Sheffield’s DWH impressed me greatly with their 2 EPs, effortlessly fusing soul and jazz with contemporary yet timeless arrangements and all topped off with the mesmerising vocals of Genifa Vernon-Edwards. The tracks ‘Latter Rains’, ‘Darkside’ and ‘Still Here’ from the EPs are all present and correct along with other inspired moments such as ‘What Would You Chose’, ‘Soundtrack’, ‘Broken Pieces’ and ‘Seveneight’. The album may well have been a long time coming but it’s well worth the wait.
After grabbing my attention with ‘Morning Brings The Light’ featured on the compilation ‘Welcome To The People Tree’ and their ‘Jane Jane’ EP, Grand Union now present their stunning debut long player, ‘Through The Green Fuse’. ‘Jane Jane’ and ‘Wonderful World’ from the EP along with ‘Morning Brings The Light’ are included with further folk-jazz delights such as ‘Rain And Snow’, ‘Sally Free And Easy’ and the uplifting ‘Fall Into My Arms’. One for the sandal and spat wearing beardies alike!
Although Robb Scott has been performing on the live circuit for years now, ‘Afro Odyssey’ is his first long player. He seamlessly blends cosmic-soul with Afrocentric-jazz and subtle broken-beat to create an album that is contemporary yet classic sounding at the same time. Consistently strong throughout, it’s difficult to select particular favourites but at a push I’d go for the single ‘Fallin’ and ‘Reflections’, featuring the legendary Ellen McIlwaine.
Koop’s long awaited follow up to ‘Waltz For Koop’ continues is a similar vein, taking influence from 60s Latin jazz but on ‘ Koop Island ‘ the duo also incorporate elements from the 40s swing era. Guests include Yukimi Nagano, who impresses on the string laced ‘I See A Different You’ and the beautiful waltz ‘Whenever There Is You’. Earl Zinger contributes to 2 cuts with the melancholy ‘Beyond The Sun’ sounding good to these ears. In fact I would go so far as saying this is his finest performance since the early days of Galliano.
Despite numerous releases I’ve got to admit to knowing little by French vocalist Isabelle Antena other than ‘Playback’ from her 1986 LP ‘En Cavale’, which was covered brilliantly by Yukihiro Fukutomi in more recent times. Her latest offering, ‘French Riviera’ sees her team up with some of Japan’s top producers such as the aforementioned Yukihiro Fukutomi, Tatsuo Sunaga (Sunaga T), Kazuma Fujimoto (Orange Pekoe) and Jazztronik. The result is a gorgeous bossa laced jazz set which includes the outstanding fusion dancer ‘Brazilian Dorian Dream’ produced by Kyoto Jazz Massive’.