Review: Boom: three years, three albums. No biggie for Bristol duo The Allergies, Jalapeno's biggest success story since Kraak & Smaak. Each album shows them getting deeper into the groove, creeping away from the cheeky samples and sculpting their own pedigree funk originals. With Ugly Ducking Andy Cooper onside through the mix from the wild ride vibing "Fade Away" to the white knuckle lyrical fire of "Run It Back", there's a real band feeling to the whole album as familiar voices thread throughout the jams... including that of UK hip hop legend Dr Syntax.
Review: Don't be fooled by the smoky jazzy horns on the intro: The Allergies are still at the front of the party queue! They were just lulling us into a false sense of security before hitting us with a precision range of big soul swingers and dynamite party killers; both "Hold You Close" and "Since You've Been Gone" pop with big beat bangs, "Entitled To That" stamps and sweats like Wigan Pier is still holding the best dances in the country, "Main Event" parps and pumps while long-standing affiliate Andy Cooper reminds us who's boss while "It Won't Be Me" (also with Cooper) is coded with so much horn and guitar powered gusto you could be fooled into thinking Ugly Duckling are back. Yet another triumphant album from one of Jalapeno's most exciting acts.
Review: Joe Armon-Jones has been a driving force in the resurgence of contemporary jazz and now makes something of a victory lap with this new album on the always essential Brownswood. It's a very modern mix of bass and dub, du jour club culture and his own jazz styles featuring peers like Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Frankly, the whole record is silky, starry-eyed and sublime and the excellent artwork also hist at the cosmic subtleties of this album, but our picks of the bunch are the neo-soul, summery stroll through the park vibes of "Yellow Dandelion", "Gnawa Sweet" which glows with mellifluous Rhodes chords and the uncompromising yet accessible sax and big brass action of album highlight "You Didn't Care".
Review: Massive reissue incoming! BBE have answered many of our prayers with this long awaited repress of Roy's 1983 disco funk excursion "Silver Vibrations". A record that's currently fetching triple figures, this is the first time it's been repressed since it was released. Opening with the iconic whispered message of "Chicago", Roy takes us on a trip through his funkiest of quarters; the salubrious slap bass of "Lots Of Love", the Afrobeat staccato vocals and glock rocking vibrancy of "Silver Vibrations" and the dreamy cosmic jazz trip of "DC City" are just some of the highlights, all shared across the 12"s with no more than two tracks per side. Vibes that can't be slept on.
Review: It naturally took the remaining members of Azymuth a few years to come to terms with the passing of keyboard wizard and shining light Jose Roberto Bertrami. Fenix is their first album since his death in 2012, and sees original members Ivan Conti and Alex Malheiros being joined by guest keys-man Kiko Continentino. Happily, he's ever bit as capable on the electric piano as Bertrami, guaranteeing that Fenix sounds every bit as magical as the trio's original 1970s work. As usual, the music effortlessly blends jazz-funk, samba, disco, and synth-funk flavours, resulting in a sun-kissed set of tracks that sounds every bit as magical, summery and dancefloor friendly as their greatest material. We'd say it was a return to form, but they've been consistently good for 40-odd years.
Review: Based around bassist/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and pianist/producer Adrian Younge, The Midnight Hour shot to prominence last year with a self-titled debut album that was rapturously received by critics and listeners alike. Since then they've been touring extensively, so it makes sense that their latest full-length effort captures the energy and improvisation of those headline-grabbing performances. Complete with whooping crowd noise, the set sees them effortlessly join the dots between jazz-funk, classic-sounding soul, library music and hip-hop soul with the assistance of guest vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz. The former stars on the album's standout moment: a set closing extended version of slow-burn favourite "It's You".
Dans Us Moment D'errance (feat Laetitia Sadier, Questlove, Keyon Harrold)
Together Again (feat No ID, James Poyser)
Love Is Free (feat Eryn Allen Kane)
Feel Alive (feat Karolina, Loren Oden)
There Is No Greater Love (feat Loren Oden, Saudia Yasmein)
Review: As foretold on Kendrick's Untitled two years ago, composer Younge and Tribe Called Quest's Muhammad have been conjuring behind for many years (since 2014 to be precise, on Souls Of Mischief's album There Is Only Now) and Midnight Hour is the incredible result. 20 tracks of ageless Harlem wisdom; the warmth and fusion is rich throughout as we glide from each soulful moment to jazzy highlight with the help of vocalists such as Cee-Lo Green, Luther Vandross and Angela Munoz. Everything about this body of work smacks with class and authenticity; from the sweeping orchestral dynamics of "Gate 54" to the dreamy lo-fi jazz of "Smiling For Me" via the soul jazz vibrancy of "Dans Us Moment D'errance". The night is young...