"I've been focused on who I am in my music, but now I'm exploring where I am," Alfa Mist says. "I'm asking: how did I get here?"
This is the journeying question that underpins Alfa's fifth album, Variables. Traversing luscious, big band swing, head-nodding boom-bap rhythms and yearning vocal melodies, the record is expansive, soulful and moving, in both body and spirit. On Variables, his second release for ANTI-, Alfa achieves his most fully-realised, expressive musical work to date, coupling his keen ear for looping,
memorably emotive piano melodies with intuitive grooves and a free-flowing jazz improvisation.
Since the release of his first full-length project Nocturne in 2015, Alfa has established himself as one of the UK’s most focused, in- demand and distinct musical voices. He has worked with the likes of Jordan Rakei and Tom Misch. Artists look to him for his unique blend of intimate bedroom production and expansive jazz group orchestration, since Alfa is yet to be boxed into a specific genre. His music spans everything from hip-hop beat-making to producing for artists such as rapper Loyle Carner, composing neo-classical works for the London Contemporary Orchestra, and reworking tracks from composer Ólafur Arnalds and pioneering jazz label Blue Note. The return to live shows has been a welcome one for Alfa and his fans, resulting in an extensive tour throughout UK and Europe. Including a sold-out headline show at the Barbican in London. Alfa Mist will be touring Europe, UK and North America in 2023 again.
It is a balance between feeling and perfectionism that ultimately gives Alfa’s music its depth and capacity for repeated listening. It is also an ethos that has enabled his remarkable work-ethic to date. "I've never been a ‘one album every four years’ artist – I want to put out new projects every year," he says. "Music is an extension of my life; it is the practice of creating.''
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"I've been focused on who I am in my music, but now I'm exploring where I am," Alfa Mist says. "I'm asking: how did I get here?"
Scottish jazz trumpeter Malcolm Strachan releases his second solo album "Point Of No Return" on Haggis Records on 27th January 2023. A follow-up to his debut album "About Time" from March 2020 (also on Haggis Records), which received great critical acclaim and strong radio support across the globe. Once again, Malcolm delivers an album of original music written by himself and featuring material covering a broad spectrum of jazz styles. From modal jazz grooves to Brazilian samba beats, Latin rhythms to cinematic soundtrack vibes, and along the way, some beautiful ballads.
If the first album nodded slightly to mid-late 1960s classic Blue Note Records type jazz, this one is more reminiscent of the jazz fusion albums that Malcolms's jazz trumpet hero Freddie Hubbard recorded for the legendary CTI Records label in the early-mid 1970s. The same groove-based jazz where soul and funk beats are at the heart of the arrangement. Rock solid rhythms that allow complex horn parts and improvisation to float over the top with ease. The ensemble playing is strong and the leader's trumpet solos show why he's been one of the most in-demand session musicians in the UK for the last 20 years.
He's recorded and toured with the likes of Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamiroquai, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Jess Glynne, The Craig Charles Fantasy Funk Band, Black Honey, The New Mastersounds, Abstract Orchestra and Blue Note Records jazz saxophone legend Lou Donaldson. Of course, he's also a founder and existing band member of the UK funk kings The Haggis Horns.
The core band on "Point Of No Return" are musicians that Malcolm has known and worked with for over two decades, often in The Haggis Horns, and most appeared on the debut album. Those musicians making a welcome return are Atholl Ransome (tenor sax/flute), George Cooper (piano), Danny Barley (trombone), Courtny Tomas, (double bass), and Erroll Rollins (drums). Newcomers this time are longtime Haggis Horns guest percussionist Sam Bell plus special guest vocalist UK jazz singer Jo Harrop, who adds non-verbal Flora Purim style vocals on tracks one and three. Three tracks feature strings, arranged by Phil Steel, with all the strings played by Richard Curran. One of the tracks is the beautifully poignant ballad for strings and trumpet "The Last Goodbye" which could easily have come from a film soundtrack and where Malcolm digs deep into his love for jazz ballads in his solo.
"Point Of No Return" by Malcolm Strachan will definitely appeal to lovers of contemporary acoustic jazz with a classic jazz feel. For those who love the music of Blue Note Records and CTI Records and trumpeters Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Art Farmer, and Miles Davis. Without a doubt, it will be one of the standout UK jazz releases of 2023.Get it here
Famed for his prolific creative partnership with fellow Impressions member Curtis Mayfield, bassist Johnny Pate comes into his own here on one of the most critically acclaimed film soundtracks and score to come out of 1970's Hollywood. Released in 1973 on the Perception label and coming a year after Pate's collaboration with Mayfield on the iconic Superfly soundtrack, Brother On The Run launched Pate as a go to film score composer. Indeed, this album led him to be commissioned write the score and soundtrack for the Blaxploitation classic Shaft In Africa.
Something of an auteur soundtrack Pate not only composed every track he also did all the arrangements, produced the album and conducted the orchestra in the recordings. His selection of musicians to feature on the album reads like a who's who of African American Jazz and RnB greats starting with the inspired choice of selecting Adam Wade to sing the title track. Add into the mix the likes of James Mtume and James Beck; two musicians who have worked with Gato Barbieri, Miles Davis, Carlos Franzetti, James Brown, Lonnie Liston Smith, Wes Montgomery, Carlos Garnett and Eddie Henderson amongst others and you get a clear sense of how good this album is.
Now available from BBE Music, this re-issue of the original soundtrack of Brother On The Run not only showcases Johnny Pate's creative genius as a composer, songwriter and arranger, it also combines heart rending Soul with the bass heavy Funk driven sound that would ring the changes for African American RnB to be much more Afrocentric, more political, more hard edged and ...well... just more damn funky.
Revered composer, pianist, DJ and two decade-long bridge between jazz, dance and hip-hop, Mark de Clive-Lowe (MdCL), links up with influential drummer/producer/DJ, Shigeto and Brooklyn-based, Haitian-rooted, flautist/songwriter and Verve Records artist - Melanie Charles on Hotel San Claudio, a collaborative LP of spiritual jazz, live deconstructed beats, and a three-track set of Pharoah Sanders reinterpretations.
'Strings' speaks to the group’s love of hip-hop, with Shigeto’s Dilla-esque ‘hanging off the beat’ slap and Melanie Charles’ deft rhymes and MdCL’s sample-chops, whilst 'Kanazawa' references a love of soulful house, with Charles’ 70s disco/fusion-tipping flute solo, leading into a euphoric and climactic club outro. The warrior-themed Bushido, first heard on MdCL’s album Heritage, leans even heavier on 70s jazz fusion as MdCL’s unruly synth impulsions and Donald Byrd-leaning soul-jazz production strides the line between atmospheric and experimental. MFT showcases Charles’ jazz vocals, treated here with big reverbs and delays, affording a vast, celestial quality that stands present throughout Hotel San Claudio.
One musician the group kept circling back to as a major influence was saxophone titan and cosmic sage, Pharoah Sanders. The trio’s absorbing 2-part versioning of Sanders’ 30m-long classic ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ as well as his iconic ‘Love Is Everywhere’ become the centrepiece of Hotel San Claudio’s spiritually-focused, reimagined jazz core.
Originally commissioned by Rio Sakairi for The Jazz Gallery’s 2020 Artist Fellowship Series, Corridors features eight original compositions and one new arrangement of a beloved tune from the Bobby Hutcherson canon (“Isn’t This My Sound Around Me?”). Born during the pandemic lockdown, the record focuses on posing outward questions instead of inward contemplation. “I often write about something that I’m going through,” says Scott, “but for this record I wanted to zoom out from my perspective and instead, try to deal with everyone’s. The pandemic forced everyone to deal with the shadows they had been running from.”
Corridors reflects a shared intimacy and spotlights a different aspect of Scott’s expression in the pared down trio setting. A conceptual question emerged around loss: “What was taken away from everybody? What did you lose?” For Scott, who serves as album producer, this question became the impetus for assembling the album’s instrumentation. To create a truly empathetic musical gesture, he chose to abandon what he loves most: “In my band Oracle, it’s pretty much built around the guitar and the piano. I thought what I could do in aural form is take away those two instruments.”
From that intrinsically transitory point of origin — and the discomfort of loss — Scott allowed the music to develop, on the page and inside the studio. Over the course of the album, he and his fellow artists transform tension building into a nuanced art form. Summoning waves of harmonic dimension from the drum kit, he shifts between creating atmospheric spaces for Smith and Rogers to explore and plunging into those spaces himself.
“One of my strengths is creating a harmonic space for groups,” says Scott, “And the trio afforded me even more space so I too could be freer to interpret all the layers. Reuben navigates the world in such a genuine and loving way and his playing is a reflection of that. He’s the glue element — grounding and uplifting. And Walter has this sound that’s always been so beautiful and inspiring to me. Of my peers, Walter’s always been a guiding light.”More info here
In the mid-to-late 1960s, Chambers played drums for numerous Blue Note luminaries appearing on some of the decade’s most progressive albums including Bobby Hutcherson’s Components and Happenings, Wayne Shorter’s Adam’s Apple, Freddie Hubbard’s Breaking Point, Joe Henderson’s Mode for Joe, Sam Rivers’ Contours, Andrew Hill’s Andrew!!!, Donald Byrd’s Fancy Free, and many more.
The label’s owners – Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff – offered Chambers a chance to record his own album for Blue Note during that fertile period, but he was riding so high on recording and touring with so many jazz greats that he declined the opportunity. Chambers eventually did release his own Blue Note debut Mirrors in 1998 featuring trumpeter Eddie Henderson, saxophonist Vincent Herring, pianist Mulgrew Miller, and bassist Ira Coleman. He returned to the label in 2021 with the Brazilian Jazz inspired album Samba de Maracatu.More info here
According to Mishulino:
"I'd like to thank all the musicians involved, we had lots of fun recording this. Respect and much love to all of you! <3 Jules for believing in this project and for the hookups, Lucas for giving a helping hand for pressing this on vinyl, and Mangust for mixing the project with me.
Get the vinyl here
This project is dedicated to the memory of my big brother Dr. Dato Cicishvili. Rest In Peace and harmony my dear friend!"
For the past 20 years Nostalgia 77 has become a catch all for the musical life of Benedic Lamdin. His schizophrenic offerings range from songwriting sessions, soundtracks, excursions into Soul and in this case Jazz. The Loneliest Flower in the Village is an album that sees Lamdin reunited with longtime collaborator and arranger Riaan Vosloo and experienced veterans from a host of Nostalgia 77 projects.
'It had been a long time since we'd gigged or recorded so the idea was as much a little reunion in the studio as any grand plan to record an album' says Lamdin. 'The idea wasn't to do anything new (the material is both a few originals and a few covers), more just hear these players and their easy familiarity with each other after the disruption of Covid'.
Playing a clutch of originals by Riaan Vosloo and James Allsopp and covers by long term influences from South Africa such as Chris MacGregor and Abdullah Ibrahim, the emphasis is on strong melodies and open reaches for the soloists. The title track draws upon the song written by South African bassist Johnny Dyani and the result is spectacular; British jazz at heart but awash with references to South Africa and its strong jazz heritage.
'I'm pleased to say that I think this record is the best account of how the band (playing in this lineup since about 2010 ) sounds live. Full of energy and ranging from serene to firing on all cylinders.'
Another great release by Music on Vinyl!
A prized nugget from British jazz history gets a much-needed reissue, as Harry Beckett's Flare Up gets the treatment as part of Decca's British Jazz Explosion series. Originally released in 1970, Flare Up is but one release from Beckett's expansive six-decade career, but it demonstrates everything brilliant about the virtuoso trumpeter. Listen out especially for the seriously funky 'Third Road', which has enjoyed additional attention on compilations and the like, but of course the whole album is essential listening for anyone interested in the evolution of jazz in Britain.Order here!
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Maestro at Curaçao
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Maestro at Bonaire
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