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Joe Armon-Jones: Turn To Clear View

Read "Turn To Clear View" reviewed by Chris May

A cornerstone of London's underground jazz scene—as well as leading his own band he plays in Ezra Collective and groups led by the tenor saxophonists Binker Golding and Nubya Garcia—the keyboard player Joe Armon-Jones released his first own-name album, Starting Today (Brownswood), in spring 2018. A jewel of nu-fusion which owes almost as much to the Los Angeles R&B and funk scene as it does to British woke jazz, the album features Armon-Jones leading a lineup of fellow London luminaries ...

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Various Artists: Sunny Side Up

Read "Sunny Side Up" reviewed by Chris May

London DJ Gilles Peterson's worldwide touring produces some singular jazz and near-jazz experiences, the best of which he documents on his Brownswood Recordings label. Modern Cuban music figures prominently in the catalogue, and there have been several Japanese jazz albums, most memorably the Toshio Matsuura Group's Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor (Brownswood, 2018). The label has released another left-field contender with Sunny Side Up, which showcases near-jazz bands from Melbourne, Australia, where there is, we learn, a thriving underground ...

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Kokoroko: Kokoroko

Read "Kokoroko" reviewed by Chris May

If you ask an Afrobeat fan to name their favourite bands--excluding lineups led by Fela Kuti during his lifetime--the probability is that their top five choices will include Seun Kuti's Egypt 80 and Femi Kuti's Positive Force, both based in Lagos, along with Dele Sosimi's Afrobeat Orchestra, based in London. Other credible outfits have emerged, but none which has so far seriously challenged that tripartite ascendancy. London trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey's Kokoroko is an outfit to watch, however, combining, as it ...

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Zara McFarlane: East Of The River Nile

Read "East Of The River Nile" reviewed by Chris May

As a teaser for her upcoming album, the divine Zara McFarlane has released a 4-track EP revisiting Jamaican dub and rockers wizard Augustus Pablo's canonical 1977 single “East Of The River Nile." McFarlane's disc, on which her wordless vocals stay close to Pablo's original melodica topline, showcases her signature blend of jazz and Caribbean music to transporting and trippy effect (pass the chalice, folks). The track is produced by McFarlane's longtime drummer and collaborator Moses Boyd and arranged by trombonist ...

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Maisha: There Is A Place

Read "There Is A Place" reviewed by Chris May

The London jazz scene, which is in 2018 more active and characterful than it has been since the jazz-dance movement of the 1980s, offers up another jewel with this debut physical-release by spiritual-jazz septet Maisha. The band, led by drummer Jake Long, surfaced in 2016 with the download-only live album Welcome To A New Welcome (Jazz Re:freshed) before gaining a bigger profile as the group chosen to open the epoch-defining various-artists compilation, We Out Here (Brownswood, 2018). That album was ...

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Zara McFarlane: Arise!

Read "Arise!" reviewed by Chris May

Zara McFarlane is a London-based singer and composer with a voice like an angel and a style that reflects her cultural roots in the Caribbean and in the mash-up that is modern metropolitan Britain, where jazz, grime, hip hop, reggae and other musics of black origin are hybridising and shape-shifting with joyful abandon. She is an alumnus of Tomorrow's Warriors, the band and outreach organisation co-founded by bassist Gary Crosby in 1991 with a special focus on young jazz musicians ...

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Joe Armon-Jones: Starting Today

Read "Starting Today" reviewed by Chris May

Something exceptional is happening in London in spring 2018. A succession of albums, recorded by an intimately connected community of around 60 young musicians, is taking jazz in ear-opening new directions. Hybridisation and genretic modification are the names of the game, but the scene also reaffirms the music's traditional building-blocks, among them the creativity of black musicians in Britain, North America, the Caribbean and Africa. Nothing quite like this has happened in Britain for around 30 years. Not on this ...

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Toshio Matsuura Group: Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor

Read "Loveplaydance: 8 Scenes From The Floor" reviewed by Chris May

Loveplaydance is the latest chapter in a collaboration which started over 25 years ago between Tokyo DJ Toshio Matsuura and London DJ Gilles Peterson. At the time, Matsuura was a member of the mutant jazz and funk collective United Future Organization (U.F.O), and Peterson was running the post-acid jazz Talkin' Loud label, whose name was derived from his influential 1980s club sessions Talkin' Loud And Sayin' Somethin.' Though in different planetary systems far, far away in a far, far less ...

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Various Artists: We Out Here

Read "We Out Here" reviewed by Chris May

This vivid snapshot of young London's jazz scene, featuring nine bands and a collective pool of 35 musicians, contains close to an hour of daring and uplifting music--from rebooted spiritual-jazz through abstract experimentation to Afrobeat-flavoured dancefloor urgency, a rich mix further enlivened by shots of grime, hip hop and funk. It was recorded over three days last August under the light-touch supervision of its musical director, the saxophonist and clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings, who leads his own line-up on one track ...

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Shabaka And The Ancestors: Wisdom Of Elders

Read "Wisdom Of Elders" reviewed by James Nadal

This recording is the culmination of the triangular experiences of tenor man Shabaka Hutchings and his personal destiny. Born in London, his family relocated back to their native Barbados, where Hutchings was raised in a musical environment until his teen years. Returning to London, he became a fixture on the free jazz scene, and while on holiday to South Africa, was drawn back to the primordial source of inspiration. Recorded over one day with no rehearsal, Wisdom Of Elders explores ...

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Daymé Arocena: Nueva Era

Read "Nueva Era" reviewed by James Nadal

In one of the most interesting commerce and art collaborations of recent times, Cuba's famed rum Havana Club, with its Havana Cultura project, has joined forces with the local Cuban artist community to promote Cuban culture throughout the world. Covering a wide variety of musical styles and genres while at the same time adhering to Cuban roots, they are opening up venues for an ever growing stable of young musicians many of which are securing record contracts as a benefit ...

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Zara McFarlane: If You Knew Her

Read "If You Knew Her" reviewed by Phil Barnes

In the current short term, fast buck, major label A&R climate Brownswood stand out like a beacon for the way that they back and develop their artists. Perhaps the different ethos comes from the top, Gilles Peterson is the label boss after all, but in any event less sensitive hands might not have allowed a talent as great as Zara McFarlane to develop after her promising, solid, yet not especially high selling debut Until Tomorrow from 2011. Peterson's ...


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