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Reviews: Future Jazz / Soul


Review: Dâm-Funk Rhythm Trax Vol. 4

Label: Stones Throw

Jazz fusion always sounded ahead of its time, so it’s no surprise that this album, which echoes that genre, has such a futuristic sheen. Dâm-Funk (the first word is pronounced “dame”) goes for an electro-funk-boogie fusion of his own, crafting a skittering, kinetic amalgamation on this fourth installment of Stones Throw’s Rhythm Trax series. For all his forward-looking playfulness, though, he still uses analog synths and older drum machines. If ’80s funk had skipped a couple of decades into the future, it just might sound like this. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Protected: Massive Samples

Label: Rapster

Massive Attack's sample secrets have been revealed—this 12-dose album of classic funk, reggae, soul, and hip-hop contains many of the spacey atmospherics and classic breaks utilized by the pioneering trip-hop gang. Isaac Hayes’ epic “Ike's Mood" was mined for Blue Lines’ "One Love,” while the classic drum break from James Brown’s "I'm Glad You're Mine" was put to work on Protection’s "Better Things." Also included are John Holt's "Man Next Door" and William De Vaughn's "Be Thankful for What You've Got," both of which Massive Attack reimagined and covered. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists BKLYN: Heavy Sounds from the County of Kings

Label: Bastard Jazz

By the time The Real World comes to town, it’s usually a safe bet that a city has jumped the shark. Yet this compilation proves that not even MTV reality shows can ruin Brooklyn’s music scene. Dispensing with over-hyped indie rock, BKLYN focuses on the borough’s Afro-Latin, soul, funk, and dub sounds. Read more » 

Review: Lars Horntveth Kaleidoscopic

Label: Smalltown Supersound

The simple fact that Kaleidoscopic consists of a single, 37-minute composition makes this an intimidating record. Admittedly striving for grandiosity, Horntveth has created something that, purely in terms of scope, quickly surpasses his debut album, Pooka, and his usual work with Jaga Jazzist. This is post-rock writ large... and created in collaboration with the 41 members of the Latvian National Orchestra. Read more » 

Review: The Lafayette Afro-Rock Band Darkest Light

Label: Strut

Even in the chock-full annals of rare-groove samples, The Lafayette Afro-Rock Band looms large. You don’t have to be a hip-hop head to recognize the opening sax on “Darkest Light,” made into a cultural milestone by Public Enemy and a thousand followers. But there’s a reason crate-diggers latched onto Lafayette albums—these 1970s U.S.-to-Paris transplants were churning out some of the funkiest records in the Western world. Influenced by their North African-immigrant neighborhood, Lafayette helped spawn an entire industry of neo-Afro beats for everyone from Chuck D to Wu-Tang. Read more » 

Review: The Bird and the Bee Rayguns Are Not Just the Future

Label: Blue Note

From the outrageously lush to the sublime, from Brazilian baroque to saucy soundtrack, The Bird and the Bee–L.A. duo Inara George and Greg Kurstin–make music that alternately teases and troubles the mind’s innate pop sensors. On Ray Guns, the pair draws upon the most innovative femme-fronted jazz-pop of yesteryear–Tropicalismo, ye-ye, Bacharach, and David–and injects it with a steadying dose of subtle electronics. Read more » 

Review: Tribe Tribe

Label: Community Projects-Planet E

Not a Carl Craig record, though it has the stamp of the famed Detroit techno producer throughout, the Tribe’s new full-length is a near-perfect record for the times. By standing behind the politics of love in an age of global dread, that jazz remains an on-message American art form. The mood set here is solemn; the spacey abstract expressionism of the original group’s pioneering early 1970s material is largely absent, their sound re-shaped into a neo-traditional funk-jazz package. Read more » 

Review: Jazzanova Of All the Things

Label: Verve

Though Jazzanova has graduated from underground club mavens to major-label employees, the boys from Berlin haven’t completely lost their edge. Often accused of being “too smooth,” they’re still capable of crafting gems within their framework of meticulously arranged jazz/soul/world beats. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Eccentric Soul: The Young Disciples

Label: Numero Group

It only takes a few bars of LaVel Moore’s “The World is Changing” to remember that the Numero Group is amongst the most prescient archivists of American music working today. “Changing” could be an Obama-era cry of hopeful civility—the fact that it was recorded in the drug-and-gang-ravaged streets of 1970s East St. Louis, Illinois just shows that music needn’t be known to prove timeless. This Eccentric installment explores East St. Louis’ Young Disciples—a program that replaced needles and guns with guitars and song amongst ’70s “at risk” youths. Read more » 

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