Pour a healthy serving of New Orleans’s rich musical tradition, add in a dash of Kentucky flavor, and the result is Bourbon Jazz. This is album of cover songs that touch upon the centuries-old path from Derby City to the Crescent City and back…
The third in Strut’s Inspiration Information studio collaboration series brings together an intriguing pairing between one of Africa’s great bandleaders, Mulatu Astatke, with the next level musicianship of The Heliocentrics collective from the mighty roster of Stones Throw / Now Again. Known primarily through the successful ‘Ethiopiques’ album series and the film soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch’s ‘Broken Flowers’, Mulatu Astatke is one of Ethiopia’s foremost musical ambassadors. Informed by spells living and studying in the UK and the USA, his self-styled Ethio-jazz sound flourished during the “Swinging Addis” era of the late ‘60s as he successfully fused Western jazz and funk with traditional Ethiopian folk melodies, five tone scale arrangements and elements from music of the ancient Coptic church.
After a delay of more than 20 years, there's a new album from one of West Africa's great dance bands. Formerly known as TP Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou – TP standing for "tout puissant" or "all powerful", and Cotonou being the largest city in Benin – they started in the late 60s, recorded dozens of albums, but took decades to achieve international recognition. A series of compilation albums led to their eventual discovery by Western audiences, and the reformed band gave their first UK concert in 2009. This new album features several of those who played with Poly-Rhythmo in the 60s and 70s, and it's a rousing, varied affair.
Mulatu Astatke already has a legendary status as the father of Ethio Jazz. But he hasn't been content to rest on his laurels. Instead he's forged ahead. This album proves very different from his work with the Heliocentrics (some of whom do feature here), or with the Either/Orchestra – it's an album of what is essentially a meandering, laid-back groove that looks at music from two angles – the Western and the Ethiopian. The former gets to stretch out on cuts like the opener, the reflective "Radcliffe," and "The Way to Nice." Ethiopia raises its head on "I Faram Gami I Faram," which some luscious Addis Ababa singing, a reworking of the style that made Astatke's name, and actually of one of his old compositions.
On this tribute, the songs of Beck serve as a starting point from which Dr. Lonnie Smith and his ensemble launch soulful interpretations. The groove runs deep, and Smith’s animated motions can have you boogaloo-ing at your seat in minutes. The organist’s spontaneous tirades turn loose the reins for a wild ride.
When Lonnie Smith cut Boogaloo to Beck in 2003 he made a comeback, though he was never gone in the first place. That record's deeply grooving, funky soul-jazz cut to the chase in a way many jazz organ records hadn't by taking the Blue Note aesthetic of turning the pop tunes of the day – even those as esoteric as Beck Hansen's – and turning them into vehicles for jazz improvisation. On Jungle Soul, the great organist and his quartet – Peter Bernstein on guitar, drummer and percussionist Allison Miller, and rhythm guitarist/producer Matt Balitsaris – tackle some jazz standards – "Bemsha Swing," "Willow Weep for Me," and Eddie Harris' bona fide soul-jazz classic "Freedom Jazz Dancer" – and place them against Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man," and a handful of Smith originals and come up with a stunner.
The Manhattan Jazz Quintet is a jazz ensemble consisting of David Matthews on piano, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Victor Lewis on drums, Andy Snitzer on saxophone, and Charnett Moffett on bass. Previously, the band featured George Young on tenor sax, Eddie Gomez on bass, and Steve Gadd on drums. The group was formed in 1983 at the suggestion of Japanese jazz magazine Swing Journal and the King record label and won the Gold Disk Award of Swing in 1984.