November 28, 2009

Vibes4YourSoul Concert Review#3 - Havana Cultura Project

Havana Cultura Band/Kumar/Ogguere/Danay - Elysée Monmartre, Paris, 11/27/09


Ola!

Both a latin music fan and passionate about Cuba, I could not miss last week Havana Cultura's party at parisian venue "l'Elysée Monmartre".
Gilles Peterson and several up and coming young Cuban musicians that all contributed to the recently released "Havana Cultura" double album (link here) were all in town for a 8pm to 2am free party sponsored by Radio Nova and a famous Cuban rum brand.

Two concerts took place during the evening on top of Gilles and RKK(Nova) latin dj-sets.
First cuban hip-hop singer Kumar supported by his band from Barcelona :
A 1-hour hip-hop performance with two singers, one Dj, one percussionist, 1 keyboard (rhodes) and 1 trumpet player.
The mixture of classic hip-hop beats with latin-style percussion and horns resulted in an enthusiastic show. Between a socially-conscious hip-hop reminiscent of Arrested Development and more ragga-style sounds, Kumar's crew quickly managed to get the crowd full attention (not always easy in this kind a free party where a part of the audience was not necessarily here because of the muscal line-up).
This young artist definitely deserves hip-hop fans attention.

The second concert hosted the Havana Cultura Band playing with hip-hop duo Ogguere and female singer Danay, also all present on Gilles Peterson's double album.
So 7 musicians (among which a classic horns section) and three singers on stage mixing classic latin-jazz vibes with truly contemporary hip-hop/soul flows. I particularly appreciated the live versions of the album highlight tracks : Fela Kuti's "Rofoforo Fight" and Donald Byrd "Twink Twice" fantastic covers.
A special mention for Danae, she's an incredibly gifted young singer full of sincerity and charm, I'm looking forward to her future productions once she'll have found a label.

Overall even if I was already convinced by the album before coming to this show, I felt that the live acts truly gave all its meaning to this project.
Gilles Peterson and the sponsors that worked with him on this project deserve a lot of credit for making this up-and-coming cuban scene better known to the international audience, I hope they'll be back in Europe soon for a longer tour.

In the meantime you can listen to this really interesting album to get an idea of what's going on in the rich and diverse cuban musical world!


Here is my favourite track from the album :




Thanks to Reg for the picture

November 25, 2009

Vibes4YourSoul Selection#2 - I Need Reggae

Shorter days, humid weather (at least here in Paris), I don't know what it's like for you, but as far as I'm concerned, I Need Reggae.

In this second episode of our musical selections you'll find just that.
Only legends, only groovy tracks, starting with this Derrick Harriott song, "Dancing The Reggae", that I've been really keen on lately. This one has to make you forget November!
Among the other oldies I've been listening to a lot recently are Alton Ellis, the Heptones or Cedric Im Brooks.

Enjoy!


You can listen to the streaming below (or directly on 8tracks.com) :


Tracklisting :

Derrick Harriott - Dancing The Reggae

Alton Ellis - It's A Shame

Myrna Hague - What About Me

Hopeton Lewis - Express Yourself

Alton Ellis & The Heptones - Woe Child

Delroy Wilson - I Want To Love You

Gregory Isaacs - My Time

The Abyssinians - This Land Is For Everyone

The Heptones - Ready To Learn

Augustus Pablo - Baby I Love You So
Cedric Im Brooks - Give Rasta Glory

The Rebels - Rhodesia

Ijahman Levi - Are We A Warrior

Bob Marley & The Wailers - Pimper's Paradise

November 21, 2009

Vibes4YourSoul 2009 Favourite Records!

Well 2009 is almost gone and it's therefore time to look back to a year full of great musical surprises.
No meaningless ranking here, just a selection of albums/Ep's I particularly enjoyed this year in a wide range of musical styles.
If you're not familiar with the artists mentionned I hope this will make you want to discover their work.
If you know them all already, feel free to let me know if you agree/disagree with my enthusiasm about the records I picked!
Here is a streaming with an extract from each record to help convince you!



José James & Jef Neve - Facing East, The Music Of Alice & John Coltrane (Jazz)
Well I’m cheating a bit here as this is not an album, at least not yet, but a live project set up by Belgian jazz pianist Jef Neve and American singer Jose James along with two other great jazz musicians.They revisited some Alice and John Coltrane standards on which the incredible singer José James wrote lyrics. The result is a fascinating spiritual jazz experience.
They did only 4 live shows so far, I was privileged enough to attend the one in Paris at the “New Morning” last september for a truly unique musical moment. More concert dates and a studio record may be released next year so beware.
In the meantime, luckily for our ears, they did a live video recording of the first concert in Brussels and broadcasted it for free on the web (link here), audio extract here.

As José keeps sermoning during the gig, quoting the Coltrane's from their standard "Cosmic Music" album : "may there be peace, and love and perfection throughout all creations”



Build An Ark – Love Pt.1
(Kindred Spirits Records) (Jazz)
Build An Ark is a californian jazz collective (45+ musicians) under, among others, the magical supervision of great producer Carlos Nino and arranger Miguel Atwood-Ferguson.
Associating spiritual jazz and poetry, in the direct filiation of the likes of Pharoah Sanders or Alice and John Coltrane,(yes them again!), the band first two LP’s were spaced-out musical journeys inviting to peace and meditation.
Let’s make it straight : Love Pt.1, their third album, goes even deeper in that direction. We’re talking about a pure musical jewel here, an incredibly well produced spiritual jazz album.
Anyone sensitive enough to receive the peaceful vibes irrading from this music will enjoy a moment of grace and poetry, really. A must-listen to!

Want to know more about this record : click here (Kindred Spirits Records page link)

Lee Fields & The Expressions - My World (Truth&Soul) (Soul/Funk)
A long awaited record after the promising early release of a few of its tracks in 07/08 on the great “Fallin’ Of The Reel” compilations from the remarkable Tru Thoughts label.
Lee Fields is a soul/funk scene veteran singer, and in fact by listening to “My World” you could truly believe that it was released in the 70’s, same “old-school” sound, same powerful voice, in short everything a classic soul/funk fan is looking for. To me this is the best record of this category in a long long time.
Essential, period.
Want to know more about this record : click here (Truth&Soul Records page link)

Quantic & His Combo Barbaro – Tradition in Transition (Tru Thoughts)(Latin/Soul/Funk)
Uk-based producer and Will Holland (aka Quantic) is well-known to most modern soul/funk lovers thanks to his multiple great productions as Quantic or with his Quantic Soul Orchestra. But this time he moved south, to Colombia where he settled for a while, living in the city of Cali, known for its rich and diverse musical history.
The result has been the creation of the “Combo Barbaro”, an orchestra set up with revered central and south-american musicians. Together they produced this refreshing and innovative latin groove record that just put a big smile on your face while inevitably making you want to move to its sunny beats.
I saw the band perform in Paris last October, it was a great concert, each and every musician of the combo is amazing, with a special mention to the outstanding piano legend Alfredo Linares. Highly recommended if they play anywhere nearby you!
Want to know more about this record? click here (Tru Thoughts Record page link)

Cesar's Salad The Latin Beat (Perfect Toy Records) (Latin Jazz & Beats)
The Latin Beat is Cesar's Salad first album. This a great latin jazz/beats record revisiting several afro-latin & brazilian classics.
The combo counts only 4 musicians : 1 drummer, 1 congas, 1 bass and 1 piano players. It is therefore rather heavily geared toward the beats/percussion side as no horns or vocals counterbalance them, this makes the originality of this album that stick to the core of these great latin tracks : the rhythm.
If you like percussion you will enjoy this salad that should make you shake a bit!
Want to know more about this record? click here (dustygroove page link)


Kings Of Convenience – Declaration Of Dependence (Astralwerks )(Pop/Folk)
Kings Of Convenience are a norwegian pop/folk duo formed by Eirik Glambek Bøe and well-known musician and producer Erlend Øye.
After 5 years of absence, Declaration of Dependence is their third album. If there’s no revolution from their earlier work as we’re still in a minimalist acoustic guitars/voices environment, the duo hasn’t forgotten its skills : creating beautiful melodies and bringing their listeners a healthy dose of melancholy. This works again this time and I like it!
Want to know more about this record? click here (Kings Of Convenience site link)


Fink – Sort Of Revolution (Ninja Tunes) (Pop/Folk/R&B)
Fink is Fin Greenhall, a Uk-based musician/producer. Sort Of Revolution is his third album.
Either alone at the guitar, or supported by a bass player and a drummer, Fink manages to mix his amazing songwriting talent to a kind of groovy vibration, this combination make this record really special, at the frontier between pop, folk and R&B. Maybe the fact that famous soul-producer John Legend contributed on two tracks explains this a bit. If “quietly groovy” means something then this is what I feel when listening to it.
Want to know more about this record? click here (Ninja Tunes page link)

Bibio – Ambivalence Avenue (Warp) (Beats/Downtempo/Pop/Experimental)
Hard to classify this record, is it Beats? Downtempo? Pop? Well a bit of all of that I would say, but more importantly a great musical experience with amazingly creative sounds. Typically the type of record that needs to be listened to a few times in full to truly grasp its essence.
I also strongly recommend his first three LPs, “Fi”, “Hand Cranked”and “Vignetting The Compost”. They all are great melancolic ambient/pop albums, there again the quality of the production and the variety of sounds are astonishing. His productions remind me of one of my favourite ambient indie/pop group : Broken Social Scene.
Want to know more about this record? click here
(Warp Records page link)
Floating Points - Love Me Like This & Vacuum Boogie Ep's (Eglo) (House)
Sam Sheperd, the young man behind Floating Points, is a stunningly talented London-based producer. To me these two Eps, alongside with other things he has been releasing on his Eglo label recently, simply represents house music as good as it can get. These tracks transport you in a “spacy” groovy mode. Actually “floating” is a good word to describe your state while listening to these soulful deeeeeep vibes!
Want to know more about these records? click here (Floating Points MySpace page link)


Break SL - City Wastelands
(Philpot) (Electro/House)
Break SL is a young german producer from Dresden, Sebastian Lohse. After two great EP’s released in 07 and 08, City Wasteland is his first album. “When german minimal electro goes soulful” would be my definition of this record.I particularly love the warm and spaced-out keyboards works on most tracks that seem to be one of Break SL's signature.
Want to know more about these records? click here (Break SL MySpace page link)



Ooft / The Revenge - Instruments Of Rapture Part Three (IOR Records)
(Nudisco/House)
I had to pick one of the multiple superb NuDisco / Disco Re-edits Ep’s that have been flourishing for the last couple of years and that were again really numerous in 2009. Glasgow-based Ooft being my favourite producers in that field I chose this IOR Part Three Ep which is a perfect example of the current quality of productions in that space. The original track “This Sound” is a true funky house gem while the amazing Marvin Gaye “Heavy Love Affair” re-edit by The Revenge is so groooovy!
Want to know more about these records? click here (Ooft MySpace page link)


November 7, 2009

Vibes4YourSoul Selection#1 - Smooth Soul

First of our serie of musical selections, this soul playlist will bring you back to the late 70's- early 80's.
Hope you enjoy the smooth and warm sound of these classics!

Listen to the streaming below (or directly on 8tracks.com) :


Tracklisting :
Coke Escovedo - I Wouldn't Change A Thing (1976)
The Melton Brothers With Alfie Moss - Livin' In The City (1979)
Howard Johnson - Keepin' Love New (1982)
Paris - I Choose You (1984)
Sly, Slick & Wicked - Sho' Nuff (1973)
Atlantic Starr - When Love Calls (1981)
Breakwater - Work It Out (1978)
Dexter Wansel - The Sweetest Pain (1979)
Angela Bofill - People Make The World Go Round(1979)
Leroy Hutson - So In Love With You (1978)
Miriam Makeba - Quit It (1974)
Faze-0 - Riding High (1977)

V4YS Concert Review - Alice Russel - Bataclan, Paris, 11/05/09

Alice Russel, Bataclan, Paris, 11/05/09
Busy week on the soul front in Paris!
After Maxwell on Tuesday, I went to see Alice Russel yesterday night, here is a quick feedback.

Set description :
Really sober stage, no decor or video projections, basic lightning set.
8-member band accompanying her : 1 drummer,1 bass, 1 guitar, 3 horns, 1 keyboard and 1 violin/chorus singer. Concert time : around 1h45mn












The concert :

After cool versions of some of her recent tracks such as "Living the life of a dreamer" or "Let us Be Loving", they oscillated between her repertoire and great covers.
Among them a particularly good Common's "The Light" interpretation followed later by a version of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" full of energy.
The last part of the show was more focused on tracks from her previous albums.

Impressions :
I enjoyed the gig, she definitely is one of the most beautiful voice of the current soul/funk scene, natural, warm and powerful. True, she lacks a bit of presence and dancing skills, but I guarantee her voice makes you easily forget that.
If I had to be a bit more critical I would point out that I found the whole show a bit too "academical".
I really missed the improvisations/solos that you usually get from this type of band from the upcoming soul/funk/afro scene (think of shows from Antibalas, Budo's band, Quantic orchestras, Breakestra....). I had the impression that her young band is maybe not yet living up to the really high standard she sets. I'm sure they will probably offer much "deeper" performances in the months and years to come with more experience.
Considering the enthusiastic response from the overall crowd yesterday, the last part of my commentary is maybe only due to me being too demanding!

Anyway go and see her whenever you have the opportunity, she is an incredible singer!

JmSelector 11/06/09

Thanks to Reg for the picture

V4YS Concert Review - Maxwell - Casino De Paris (Paris, 03/11/09)

Maxwell - Casino de Paris, 11/03/09 (Black Summer's Night Tour)

Hi everyone,

well for the first concert review on the blog I would not have imagined a better start than the truly outstanding Maxwell show I was privileged enough to see yesterday.

I was particularly looking forward this gig for two reasons :
First, Maxwell is one of my true musical "hero". Ever since he released "Urban Hang Suite" in 1996, which I believe is one of the 5 best "nu-soul" albums ever produced, he has been my favorite contemporary soul artist alongside Sade. To me both of them not only sing great soul music, but by the groove and class they convey, they MEAN "Soul".
Second the wait had been very long as the last time Maxwell came to France was 8 to 11 years ago! (can't tell exactly). I just remember the fantastic concert he gave at that time in a rather small venue, "Le Grand Rex". It remains one of my best gig souvenir, adding to the excitement to see him and his band after such a long absence.

This time again he chose a reasonably small venue, an old parisian theatre called "Casino de Paris", a 1200-people beautiful room that helped create a really intimate atmosphere.

The concert :
10-member band on stage, sober set with a white screen in form of sail behind the scene reflecting abstract pictures with warm colours.
Here comes the man in a great suit, still the same incredible voice and charisma on stage, the same sincerely smiling face and groovy dancing style. In fact nothing seems to have changed in 10 years, except the short hair which made me wonder if we should start nickname him "The Barack Obama Of Soul" as he really has the same classy silhouette:)

Anyway, after a great medley intro with "Ascension" and "Sumthin' Sumthin'", they alternated between classics and songs from the new Black Summer's Night album.
Usually this type of rather big shows leave little place for improvisations (we're not talking about a jazz of funk gig here), but yesterday I was positively surprised to see Maxwell having the crowd participate a lot and sometimes asking the band to extend some songs.
My favorite part of the show reflects this. Close to the end, the drummer, bass and keyboards players went on for a 7 or 8-minute groovy break on which horns musicians did solos while Maxwell was improvising funny sexy-style lyrics, playing with the audience. A unique moment.
I was also stunned when I realised that one of the two keyboard musician was Robert Glasper, one of the most talented pianist of current modern jazz scene (http://www.robertglasper.com), this tells you a lot about the overall quality of his band.

The audience response during all the concert was really incredible and I believe Maxwell was himself surprised of the amount of passion that was in the air. He seemed truly moved by the warm welcome and spent a lot of time talking between songs.
I believe everyone quickly felt this was not a classic concert, that something truly special was going on. The kind of unity that you rarely see. Lots of emotion on both sides of the stage, the impression of a deep reciprocal joy felt by the audience and the band. This may sound a bit esoteric but I guarantee the atmosphere was special.

To conclude (and I promess next reviews will be much shorter:) this gig will for sure remain in my "unforgettable thrills" concert list, alongside, among few others, the one from 10 years ago.
Soul as I love it, smooth, groovy, as we say in french : "la grande classe".

Jmselector, 11/04/09

For those who want a more concrete idea of how it looked, you can check the following video (thanks to kaulifl0wer) :