players who seem to inspire Sakata to a sort of frenzied height that we haven't heard this strongly in years! Akira's not just mindblowing on alto sax, but also does this incredible vocalization at one point – an almost mystical mode, but extremely powerful and almost frightening too. He also plays clarinet too – at a level that has us wonder how often he's got to be running for new reeds – and the set features four long titles that include "Arashi", "Ondo No Huna-Uta", "Dora", and "Fukushima No Ima". ~ Dusty Groove

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