Review: Helmed by The Haggis Horns saxophonist Rob Mitchell, the Abstract Orchestra is a "hip-hop big band" from Leeds that specializes in jazz-fired cover versions of classic head-nodding beats. Having first impressed with a set of J Dilla interpretations in 2017, last year they turned their attention to Madlib and MF Doom's collaborative Madvillain project. As the title suggests "Madvillain 2" picks up where its predecessor left off, offering up sumptuously orchestrated, funk-fuelled and jazz-wise takes on such familiar cuts as "Meat Grinder", "Rainbows", 'Fire In The Hole" and "Operation Lifesaver". There's a tasty bonus cut, too, in the shape of the Abstract Orchestra's remix of their collab with Dabrye and MF Doom (yes, that MF Doom), "Air".
Review: This time last year, French combo Cotonete joined forces with Brazilian singer Di Melo to deliver what became one of the sleeper hits of last summer - the Latin disco/jazz-funk fusion of "A.E.I.O.U.". Here they continue their partnership with a first collaborative full length. It's a quietly impressive outing, with Di Melo's distinctive vocals rising above cuts that variously doff a cap to sultry Brazilian disco-funk, Azymuth-esque jazz-funk, soundtrack-friendly cinematic soundscapes, Astrud Gilberto style sweetness and humid salsa-funk (standout "Kilario (2019 Version)". It's a warm, loose and hazy set that feels authentically South American despite its Parisian roots.
Review: Before finding fame as part of the extended Rhythm Section International family, Peckham beat-maker Al Dobson Jr. caught listeners' attention via the IZWID released "Sounds From The Village Volume One". Five years on, he's finally produced a sequel. Like its' predecessor, "Volume 2" contains a dizzying number of short-but-sweet workouts that mix-and-match elements of blazed instrumental hip-hop, tropical drum music, bass-heavy electronica, jaunty jazz-funk, dusty jazz, dub riddims, spaced-out soundscapes and almost Balearic musical positivity. With short tracks coming and going at a furious pace, it's sometimes hard to keep up with Dobson's imagination let alone what's coming out of the speakers. That, though, is undeniably a good thing, because "Sounds From The Village Volume 2" sparkles from start to finish.
Mm Mm (feat Angelique Kidjo & Roundhouse Choir) (4:11)
Snowfire (feat Bugge Wesseltoft) (5:17)
Ricochet (feat Dennis 'Funkybone' Rollins) (3:14)
Why Yellow (feat Rob Auton) (3:17)
Hypothetical (feat James Taylor) (3:37)
Netsanet (feat Mulatu Astatke) (5:44)
Without You (feat YVA) (3:32)
Crushing Lactic (Comp Tom Rogerson) (3:55)
What's Gone Before (feat Pete Wareham) (4:03)
Climbing Up My Own Life Until I Die (feat Rob Auton) (9:37)
Derashe (feat Mulatu Astatke) (6:12)
Review: Famed for their New Orleans style brass band covers - most notably a riotous Prodigy medley and tasty takes on Toto's "Africa" and Blackstreet's "No Diggidy" - the Hackney Colliery Band has decided to do things differently on their latest full-length excursion. As the title suggests, "Collaborations Volume 1" sees them join forces with a dizzying array of artists from the worlds of jazz, soul, funk, Afrobeat and hip-hop. The results are uniformly excellent, with highlights including the Afro-gospel brilliance of Angelique Kidjo and Roundhouse Choir hook-up "Mm Mm", the sunrise Afro-jazz breeze of Netsanet (featuring Mulatu Astatke), and the urgent stomp of percussion-laden workout "Crushing Lactic" with Tom Rogerson.
Melvin Sparks - "If You Want My Love" (with Jimmy Scott) (3:56)
Smith & The Honey Badgers - "The Billionaire Strut" (3:31)
Skyy - "Call Me" (3:55)
Space Invadas - "Done It Again" (3:40)
Osaka Monoaurail - "No Trouble On The Mountain" (feat Shirley Davis) (3:15)
Ann Sexton & The Baltic Soul Orchestra - "You're Losing Me" (3:29)
Marc Gregor - "Mabusso" (2:30)
Misumani - "Prove Your Love" (feat First Touch) (4:02)
Laura Vane & The Vipertones - "Man Of Your Word" (3:15)
Jack Hammer - "Swim" (3:23)
Sons Of Time - "Before Sundown" (feat J-Live) (4:01)
Sam Krats - "Revive Rap" (feat El Da Sensei & Gee Bag - Jim Sharp remix) (4:46)
Djar One - "The Get Down" (feat Andy Cooper) (3:43)
J Rawls presents The Liquid Crystal Project - "A Tribute To Troy" (5:15)
Review: In 2008, German label Unique asked crate-digging party starters Soulinus and Pun to put together the first volume in their "This is DJs Choice" compilation series. Only one further instalment - with tracks selected by Keb Darge and Lucinda Slim - appeared before the series was shelved. Happily, Unique has decided to re-launch it, with Marc Hype and DJ Suspect in charge of the track list. They've done a bang up job, all told, offering up a sizzling, 16-track selection that giddily sprints between steel band reggae (Hollie Cook), soul-jazz (Melvin Sparks), heavy funk (Smith & The Honey Badgers, Osaka Monoaurail), boogie (Skyy), Afro-latin heaviness (Marc Gregor), stomping Northern Soul (Jack Hammer) and head-nodding hip-hop (Sons Of Time, Benjamin & The Dreamdancers).
Review: Given that the original pressing of Medline's wholehearted tribute to A Tribe Called Quest sold out in record time earlier this year, this speedy repress is more than welcome. The album's genius lies in the French producer's imaginative, fusion style approach. Each of the eight tracks is loosely based not only on the ATCQ tracks that inspired Medline as a youth, but also on the original jazz, soul, funk and jazz-funk cuts the legendary New York crew sampled on them. As a result, while some of the live beats and grooves sail close to hip-hop, the resulting music is closer in sound and style to jazz. In other words, boundaries are brilliantly blurred and the results are consistently spellbinding.
Review: David Hanke's Renegades Of Jazz project has been relatively successfully in achieving its initial aims, namely "bringing the jazz back to the dancefloor". After a three-year hiatus Hanke and company are back with a new album, "Nevertheless" - a funk-fuelled romp through bustling breakbeats, elastic double bass, fuzzy Stax style horns, jammed out piano lines and groovy guitar riffs. Hanke has roped in a number of guest vocalists and collaborators to put their stamp on the set, with stellar contributions from rapper Donnie Numeric (the hip-hop/jazz/funk fusion of "Hot Wired"), soul singer Clair Fallows (see the punchy floor-rocker "Light Me Up") and Afrika Fuentes (check the tropical funk brilliance of "Don't Break My Love").
Review: This debut album from Jo'burg via Doncaster's Skinny Pelembe comes with a weight of expectation. The distinctive soul maverick has been turning heads with his output on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings for the past two years, and now he's come good on the promise of those singles and EPs with a wonderful, many-sided LP that oozes personality, depth, and a dusty, hand-wrought musicality that hits on an instinctive level. There are flurries of broken beats, low slung wood-carved percussion, rugged neo soul and weather-beaten funk aplenty, with the lines between organic and electronic beautifully blurred. This album deserves to be huge, positioning Pelembe as a vital new talent in the vanguard of UK soul music.
In London (feat Robert Glasper - interlude) (2:49)
Lazy Daze (feat Robert Glasper) (7:29)
Colors Change (6:21)
Review: Hailing from New Orleans, Tank & The Bangas have a history of joining the dots between hip-hop, soul, funk and the city's horn-powered jazz history. "Green Balloon", the delayed sequel to impressive 2013 debut "Think Tank", delivers a similarly impressive blend of past, present and future fusion, with highlights including the off-kilter hip-hop soul of "Spaceships", the warm and woozy Rhodes-powered shuffle of "Ants", the quirky jauntiness of "Forgetfulness" and the Fugees style soulful deepness of "I Don't Get High". Lauded jazz pianist Robert Glasper is amongst a high class list of guest musicians, with his contributions - particularly the loose and languid live hip-hop of "Lazy Daze" - counting among the album's standout moments.