February 19, 2010

V4YS Mixes#5- Warm Up

Hi everyone!
Here comes the 5th part of our mixes serie! "Warm Up" is a mid-tempo house mix, the kind of groovy housy moment intented to slowly but surely wake up your body.
It contends obscure tracks and more well-known cuts from the likes of Jimpster, Henrik Schwarz, Tensnake or Martyn.

You can listen to the streaming below or with the Let'smix.com player (with track-by-track marks).


(tracklisting info on request)

February 16, 2010

V4YS Ep/Album Review - The Souljazz Orchestra - Rising Sun (Strut Records)

The Souljazz Orchestra is an Ottawa-based, 6-member afrobeat/afro-jazz & funk band.
We mentionned them in our recent musical selection dedicated to the "new" afrobeat scene and described them as one of the flagship of this galaxy currently bustling with activity.

Created in 2002, the combo released in 2005 a first confidential instrumental album mixing afro-jazz & funk called "Uprooted". They really started to emerge with the 2007 "Freedom No Go Die" Lp that was more specifically afrobeat oriented, mixing socially-conscious lyrics with several killer grooves. The year after, in 2008, "Manifesto" revisited their afro-jazz/funk side with the same sucess.
In 2009 they moved from their canadian label "Do Right!" to the acclaimed Strut Records to produce their ambitious 4th LP called "Rising Sun".
This record is a brand new step in the band's career. Leaving (temporarily?) aside their afrobeat/afrofunk sound they brilliantly enter the "spiritual jazz" scene.
The album contains 9 tracks, almost all instrumental. In fact I would describe 3 of them as being at the frontier between afrobeat and afro-jazz ("Agbara", "Negus Negast" & "Mamaya") , and the others as more purely "spiritual jazz".
I could not help thinking of the great californian collective "Build An Ark" while listening to the jazz-part this record. Pharoah Sanders also inevitably came to mind, even more so at the end of the album as the band did a remarkable cover of Pharoah's beautiful "Rejoice" track (1981).

To me the variety of instruments used, the quality of the production, its creativity and coherence certainly make of "Rising Sun" the orchestra's most accomplished production so far.

True it is not "dancefloor-oriented" as were some of their earlier works so it requires a bit more effort to get into it but any afro&spiritual jazz lover should be impressed.
My only minor disapointment is the fact that I found most tracks a bit too short. I wish at least some of them could have been extented in the "Pharoah Sander's way" to go on with this particular reference. But I'm sure they will answer that request during the upcoming tour!
I'm therefore really looking forward to see them live next spring in Europe.
All the tour dates are on their site.

Below the promo video of "Agbara", that is actually the more "afrobeat" oriented track of the album so not necessarily the one that best represents its overall spiritual jazz sound. Good track though!

February 11, 2010

Vibes4YourSoul Selection#5 - Long Live Afrobeat

Afrobeat is alive and well.

Created in the late 60's by Fela Kuti, this musical genre blending highlife jazz, funk and afro-rythms has been given a second youth these last few years thanks to a whole new generation of artists.

Fela's sons, Femi and Seun Kuti, are the most obvious symbols of Afrobeat current vitality. Femi has regularly been producing great albums for more than 10 years while Seun's debut Lp, "Many Things", in 2008, has already become almost a classic for many afrobeat lovers. Another Fela's crew legend, his former drummer Tony Allen who created afrobeat distinctive drumming beat, is also a cornerstone of this new afrobeat musical scene. He has produced several good records and has been collaborating on multiple projects since his come-back in 98.
But next to the Kuti's men, several collectives of musicians have also been really busy keeping the afrobeat vibes kicking.
Our 5th musical selection, "Long Live Afrobeat" is a quick snapshot of this musical movement presenting relatively recent tracks (oh yeah and one Black President great edit I found recently to add some fun) from some of these artists.

Brooklyn-based Antibalas are the leader of this underground scene. For the last 12 years they have been giving hundreds of amazing gigs all over the world, adding to their outstanding musical performances a humoristic and somewhat sarcastic political message truly reminiscent of Fela's approach.
In their wake, bands like The Souljazz Orchestra from Canada, Nomo from Chicago, The Budo's Band from Ny, Jimi Tenor & Kabu Kabu from Finland and Germany, Fanga from Montpellier, France or Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble from Ny, and a few others keep reinventing this music.

I hope you'll enjoy this selection, but please remember : Afrobeat is first and foremost a live experience so try to go and see these bands to really grasp the full power of this music.
For instance having seen Antibalas perform at least a dozen times since 1999, I can assure you cannot escape unscathed from such a phenomenal live experience.

Long live Afrobeat!

Tracklisting :
Karl Denson & Tiny Universe - Elephants
Antibalas - Big Man
The Souljazz Orchestra - Mojuba
Snowboy - Jazzakuti
Fela Kuti - Upside Down (S-Man's Flipside Edit)
Fu-Arkist-Ra - Fist Of Flowers
Nomo - Hand & Mouth
Tony Allen - Ijo
Jimi Tenor & Kabu Kabu - I Wanna Hook Up With You
Akoya - Star Wars

February 10, 2010

Erykah Badu - New AmErykah Part II First Single - Window Seat

Had to post that. Dj's at the Worldwide Awards played it several times saturday night between the live shows. Kept me crazy. Pure nu-soul, Erykah at its best. What a great teaser for the soon-to-be-released "New AmErykah Part II" album.
Produced by James Poser feat. ?uestlove on the drums.

February 9, 2010

V4YS Ep/Album Review - Massive Attack - Heligoland

I'll be quick on this one as it is certainly already commented all over the net. The reason I wanted to mention it is that when listening to this record I really had the impression to see an old friend back from a long absence.
"Blue Lines" and "Protection", their first two albums in 91 and 94, are two of my favorite records ever but I've never really gotten into all their productions afterwards, though they often received much praises. But here comes Heligoland and I feel as if "my" Massive Attack is back for good!
Dark beats, complex sounds, perfect production, captivating voices from a wide range of collaborations (Tunde Adebimpe from Tv On The Radio, Damon Albarn, Horace Andy among others), I love it.

Here is a deezer streaming of two of my favorite tracks :

February 8, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards - The Relentless Garage, London, 06/02/10

Well, I wish every week could bring as much good live music as this one just did!

After the fantastic parisian concert from Lee Fields and Menahan Street Band last thursday, I offered myself a trip to London to attend Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards.
For those not familiar with Gilles (are they still any?), his Bbc One radio show, Worldwide, has been, for more than 10 years, a must-listen to for anyone wishing to discover music from a wide range of genre and origins.
Gilles' crew at Bbc One and his label Brownswood organize each February a concert to celebrate artists that released in the previous year great records that have been championned in the show.
This year the event took place at The Relentless Garage, in the cool Islington district of London. This place contains two rooms : a 400-500 people main room and a much smaller one upstairs. Each artist/band was supposed to play roughly half an hour, with Dj-sets in between each live act.

Because of the two stages and my lack of "ubiquity power" I could obviously not check everything, but here are a few impressions on what I saw :

- Floating Points Ensemble : Floating Points, aka Sam Sheperd, is not only a really young amazing deep-house producer (cf our 2009 favorites records review), he also is a talented musician able to compose and direct a 10+ orchestra for his second project called "Floating Points Ensemble".
A bit in the Cinematic Orchestra spirit, the orchestra and soul singer Fatima offered a set blending nu-jazz/soul with more classical vibes (violin, cello...). The result was a really deep, warm and soulful musical atmosphere.
I hope that a record release will eventually come out from this live project (like the great Bbc Maida Vale studio session they did last year? listen to the small medley of this Bbc session to give you an idea).

- Andreya Triana : Andreya presented an acoustic set supported by Fink on guitar and Bonobo on contrebass. I have to say I was totally stunned by this performance and I really regret to have missed her recent show in Paris.
Fink and Bonobo provided a great and simple "folkish" musical frame on which Andreya amazing nu-soul type of voice fitted perfectly. They played some tracks from her upcoming debut album due on Ninjatune later this year, and some tracks from her collaboration with Bonobo.
A magical moment!
You can check Andreya's Myspace page and listen to the fantastic unplugged version of her single "Lost Where I Belong" to get an idea of what I'm talking about!
Below the video from the album version of this song.

- Robert Glasper Trio : his last album "Double-booked" was voted best jazz album of the year by Gilles' crew. After a really funny award speach, Robert played with his talented young drummer and contrebass player.
I had the opportunity to see his trio last year for a classic jazz gig where he was playing piano. This time was different as his "weapon" was a Rhodes organ allowing him to deliver a pure groove set where each of these three incredible musician really let it go and improvised quite a bit. Absolutely brilliant! Here is his myspace page.

- Danay : I just had the time to listent to a couple of songs from Danay who was singing in the room upstairs. I mentionned her following the Havana Orchestra Gig last November in Paris, she is a really promessing cuban soul/hip-hop singer. This time she was not playing with the Havana Cultura band but with a 5-member band for a groovy hip-hop set. Once again I was impressed with her voice and refreshing spanish flow. Really hope she'll be releasing an album soon.
More info on her on Havana Cultura's website.

- Theophilus London : accompanied by hi Dj, Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist Theophilus London performed several tracks from his great 2009 album/mixtape "This Charming Mixtape" that you can download on his myspace page.
Blending soul, hip-hop, and electro, he proposes a refreshing futuristic beats sound. When performing live he adds his really funny "showman" attitude in a unique look half "newwave/pop", half "rap". Believe me it did not take him long to electrify the crowd.
Another surprising up-and-coming beats artist to follow in the months to come!

- Menahan Street Band & Lee Fields : I'll be quick as I already reviewed their astonishing concert last week. Saturday they offered a condensed version of their show and once again blew out the audience with their authentic SOUL.
They actually were the only band allowed to make an encore despite the evening tight schedule!

- Ghospoet : this was a discovery for me, and a nice one. Ghospoet is a British MC whose musical world lies at the frontier of hip-hop, dub and soul. During the live act I really appreciated his original flow, slow and almost haunting, that went really well with the dark and spacy vibes provided by a really good young drummer and an electric-guitarist.
Demos on his myspace page look a bit more experimental than the live performance I saw but are also very interesting.

That's it for me, hope it gave you a nice overview of this eclectic musical evening and that you'll want to know more on all these artists work!

And of course I want to thank Gilles and his team for regularly putting up great events, whether it is on Bbc one, live acts like the awards evening or their annual festival in Sète!

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February 5, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Menahan Street Band, Charles Bradley & Lee Fields (New Morning, Paris, 04/02/10)

Yesterday I headed for my favorite concert spot in Paris, The New Morning, to attend a soul concert that looked particularly promising with Brooklyn-based "The Menahan Street Band" joined to start by singer Charles Bradley and then supporting for the second part veteran soul legend Lee Fields.

Having enjoyed very much Menahan's first album "Make The Road By Walking" released in late 2008 and of course Lee Fields fantastic 2009 LP "My World" (part of our 2009 favorite records), I was really looking forward to seeing these guys live.
Well, I was right to as we experienced Soul with a very big S yesterday night.

As you may know the Menahan's crew is composed of 7 musicians (drummer, keyboard, xylophone, trumpet, saxophone, bass, guitar) also part of brilliant bands like Antibalas, The Dap-Kings, The Budo's Band or El Michels Affair.

In the first part of the show they alternated between their distinctive instrumental soul tracks and classicer soul/funk songs when the amazing Charles Bradley came on stage.
I was not familiar with Mr Bradley nor the several 7-inches records Menahan released in 2007 with him. After this stunning live performance I will have to correct this omission. He really have this JB type of voice that can't leave you indifferent.
I also particularly appreciated the guitar play from Thomas Brenneck (Menahan's and Dap-King's frontman) , he sounded slightly more "groovy" than on the album and really gave the tempo to the whole band.

In the second part Menahan's supported Lee Fields for a mixture of tracks from his acclaimed 2009 album "My World", and older works. They offered us an amazing old-school soul set.
The highlight for me was the fantastic live version of "Ladies" that had Lee playing and improvising with the (female) audience.
His warm voice coupled with his strong stage presence really make him one of the best contemporary "classic" soul singer. The 60's/70's funky soul spirit is alive and well, thank you Mr Fields!

Menahan, Charles Bradley and Lee Fields will continue touring in Europe for the next few weeks (all dates on their myspace links at the top of this message), so if you missed them you know what you need to do!

Below a small streaming of Lee's Ladies (album version) and Menahan Street Band's "Tired Of Waiting" (album version as well)

Découvrez la playlist Menahan Lee Fields avec Menahan Street Band

February 1, 2010

V4YS Ep/Album Review - Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here (Xl Recordings)

Well after more than fifteen years of waiting and a long and difficult struggle to fight personal issues and addictions, Gil Scott-Heron is finally back with an interesting album that blends his incredible spoken word signature with deep and abstract slow-motion electronic beats.

To be clear, for someone who is not familiar with this legendary artist, this album may not be the easiest piece to start digging into his astonishing work. Musically, contrary to his most famous 70's/80's soulful and funky productions with Brian Jackson, this record is much more conceptual.
It features deep and dark drums loops and spacy samples (ironically, being of the artist that has been most sampled by the Hip-hop scene over the years, it is him this time who did the sampling, using a Kanye West track in the opening and closing tracks), setting the stage for an oppressive and almost desolate musical frame that actually fits really well with his now-slower voice flow.

The album is really short, less than half an hour-long. It is composed of four songs, which are covers, and several short interludes & spoken-words/poems humming with a darkness and a melancoly that cannot leave you inemotional.

"I'm New Here" is not his best album, but as for all his productions this is still a must-listen to.

More info on Gil's website.

I really hope I'll be able to see him live this year as the last couple of times I had this privilege, more than 10 years ago, still remain some of the greatest musical journeys I've ever experienced. I heard he may be touring in Europe next March, we'll keep an eye on it.
For those who want to discover more about his amazing career and the huge impact he's had on the current musical scene, check this interesting Bbc documentary.

Here is "Me And The Devil" that comes with the fantastic video below :