Review: The first release from the Axis Audiophile Series. Jeff Mills has formed an electronic jazz fusion band and this 12? is a recording of their recent performance in Kobe during the TodaysArt.JP Festival. Mills manages the decks, drums and percussion and is joined Detroit legend and Underground Resistance stalwart Gerald Mitchell (Los Hermanos/Galaxy 2 Galaxy), keyboardist Yumiko Ohno and bassist Kenji Jino. "Eventide" has the same kind of urban, uplifting soul as anything Kaidi Thatham or Mark de Clive-Lowe have made and isn't bad at all! On the flip "Happy Gamma Ray" features uplifting keys and emotive chords backed by funk bass and one of Mills' unmistakeable 909 drum machine workouts. It really seems that there's no limit to this Motor City legend's creativity which has spanned nearly 30 years and we're excited about this new chapter in the Wizard's sonic universe.
Disco Baby (Floating Points & Red Greg edit) (3:55)
Review: If online chatter is to be believed, this tasty 7" from Floating Points' Melodies label is one of the most keenly anticipated disco releases of the year. For starters, the A-side boasts an obscure (but in demand) solo production from Manhattan Transfer keyboardist Yaron Gershovsky. "Disco Baby" is a prime chunk of jaunty, jazz-funk influenced disco-funk, the keyboardist's own jammed-out riffs and solos taking pride of place in the mix alongside punchy horns and a lolloping groove. Arguably even better, though, is Floating Points and Red Greg's flipside re-edit, which plays around with the original version's all-too-short drum break before letting the synths, keys and horns really sparkle.
Hwe Hwe Mu Na Yi Wompena (Ben Gomori Message Of Love edit) (7:15)
Hwe Hwe Mu Na Yi Wompena (Ben Gomori Message Of Love live dub) (5:56)
Review: Afrobeat revivalists Yaaba Funk are getting a welcome new lease of life here, as the Sterns Edits crew turns in a trio of fresh reworks from their largely overlooked 2010 album "Afrobeast". Contemporary broken beat hero Danvers handles side A, turning in a swinging, hot-stepping revision of sun-kissed juju number "Oman Foa" that adds just the right amount of modern dancefloor clout to an otherwise perfect Afro-soul workout. Over on side B, Ben Gomori offers up two versions of "Hwe Hwe Mu Na Yi Wompena": a spacey Afrobeat/Afro-disco style peak-time "Message of Love Edit" and the arguably superior - and certainly impressively bass-heavy - "Message of Love Live Dub".
Review: Yadava made a sterling debut appearance last year with the fully realised "It Rains Here" album on Church, and now he's following up that strong start with this equally excellent four tracker for Ad Hoc. The Manchester-based artist leads in with the natural bump and flex of "Grapefruits" and his jazzy chops are plain to hear throughout. "Heart Strings" lets spiritual strings and plenty of reverb shape out a misty mood that it's impossible to resist, while "Camomile Samba" brings a more uptempo feel to his honey-coated production. "Go Slow" finishes the record off on a supremely mellow beat down for those oh-so-sweet chill moments after the party.
Review: It would be fair to say that Timi Yuro's "As Long As There Is You" is a sought-after single. Something of a "holy grail" amongst soul collectors, original copies of the 1969 7" on Liberty Records regularly change hands for upwards of 1,000 quid. Happily, you can now acquire a fresh copy for a fraction of the cost thanks to this facsimile Expansions reissue. Fuzzy, heartfelt, stomping and blessed with wall of sound style production, "As Long As There Is You" is the kind of sad-but-happy track that used to make Northern Soul dancers go weak at the knees. Yuro's Central American influences can be heard loud and clear on "It'll Never Be Over For Me", where Mariachi style trumpet lines and sweeping strings rise above a heavy, bossa-influenced groove.
Review: Upon his death in 1996, many within the jazz community heaped fulsome praise on Shoji Yokouchi. To this day, he remains one of Japan's finest jazz guitarists; a dexterous and inventive guitarist capable of playing immaculate, blues-inspired solos on both electric and acoustic guitars. Proof of his skills is provided by this reissue of Greensleeves, an album he recorded in 1978 alongside his regular "Trio" and organist Yuri Tashiro. Musically, the album offers an attractive blend of jazz-funk, "trad" and fusion tracks laden with impeccable solos from both Yokouchi and Tashiro. The best combination of the two players' styles can be found on "Misty", a fine blend of undulating fairground organ flourishes and evocative Spanish guitar.
Review: Hozan Yamamoto is a widely revered figure in Japan, and a true icon of the seventies jazz scene. This album from 1971 is one of this best and a seminal work that effortlessly floats through fusion, soul and big band styles and has been basically impossible to buy in original format. Trust Mr Bongo to come correct with this fully licensed version which features his trademark flute playing and finds the maestro in a soaring, uplifting mood here. Big brass adds weight to his leads while well formed grooves drive the album along. Add in subtle Japanese stylings and it all adds up to a J jazz classic.
Review: Back in 1976, Retta Young - previously a member of 60s soul group The Superbs - recorded and released her sole debut album, Young & Restless. For some time, that set has been in-demand amongst soul and disco collectors, with pristine copies changing hands for hundreds online. Happily, Expansions have put together this licensed reissue. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the simmering strings and heart-aching vocals of slow jam "Now or Never", to the ultra-sweet bliss of "We're So in Love", via the Philadelphia International style brilliance of "My Love is on His Way" and emotion-rich "Let's Make Up For Lost Time".