Reviews

CONCURRENCE; With Brotherhood (concurrence.bandcamp.com)

Monday, 16 October 2017 15:24 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altConcurrence is a new age jazz duo - bassist Greg Bryant and keyboardist Paul Horton (best known maybe for his work with Grammy award winning Alabama Shakes). Bryant and Horton have worked together on and off for ten years but it's taken till now for them to get round to cutting an album together. For the set, they're joined by percussionist Tommy Crane and trumpeter Rod McGaha.

McGaha's trumpet is featured on just one track, the sombre, mellow 'Shelltoe' and that mellow cool is the album's over riding flavour. Tunes like 'The Ansible', 'Answers', the all-too short 'Cirrus' and 'Inventory' would not be out of place on any of those famed Cafe Del Mar compilations from back in the day. Never bland, they intrigue and relax in the way that the very best chill tunes do. On them all Horton's keys are clear and crystalline – here reminding you of Bob James, there – maybe it's Ramsey Lewis at his delicate best.

'Receiver' is more intriguing. A bassy, bumpy ride this offers accordion fills (or at least electronically- created accordion effects)... continental and cinematic. There are more shades of classic, 60s continental cinema on the haunting 'Think Back' while the most unusual of the album's 12 tracks is the jaunty, avant-garde meander that is 'Use Of Cymbals'.

(BB) 3/5

Last Updated on Monday, 16 October 2017 15:48

 

KING LOUIE’S BLUES REVUE: Live At Riverhouse Jazz (Shoug Records)

Saturday, 14 October 2017 15:35 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altHammond B3 maestro, Louis Pain works as "King Louie" and if you're familiar with his work, you'll understand why he justifies the royal epithet! Consistently his recordings are joyous celebrations of old school soul, blues and soul-jazz. If you're not familiar with his work, may we point you to this, his latest release.

Back in March, Louis brought his seasoned band to Oregon's famed Mt Bachelor Riverhouse Club. A splendid time was had by all and, as important, the set was recorded and has now just been issued for everyone to enjoy.

The album is a ten tracker (well, eleven, but we'll dismiss the closing, very short trombone duel) and the repertoire is a mix of originals and covers. Amongst those covers are rough and authentic versions of Rodger Collins' 'She's Looking Good', the Isleys' 'It's Your Thing' and the evergreens 'Rock Me Baby' and 'I Just Wanna Make Love To You'. They are as you'd expect... tough and for real with plenty of audience participation. There are surprises too.... versions of 'Me And Mrs Jones' and 'Let's Get It On'. Though respectful to the originals, these new takes are a tad more roughly hewn and, you know, no less soulful for that.

Vocals for the show were/are handled by blues award winning Lisa Mann; "Portland's First Lady Of the Blues - LaRhonda Steele and Andy Stokes – an inductee of the Oregon Music Hall Of Fame. Throughout they're supported by Renato Carranto (sax), Danny Armstrong (trombone) Edwin Coleman III (drums), Peter Damian (guitar) and, of course, King Louis himself on his faithful old Hammond B3. Together they concoct a spontaneous, fun-filled celebration of old style soul, blues and funk.

The album is available right now via all the usual outlets.

(BB) 4/5

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 October 2017 15:42

 

VARIOUS: Soul Togetherness 2017 (Expansion)

Friday, 13 October 2017 15:14 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altHard to believe, but the Expansion 'Soul Togetherness' series has been going since 2000! You'd think by now that either compilers-in-chief, Richard Searling and Ralph Tee would have run out of ideas by now or that the availability of quality modern soul would start to dry up. But no! This new 15 tracker offers the same sweep of soul excellence that was apparent in 2000 and, indeed, has been there in every subsequent instalment.

That said, this 2017 edition is a tad different to previous sets. Most 'Togetherness' compilations, though focusing on new, modern soul, often featured one or two choice oldies. Unless my ailing eyes and ears are playing tricks, I think everything here is shiny new and reasonably current. The oldest track on offer is 'Doublin' Down' by The Jack Moves. This first came out in 2015 and since being aired by Richard Searling it's become a massive tune on the modern scene. Rightly so... it's classy, sophisticated and danceable without being frenetic. On most other albums you'd call it a highlight, but here it's just one amongst many. Right now we're loving Paul Craver's 2017 update of the Lou Rawls/Mtume/Lucas song 'Back To You' and Thames River Soul's look at George Benson's 'Love X Love'. Kenny Thomas on vocals on this one, by the way. Kenny and the Thames crew are just one of the several Brit soulsters featured. Others include Georgie B's Groove Association and S.E. L. (Soulful Emma Louise) while the whole album is fronted by 'History' from the Los Charly's Orchestra.... their roots, of course, are in Venezuela, but London's their home now and they really do light up the capital's soul scene. 'History' is a wonderful opening salvo ...upbeat, totally feel good and ultra melodic; add a great vocal and a light disco derived twist and you have a great modern soul recipe.... the recipe that seems to be used for everything here.

We're told that Expansion are about to launch a new compilation series, 'Soul Festival'. Volume 1 is out very soon and we'll bring you a full review asap. Time will tell if the new brand will last as long as 'Togetherness' but my hunch is that with the Expansion team behind it, it will!

(BB) 4/5

Last Updated on Friday, 13 October 2017 15:23

 

DIMITRIS & SULENE; Sparkle (Splash)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 20:45 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSince June we've been treated to a series of fine modern soul singles from a new duo – Dimitris & Sulene. First there was the lovely, light dancer, 'Sparkle'. Then there was the electro-flavoured 80s throwback 'Electric Love' followed by an energized 'Butterfly'. Great stuff... so needing to know more, we discovered that the duo weren't "new" at all. Dimitris (Dimopoulos) turned out to be a Greek born music multi tasker who has worked with people like Steve Gadd, Jeff Lorber, Nathan East and Don Grusin. "Sulene"? Well she is, of course, Sulene Fleming the lead singer with the Brand new Heavies! No wonder those three tunes were so impressive!

Well, now the parent album , named for the 'Sparkle' track', is officially available and it proves that the three "prefaces" were no flashes in the proverbial pan!

There's lots of excellence here but let's start with the throbbing mid-tempo groove that is 'Breathless'. This one is quite lovely and proves (once again) that we Brits can do proper soul just as well as our American cousins. It succeeds here 'cos D&S understand the genre! 'One Of Those Days' and 'After The Show' offer more of the same while if you like things a little more frantic , try 'Funky Inspiration' or 'Let's Stay' - both loaded with retro flavours that will ignite memories of good times past.

There's lots to enjoy here and if you get the chance dig out the remixes of the 'Sparkle' single . The Soulpersonna mix is particulatly strong. Sadly not on the album, but worth the effort to locate.

(BB) 4/5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 October 2017 20:57

 

MUSIC SOULCHILD: Feel The Real (Soulstar Music)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 20:43 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altPhilly new-age soul don Musiq Soulchild (Taalib Johnson) announced this new, epic 2 CD, 24 song album last spring when he released the single 'Start Over'. That cut was (indeed is) a gorgeous, multi-layered, complex modern soul groove. In essence, that's the soundscape of 'Feel The Real' and if 'Start Over' floated your soul boat then you'll be delighted with (most of) the other 23 cuts herein - most notably the album's title cut which opens proceedings here. It offers more of that special soul complexity delivered by a voice that, yes, owes, something to a certain Stevie Wonder, but which is uniquely Musiq's. The 'Feel The Real' track is a collaboration with Marsha Ambrosius, (who also wrote it) and she's just one of an impressive guest list...

Amongst the other invitees are Blaqgxld, Willie Hyn and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Mr Tyson fronts one of the album's real highlights, 'The Moon'. He has a gorgeous speaking voice.... he sounds like an actor (think James Earl Jones) but he's actually a high profile US astrophysicist! He adds real conviction and gravitas to 'The Moon' where both men (singer and scientist) muse about the "multiverse" rather than the "universe". This particular track is one that confirms your faith in nu/neo soul – both intriguing and satisfying. I could listen to this one all day... but there are other delights.

'Simple Things' is sweet and lovely; the beater that is 'Serendipity' is tight and danceable in that Usher kind of way; while 'Like The Weather' is a plaintive ballad.

Elsewhere? Well we've told you that this is a double album and commentators generally agree that doubles are often exercises in self indulgence and in places here you'd tend to agree with that. Cuts like 'Love Me Back' are nothing special; ditto those that feature Mr Johnson's alter ego The Husel.

There's one great album lurking here amongst these 24 tracks, but if you'll excuse me I need to go to 'The Moon' one more time.

(BB) 3/5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 October 2017 20:58

 

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