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James Taylor Quartet - People Get Ready (We're Moving On)

A British icon and renowned for his Hammond organ sound, James Taylor's career started out properly back in the late 1980s, his early work helping to carve out the Acid Jazz sound and scene.

 

It was these formative years that James met Noel McKoy, one of the two lead vocalists on the record who he later worked with on Big Life, one of the many labels James forged long standing relationships with. Other labels like Polydor, Ubiquity, Gearbox, Freestyle Records, Record Kicks and of course Acid Jazz have consistently supported James' prolific production output.

The collaboration between the string orchestra and James Taylor came about after many years of commitment to what was a previously an unknown for James. Realising it takes a substantial musical education to create orchestral music, Taylor applied to study composition and orchestration at various music colleges but was rejected. As a result, to familiarize himself with how musical scores look and work, he joined a local church choir. Taylor eventually gained the confidence to compose and score out his own Mass using a four part choir, which led to composing for string quartets and, finally, in this case, full orchestral scores.

This 'dream project' at London's Abbey Road Studios follows 2018's Soundtrack from Electric Black, a previous Audio Network production.  That sound, whilst groove laden, has now been taken to the next level for People Get Ready, with the addition of two incredible voices from the UK's soul scene, turning an incredible production possibility into a potential timeless recording.

"Reaching back and re-examining the crossover work I did thirty years ago with the UK’s finest soul singer Noel McKoy, combined with the discovery of the stunning soulful vocal talent in the form of Natalie Williams, I was drawn to write a funk vocal album for these outstanding voices, but now incorporating these new orchestral ideas", says James Taylor.

"With JTQ still heavily gigging, we have developed our sound and matured, now stronger rhythmically than ever and with the supercharged back up of Audio Network giving us access to the best recording facility on the planet, Abbey Road Studios, we had the setting for a perfect storm. I hope you enjoy this album half as much as we did making it! People….Get Ready….We’ve moved on!“

The pioneer from the late 80's Hammond-organ Soul/Acid Jazz Revolution never really left...

Jagga Jazzist - Pyramid

Jaga Jazzist return with their new album “Pyramid” on 24 April 2020, where the legendary Norwegian eight-piece takes a deep dive into post-rock, jazz and psychedelia influences. 

It’s their first album since 2015’s “Starfire”, their ninth album in a career now spanning four decades, but it marks the group’s debut on Brainfeeder, the LA-based imprint curated by Flying Lotus. On “Pyramid”, Jaga Jazzist have crafted a suitably cosmic sound to match their new label home, all the while nodding to forebears spanning from 80s jazz band Out To Lunch and Norwegian synth guru Ståle Storløkken, to contemporaries Tame Impala, Todd Terje and Jon Hopkins. Each of the album’s four longform entries evolves over carefully plotted movements, the tracks’ technicolour threads dreamily unspooling.

The band, led by Lars Horntveth and his compositions, took a direct approach to the creation of “Pyramid”. Whereas “Starfire” saw them take the idea of a traditional studio record to extremity, with different members dipping in and out of the booth to write, record and experiment over two years, the process behind “Pyramid” was almost the polar opposite: it took just two weeks. Both records were driven by the same curious, experimental spirit, but the processes were very different. Retreating to a secluded woodland studio in neighbouring Sweden, they bunkered into the studio for 12 hour days. “The most important thing is that we didn’t want to over-analyze every musical idea” says co-founder and drummer Martin Horntveth. “We wanted to follow the first and original idea and keep the freshness.” For a band which has never settled on any one sound or style, the continuity lies in their constant willingness to evolve, experiment and improvise.

“Pyramid” is Jaga Jazzist’s first self-produced album (most of their records being produced by close collaborator Jørgen Træen) and it meant a change in the way they operate. On the one hand, there were lots of different voices jostling to be heard. On the other, they didn’t have an independent figure to make a call on whether something was a good idea. “It was hard but felt natural to do ourselves, as five of us are producers and make records for a living,” Martin says. The result is an album that feels more collaborative than ever.

Whilst they wouldn’t describe “Pyramid” as a concept album, the band see the track titles as a conceptual starting point from which the listener can construct whatever story flows out of the songs. The album title refers to the building blocks which make up a pyramid, and how each of the four tracks – and their constituent parts – fit together. ‘Tomita’ is a nod to Japanese composer and synth player Isao Tomita, and ‘The Shrine’ alludes to Fela Kuti’s legendary Lagos venue. Lars says: “I felt that this album is a small symphony, each part containing its own rooms to explore.”

Lee Burridge & Lost Desert - Moogami (EP)

After 35 years of graft, it is now that Lee Burridge is enjoying the global acclaim that he deserves. 

He and his All Day I Dream family inhabit a special place in the four-to-the-floor element of electronic music with a sound that goes beyond the aural, and stretching beyond any dancefloor.

It is a formula that attracts a variety of audiences - both young and mature.

The All Day I Dream journey began in 2011 and has particularly snowballed in worldwide popularity of late, carrying his unique torch for Melodic House and Techno. Lost Desert (and Junior) have also dovetailed along the same path and collaborated on such irresistible music as 'Lingala' in recent times. Lee's DJ sets and unique performances at places like Burning Man and the recent trip to Bali's Omnia, allowed the opportunity to break some of this new music to a vast live worldwide audience, (broadcast by global leaders Cercle.)

This new four-track EP on the Trybesof label offers four cuts that take the ethos to a new level. Dip in and find something rather wonderful. Out now.

Gary Bartz and Maisha - Leta's Dance

The propulsive debut single “Leta’s Dance” magically combines Gary Bartz’ soulful musical lyricism with Maisha’s African-jazz influences.  

Maisha, led by drummer Jake Long, have been central to the UK’s jazz explosion, releasing their critically acclaimed debut LP, “There Is A Place” on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings in 2018. Theirs is an organic & explosive sound that blends influences from Afrobeat and Broken Beat to Persian music, whilst giving a nod to the heritage of spiritual jazz’ titans Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane and of course, Gary Bartz.

Having cut his teeth playing with the likes of Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Art Blakey and finally in 1970, Miles Davis at the peak of his electric period, Gary Bartz became a leading figure of the early-to-mid 70s spiritual jazz movement, releasing a string of ground-breaking albums on legendary NYC jazz label Prestige Records with his NTU Troop, featuring classics such as “Celestial Blues”, “Uhuru Dance” and “I’ve Known Rivers”, before collaborating on Blue Note Records with the Mizell Brothers on the anthemic jazz funk of “Music Is My Sanctuary”. An oeuvre much loved by Soul-Jazzers and Hip-Hop fans alike.

This record really is an event, in and of itself, a meeting of talents, minds, generations and zeitgeist moments, captured in a unique and pure manner. The music does not disappoint, as Maisha have been inspired to reach new heights whilst we find Bartz truly reinvigorated, and both artists in tune to the spirit of the other. 

Like Night Dreamer's recent sublime album by Seu Jorge & Roge, Leta's Dance was recorded in Haarlem’s Artone Studio, Amsterdam, in just one-take, straight-to-disc, avoiding post-production embellishments and retaining the purity of the performance.
 

Thundercat (feat. Steve Lacy and Steve Arrington) - Black Qualls

Thundercat is set to release his new album “It Is What It Is” on Brainfeeder Records on April 3, 2020.

 

The album, produced by Flying Lotus and Thundercat, features musical contributions from Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox. “It Is What It Is” follows his game-changing third album “Drunk” (2017). That record completed his transition from virtuoso bassist to bonafide star and cemented his reputation as a unique voice that transcends genre.

 

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says about “It Is What It Is”. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.” The unruly bounce of new single ‘Black Qualls’ is classic Thundercat, teaming up with Steve Lacy (The Internet) and Funk icon Steve Arrington (Slave). It’s another example of Stephen Lee Bruner’s desire to highlight the lineage of his music and pay his respects to the musicians who inspired him. Discovering Arrington’s output in his late teens, Bruner says he fell in love with his music immediately: “The tone of the bass, the way his stuff feels and moves, it resonated through my whole body.” ‘Black Qualls’ emerged from writing sessions with Lacy, whom Thundercat describes as “the physical incarnate of the Ohio Players in one person - he genuinely is a funky ass dude”. It references what it means to be a black American with a young mindset: “What it feels like to be in this position right now… the weird ins and outs, we’re talking about those feelings… Part of me knew this [track] was where Steve [Arrington] left us.” Thundercat forms a cornerstone of the Brainfeeder label; he released “Golden Age of Apocalypse” (2011), “Apocalypse” (2013), followed by EP “The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam” featuring the modern classic ‘Them Changes’. He was later “at the creative epicenter” of the 21st century’s most influential hip-hop album Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”, where he won a Grammy for his collaboration on the track ‘These Walls’.  

Zoo Brazil - Your Love (Mixes)

Award-winning DJ, producer and remixer Zoo Brazil drops his anthemic house single Your Love, set to be released this February on the legendary Brighton label Skint Records.

“I’ve had this little monster in the box for quite some time and thought it was about time to unleash it on the world!” Zoo Brazil

'Your Love' is brimming with warmth and emotion, a tight groove carries into bright piano chords that become layered with an uplifting vocal and rich synth that will sound equally infectious when heard in dark rooms or during summer days. The dub version sees the keys removed to create a functional tool.

Grammy and Brit Award-nominated Zoo Brazil, also known as John Anderson, has released over 160 singles and eight albums under various monikers. Throughout his career, he has carved out a reputation as one of dance music's most innovative and respected producers and DJs, releasing on labels including Defected, Sci/Tec, Get Physical, Saved, Deeperfect, Strictly Rhythm, Noir, Ministry of Sound, Armada, Stealth and Knee Deep In Sound to name a few. Coming up for 2020 is a new Zoo Brazil album ”For Sins And False Alarms” on Magik Muzik alongside singles for John Digweed’s legendary Bedrock label, Booka Shades Bluefield label, AnjunaDeep, Systematic Recordings and Super Flu’s Monaberry label.

Little Dragon - New Me, Same Us

A new album by Sweden's finest band “New Me, Same Us”, released 27th March on Ninja Tune with new single ‘Hold On’ out now and paving its way.

The forthcoming LP is self-produced and recorded at their long-term home-built studio in Gothenburg as the band head back to their instruments: drums, bass, keyboards, harp, guitar and voice, to produce some of their most focussed and potentially best music to date. 

The first single, is a message about breaking away and moving on. “it started out as a slik house track” explain the band, “but transformed once Fred played the bass through it and we all worked it together. It became something raw and soulful. It’s a simple groove that makes us dance. We can’t wait to play it live as it will likely change shape again” 

Having played together since their school days in Gothenburg (where they’d meet up afterwards to jam and listen to records by artists like A Tribe Called Quest and Alice Coltrane), the band is fronted by enigmatic and much-loved vocalist Yukimi Nagano, with multi-instrumentalists Håkan Wirenstarnd and Fredrik Wallin on keyboards and bass respectively and Erik Bodin on drums and percussion. “New Me, Same Us” represents another chapter in the continuing evolution of Little Dragon, finding new direction in their unique style of unhurried, off-kilter r’n’b, pop and electronics, they sound as rejuvenated and energised as ever. The record also finds them in a reflective mood: Yukimi’s distinctive vocals musing on transitions, longing, and saying goodbye. “We are all on our own personal journeys,” they say, “full of change, yet still we stand united with stories we believe in, that make us who we are.” 

For a band who are proudly left-of-centre and fiercely protective of doing things on their own terms, they have achieved no shortage of mainstream recognition. Grammy nominated for 2014’s “Nabuma Rubberband”, Little Dragon have long been seen as one of the most sought-after groups to work with.

 

Chalking up an enviable list of collaborators throughout the years, working with equally groundbreaking artists like BADBADNOTGOOD, Gorillaz, SBTRKT, Flying Lotus, Flume, Kaytranada, Big Boi (who was first put on to the band via fellow Outkast member André 3000), De La Soul, DJ Shadow, Tinashe, Mac Miller, Future, Raphael Saadiq, Faith Evans and more. 
 

Matthew Tavares and Leland Whitty - Visions

‘Visions’ is a new collaborative album from BADBADNOTGOOD co-founders, Matthew Tavares and Leland Whitty. The Grammy Award winning, multi-platinum producers have been performing and writing music together for 10 years. They have achieved international acclaim with BADBADNOTGOOD and Tavares’ recent solo single ’Self-Portrait’ has been championed by tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson and Benji B. ‘Visions’ is the latest upshot of their incredibly fruitful partnership.

 

Recorded in Toronto, it was produced by Tavares and Whitty - with Tavares also mixing the album and arranging strings. After a three-week writing period it was played in its entirety in one continuous studio session; almost all the tracks on the album are the first take. Tavares is on piano and guitar, Whitty on saxophone and flute. The rhythm section of Julian Anderson-Bowes on bass and Matthew Chalmers on drums completes the players. They make an impressive collective and are performing at the peak of their powers. Conceptually, the album is a combination of composition (Tavares & Whitty as sole composers) and group improvisation. The result is a combination of modern jazz, impressionist classical music with Brazilian legend Arthur Verocai-esque arrangements (a big influence).

 

It feels very much of today but also like a long-lost classic and is best listened in its entirety as a coherent body of work. With intensity, crescendos, darkness and light there's a raw, deeply personal honesty to the music.

Out now.

Ian Pooley - Good Things (EP)

Venerated DJ, producer and record label boss Ian Pooley makes his debut on Kwench Records next month, serving Cassy’s label its first release of 2020.

Berlin-based Pooley is behind a catalogue of house and techno cuts stretching back to the early ‘90s, with his decade-spanning career earning him a hugely diverse audience. His extensive discography offers seven albums, including classics Meridian and Since Then; a stack of killer EPs that continue to grace the record boxes of DJs worldwide; and a string of outstanding remixes for Daft Punk, Yello, Sven Väth, Green Velvet and many more. More recently he’s fuelled his label Pooled Music with a run of self-releases, and continues to tour worldwide.

“I was listening to Ian Pooley’s music years before I started DJing. He has so many epic tracks and the beautiful thing is, he’s still making music in the same vein. Everything I’ve heard coming from him recently is high quality and super connected to the dancefloor. An incredible feeling to have him on Kwench Records.” - Cassy

Pooley’s house tracks invariably endorse a deep, rhythmic sound while exuding warmth and authenticity. Title track ‘Good Things’ is a peak-time opening jam that adds power to the punch, while ‘Detour’ runs with the headiness, sending in uplifting disco elements and an unctuous groove. ‘In The Night’ rounds off the three-tracker with a propulsive kick, giving listeners a spirited, feel-good dousing of house music.

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