Azymuth and Yussef Kamaal bring jazz-funk back to the forefront, and The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble and Papa Chango summon the old spirits of afrobeat, ethio-jazz and soul to perform outrageous new choreographies.
Azymuth :: Fênix (Far Out)
When it comes to the catalog of Brazil-based trio, Azymuth, you can’t go wrong. What they do they do best. No matter which Azymuth album you pick up, a hefty dose of brilliant musicianship will flow smoothly through your speakers and charge you with soft psychedelic sensuality. That said, Fênix, the new album on London’s Far Out Recordings, might just be their best yet. Alluring keyboard wizardry, sharp basslines and energetic, clever drumming, occasionally peppered with exotic chants and percussion piquancy, take the listener on a journey full of sweet warmth and spacey tropical vibes. Azymuth are back with a bag of fresh tricks and recharged vitality. Fênix demonstrates an electric combination of high quality production, retro style spirituality and of course, brilliant musicianship by a veteran musical force at the top of its game.
Yussef Kamaal :: Black Focus (Brownswood)
London-based Kamaal Williams (Rhodes piano, synths, keyboards) and Yussef Dayes (drums, percussion), together known as Yussef Kamaal, have established themselves as one of Europe’s most exciting and refreshingly creative jazz-funk acts quite quickly with the release of their debut album on Gilles Peterson‘s Brownswood Recordings. There’s a reason as to why Black Focus finds its way into so many playlists, music collections and online magazines: well, it’s simply so good. It’s packed with mad skills, cunning executions and infectious raw energies. The sound and flow are so alive and kicking it feels like Yussef Kamaal and their co-conspirators are playing their intense blend of jungly, spacey, acidic electronica-infused jazz-funk live in your living room. A mischievous, deep and intergalactic affair from a young act that is hopefully here to stay.
The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble :: Out on the Coast (Colemine)
From San Diego we have The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble with a mighty colorful explosion of groove, energy and retro ambiance called Out on the Coast, the Ensemble’s second album, out on Ohio-based Colemine Records which also released the Ensemble’s excellent debut album last year. Out on the Coast pulses and maneuvers via the magic fuels of eight highly skilled instrumentalists and the zest of four guests mercenaries. Soul, jazz, surf, dub, funk, afrobeat and lounge, drenched in doses of enticing psychedelia, bubble, burst, collide and merge brilliantly into something completely fresh and extremely intoxicating. Sweet and dreamy yet high-octane and totally incendiary all the way. The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble operates as a close-knit unit. There are no leaders or ferocious attempts to stand out. Everything flows together effortlessly with mystical chemistry in order to generate deeply effective compositions that keep the listener engaged and highly energized from start to finish. A rich, soulful sensory experience that doesn’t release you from the tight grip of its powerful claws until the last note.
Papa Chango :: The Lost Moon of Bellaris (Self-Released)
An expertly carried out, effervescent and totally irresistible sonic mélange of afrobeat, ethio-jazz, funk, vintage psychedelia and warm Latin allure by a Melbourne-based crystallized group of talented instrumentalists. Warm deep basslines, mystic keyboard layers, hypnotic, theatrical sax and trumpet drifts, inflammable guitar streams, atmospheric work of percussion and vibes, and stimulating precise drumming assemble a cohesive and highly addictive ride. Superb production gives an extra spicy depth that intensifies the uplifting yet seductively dark and mysterious charm of each piece. All the elements are craftily blended into something new and bracing, a unique and eclectic sonic beast that burns and bites with intensity, relentless groove and magnetic drive.