This one is a nod to the craziest sounds diggers I know, Jeff & Aurel, aka French duo Get A Room!
A while ago, they resurrected Sexy Thing, a 1978 gem from Bob McGilpin, editing it for one of their highly recommended Dig Out Your Own Spade compilations.
Among the many "back to the future" Soul/Funk artists that tried to bring back some 60's/70's magic to the 21st century, Lee Fields is certainly one of the most successful example.
His 2009 come-back LP My World is already a classic, that would fool many during blind tests aiming at identifying release years. If his productions since then were less memorable, his new album, Special Night,released this week on Big Crown Records gets close to reaching My World heights.
Still brillantly supported by The Expressions, Lee's singing seems immune to the passage of time. Classic soul ballads, funkier moments, he does it all in 2016, as back in the day. A delightful old-school journey.
Jamaican saxophonist & arranger Cedric Im Brooks is one of my most cherished reggae artist.
Actually, confining him to the reggae scene would be a massive understatement. A brilliant musician, he kept on blurring the lines between spiritual Free-jazz (think Sun Ra), Afro grooves (think Fela), Latin rhythms and, of course, Reggae.
A cornerstone of legendary label Studio One, his musical legacy is impressive & if you're not familiar with him, I urge you to dig into his most famous albums, mostly recorded in the 70's with his band The Light Of Saba (United Africa, Im Flash Forward or The Magical Light Of Saba) & get ready for some colourful funky journey.
Africa is one of my favorite track by him, an afro-funk jam whose joyful & infectious horns chorus is hard to resist. With a clear hint at the "back to Motherland" Rasta myth, Africa is also a great example of Cedric's spiritual Rastafari faith, often present in his songs lyrics.
Here is my DJ-friendly nudisco-flavored edit of it.
Somewhere between Jazz and World Music, Day To Day, the debut album from percussionist & producer Sarathy Korwar is an exciting trip to this multicultural artist (US-born, raised in India, living in London) colourful global musical village.
Think 70's spiritual Jazz spiced up by Indian rhythmic elements. Sitars and tabla drums languishing vibes, acting as snake charmers for a saxophone, a piano or an electric guitar.
The addition of colourful street life samples have me thinking of Christophe Chassol work. A more essential parallel between the two artists: as for the french pianist masterpiece, Indiamore, Sarathy Korward's record is also a fascinating ode to open-mindedness, dialogue and exchange. Some basic values sometimes in short supply these days.
Out a few weeks ago on Ninja Tune, a couple of extracts below:
Released in 1975, the Young Americans album was recorded in the US, where David Bowie was living at the time under the heavy influence of philly soul and early disco sounds.
On this record David surrounded himself with musicians from these scenes, most notably Puerto-Rican Guitarist Carlos Alomar, as well as Luther Vandross, who features on various side vocals.
If Fame is, well, the most...famous track of the LP (and David first true hit with the US audience), the song Young Americans is extremely groovy as well, with its anthem-like chorus hard to resist.
Here is my "DJ-friendly" drummed-up edit of it.
Note for the French-speaking readers: que vous soyez fan de Bowie ou simplement interessés par son parcours artistique, je vous recommande l'excellente série de 4 podcasts que l'émission "La Grande Traversée" de France Culture lui a récemment consacré. Une plongée passionnante dans ses multiples périodes et influences, mais aussi son processus de création. Disponible en podcast/streaming ici.
4 years after the stunning Channel Orange, R&B UFO Frank Ocean is back with his second album, Blond(e), released on his own label Boys Don't Cry, a few days after Endless, a demo tape mostly aimed at fulfilling his contractual obligations to Universal.
A hyped profile inherited from his terrific debuts, a long list of prestigious guests, high expectations following such a long wait since his debut LP: this kind of recipe often spells disappointment. But the 28-year old singer & producer strikes another home-run with a nostalgic journey tainted with lo-fi shades of folk & soul, supported by another remarkable singing achievement.
A true concept LP ideal to shelter you from post-summer blues.
From Brazilian vibes, to funky nudisco beats or deep techno sounds, here is a summer tape gathering tracks I've been regularly playing these last few months. A groovy condensed snapshot of my eclectic DJ sets.
Hope you'll dance, run, love or simply chill to it!
Originally recorded in 1973, Where Are We Going was supposed to be part of the legendary Let's Get It On album. For
some reason it did not make the cut, and this beautiful song written by
Larry Mizell was first heard through a jazz/funk cover by Donald Byrd
& his Blackbyrds.
It's only in 2001 that the original Marvin
Gaye version was released as part of Let's Get It On LP reissue
featuring various b-sides & studio sessions. Ever since I
first heard it a few years ago, it has immediately become one of my
favorite Marvin's song, because of its irresistible groove, Marvin's
singing at his best, but also its thoughtful lyrics.
Here is my DJ-friendly beefed up take of this overlooked track.
Blackened Cities is a the latest stunning release from Belgium singer Mélanie De Biasio, whose 2014 splendid LP, No Deal, is still resonating loudly in my mind.
It's hard not to get carried away by this 24-minutes-long recording, almost built as a seamless minimal-techno DJ Set. Driven by a remarkable rhythmic frame (notably the astonishing drumming of Dre Pallemaerts), Mélanie's captivating velvety voice designs a feeling of darkness and mystery. An almost perfect sound echo of the industrial landscapes she refers to as a source of influence for this record.
Ever since their promising demo LP, back in 2011, I've been keeping an attentive ear to the musical journey of Canadian "Jazz-Hop" quartet BadBadNotGood.
Experiencing new artistic routes, working with various high profile artists, pursuing their exciting journey in the worlds of nu-jazz, hip-hop & soul, the trio, now quartet, has not lost their refreshing live-jam sound in the process. Still, as good have been their subsequent productions, I always kept a marked preference for their debut demo album...until this week and the release of their new record, IV, on Innovative Leisure Records.
In this fourth release their signature funky free-jazz forays reach new heights, notably supported by the powerful, albeit weightless, drumming of Alex Sowinski and remarkable post-production work, retaining their fresh live-like sound, while offering some high standards studio quality to the mix.
What I consider as their best production to date climaxes with the incredible Time Moves Slow, featuring singer Sam Herring. Probably my favorite track so far this year, all styles considered.
We all need heroes right? Among mine, US director & scriptwriter David Simon holds a pretty good ranking. We owe him some of the best thought-provoking, humanist & politically-conscious drama series of the modern TV era. Starting with the best of all (an unquestionable fact validated by...myself:), The Wire (2002/2008, HBO).
Resonating all the more with me, music plays an integer part in David's work. That's obvious in his remarkable heartfelt appeal to post-Katrina New Orleans ("Treme", 2010/2013, HBO), but is also a common thread in all his productions.
His latest gem, "Show Me A Hero" (2015, HBO), is no exception to the rule.
This mini-series evokes a true story from the late 70's/early 80's, depicting the struggles of a young Mayor in a NYC suburban town, to deal with social & racial cohesion in a stressed budgetary situation.
Unsurpringly somehow, considering the "deep America" social themes at play here, Bruce Springsteen was a great fit to fill a spot in the show soundtrack. His beautiful melancholic ballad, Secret Garden, is omnipresent in each of the the miniseries 4 episodes. Here is a deep, balearic/slo-mo style rework I made of it.
Let's stay in the bubbling futuristic Jazz & Lo-Fi Californian scene for a moment, with some new treats from LA-based Canadian producer Mocky.
His phenomenal 2015 LP Key Change still hasn't left my Iphone heavy rotation playlist, that I already have to find some extra storage space to host the beautiful third batch of his "Moxtape" series.
More than a kaleidoscope of forgotten B-sides, this Volume III parts gathers more of his signature dreamy moments, made of sweet piano and bells-led melodies.
The contribution of a few high-profile guests like violin master Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (him again!) adds to the overall poetic feeling emanating from this new release.
The Moxtape Vol.III is available on his Bandcamp page, my favorites extracts below:
A musical UFO, is how I'd coined Californian producer Carlos Niño to anyone not familiar with is genius. Alongside his inseparable string master friend Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, he has relentlessly been irrading us with cosmic spiritual Jazz vibes for more than a decade now. His latest project, out now on Leaving Records, is a condensed version of his intense creativity.
Spiced-up by several high profiles guests, such as Sax whizz-kid Kamasi Washington (whose phenomenal debut LP last year was part of our 2015 Favorites selection), this indefinable Yogi-style musical journey fits well with West Coast legendary free-jazz-like legacy. Think Alice Coltrane, think The Doors most remote cuckoo-land moments, or, more recently, the Flying Lotus/Thundercat spacy productions.
So open this gate to sweet transcendental meditation, and get organically high, it's all happening here!