SOUL TOGETHERNESS 2017 (VARIOUS ARTISTS)
Expansion’s most successful and longest running compilation series returns with a 2017 edition. The concept remains the same, fifteen must-have modern soul room gems taken from the year’s biggest dance floor spins on the soul scene. While tracks here have topped UK soul charts, many have not been available in all formats. Once again, attention is paid to the ‘flow’ of the 15 gems chosen here from shuffling beats to boogie to more soulful house as played at modern soul events. Participants this year include Omar with Los Charly’s Orchestra, Tawatha Agree (voice of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”) with Aeroplane, Kenny Thomas with Thames River Soul produced by and featuring Incognito, and both Wez and The Groove Association formerly members of Brit Funk group Second Image. Leela James is here after her stint in a US realty TV show “R&B Divas: Los Angeles”, other guests including Amp Fiddler, Faith Evans, Trina Broussard and Lifford.
While “Soul Togetherness” on Expansion continues to feature the best new floor fillers of each year, “Soul Festival” is here now with a collection of music reflecting the label’s love of 70s soul. “Soul Festival” spans the period from when new soul music took influence from the Northern soul we enjoy here at UK clubs and events. As the decade progressed, records became more lavish in their arrangement and grander in production, always with that essential soul feel, and that’s what you will find here on this compilation. Music from this era is thankfully plentiful, always something to discover or enjoy all over again. Much has been reissued before, not always legally or of great sound quality, and so the intention of this series is to bring tracks together on both LP vinyl and CD of a high standard that are rare or have not previously appeared on one of these formats or the other.
ORNETTE COLEMAN – ORNETTE AT 12 / CRISIS
As the man who basically invented free jazz and even coined the term, Ornette Coleman has had the vast majority of his catalog reissued on CD, and rightfully so. But there are two records, both released on the legendary Impulse! label, that have somehow escaped digitization until now, The first, 1969’s Ornette at 12, features Ornette on alto sax, trumpet, and violin with Dewey Redman on tenor sax, long-time collaborator Charlie Haden on bass, and son Denardo (age 12 at the time of the 1968 recording) on drums. The jazz world was still getting over the effrontery of Denardo playing drums—he had made his debut two years earlier on The Empty Foxhole—which may explain why this one’s remained in the vaults till now. But Redman’s playing on tenor is just stellar, and Ornette’s untrained trumpet and violin technique make a nice foil for Denardo’s fresh approach to the traps. Another boundary-pushing record in a career full of them. But if it’s a puzzle that Ornette at 12 has not been previously reissued, it’s a downright mystery why 1972’s Crisis also hasn’t come out; recorded live in 1969 at N.Y.U. with a killer band of Redman, Haden, Denardo, and Don Cherry on flute and trumpet, it takes its place with Broken Shadows and Science Fiction as one of Ornette’s great small group recordings of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The version of Haden’s “Song for Che” is one of the best on record, the rendition of “Broken Shadows” here is simply beautiful, which is not a term many associate with Coleman’s playing, and the addition of Don Cherry—fresh from his own experiments in Indian and African music—spices up what is already a pretty heady brew. Real Gone Music’s two-for-one reissue of this pair of albums features the original gatefold album art and an essay by Howard Mandel, author of Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. Remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision from original tape sources.