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!
July 2010, Nice, French Riviera, 11pm.
Closing his regular stadium gig, the Kid hints at an after show in the nearby city of Cannes. Having missed the phenomenal surprise late night performance he had been giving a couple of days before at The New Morning, my favorite Parisian venue, I know I can't miss this one.
- Midnight, Cannes, Palais des Festivals Nightclub.
Here I am, alongside 100 or 150 fans straight out of the gig. Perfect culture clash with this posh club's usual summer crowd, mostly made of rich Russian teenagers. Unaware of the funky storm to come, they lavishly spend ther daily summer allowances in 2000$ champagne bottles.
- 2am, still nothing, but the little stage set-up in a corner of the dancefloor tells me this whole thing is not a scam.
- 3am, there's finally some action, it's very dark, but how not to recognize the Kid's musicians who just arrived. Sound check going on.
- 3:30am The local DJ slows things down and plays Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On". No one really pays attention to the side stage anymore, as there seems to be endless technical problems. Still, I know my Marvin, and this splendid guitar solo I'm hearing is not in the original track...as I get next to the empty dark stage, I distinguish a guy on the side, testing his guitar, mic open, by having fun improvising on Marvin's tune. Guess who it was...
I'll stop here, no need to mention the incredible jam session he offered us afterwards, covering many of the classic US soul & funk legendary tunes he loved so much.
Ironically, a couple of weeks before the sad news, I had been starting to rework an old edit I had made of Controversy...so here it is, as a little tribute...let's get it on.
Here is a rework of my favorite Terry Callier track, Holdin' On (To Your Love), a groove pearl made of soulful horns, touching politically-conscious lyrics and Terry's incredibly warm voice at his best.
It was released in 1978 as part of his classic LP Fire On Ice.
I tried to give it a Dj-friendly nudisco touch, I hope you'll enjoy it.
Since the late nineties and his first groundbreaking LPs (The Dawn, Bending New Corners...), blowing up the frontiers between nu-jazz, drum & bass, hip-hop & groove, Erik Truffaz Quartet has been a core member of my "desert island" playlist.
With the exception of the unmovable bassist Marcello Giuliani, Erik's quartet line-up has changed over the years, while never losing in cohesion and coherence.
From the early days, featuring memorable drummer Marc Erbetta and Patrick Muller on piano, to the current formation with Arthur Knatek (drums) and the groove machine Benoit Corboz on keyboards, the quartet has also always retained an open-mind, constantly on the hook for new experiences and influences. The regular invitations of quality vocalists, bringing their own universe to the mix, has also without a doubt played a major role in the band's ability to constantly reinvent itself and surprise us with fascinating new atmospheres.
Their latest LP, Doni Doni is no exception to the game. Rokia Traoré's delicate west-African touch, as well as French rapper Oxmo Puccino flow are a perfect fit to a record travelling between world music and nu-jazz grooves. Another faultless release from Erik's crew, to be fully appreciated live, where their virtuosity is sometimes almost paranormal.
Tindersticks' 10th LP is a gift that keeps on giving.
The more I listen to it, the more I feel at home, soothed by its soft & delicate rythmic background, enlightened by its colourful horns. As for the feeling of gravity, Stuart Staples' inimitable nagging singing is at its best, not to mention the precious help from the late Lhasa de Sela and Savages' Jhenny Beth on a couple of tracks.
A few ultra smooth electro touches here and there, a superb afrobeat-inspired moment ("Help Yourself"), this "indie/world" masterpiece has me thinking of some productions by favorite "outside-of-the-box", horns-friendly indie band, Broken Social Scene. I bet you'll love get stuck in this Waiting Room.
Berlin-based trio Nonkeendebut LP The Gambleis a remarkable deep & minimal electro-jazz production.
It's also a great story of three German kids discovering music in the late 80's/early 90's, through the lense of good old-school tape recorders. From Hamburg to East Berlin, the trio grew up, staid in touch, but took more than a decade to finally offer us this remarkable introspective musical journey.
Their countless teenage years tape recordings sessions acted as an inspiring patchwork, but make no mistake, this album is not the work of gifted amateur musicians. It's much more than that, and I have no fear comparing their accomplishment to renewed electro-jazz pioneers like Bugge Wesseltoft or Portico Quartet.
Also released in the final weeks of 2016, Atlanta-based young singer & songwriter Raury's debut LP also should have been in my 2015 favorites list.
Contrary to Erykah Badu's album-like "mixtape" I just mentioned, All We Need actually smells more like a demo mixtape than a finished debut LP released on a major label (Columbia). This "unfinished", acoustic-like imperfect feeling is what makes it truly touching.
Simple words, nice melodies and a musical frame on the edge of folk, soul, hip-hop and indie world, all combine to design an unpretending laid-back atmosphere. It also alludes to the sound of Uk songwriter Ady Suleiman, a name I often recommended on the blog.