SHARON JONES & THE DAPKINGS – SOUL OF A WOMAN
The fantastic final album from Sharon Jones – a wonderfully deep talent who was taken from us all too soon! The set's maybe the ultimate setting for Sharon's incredible voice – as it features both her longtime core combo, the Dap-Kings – as well as additional backings from the Bushwick Philharmonic – a small ensemble of strings who really help elevate the music to classic status! If you're worried that the strings might soften the sound, the very first note of the record will put your mind at rest – as will the heavy drums that mark just about every track, and keep things hard and funky throughout. If anyone ever doubted that the Daptone label was our modern equivalent of Stax Records or Atlantic, this will certainly be the set to change their mind – and will also stand forever as a bittersweet reminder of all the greatness that Sharon Jones gave us over the years. Titles include "Searching For A New Day", "Rumors", "Matter Of Time", "Sail On", "Just Give Me Your Time", "Come & Be A Winner", "Call On God", and "These Tears". ~ Dusty Groove
ALEXIS FFRENCH – HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS
Alexis Ffrench has high ambition. This exceptional pianist and composer who trained at the Purcell School, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy, wants to bring joy to a world of troubled times. He also wants to change the way people perceive classical music and to help make it more inclusive and democratic, more relevant to the society in which we live. “I was watching the Last Night of the Proms recently and was struck by the lack of diversity in the audience” he says in the thoughtful manner in which he considers everything. “The next day, a commentator said: ‘Who says classical music is dead?’ and I was taken aback. There are no new audiences coming to classical music and I want to change that. It’s incredibly important to me. We all have a duty, no matter what colour we are, to speak out and encourage positive change.” With aspirations as bold as those, it’s fortunate that Ffrench has the personality, dedication and talent to bring about such a change. His success has made Ffrench a Spotify-era oddity: a classical musician who has had over 50 million streams of his independently released music. Now this sharp-dressed man with a laser-focus resolve that belies the fairy-dust in his fingers is ready to step things up. Earlier this year he signed with Modest! Management, home to a brace of all-conquering pop acts, including Little Mix, Olly Murs and Niall Horan. Alexis Ffrench has released his own piano improvisation on a classic Christmas track “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.
GERARDO FRISINA – MODERN LATIN JAZZ
The title's a great one here – as Gerardo Frisina has been one of the few contemporary artists trying to find a fresh voice for Latin Jazz – which he does beautifully by blending classic albums and a more current sense of club! The 2CD package brings together unreleased material with tracks from many of Frisina's vinyl-only releases – making for the CD debut of most tracks here, and the first appearance of a few others! All the numbers share that wonderful sensibility that Gerardo's had in his music for years – a way of taking acoustic elements and reworking them through modern rhythm programs – then topping them anew with fresh acoustic elements that often include a fair bit of jazz-based instrumentation! Almost all the work here is instrumental – with some fantastic percussion at the core, lots of warm Fender Rhodes – and other contributions on tenor, trumpet, flute, guitar, and vibes. Unreleased tracks include "Oyela", "Get On Up", "Uma Danca", and "Delirium" – and other titles include "Superstrut", "Passion Dance", "Voice Of The Jungle", "Samba Skindim", "Donke De", "African Nite Life", "Mulata", "Blue Latin", "Incanto", "The Obsession", "Tin Tin Deo", "Moderno Primitivo", "Space In Time (new version)", "African Seeds (rework)", and "Baracoa". ~ Dusty Groove