Weeding Dub ‘Another Night Another Day’ 2LP (Control Tower) 4/5

..And, by contrast to my previous review for a digi dub steppers album have I indeed managed to come across a breath of fresher air? A more adventurous and progressive path? Perhaps we have an album here that may just be the savior of this somewhat tired genre by its engaging in forward thinking retrospectiveness and entering the third wave of digi dub creativity with attitude.

A four sided double vinyl LP with each side having its own set of progressions and craftily blended segments, with each side having its own unique atmosphere as, seemingly, at this point in time only the one Weeding Dub can achieve. (Not forgetting Mayd Hubb) A colossal album of twenty tracks of which 4 are stand alone’s and 8 with their dub versions with each side having a stand alone track to either start the set or to finish the set.

It becomes clear that a lot of thought has gone into the presentation of this album, both its track listing and ‘sets’ concept of each side and also the eye-catching and well presented album artwork of which to be honest can only be appreciated fully on a vinyl album canvass in full size.

So what of the music contained within..?

Side A kicks off with the album’s title track, a kind of manic uptempo instru steppers piece a bit reminiscent (ish) of UB40s ‘Madame Medusa’ or ‘Reefer Madness’ but on high-octane uppers with wonderfully positively aggressive shades of dub producer Don Fe underlying the mix with a raucous percussion and those ‘drippy droppy’ dreamy snare drum tones and effects. The next piece on Side A is a pretty standard mid tempo affair, basically a voicing track to display the very apt tones of guest vocalist Dixie Peach entitled ‘Make Dem Know’ and although the voicing track doesn’t really hold its own as a stand alone work its dub version ‘Make Dem Dub’ fares better and it’s the dub version that enables Weeding Dub to commence his eclectic progression featuring some very inventive ultra heavy filtering and effect manipulations. ‘Rise Up’ and its dub version are much stronger works featuring the smooth and heartfelt vocal tones of another guest vocalist Oulda with its dub version touching then progressing beyond Don Fe mixdown territory, even surpassing Doktor Lond with Weeding Dub’s full-out assault on the dub mixing board. This ‘set’ Side A receives a healthy 3 out of 5.

Side B kicks off with the very quirky and addictive upbeat number featuring the guest vocals of Nish Wadada, vocals full of soul that compliment the voicing mix of ‘Let Go’ which could be a great contender as a single from the album as could be a piece from this same set and that finishes Side B the loony tune that is ‘Skankertainer’. The excellently and aptly titled ‘Big Men Of The World’ draws attention, again featuring guest vocalist Oulda, this piece a mid tempo (downbeat) UK Ska styled sounding affair with and by contrast with a laid back roots vocal by Oulda who rides the Ska riddim in fine style and passion and although the drum settings on this particular piece are somewhat, weak sounding, overall it’s a very strong creative statement. Side B is quirky, eclectic and warrants a nice five out of five.

Side C kicks off with a standard digi dub instrumental workout complete with alternate version ‘The Lions Claw’ which then gives way to a three version excursion that is a piece called ‘Artikal Stepper’ which again is a standard ‘set in stone’ offering from the genre and although it’s an OK tune why Weeding Dub deemed it his pleasure to give the ears two other almost similar versions of the same piece is beyond me and side C for me is the low point of the complete whole creatively yet still interesting enough to warrant a lightweight three out of five for Side C.

Side D is the one for me, the most artistic, eclectic and adventurous ‘set’ on the album and although to die-hard ‘by numbers’ fans of looping digi dub this set may not be their cup of tea, perhaps a little over eccentric for their ears? Yet it is ultra out there with its progression and attitude in manipulating the possibilities of dub in the digital studio and it is this ‘set’ where Weeding Dub showcases his full potential as a creative force.

Track 16 and kicking off Side D is the wonderfully off-piste creation that is ‘Dub Soldier Forever’ with its robot voiceovers and minimalist antidote to the ‘by numbers’ mentality of old and its dub version further displays this antidote, I am digging this full on. Followed by a piece called ‘Can’t Understand’ which has the strains of, a vibe very reminiscent to the UK Beat, Dave Wakeling and crew of old, a touch of General Public with its slight dystopian and dreamlike quality with guest vocals by Shanti D, its alternate version ‘Can’t Understand pt4’ is pure On U Sound mentality, retrospective progression and with a punk attitude, in dub. What a journey this double album has been, it finishes with the nicely played synth drums of ‘Afuryca’ a heavyweight one drop instru dub which calmly and confidently ends the set and the album. Side D receives a large five out of five.

Weeding Dub has been part of the underground scene creating and collaborating for nigh on twenty years, this is his 5th album release, his debut album was released back in 2004 entitled ‘Steppactivism’. With this new album ‘Another Night Another Day’ he has set a new benchmark both musically and in artistic presentation for the digi dub steppers and beyond genre and weighing up the marks for each ‘set’ from each side of this double album it remains for me to declare that a very heavy indeed 4/5 is awarded, so close to a five it’s tempting with only the lacklustre and staid Side C standing in the way of that. A very cool must have album for all ears that dig the sound of dub today and its progression. Forward march Weeding Dub. I may just buy a record player now.

Gibsy Rhodes

UK Vibe Records present… Chris Bowden ‘Unlikely Being’

UK Vibe celebrates 25 years with the release of
CHRIS BOWDEN ‘UNLIKELY BEING’

Album launch Wednesday 28th February 2018
Riverside
Tiddington Road
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwickshire
CV37 7AB

Dr. Lonnie Smith ‘All In My Mind’ (Blue Note) 4/5

Now in his second spell with the Blue Note label after an absence of some forty-six years, Lonnie Smith offers up a live recording with his latest trio from an evening at the Jazz Standard Club in New York on the year of his seventy-fifth birthday and it is both an evocation of the classic Blue Note era of the 1960’s and a re-working of some of his own material. For those not already aware, Smith emerged as a highly effective Hammond organist during the mid-late 1960’s invariably working as sideman to both a young guitarist by the name of George Benson and alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson. As a leader, he cut three definitive slices of soul-jazz in, ‘Think!’, (the title track a reworking of the then Aretha Franklin soul hit) ‘Turning Point’ and, ‘Move your hand’, in the process recording with greats such as Lee Morgan, Bennie Maupin and Julian Priester, to name but a few. Meanwhile. for a generation of hip-hop create diggers, his late 1960’s live album, ‘Layin’ in the cut’, and the groovy album cover of, ‘Drives’, with a dynamite take on Edwin Starr’s ‘Twenty-five miles’, endeared him into the fold and in the mid-1990’s came the issue of the previously unreleased, ‘Live at Club Mozambique’, which continued very much in the vein of the aforementioned Blue Note albums. For the new live recording, Smith has revisited a Jazz Messengers staple in, ‘Up jumped spring’, composed by Freddie Hubbard, and this is a lengthy, winding rendition that gives plenty of space to guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, who seems to have soaked up some of the modern jazz guitar masters licks, from Benson to Pat Martino, and not forgetting Melvin Sparks, while elsewhere drummer, Jonathan Blake (Joe Dyson deputizes on one track) and the leader, engage in regular duets, including on an inventive re-interpretation of Paul Simon’s, ‘Fifty ways to lose your lover’. A hurculean take on Wayne Shorter’s epic Blue Note album title piece, ‘Juju’, is a welcome surprise with the intensity raised a notch or two.

Possibly, the addition of a horn player might have added another dimension, but Lonnie Smith is happy to retain this pared down formation. As it is, Smith’s own composition, ‘All in my mind’, is re-worked with vocals by Alicia Olatuja. A welcome return to the major label for Dr. Lonnie Smith who is still in fine form and recalling those other great Hammond organists on Blue Note, Big John Patton, Larry Young, and not forgetting the daddy of them all, Jimmy Smith.

Tim Stenhouse

Norma Winstone ‘Descansado: Songs For Films’ (ECM) 4/5

Manfred Eicher has long championed the combining of visual and audio images, with albums devoted to Greek film soundtrack composers and even a Jean-Luc Godard tribute to the French nouvelle vague era. On this occasion, singer Norma Winstone has devoted the entire album to exploring her favourite film soundtracks from different eras, with an emphasis on Italian composers, and the result is a wonderful evocation of cinema history in musical form. Helping her to create the right just the right ambiance are pianist Glauco Venier, soprano saxophonist and bass clarinettist Klaus Gesing, with additional layers provided on both cello and percussion. Winstone’s own gifted songwriting talents are deployed, with the occasional instrumental providing variety. An outstanding contribution is made on William Walton’s, ‘Touch her soft lips and part’, where the lyrics set the scene on a distant parting of beings, and cello and piano operate in tandem here. Indeed, this piece has a personal poignancy for Winstone in that it was also a favourite of her late husband, pianist John Taylor, who performed a trio rendition on ECM alongside Pete Erskine. Enrico Morricone composed many memorable pieces for film and one of his later offerings was for the soundtrack to, ‘Malena’, and the combination of piano and vocals beautifully captures the retro melancholy of the film itself, while another Italian film classic, ‘Today, Tomorrow’, is retitled to become the album title track. The ode to Italian cinema, ‘Il postino’, is treated on this occasion to a gentle interpretation with a discreet cello and a lovely, leisurely bass clarinet solo. Martin Scorsese’s cult, ‘Theme for Taxi driver’, was composed by Bernard Hermann, who of course, was the musical brains behind so many of the Hitchcock 1950’s classics, and the Scorsese soundtrack now has lyrics added and is transformed into the newly titled, ‘So close to me blues’. Godard’s early 1960’s film, ‘Vivre sa vie’, is performed as an instrumental with piano intro and a haunting soprano solo from Gesing. Rounding off the homage are some gorgeous digital black and white prints of actress Anna Karina in ‘Vivre sa vie’. The projects as a whole is devoted to John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler, both of whom regularly performed with the singer. An album of wider interest to fans of cinema and quality music.

Tim Stenhouse

Collieman ‘Jungle Code’ (Dubshelter Recordings) 4/5

An album of two distinct halves in 45 minutes. The second album from Belgium’s Collieman since his ultra cool 2011 debut long player with fellow artist Asham which was entitled ‘The Same Blood’ and in some ways this new long player ‘Jungle Code’ is a natural continuation from that first, yet I hasten to add with a newly found maturity both lyrically and in its mixdown, indeed a much more radio friendly delivery both for underground and FM commercial to that of the first album with the first half of ‘Jungle Code’ leaning into reality lyrics, a calling to stand firm, our personal struggles and the fight back against dreaded babylon and opression by simply ignoring that oppression and just getting on with it all as indicated in ‘The Show Must Go On’ yet with the band not giving what could have been a stereotypical down tempo heavy roots sound throughout the set but instead giving an uplifting and enjoyable club reggae sound with a heavyish yet accessible modern roots backdrop.

Listen to ‘I’m Still Standing’ from ‘side One’ which display’s this progression of this new album’s overall sound mix along side
Collieman’s lyrical maturity and its vocal mix since that first album.

Somewhere around the half way mark the album gives way to a more downtempo’d affair with the tunes taking on a more candle lit atmosphere by leaning into the lovers sound. Check out ‘Keep The Vibes Alive’ which should be an official single from the album with its crucial early 80s dancehall push blended into commercial radio style presentation, i.e. a danceable hookable and a splendid an all vibe, a feeling of listening to a sunday evening reggae chart rundown with pause button ready on the tape cassette recorder circa 1983. Another single could be the wonderful piece ‘Honey Bunny’ which is a Lovers special, as could be the most uplifting piece on the album ‘Vanilla Ice’. Backed by a tight band comprising of Martijn Van Der Broek on the drums, Dennis Cobas on bass guitar, keyboard work provided by Wim ‘Appleton’, brass section by Mathijs Duyck on the sax and Kris Van Hees on the trumpet, a certain ‘Kim’ on guitar from the DubTown Band and with backing vocals by Kimberly Dhondt and Astrid d’Hoore it is evident when listening to this new album that Stefaan Colman aka Collieman has chosen the right band for the job.

Stand out tracks: ‘Still Standing’, ‘Love Light’, ‘Gimme Likkle Love’ and ‘Keep Vibes Alive’ Collieman has a progressive attitude that I dig, keeping his trademark style yet pushing himself forward as an artist instead of resting within an old comfort zone, I also dig the fact that its ‘side Two’ that has all the contenders for ‘singles’ reminiscent from those chart rundowns we once heard on the radio.

The sound on the album offers a distinctive lovers and 80s ‘chart friendly’ dancehall vibe with some very nicely mixed in modern roots flavourings by the players and a very charming and heartfelt vocal delivery by Collieman, let’s hope that we don’t have to wait another five years for his third long player to arrive.

So “watch where you step, cos it’s a jungle out there”. A healthy 4/5 from my entertained ears.

Gibsy Rhodes

Various ‘We Out Here’ LP/CD/DIG (Brownswood Recordings) 5/5

Gilles Peterson’s universally respected independent record label Brownswood returns in the early part of 2018 to release ‘We Out There’, a nine track set of original recordings by some of the current crop of young UK jazz composers and musicians. The recording sessions took place in a north London studio over three days in Autumn 2017, and thus, the compilation features all specially recorded and previously unreleased material rather than consisting of cherry picked compositions of older works.

The collection begins with ‘Inside The Acorn’ by Maisha, who are led by drummer Jake Long, but this is not a drum-heavy affair but a relaxed modal spiritual jazz experience with splashes of piano runs, bass clarinet and delicate flute soundscapes. The five piece Ezra Collective offer ‘Pure Shade’, which initially seems to be Hustlers of Culture ‘Flip Jack’ part two with its uptempo rim shot, kick drum and bass introduction, before the Afro beat influence permeates and a later downtempo J Dilla-esque coda section resolves the number. The band includes drummer Femi Koleoso, bass player TJ Koleoso, Joe Armon-Jones (more later) on piano, saxophonist James Mollison and Dylan Jones on trumpet. Drummer Moses Boyd moves into a slightly more electronica framework here with ‘The Balance’, a piece that could have been produced by Jazzanova but with some heavy alto saxophone additions from Nubya Garcia (also, more later) within the final two minutes. Tuba player and Sons of Kemit band member Theon Cross offers a bustling and lively composition with ‘Brockley’, which has both tuba and sax lines providing catchy melodies over the almost broken beat (acoustic) drum pattern.

Nubya Garcia’s own piece ‘Once’ possesses a perfect balance between song writing duties and improvisational performance, with pianist Joe Armon-Jones (still, more later) being particularly effective in supporting Nubya and the other players, which also includes Daniel Casimir on double bass and Femi Koleoso on drums. Shabaka Hutchings’ ‘Black Skin, Black Masks’ incorporates numerous influences, from Afro beat, contemporary jazz, be bop and more, with Shabaka’s bass clarinet guiding the composition over its 7-minute duration, which also has George Crowley on clarinet, Ruth Goller on bass, pianist Alexander Hawkins and Tom Skinner on drums. Triforce (who are a quartet) and ‘Walls’ is a performance of two halves, with the first 3 minutes featuring an escalating electric guitar solo from Mansur Brown, before the piece changes in direction into an almost hip hop form containing slow 808 drum machine beats and synth-like pitch bends. Initially, the composition seems upside down but with additional plays the arrangement very much makes sense.

The omnipresent Joe Armon-Jones leads a large cast for ‘Go See’ – the longest piece on the album which leaves room for numerous solos from the ensemble cast including the hard-working Nubya Garcia, Dylan Jones (trumpet), Kwake Bass (drums), Mutale Chashi (bass) and guitarist Oscar Jerome, which all gel together via the exquisite electric piano of Joe Armon-Jones. And finally, the Afro beat sonics of Kokoroko and ‘Abusey Junction’, may be rhythmically lighter than some of the material of the West African diaspora as this is a more contemplative number, but it still possesses the ideals of Afro beat with its hypnotic rhythm track and musical space and openness for performance opportunities. The collective is led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey and their live shows are certainly worth experiencing.

‘We Out Here’ is a vibrant and exciting project containing exceptional performances by its contributors with recent Impulse! Records signee Shabaka Hutchings acting as musical director. Performances of note include Nubya with her five contributions and Joe Armon-Jones with three, and it’s this cross-pollination that will support and drive the development of the jazz scene in the UK, something that possibly many of their predecessors failed to accomplish effectively. A large number of the musicians here are bandleaders in their own right or often collaborate on outside projects, and thus, it can be difficult to keep up with the musical output of these players and others – but that is a positive. But there is a propensity for the more underground music ‘scenes’ to be embraced by the media for a short period and then discarded when the initial excitement has dissipated, and the modern tendency for ‘trending’ has to be a slight worry here. But the most fundamental component is that the music and performances are strong – and that is a given here.

Damian Wilkes

The James Hunter Six ‘Whatever It Takes’ (Daptone) 5/5

This collective can do no wrong in my world and if you caught the previous two albums then this is more of the same, early to mid 60’s sounding soul, I’ve said this many times when discussing this lot, but we are so lucky they landed at Daptone, the depth and intensity of the music presented on this album and the preceding two others is wonderful. I pulled this from the sleeve and 3 hours later I was in a 60’s groove which ended with the spellbinding Lorraine Ellison WB album which houses the classic “Stay with me”, The James Hunter Six felt so right in amongst that hallowed company and there you have it, the sound might be dated, from an era long lost in the mists of time but its real and part of our time now, I nipped over to Cambridge the other day for few hours and walked into an independent music store and it was booming out of the speakers, I got chatting to the guys in the store and they were selling at least 3 per day to students who liked what they heard. Young people listening to music that was popular when there parents/grand parents were young, amazing. Of course those of us  who have been switched on to James Hunter had an indication as to where he might go sound wise  on his 2008 “The Hard Way”  album, the wonderful 60’s inspired floater  “Tell Her” captivated us all, the fore runner to what’s happening now,  of course the glue that holds all this together is Jonathan Lee on drums, Lee Badau on Baritone Sax, Damian Hand on Tenor Sax, Andrew Kingslow on Piano, Organ and Percussion, and that so familiar base played by Jason Wilson and of course we have Mr Hunter himself who provides some of the most scintillating guitar licks and vocals that just sound so right on this platform. I keep on hearing this is RnB but it’s a million miles away from that, this is soul music and to call it anything else is just under selling this whole experience, you know what, I’ve had this on in the car, and my music room relentlessly and I’m already looking to his next production. The album kicks off with the slinky mid pacer “I don’t wanna be without you” which just rolls along effortlessly into the slightly more urgent “Whatever it takes” and then for another 10 glorious tracks, what a ride. As essential as the air you breathe.

Brian Goucher

Claude François ‘For Ever’ 3CD (Universal France) 4/5

Released to coincide with the anniversary of the singer’s death from electrocution in the bath aged just thirty-nine in 1978, this three CD set provides an excellent overview of Claude François’ career and neatly divides up his periods with different record companies by CD. Internationally, his major claim to fame is as the co-author of the original version of a song, ‘Comme d’habitude’ (‘As always’), that would have new English lyrics added by Paul Anka and then became a world wide hit through Frank Sinatra, ‘I did it my way’. However, in his native France, François scored many hits and reworked several 1960’s sings in English into French after first starting on the French Riviera, invariably backed by an orchestra while performing at luxury hotels. An early cover came in 1962 with a French language reading of the Everly Brothers‘, ‘Made to love (girls girls girls)’, which was turned into, ‘Belles! Belles! Belles!’. Other songs from the formative part of his career similarly focused on translating early pop and rock ‘n’ roll and these included, ‘Si javais un marteau (‘If I had a hammer’)’ and, ‘Marche tout droit (‘Walk right in’)’. By 1963, the singer was headlining the Olympia in Paris and had set up his own show featuring his very own female dancers that became known as ‘Claudettes’ and this was part of his lavish stage show. It was in 1967 that,’Comme d’habitude’, first became a hit in France, but the early 1970’s were a traumatic time and the singer collapsed on stage from exhaustion. A new market was emerging in the 1970’s and François had the commercial acumen to change with the times and start to veer into new territory. He took a leaf out of the Bee Gees book and created his own version of the disco sound, influenced by the whirling strings of the Philly sound on, ‘Laisse une chance à notre amour’ (Leave a chance for our love’), a mid-tempo soulful groove in, ‘Quand la pluie finira de tomber’ (When the rain stops falling), but especially and, now regarded by a younger generation as his greatest contribution, the anthemic French disco stomper that is, ”Alexandrie, Alexandra’, devoted to the place in Egypt where he was brought up as a child and ironically it was released in France on the very day of his burial. Two versions are available here, the shorter 45, and the newly remixed, longer 12″ take, which is eight minutes ten of elongated dancefloor pleasure. With a bongo intro that leads into fully orchestrated accompaniment, and François really letting go

In spite of sixty songs on offer, there are still some omissions such as the singer’s take on ‘Massachussetts’, by the Bee Gees re-titled, ‘La plus belle chose du monde’, and other songs that became renowned including, ‘Où s’en aller?’, ‘A part, la vie est belle’, ‘Le spectacle est terminé’, et ‘Les anges, les roses et la pluie’. On the other hand, for collectors, there are some previously hard to find songs that were either B-sides, or quite simply relegated to album titles. The former would include, ‘Quand la pluie finira de tomber’, while, ‘Six jours sur la route (Six days on the road)’, does not normally feature on other anthologies. Completists may well favour the more subsantial 20 CD box set that covers everything, but for most three CD’s of sixty songs will more than suffice. As much of a cultural institution as a mere popular singer, the life of Claude François has spawned controversial biographies and a universally praised biopic film starring Jérémie Renier, that gives a real flavour of the inner torments that plagued the singer. Even now, Claude François has the capacity to surprise and earlier this year his relationship with a young Belgian woman came to light with a now thirty something daughter, Juliette Bocquet, that the world was unaware of.

It is interesting to contemplate how the 1970’s French music scene could make space for François and Johnny Hallyday, as well as what remained of the classic French chanson tradition, and an entirely new generation of singer-songwriters from Lavilliers to Souchon.

Tim Stenhouse

Oscar Brown Jr. ‘Between Heaven & Hell + Sin & Soul’ (Soul Jam) 5/5

Chicago born singer Oscar Brown Jr came to prominence at the beginning of the 1960’s and personified the ‘hipster’ persona, hence his nickname of the ‘high priest of hip’. His cultural contribution to the civil rights era is a significant one for in his early career he was a radio broadcaster for the first ever African-American news programme in the United States, called, ‘Negro news front’, that Brown Jr. hosted  for some five years. However, it was his vocal skills that he will be most fondly remembered for and both albums contained within have, at regular intervals, been re-issued in vinyl and CD format, though this is probably the first occasion that they have been paired together, and with the major additional bonus of non-album song from the same era that found their way onto lesser known 45’s. Jazz dance fans will marvel at, ‘Mr. Kicks’ and, ‘When Malindy sings’, both of which are regarded as jazz vocal classics and been re-issued separately on various artist compilations. Both songs feature on the first album, but the latter is probably the stronger all round, containing a wonderful take on Nat Adderley‘s, ‘Work song’, that Oscar added lyrics to, as he did also on another soul-jazz anthem, ‘Date dere’, originally a Bobby Timmons composition. Hipsterdom is very much on the agenda on, ‘But I was cool’, and the very last song on the album, ‘Afro-Blue’, is a version to rival that of the late great Abbey Lincoln. Of the bonus tracks, Brown courageously make an excellent attempt at a song Nat Cole co-wrote, ‘Straighten up and fly right’, and became immortal for the earlier vocal version, while, ‘Sixteen tons’, is a terrific uptempo jazz vehicle. Soul Jam have really cut no corner in terms of the abundant and excellent quality of the graphical illustrations of the singer. These range from album/single covers to magazine covers (Brown Jr. was on the front cover of Down Beat magazine in 1962 for example), black and white/colour photos of the singer at various stages of his career and original album notes are brought up to date with new notes. It is something of a surprise that he did not become a bigger name given his extraordinary creative talents and these included writing a musical adaptation of a play about a black militant named Buck White that played on Broadway in 1969. In fact, the singer played the role a year later in San Francisco. Given the few examples we have of Oscar Brown Jr. (no live recordings for example), and another Columbia album, ‘Tell it is like it is!’, that is now is a hard to find album on vinyl (but some tracks are available on a BGP compilation by Dean Rudland worth checking out) and, only briefly re-issued on CD via the Collectables series, this latest re-packaging is most welcome and a first port of call.

Tim Stenhouse

Nostalgia 77 ‘Fifteen’ 2LP/2CD/Dig (Tru-Thoughts) 4/5

One of the underrated gems of the modern British jazz scene and veering well beyond during the last fifteen years, this wide ranging compilation celebrates the brainchild of the group, Ben Lamdin, and is a first and foremost a retrospective of the group creator. As such, it features the leader as performer and producer and in disparate genres ranging from jazz and soul to dub, hip hop, psychedelia and taking in a little blues and funk along the way. However, this is very much an anthology that allows the lengthier jazz pieces to sit side by side with the shorter pieces and is to be congratulated for doing so. One illustration of the latter, which was released as a double AA single to showcase the album is the gentle soul of, ‘Quiet dawn’, with Beth Rowley featured on vocals, and here the band playing is sensitive with a slight folk-soul edge and a warm saxophone solo. Afro-Beat tinged percussive workouts are exemplified on tracks such as, ‘Freedom’, with a drum roll out of the Tony Allen school, and equally, ‘Positive force’, with a strong big band feel. In fact, Nostalgia 77 work best, to these ears at least, when they are in their nonet formation and happily this anthology provides some fine examples of that extended brass ensemble work. A real favourite is the lyrical horn work to be found on, ‘Desert fairy princess’, and the expansive sound created on, ‘Measures’. Among influences, the Oliver Nelson and Charles Mingus big bands spring to mind and even Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, though on the modal post-bop, ‘Louts tree’. it is mid-1960’s John Coltrane and a tribute of sorts to the seminal, ‘A Love Supreme’, with a fine trombone solo. Female vocalists accompanying are a specialty of the band and one discovery for this writer was a project between Nostalgia 77 and British 1970 jazz icons, Julie and Keith Tippett from a 2009 album. The vocals of the former on the excellent, ‘You just don’t dream when you sleep’, disprove any belief that musicians of different eras cannot combine to useful effect. Singer Alice Russell is an artist in her own right with Tru-Sounds and well worth checking her back catalogue. Here, she offers, ‘Seven nations army’. Reggae dub is a different genre altogether, but on, ‘Medicine crest dub’, the band makes a decent stab. More sedate and substantial playing can be heard on the lovely, ‘Solstice’, worthy of an ECM release, with beautifullt pared down piano and trumpet in tandem, and, the tender, ‘Wildflower’.

Overall, a well balanced anthology, that is fully reflective of the different moods and styles that Nostaglia 77 are capable of capturing, and shedding a well deserved beacon of light on the South East England music scene, and especially that in and around Brighton, which is the label home of Tru-Thoughts. Fans of this compilation will want to explore further and the good news is that the band offer both quality and quantity in equal measure. For jazzier hues, try, ‘Borderlands’ and, ‘Everything under the sun’, while the live, ‘Seven’s and Eight’s’, takes the octet sound a step further. Those who prefer the more dance oriented flavours will find their nirvana in the double CD, ‘One off’s, remixes and B-sides’.

Tim Stenhouse

Astral Travelling Since 1993