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Reviews: Future Jazz / Soul

 
 

Review: Various Artists The Roots of Hip-Hop: From Church to Gangsta

Label: Harte

When considering the origins of hip-hop, few look past the Sugar Hill Records era or the Bronx block parties of the ’70s. But the relatively unknown Harte label is attempting to broaden the discussion with The Roots of Hip Hop. This 26-song set collects slices of country blues, boogie-woogie, and acappella church talk–all from the 1930s to 1950s. On the whole, this historic black music is great, yet some selections (like doo-wop love ballad “The Letter”), while enjoyable, have little connection to hip-hop. Read more » 

Review: Alice Russell Pot of Gold

Label: Six Degrees

Joss who? Amy who? Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Compost Dreihundert: Freshly Composted Vol. 3

Label: Compost

For its 300th release, and the third installment of its Freshly Composted sampler-style collection series, Compost Records proves once again that electronic neo- and dance-jazz not only deserves to remain on our musical radar, but might just be a beacon–not a blip. Compost’s signature warm, augmented chords and loping dance beats appear on tracks like Alif Tree’s “Mai” and Beanfield’s “Tides,” and Eddy Meets Yannah’s “Solid Ground” has that spiritual crescendo that Body & Soul would’ve died for. Read more » 

Review: Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins Clutch of the Tiger

Pick
Label: Ubiquity

Taking a break from his regular Ping Pong Orchestra moniker, Shawn Lee collaborates with the mysterious, and possibly fictitious Mojave Desert-dweller Clutchy Hopkins on Clutch of the Tiger. Regardless of who the supposedly elderly multi-instrumentalist Hopkins is, he and Lee make amazingly textured lo-fi tunes together. These jazz-inspired downtempo tracks are weirdly wonderful, pulling listeners in with the murky melodies created with dusty keys, sitars, accordions, and an abundance of random instrumentation. Read more » 

Review: Azymuth Butterfly

Label: Far Out

While heralded for bringing a unique edge to the jazz-electronica fusion scene in Brazil, Azymuth unsurprisingly sounds like shades of Weather Report and Earth, Wind, and Fire. The only thing is, this is 2008, not 1978, around the time the band first formed. What has been impressive about Azymuth is the remixes of their material, and indeed, even on their latest, there are some fine contributions of saxophones and drums. But the basslines sound like smooth jazz muzak, and the repetitive vocal mantras are laughable. Read more » 

Review: Nuspirit Helsinki Our Favorite Things

Label: Backdrop

Though it's been a while since we've heard from this collaboration between Finnish DJs and producers, it’s exciting to see them return, even if not with their own music. Our Favorite Things is a handpicked compilation of, well, as the title suggests, songs they really like. And if you are a fan of the jazz undertones in their tasteful electronic hybrids, chances are you’ll appreciate these 10 tracks. The opening marimba-and-vibraphone pairing of Aisha Duo on “Beneath an Evening Sky” is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Read more » 

Review: Nightmares on Wax Thought so...

Label: Warp

What exactly Nightmares on Wax–or George Evelyn, the project‘s main force–“thought” never gets brought up on this, the project‘s sixth album. But the downtempo cuts here, derived from reggae, jazz, ambient, and breakbeat, are all about not thinking, about letting yourself into a deep groove and staying there for a while. At that point, the problem isn‘t so much the production quality, which is consistently excellent, so much as the sleepy factor. Some tracks avoid that handily, like the funky “Moretime,” which oozes a playful sexiness. Read more » 

Review: Thievery Corporation Radio Retaliation

Label: ESL

On the duo’s fifth album, Thievery Corporation would have you believe they’re not just dub-influenced lounge lizards, but revolutionary propagandists. Taking cues from Fela’s slogan “music is the weapon,” they offer up a sonic jihad for the dancefloor. Radio Retaliation is their most thematically conceptual and far-reaching album yet, one that draws inspiration equally from Jamaican soundsystems, Mexican Zapatistas, Peruvian Communism, Hindu sacred music, Slovakian folk, DC go-go, and Brazilian favelas. Read more » 

Review: Lizzy Parks Raise the Roof

Pick
Label: Tru Thoughts

Songstress Lizzy Parks has already cut her teeth with the likes of Chris Bowden, the Heritage Orchestra, and numerous live gigs. Raise the Roof, her second full-length, goes deep into jazz, with major production props from Nostalgia 77 (nee Ben Lamden) and lush strings from Riaan Vosloo of N77's live octet. Parks is clearly front and center, never becoming overshadowed by the brilliant, organic arrangements. Read more » 

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