archiv of the category funk

 

Bernadette Cooper Drama According To Bernadette Cooper


When you listen to a record after quite some time and you find yourself remembering all the lyrics by heart, this album was/is surely one of your favourite albums. And Drama According To Bernadette Cooper by - guess who - Bernadette Cooper is such an album for me. While the music itself may sound a little bit dated in 2006 this album is still burried somewhere deep inside my best of lists. Bernadette herself was never the best singer out there (well, compared to the Arethas, Sandra St. Victors, Carmen Lundys or even Whitney Houstons out there).

But that was never important even at the times when Bernadette was an integral part of Klymaxx, the all american girl group that pleased us with such funk corkers like Meeting In The Ladies Room, The Men all Pause, Divas Need Love Too, Sexy or Fashion. She made more than up for it with her attitude and originality. And let’s not forget she was one of the few women who produced a wide range of artists like Klymaxx, Mazarati, Madame X, Alisa Randolph, Nia Peebles or Altitude and even appeared on two Teena Marie albums (Crocodile Tears on Naked To The World and Sugar Shack on Ivory).

Her 1990 released masterpiece marked a highlight in her career and an at that time unusal creative freedom granted by a major label (MCA). Bernadette wrote, produced, co-executive produced, co-engineered, co-mixed, co-edited the whole album and even created the album concept with Glen Wexler. And if you have a closer look at the cover you see a woman in a straight jacket in front of a movie theatre showing her own flick Drama According To Bernadette Cooper. The whole CD booklet is made up as a movie with twelve short cuts split up in two acts. Fans of Bernadette already knew from her Klymaxx days that she was a little bit spaced out. Who else could sing Don’t slap me, ‘Cause I’m not in the mood and name her production company Slap Me One! Productions and get away with it? So the straight jacket on the album’s cover may be quite appropriate. Regarding the roles she plays on this album it is surely an apt clothing.

She’s the self-conscious woman in I Look Good (An Interview With Bernadette Cooper), the willing love slave in Stupid, who disconnects her telephone to hear no more lies about her lover and who gives everything to him although she’s not so sure about giving him his Aretha Franklin collection. She’s the woman from the agency (The Agency Sent Me), the down-to-earth woman who knows that love and sex are two different things and that bills have to be paid, so why not hook up with a millionaire from Textas (The Howard Hughes Sitcom [Christmas everyday!]) and she will work out a masterplan to get her former lover back (Nothin’ You Can Do). Back in the late 80s/early 90s Bernadette was really hot as in everybody liked to work with her. So she’s supported by a cast of thousands. There’s Loreena ‘Lungs’ Shelby, Pennye Ford, Alisa Randolph, Chuckii Booker, Thia Austin, Phineas Newborn III, Amp Fiddler, Teena Marie and John Patitucci to name but a few.
In my opinion this is still, sixteen years after its release, quite an amazing album especially if you listen closely to it to discover all the goodies Bernadette has put into it.
And what is she doing now? According to klymaxx.org she owns a vintage clothing store with clothes dating back to the 1900’s, that she also operates. And in 2006 Bernadette has finally reunited with Joyce ‘Fenderella’ Irby to record a new Klymaxx album, which should be finished in a few weeks.

Tracklisting of Drama According To Bernadette Cooper: 1. I Look Good (An Interview With Bernadette Cooper)/ Do You Really Know What Love Is/ 3. Stupid/ 4. The Underground/ 5. The Agency Sent Me/ 6. Let’s Be Discreet/ 7. Drama According To Bernadette Cooper/ 8. I’m That Girl/ 9. The Howard Hughes Sitcom/ 10. Straight Jacket (Love Affair)/ 11. Nothin’ You Can Do/ 12. Movie Produce Her | released 1990 MCA Records

For more infos visit myspace.com/bernadettecooper and myspace.com/therealklymaxx.

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an interview with Yewande


It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed Yewande’s debut EP Evolution and luckily things are really developing in the right direction for her with live gigs, lecture-performance at universities and more and more people getting to know her. Actually that means she hadn’t found the time to answer the jazz-not-jazz interview so far. But with things slowing down around Christmas she finally got into details answering my questions. So learn more about Yewande, her strengths, her journey so far, how she met Peter Lord and V. Jeffrey Smith from The Family Stand and much more in this edition of the jazz-not-jazz interview:

Q: Although you’re not signed to a major label and you don’t have an album released yet you have made such an impression in the world of music. How do you feel about this?

Yewande: I’m incredibly blessed. There’s no text book explanation that I can give you for any of my successes. Most of us have that one thing in life that we dream of being. Ever since I was a child, I always had a very strong connection to music and was even more fascinated by how it affected people. I guess you could say that I was led to it. And no matter how hard I ever tried to ignore it or how much people discouraged me from pursuing it, once I surrendered to that “calling” I knew that I couldn’t turn back. But I also quickly realized that the only way I even had a chance to survive was creating a sound plan. I was just fortunate that my plan worked.

Q: Regarding your success so far, do you think it was the right decision to become an independent artist who is of full control of her music, image, promotion etc.? And what do you think of your future as an musician? One of the advantages of being with a major label may be a little more money and a world-wide distribution of your music. The question is, would this be worth to lose control of your artistry in some ways? I’ve read that once an A&R manager told you to change your name because Yewande sounds too ethnic…I find it hard to believe that there’s still a lot of racism in the music industry.

Yewande:
There’s no doubt in my mind that I made the right choice becoming an independent artist. Believe me, it’s not the path that I dreamed of, but if I’d waited around for some man in a suit to “accept” me and my music…well, I’d still be waiting. Like most artists, I thought that having a different style and strong voice was enough to get me the record deal of my dreams and I’d live happily ever after, but my strengths wound up creating the biggest obstacles (how ironic). Actually, my very first meeting with a record label resulted in an immediate offer, but even with their long history in the jazz world I was afraid that like so many jazz artists I admired that my music would never reach the masses. More labels came calling, but they all wanted the same thing…for me to be just like everyone else. Yes, an executive representing two HUGE R&B/Hip-Hop acts approached me, but after questioning whether I could dance (that’s a critical requirement after all), suggested that I change my birth name because it was “too ethnic”. After the initial shock wore off, I explained how the NAME he wanted to change represented everything that I was as an artist (it means “reincarnation of Grandmother” in Yoruba). THEN I went home and bawled my eyes out. Is THIS what I’d have to do to be successful? Seduce all of my listeners with some sexy pole dance, change my name to Brittany and ignore every virtue that I treasured?
Of course world-wide success was the goal, but at what cost? I would sign to a major label in a heartbeat if I knew that they would honor the story that I want to tell with my music. But lately it seems like you’ve got to be a clone of someone else to succeed in this business and I learned early on that I just didn’t “fit” that mold…and I didn’t want to. I never wanted to be the manager, the publicist, the promoter, the producer and everything else that goes along with running a record label, but I knew that I had a gift that deserved a chance and it was obvious that no one could do it but me. Fortunately, my mother, who is also an entrepreneur, encouraged me to study business in college along with my classical voice and piano studies. And growing up around her company, I was doubly blessed to witness the sacrifices that she made for her business to succeed. So with 18 hour work days and a lot of prayer, in 2003 I launched Lotus Records and first international tour.
Shortly after that, B. E. T. gave me the chance to perform on “106th & Park”, I won a national competition with Steve Madden Shoes, who presented me at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and put me on tour with everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to Enrique Iglesias. Since that time, I released my debut EP, “Evolution” (with support in part by Steve Madden Shoes), distributed music in over 13 countries, performed in over 200 cities around the world, voted “Best Solo Artist” in the national college market, and am now up for an MTV reality series featuring the top indie artists in the country. The independent road has definitely been a struggle, but I’m playing the game on my own terms…I can’t turn back now.

>>>continue

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Down To The Bone Angel Baby/Wildfire Woman (remixes)


 

It’s been a while since Down To The Bone’s recent album Spread Love Like Wildfire has been released. If you’ve missed my review you can find it here. Finally we get a double A-sided 12″ single release with two of the finest songs. Angel Baby which features N’Dambi and Wildfire Woman with Grace Ackroyd.
According to Stuart Wade N’Dambi was played a few DTTB tracks by Malcom Prangel and whilst listening to one, in the back of a car, she promptly wrote the vocals for what became, her titled, Angel Baby. On this 12″ we get a real remix that takes the song to a whole different level with additional keys by Daz-I-Kue and Mark De Clive-Lowe. Kenny Barry injects some more bass into Daz’ funky remix, which surely will be a winner on future funk/broken beat floors.
Mr. Gone’s Afro Elements Jazzin’ Bossa Remix is just that, a sambaesque new version with additional vocals by Simon T. Bramley plus flute and Rhodes by Leni J. Unta. And there’s also the superb original version with its funky organ.
Just what you need when you want to end this year with a quality 12″ single.

Tracklisting of Angel Baby/ Wildfire Woman: 1. Angel Baby (Daz-I-Kue Vox Remix)/ 2. Angel Baby (Daz-I-Kue Dub Vox Remix)/ 3. Wildfire Woman (Afro Elements Jazzin’ Bossa Remix)/ 4. Wildfire Woman (Original Album Version - Edit) | released 2005 Giant Step/Narada Jazz

For more infos visit downtothebone.com, narada.com and giantstep.net.

[If you want to discuss Down To The Bone’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Various Artists Stay On The Groove - 20 Modern Funk Anthems


The Funk, the whole Funk, and nothing but the Funk…Wikipedia describes the stylistic origins of Funk music as soul music with a more pronounced beat and influences from R&B, rock and roll and psychedelic music. And who thinks that funk has had its heydays in the 70s and is dead today couldn’t be more wrong. The compilation Stay On The Groove is a great example that funk these days is neither dead nor does it smell funny. There’s a vivacious funk scene out there that continues to develop the music James Brown, Lyn Collins, The Meters and others brought us in the 70s. These days funk is not only recorded in the USA but also in the UK (Quantic, Snowboy), Sweden (Jaguar), Netherlands (Lefties Soul Connection), Germany (The New Process aka Poets Of Rhythm) and Australia (The Bamboos) as you can hear on this compilation.
Label owner Adrian Gibson chose twenty damn funky songs for this compilation. All are sure to make you move and start any boring party. But - like in the 70s - there’s more to the music than just the feel good factor. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings remind us that you can have a message in your funky rhythms. What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes? is a great song against oil moguls, war profiteers, overfed corporations, and other assorted a-moral billionaires (btw here’s a video of a live performance at the Knitting Factory).
There are a few other names you may know besides Sharon Jones. M.F.O.S. is Mark Cotgrove aka Snowboy and his El Padrino is a latinesque groove with a great organ solo.
Will Holland aka Quantic is featured with two excellent tracks Don’t Joke With A Hungry Man (from his Mishaps Happening album), which features the delightful Spanky Wilson on vocals and a great arrangement of vibes, strings and horns, and a cover of 4 Hero’s Hold It Down (from QSC’s Stampede album) with Alice Russell on vocals.
If I Had A Band by Context has only been released as a limited 7″ on Denmark’s Sonny B imprint and is a great piece of of music with tight horns, bass and drums based around a Bunny Sigler vocal hook. Also only released on a limited 7″ single was the cover of Sharon Jones’ Give Me A Chance by Lee Fields & The Dapkings. Like you would expect from the Dapkings this is another crisp funky groove.
With twenty great tracks on offer this is really value for money which saves you a fortune if you had to buy the single releases. The funkiest compilation of 2005 that will keep you grooving in 2006, 2007, 2008…

Tracklisting of Stay On The Groove - 20 Modern Funk Anthems: 1. New Master Sounds - Stay On the Groove/ 2. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings - What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?/ 3. Troubled Soul - Funky Me Pt 1 & 2/ 4. The New Process - Freedom/ 5. Jaguar - Battle of Funk/ 6. Breakestra - Show & Prove Pt.1/ 7. Lefties Soul Connection - Doin’t The Thing/ 8. Cookin on Three Burners - Gravel Rash/ 9. Poets of Rhythm - Ham Gallery/ 10. Quantic feat Spanky Wilson - Don’t Joke With A Hungry Man/ 11. M.F.O.S - El Padrino/ 12. Speedometer - Work It Out/ 13. Quantic Soul Orchestra - Hold It Down/ 14. Context - If I Had a Band/ 15. Ria Currie & The the Deep Soul Messengers - Everythings Gonna Be Alright/ 16. The New Mastersounds - Two Note Brown/ 17. Lee Fields & The Dapkings - Give Me A Chance/ 18. B.D.M - No Rest for the Wicked/ 19. Sharon Jackson & The Soul Destroyers - Fakin’ It/ 20. The Bamboos - Tighten Up | released 2005 Freestyle Records

For more infos visit freestylerecords.co.uk and kudosrecords.co.uk and grooveattack.com.

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Don-e Try This


I first heard of Don-e thirteen years ago, in 1992, when he was a much hyped new act on 4′th & Broadway with the release of his debut single Love Makes The World Go Round and the album Unbreakable that followed soon. 1992 wasn’t such a bad year after all with Don-e’s debut and releases by The Watergates (Never Gonna Give You Up on Bump’n'Hustle), Mass Order (Maybe One Day on Columbia), Mr. Fingers (Introduction on MCA) Robyn Springer (Makin Moves on Cardiac), Jody Watley (I’m The One You Need on MCA) or Out Of The Blue feat. Marlon Saunders (Lover Caravan on Flatbush) to name just a few…ah, my personal good ol’ days.
Don-e got the chance to do a second album (Changing Seasons) on 4′th & B’way and then vanished from the scene. If you’re an avid reader of liner notes you certainly have discovered him as writer and producer for artists like Nu Colours, Deni Hines, Shaun Escoffery, Mica Paris, Beverley Knight, Lynden David Hall, or Rahsaan Patterson in the meantime. After a long hiatus he is finally back under his own name with a new album for Dome Records, who seem to focus on British artists again with Carleen Anderson’s Soul Providence and Incognito’s upcoming Eleven albums.
Like Don-e’s first two albums this is a self-produced/written/played journey into his musical world with his own blend of black music. Listening to Try This unveils that Don-e really has his own sound and doesn’t seem to give a damn about what’s hip right now. If you know his previous works you’ll recognize most of the tunes as Don-e songs at once like the midtempo soulful Walk In My Shoes.
One of the highlights is No Reason, his collaboration with Omar. This song is pure Brit soul bliss and they should really do a whole album together. I Do is an beautiful ballad with some charming vocoder effects Ă  la Roger Troutman. More highlights come with the mellow, acoustic Let Me Be Yours, the hypnotic One More Time and the acapella See What I See.
Variety is added with the funky Keep On Luvin U, the urban inspired All We Need (with rapper Grimm…well actually not what I need as you may know my reservations about featured rappers but the song works well within the album context) and the uptempo Try This. Don-e also introduces Lornette Ford with the summery vibes of Slow.
And make sure you listen to the comical Dropped Recordz (an interlude between track 16 and 17). This track is surely influenced by Don-e’s past since it’s message is that a musician might as well sign to Dropped Recordz because they’ll get dropped anyway.
It’s good to have Don-e back with a strong album that features excellent songs and kudos to Dome Records for bringing back one of the UK’s finest black music artist.

Tracklisting of Try This: 1. Sickest Style/ 2. Walk In My Shoes/ 3. Bus Stop/ 4. No Reason - Don-e & Omar/ 5. Keep On Luvin’ U/ 6. Slow - Don-e & Lornette Ford/ 7. I Do/ 8. All We Need - Don-e & Grim/ 9. Rising/ 10. One More Time/ 11. Let Me Be Yours/ 12. Hott Honey/ 13. How I Feel/ 14. See What I See/ 15. Lonely/ 16. Try This/ 17. UK Black (hidden bonus track) | released 2005 by Atomic Dread Productions /Dome Records

For more infos visit domerecords.co.uk and don-emusic.co.uk and download the video Slow here.

[If you want to discuss Don-e’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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event review - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings live in Manchester


Courtesy of Jon Freer from mosoul.co.uk here’s an event review of a live performance by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings from 8th October 2005 at the Roadhouse, Manchester.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings’ most recent album was entitled “Naturally”, and this is a fitting name for a group to whom live performance comes oh so easily. The Dap-Kings are a real funky outfit, who use dapper brass work, neat guitar moves and dependable drumming, to create an authentic retro-toned sound. Hailing from Augusta, Georgia, where a certain elder statesman of Funk was also born, Sharon Jones is a musical force to be reckoned with, who has the ability to bring a crowd to their knees whenever she wishes.

This welcome mid-evening showing from Jones and the gang, put on by the amiable Friends & Family, saw the poky Roadhouse packed out by a large crowd of various ages. Before the show-woman made it to the stage, the Kings worked the crowd up with a mixture of jamming and instrumental funked-up pieces. This performance from the Dap-Kings set the mood for the show rather nicely and showed the talents of the group, who were most definitely pushed out of the spotlight once a certain colourful singer took to the stage. A former prison corrections officer and current Brooklyn resident, to suggest Sharon Jones is an impressive performer is a bit of an understatement. Standing atop of a speaker in order to let the whole crowd get a good view, the charismatic large lady delivered an incredibly entertaining performance, which must have used up every ounce of energy in her body. The funkified powerhouse delivered breath-taking renditions of the theatrical “What Would They Do If We All Stopped Paying Taxes?”, disconsolate “How Do I Let A Good Man Down” and heart-warming “This Land Is Your Land”, but her singing was not her only type of soulful ammunition. Absentmindedly regaling listeners with tales that were spoken perfectly in time over her band’s music, dancing in a frenzied manner and plucking a fella from the audience for her obligatory flirtatious moment with a local, added that extra firepower to her unforgettable performance.

[The photo was taken by Kelly Jo Garner, you can find more photos in her gallery. For more info about Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings visit daptonerecords.com]

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Motown Disco


Unfortunately promised CDs for reviews got stuck somewhere in the mail and that’s the reason why you haven’t read much new reviews in recent weeks here. So instead of focussing on underground soul like usually why not tell you about a recently purchased double compilation on Motown UK.
Before the term Disco was coined for a certain type of music,which you could hear in a discotheque, it was just an uptempo version of very danceable funk and soul music. Of course it was all watered down within a short time with rather uninspired songs which sounded more like doing music by numbers as soon as people discovered that there were large amounts of money to be made. And even established acts like Marvin Gaye (Got To Give It Up), Gladys Knight (Love Is Always On My Mind) or Stevie Wonder (Do I Do) jumped on the bandwagon by doing some disco-inspired songs.
Certainly the fact that Disco had a large black and gay following (just listen to Carl Bean’s I Was Born This Way on this compilation) was one of the reason that the mainstream condemned it as hedonistic music and were happy that they could burn Disco records in the end.
Naturally with the rise of house music some of the problems of Disco resurfaced (i.e. lack of ideas, clichĂ©-ridden, uninspired music and established acts doing house inspired versions or getting remixed) but since the days of Disco much have changed in the way of communication and distribution of music (for one thing there’s the internet) and it looks like any music genre invented since then never really disappeared or died. It just goes underground with some hardcore fans still listening to a certain music genre. In the end Disco was never really dead, it just waited for the right time to see its rebirth on house dancefloors with many house records being a shameless (and often uncredited) rip-off or remake of old disco songs.
But back to the album Motown Disco. What has a rather meaningless and cheap cover (though the profound comments to each featured song make more than up for it) is an impressive compilation of groovy and funky dance tunes covering a period from 1972 to 1983. There are the songs, I’m sure everyone knows, like Diana Ross’ Love Hangover (I still like the way this changes from a slowie to an uptempo track) and The Boss (the former also saw a more than solid remake by Pauline Henry as a Joey Negro remix and the latter was re-done by the Braxtons with remixes by Masters At Work). While Diana was never the greatest singer (of the Supremes and in general) her voice fits perfectly to the midtempo and uptempo stuff. The Supremes’ High Energy is sung by Scherrie Payne who certainly possesses more vocal power than Diana. (Anyone remembering the uptempo Disco clone named High Energy?).
Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up may not reach the musical level he has reached with What’s Going On but it’s still a perfect song to move your hips and it’s featured here in all its 11+ minutes glory.
Also on the more funky side are the two Rick James cuts You & I and Big Time. Former Rick James protégé Teena Marie is featured with Behind The Groove from her Lady T album.
Good to see Eddie Kendricks’ Date With The Rain on this record as well. House music fans will recall Jamie Principle’s cover version from 1990 on Atlantic.
Add to this The Temptations Law Of The Land, Thelma Houston’s Saturday Night, Sunday Morning or the original 12″ promo version of Down To Love Town by The Originals and you have an impressive insight on the way Motown handled Disco.

Tracklisting of Motown Disco - Soulful Grooves from the 70s & 80s:
Disc 1:
1. The Temptations - Law of the Land/ 2. Eddie Kendricks - Keep On Trucking/ 3. Diana Ross - Love Hangover/ 4. The Originals - Down To Love Town/ 5. Supremes - High Energy/ 6. Eddie Kendricks - Date With the Rain/ 7. Thelma Houston - Saturday Night, Sunday Morning/ 8. Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up/ 9. Rick James & The Stone City Band - You & I/ 10. Platinum Hook - Standing on the Verge/ 11. Tata Vega - Get It Up For Love
Disc 2:
1. Finished Touch - Need To Know You Better/ 2. Thelma Houston - Don’t Leave Me This Way/ 3. Dynamic Superiors - Nowhere To Run/ 4. Jerry Butler - (I Love To See You) Dancin’/ 5. 21st Creation - Tailgate/ 6. Diana Ross - The Boss/ 7. Carl Bean - I Was Born This Way/ 8. Teena Marie - Behind The Groove/ 9. Rick James - Big Time/ 10. Switch - You Pulled A Switch/ 11. Willie Hutch - In & Out | released 2005 Motown/Universal Music Operations

For more infos visit motown45.co.uk, The Motown Story, discomuseum.com, jahsonic.com, livingart.com.

[If you want to discuss Motown Disco, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Bah Samba feat The Fatback Band Let The Drums Speak


Bah Samba’s recent double album 4 is chock-a-block of good songs and potential single releases. Julian Bendall, Alice Russell and the rest of Bah Samba already put their magic touch to Teena Marie’s Portuguese Love, which was the first single lifted from the album. Let The Drums Speak, the third single (btw Calma with Isabel Fructuoso was also relased as a 12″ single) is another cover but yet it’s not your average cover version since Bah Samba actually hooked up with Bill Curtis and Johnny Flippen from The Fatback Band, who originally recorded this song.
I set up an old Ludwig drum kit for Bill, they arrived, we manged to get Bill up the ladder, bearing in mind he’s in his 80’s! and he jammed this wicked Fatback groove for about 2 hours, we jammed downstairs with Johnny on Bass, Mark on Guitar and me on Rhodes, after that we chose the jam we liked and Bill and Johnny did a rap,” says Julian Bendall. “Later Dom (trumpet) turned up and played a similar line to ‘Let the drums Speak’ it was never our intention to do another cover on the album, it was just I had been listening to ‘Yum Yum’ all that week and asked Dom to come up with something on that vibe, the track was originally entitled ‘In a new element’ but with the horn line being too similar we agreed with Fatback’s publisher to go with ‘Let the drums speak’.
Phil Asher, who’ve worked with Bah Samba since their first release on Estereo (Reach Inside), gets involved on Let The Drums Speak as well. His Restless Soul Mix is a driving disco house version that relies on Alice Russell’s harmonies that will work well on the dancefloor. Unfortunately Phil’s version omits the ad-libs of the Fatback Band. Luckily Harvey Lindo includes these ad-libs on his 70s inspired soulful midtempo remix. And if you’ve missed the album 4 (shame on you, you’ve missed one of the albums of the year!) there’s also the great disco funk of the album version.

Tracklisting of Let The Drums Speak: 1. Phil Asher Restless Soul Mix/ 2. Harvey Lindo Edit/ 3. Album Version | released November 14th, 2005 BKO Productions

For more infos visit bahsamba.co.uk.

[If you want to discuss Bah Samba’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Alice Russell My Favourite Letters


2005 is the year of Alice Russell. She sang on almost all songs on Bah Samba’s 4 double album, was featured on the Quantic Soul Orchestra’s album Pushin On and now releases her sophomore album under her own name. While Alice Russell’s debut album Under The Munka Moon was more a compilation of session works with a few new cuts added, her second album My favourite Letters is much more of a piece. This time Alex Cowan aka TM Juke produced the whole album and co-wrote the songs together with Alice.
The result is a unique sound that incorporates influences of hip hop, (northern) soul, jazz, broken beat, electronica, gospel and funk and that’s graced by Alice powerhouse voice.
Humankind, the first single, is an unusual song that merges hip hop, funk and tango influences. It surely needs a few listenings to get into and I’m not sure if it’s a wise move to release the rather eccentric Humankind as first single. The slow, blues tinged To Know This or the soulful ballad I’m Just Here would’ve been a much better choice in my opinion.
Anyway, the label will have enough other good songs to chose from as future single releases. There’s the Motown inspired High Up On The Hook (with a beautiful vibes solo by Guy Wood) or the odd titled Mirror Mirror On The Wolf - ‘Tell The Story Right’. The latter is an impressive soul song with strong gospel influences and organic orchestration of guitar, rhodes, piano, flutes, clarinets, oboes and cor anglaise.
Other highlights include the electro funk inspired What We Want!, A Fly In The Hand and the handclapping funky Mean To Me.
As with Alice’s debut Under The Munka Moon this album may not appeal to everyone with its fusion of musical styles and some songs here does need a few listenings to get into. But you will be rewarded with a multifaceted and worthwhile album from one of the UK’s best vocalists.

Tracklisting of My Favourite Letters: 1. All Else Can Wait/ 2. What We Want!/ 3. Humankind/ 4. Mean To Me/ 5. A Fly In The Hand/ 6. To Know This/ 7. I’m Just Here/ 8. Munkaroo/ 9. All Over Now/ 10. High Up On The Hook/ 11. Mirror Mirror On The Wolf – Tell The Story Right/ 12. Remember To Forget | released September 26, 2005 Tru Thoughts

For more infos visit tru-thoughts.co.uk, alicerussell.co.uk, tmjuke.co.uk and grooveattack.com.

[If you want to discuss Alice Russell’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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HVW8 presents Music Is My Art


HVW8 (or Heavyweight if you want to avoid acronyms) is a three man art collective hailing from Montreal/Canada. The approach of Gene Pendon, Tyler Gibney and Dan Buller towards their art is different from most painters. They like to paint live in front of other people and take away the mysterious nimbus of the creative process one normally never sees when a painting is created. “We approach things the same way a DJ would if he were remixing, but instead doing audio, we’re painting,” says Tyler Gibney. Their art “pays respect to the past, but it’s also fused with familiar aspects of hip-hop or drum ‘n’ bass. It’s like how producers sample old shit but then remix it for today.”
The compilation Music Is My Art is an extension of HVW8’s work showing their multifaceted musical influences of hip hop, soul, electronic and house with most of the tracks being exclusives.
Being not the biggest fan of hip hop (well, I’ve mentioned it on various occasions on this website) I rather skip these songs although I must admit that the underground feeling of Radio City’s The Hop does appeal to me. But there are more than enough fine songs that make this compilation worthwile. Take the soulful Blue Jay by Owusu And Hannibal for example, a tune somewhere between Amp Fiddler and Dwele.
Plantlife’s Your Love take us into P-Funk territory while John Arnold presents a tasty breakbeat/funk clone with Rise Up.
Blue Miles is a relaxed electro-soul inspired song with soothing vocals by Lindsay Caldwell.
Steve Spacek adds his vocal magic to Kingbread’s sparse instrumented modern soulsong It’s Alright, which wouldn’t be out of place on a Vikter Duplaix’ release.
Yam Who?, who are famous for their remixes for musicians like N’Dambi, Raphael Saadiq or Alison Crockett, team up with Christian Fontana to give us the great disco-funk inspired track Wrap U Up. With nearly nine minutes this is a sure dancefloor winner.
Osunlade’s Tambores Te Llaman is a future late night favourite with its percussion driven groove, trumpet and flute graced by spoken words. One of my favourite spoken words artist, Rich Medina, closes the album with Uptown.
Music Is My Art is an eclectic compilation and a cornucopia of good music and new artists for the musically open-minded listener.

Tracklisting of Music Is My Art: 1. Blade Spade - To Serve With Love/ 2. Radio City feat. Bajka - The Hop/ 3. Owusu and Hannibal - Blue Jay/ 4. Plantlife feat. Dena Deadly - Your Love/ 5. John Arnold w/Paul Randolph - Rise Up/ 6. Seiji - Bruqwah/ 7. DJ Language w/Lindsey Caldwell - Blue Miles/ 8. Kingsbread feat. Steve Spacek - It’s Alright/ 9. J-Boogie w/ Crown City Rockers - Higher/ 10. Ohmega Watts feat. Othello - Long Ago/ 11. Yam Who? Feat. Christian Fontana - Wrap You Up/ 12. Osunlade - Tambores Te Llaman/ 13. Rich Medina - Uptown | released 2005 Ubiquity Recordings

For more infos visit ubiquityrecords.com and hvw8.com.

[If you want to discuss this record, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Legends Of The Underground Original Soundtrack


Finally the Original Soundtrack for Legends Of The Underground Mark de Clive-Lowe mentioned in his interview with jazz-not-jazz will be released on September 15th, 2005.
Legends Of The Underground is a theater production which combines dance, music and 3D animation in a live show. “It’s a trilogy and we did one part of the trilogy. They must have had about thirty dancers, European classical dancers, some breakers from Korea, jazz dancers from England, some Dutch kids and many other kinds,” Mark said in an interview with dancemusic.about.com. “They had all the dancers and then a 3D animation which was going out at the same time, and then our ridiculous cinematic afro- cosmic broken soundtracks going on.
Seiji from Bugz In The Attic was asked to create a soundtrack for the performance and he in turn invited Mark de Clive-Lowe, Domu, Bembe Segue and Rasiyah to join him on the project. For fans of said musicians this must be a wild West London wet dream come true.
It was the first time in a while for me that I was able to work on something where we had free reign to do whatever we wanted,” Mark de Clive-Lowe says. “No consideration for singles, DJs, radio play, anything - it was purely about creating sonic art that would help tell the story and inspire the dancers. I hear it as one of the great jazz fusion projects of our time - 2005’s answer to the classic jazz fusion of the 70s.
The question is does this album work without the pyrotechnic dance show? Yes, it works very well on its own. Certainly the mainly instrumental tracks like Introduction, The Devine Room or The Gathering Part II will benefit when played on stage with the interaction of dancers and 3D animation. But the three full vocal songs The Gathering Part I, The Scrolls & The Gift and Paradise Garden make more than up for that. Especially Paradise Garden with inspiring vocal input by BembĂ© SeguĂ© and Rasiyah and additional musicians like Dave Okumu (guitar), Finn Peters (flute, sax) and Claus Toft (congas) is a great melange of broken beats, funk and jazz with nine minutes length of time; worth the album’s price alone. The Dark Room acts as a short introduction for Anarchite City, a raw, hard hitting techno/electro track. In fact, this one’s a little bit too noisy for my taste but judging it in the context it’s a fitting climax for this soundtrack.
Overall this album is a very interesting offer of what happens when musicians just let flow the creative juices.

Tracklisting of Original Soundtrack: 1. Introduction/ 2. The Divine Room/ 3. The Gathering Part I/ 4. The Gathering Part II/ 5. The Scrolls & The Gift/ 6. Paradise Garden/ 7. The Dark Room/ 8. Anarchite City | released 2005 Kindred Spirits

For more infos visit kindred-spirits.nl, rushhour.nl, bugzintheattic.net, markdeclivelowe.net and legendsoftheunderground.com.

[If you want to discuss the Legends Of The Underground’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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an interview with Gary Hines from the Sounds Of Blackness


There are times when I really love this website. Not only does it provide me with a possibility to tell the world about quality music but from time to time it also gives me the chance to get in contact with musicians or bands I’m a fervent fan of for many years. Take Gary Hines and his mighty Sounds Of Blackness for example. I love them since I’ve first listened to the 12″ single Optimistic. The recent release of the new SOB’s album Unity was a legitimate reason to ask Gary a few questions.

Q: Please tell me the story and motivation behind the new album Unity.

Gary Hines: Sounds of Blackness has always had a world -view perspective on life. We are committed to do our part to remedy and rectify the rampant war, hunger, hate and divisivemness in the world today by issuing a clariion call for “UNITY”. “UNITY” is Sounds of Blackness contribtion to the movement for worldwide peace, love and harmony.

Q: How did you team up with producer LaSalle Gabriel ?

Gary Hines: Sounds of Blackness has worked with LaSalle Gabriel on and off for several years - primarily as a guitarist. When his record label, SLR had a distribution slot for a project, he contacted us and the rest is history.

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Carleen Anderson Soul Providence


Carleen Anderson is no stranger to readers of jazz-not-jazz and I’m sure everybody has a different story how and when he has discovered her. Like many, I first heard Carleen as the voice of the Young Disciples, then one of the best acts on the young Talkin Loud label. But it wasn’t until the Young Disciples had released their Move On EP with the epic versions of All I Have In Me and Freedom that I’ve actually bought my first record with Carleen on vocals. But from then on I was hooked on Carleen’s voice and her music and I hardly missed any new release. With her three solo efforts True Spirit, Blessed Burden (both released on Circa) and the independently released Alberta’s Granddaughter Carleen has courageously broadened her musical spectrum. While she may have lost me on a few songs of her previous albums I was nevertheless impressed that she doesn’t compromise as an artists and as she says of herself takes the road less travelled, continuously.
Carleen’s new album Soul Providence finds her re-discovering her soul roots and is a dream come true for people like me, who especially liked Carleen’s soul songs in her discography.
This album represents the mature me,” says Carleen, “the woman who survived the disappointments with a passionate smile of joyful restitution.” It’s this maturity, celebration of survival and being content with oneself and the found inner peace that makes Soul Providence a classic and timeless soul album with Carleen’s personal and meaningful self-penned lyrics and it’s organic orchestration.
With sixteen strong tracks there’s enough for continuous listening pleasure and food for thought. Just let me pick a few of my favourite songs so far.
Careful is Carleen’s interpretation of the commandment Do unto others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31) and her plea for real humanity amongst people that comes in the shape of a beautiful midtempo soul song.
My Door Is Open with its horn section is a great uptempo funky song that finds Carleen in voluptuous territory.
Another highlight is Sweetness that starts more acoustic with congas, sparse keys and then takes you all the way to the gospel choir thanks to Tracey Riggan, Louise Fellingham and Detroy Hutchinson on backing vocals.
Salvation Is Free finally finds Carleen playing piano again on this thoughtful ballad.
I can virtually recommend every single song on Soul Providence whether it be the introspective A Different Me, the uplifting Gotta Believe In The Future or the two duets Wanna Be Where You Are (with Paul Weller, this is a cover of the Leon Ware and T-Boy Ross tune made famous by the Jackson Five) and Parting The Water (with Jocelyn Brown).
To sum it up, Soul Providence shows an impressive development of Carleen Anderson as a musical artists and it is her best album so far.

Tracklisting of Soul Providence: 1. Soul Stream Intro/ 2. A Different Me/ 3. Gotts Believe In The Future/ 4. Whose Business/ 5. Wanna Be Where You Are (feat. Paul Weller)/ 6. Careful/ 7. My Door Is Open/ 8. All In My Mind/ 9. Sweetness/ 10. Parting The Waters (feat. Jocelyn Brown)/ 11. Just Like Me/ 12. Little Wouldn’t I Do/ 13. The Preacher’s Prayer/ 14. Salvation Is Free/ 15. Soul Stream Outro/ 16. Onwards & Forwards | released September 12th, 2005 Orange Room Music/Dome Records

For more infos visit carleenanderson.net, domerecords.co.uk orangeroommusic.co.uk and True Spirit.

[If you want to discuss Carleen Anderson’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Sounds Of Blackness Unity


Although I’m not the biggest fan of gospel music there’s one group who stands out for me and whose music I follow since the release of Optimistic as 12″ single (and first release) on Jam & Lewis’ Perspective label in 1991. Of course the Sounds Of Blackness didn’t appear out of nothing. The predecessor of the Sounds Of Blackness, the Macalester Black Voices were founded in 1969 at Macalester College in St.Paul, Minnesota. Two years later Gary Hines, today the only active founding member remaining, took over the musical directorship from the choir’s founder Russell Knighton. In their long career the Sounds Of Blackness have enjoyed numerous hits like The Pressure, Testify, I Believe, Soul Holidays or Harder They Are, The Bigger They Fall.
Their latest album will surely be praised and market as the album that sees Ann Nesby re-uniting with the group she started her career with. Certainly it’s great to hear her with SOB again and the funky uptempo songs Unity and Heaven will surely cause some serious dancefloor damage and with additional house mixes could easily gain the SOB another dancefloor hit. But Unity has so much more to offer, than just the two songs Ann sings lead vocals on, with Gary Hines’ musical aggregation being an almost inexhaustible source of gifted singers.
There’s the R&B-flavoured Put The Finger On Me with David Hughes on vocals or Yulanda as lead singer on the catchy Try, which uses the hook from the Stevie Wonder penned It’s A Shame (originally recorded by The Spinners for their 1970 album Second Time Around) to good effect.
Terrence “T-Bone” Frierson is another excellent singer, who sings lead on the bluesy Trouble, which also features a fine guitar solo by the album’s producer LaSalle Gabriel. Terrence is joined by Billy Steele and A. Doriel Demps on vocals on one of my favourite songs on this album, i.e. the soulful gem I’m Movin’. Other instant winners for my ears are the two songs following I’m Movin’, Be Encouraged, a great timeless and, er, encouraging soul song, and Life, a moving ballad.
Add to this gospel songs like They That Wait and Over My Head and you have another fine album by the Sounds Of Blackness with inspiring lyrics and soulful music.

Tracklisting of Unity: 1. Unity/ 2. Heaven/ 3. Put the Finger On Me/ 4. Prelude/ 5. Trouble/ 6. Try/ 7. A Second Chance/ 8. They That Wait/ 9. Over My Head/ 10. All God’s Children/ 11. I’m Movin’/ 12. Be Encouraged/ 13. Life | released 2005 SLR Records/ Lightyear

For more infos visit soundsofblackness.com, theblackness.com, slrrecords.net and lightyear.com.

[If you want to discuss the Sounds Of Blackness’ music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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Yewande Evolution


Yewande is really an unique artist. She has this rich and powerful stunning voice and her music defies categorisation. Yewande’s music incorporates influences from blues, soul, funk and rock but yet she really has her own style. Like Nadir or Martha Redbone this may make it hard for her to get recognized by a wider audience via radio or TV play because we all know that the main stations just like to play the safe, tested and meaningless stuff. Actually that was just another reason for me to get rid of my radio and TV set a long time ago. But with the power of word of mouth and internet sites like jazz-not-jazz, I’m sure Yewande will soon find the wider audience she deserves.
A few tracks by Yewande have been available before like Rufus (on the Organic Soul III compilation) or Run (on This Is Soul 2005). Finally she has released Evolution, an EP that’s available via cdbaby.
Unfortunately this EP only features four songs plus Freedom which acts as short intro. But these four full length songs act as a good journey into Yewande’s musical world. Satisfied tells the story of a girl who gets her life back on track after her lover has left her and describes the process of feeling finally content with herself (well, some sort of personal evolution). Musically Satisfied is a raw blend of soul and urban with a sitar as extra attraction.
Have you ever felt lonely, unwanted and lost? Then Blind is your song. In this soul-rock influenced song Yewande puts your whole burden into her voice when she sings “Dear father,/ It’s me/ I’ve been wondering/ Where you’ve been/ Flown around the world/ And back for your love/ Trust and understanding/ Do you know who I am?” at the song’s end. This is one of the most soulful vocal performances I’ve heard this year.
Paranoid finds an angry Yewande criticising the clergy (”Give unto me all of thy wealth/ To satisfy my sweet provisions/ Trust in nothing but iniquity/ The congregation cries, that’s why I’m paranoid“) over an energy-driven rock-funk track.
The soulful Run, some of you may know from the Soul Brother Records release This Is Soul 2005, closes this inspiring debut EP.
If you’re looking for a singer who’s different from the rest and brings back the musical and lyrical depth that’s missing from so many records these days, then Yewande is your new favourite singer.

Tracklisting of Evolution: 1. Freedom/ 2. Satisfied/ 3. Blind/ 4. Paranoid/ 5. Run | released 2005 Lotus Records

For more infos visit yewande.com and cdbaby.com.

[If you want to discuss Yewande’s music, you can leave your comment below and also use the forum]

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an interview with Stuart Wade (Down To The Bone)


Most of the music by the artists interviewed here I only know since the album release reviewed before. With Stuart Wade it’s actually a little bit different. I know his music since he first surfaced as member of Think Twice. Waiting For You was my first record from Think Twice back in 1994 as Maxi CD release on EMI UK. Two years later and the album was finally released on Internal Bass Records. As far as I remember it was available before as Japanese import on Toschiba/EMI only. 1996 also saw the release of Down To The Bone’s debut album From Manhattan To Staten and the rest is, like they say, history. Those of you who are not familiar with Stuart’s music, will be pleased to read that you can listen to two hours of his music next Friday, August 5th, on my weekly internet radio show.
Meanwhile I hope you’ll enjoy the jazz-not-jazz interview with Stuart Wade.

How confident are you with the reactions to the new album so far?

Stuart Wade: I’m very happy with the initial reactions, so far. Most people seem to think it is the best album since Manhattan To Staten. I am glad about that as I feel the same, as with this album, I feel I’ve turned a corner and am more focused in taking the music in the direction I want it to go. I tried not to think about what other people would want it to be and am just doing it for myself. As I am my worst critic, I trust myself to do as best a job as possible. Luckily, so far, Narada are happy to let me do that. I was setting myself up for this album, by doing ‘Cellar Funk’, which helped to steer me this way. I have to be careful not to do things too radically, all at once, I feel I am going on a musical journey and hopefully, those who really like my stuff and understand what DTTB is about will want to come with me. The most important thing is that I am able to enjoy it as much as I can , as that is then reflected in the music. Without trying to sound too pretentious.

Q: On the Internal Bass releases you did some “additional programming” but never appeared on the list of musicians. Why can’t Stuart Wade be heard on DTTB’s music as musician playing an instrument that’s rather unusual for a band?

Stuart Wade: I think you have to look at what DTTB is. It’s mainly a project/production than a full time band. I’m not a musician but really a self taught producer with a lot of ideas which I either relay through others or record on to a Dictaphone for later use. I started this project without knowing how it would turn out, but as I had loads of ideas and was determined to try to make a change, I had to see what would happen. I never really thought it would take off, especially in the US, where my main success has been. I call in session musicians, usually the same guys, as I have grown to trust them and we have established, what I think, is a good working relationship. I then play them my ‘hummed’ ideas or explain what I want to create, as the idea evolves and they include ideas of their won we may then end up co-writing.
When the project started to become more popular I had to look at putting together a live band. Shilts, lead sax player and band leader, helped me to do this. The live band is not made up of the same musicians that I work with in the studio. Mainly because I don’t have the budgets to fly a full UK band over to play most of the one off gigs we get in the US, where most of the live work is. We don’t do full tours but mainly festival gigs, which are at the weekends.

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