Various ‘From The Archive Vol. 2 compiled by Volcov’ 2LP/CD (BBE) 5/5

Compilations can serve a myriad of purposes, but in the case of DJ Volcov and this specific selection, his personal mission is to assemble and duly showcase recent releases (within the last decade and a few choice selections from further back in time) that simply get lost in the plethora of new releases. As a direct consequence of the sheer vastness of what is released, DJs and writers and listeners can easily miss out on absolute musical gems that, in some cases, are just as good as the rarest of recordings that may cost a small fortune. What is surprising is that even respected singers and producers can lose out in the never-ending new release schedule that rapidly reaches saturation point at certain time of the year, and that includes Ron Trent whose stunning ‘Ori Spice’ is a major revelation to this writer, yet seemingly fell between the cracks and never received its due. The instrumental number has a 1980s production and the combination of Lonnie Liston Smith influenced keyboards and violin is truly inspired. Why is the album from which this outstanding piece that stems from the album, ‘Cinematic Travels’, not better known? Dance music in the 1980s and 1990s led to a number of gifted female vocalist being discovered (Lisa Fischer is one such name who provided vocals for Prince among others) and Cindy Mizelle recorded backing vocals for the very best including Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston. As a solo and group singer, her voice has only got better and she with the group Honey Sweet, she adds a thoroughly modern twist on Nina Simone’s ‘I Put A Spell On You’, with Fender Rhodes and percussion. Carleen Anderson is a household name, so why did her most recent album fall largely by the wayside? From that terrific recording, this compilation opens up with the supremely laid back jazzy hues, complete with electric piano and vibes, of, ‘All That Glitters’. Another album that richly deserves to be heard by the many and not the few.

However, Volcov still finds the time and space to focus on some lesser known jazz items and one of the finest pieces on the entire compilation is Harry Whitaker’s (a key collaborator with Roy Ayers in the 1970s and a deeply creative soul whose own talents have been criminally neglected by the musical establishment) sublime, ‘The After Life Pt.2′, where classic 1970s jazz meets contemporary sounds, and Whitaker himself operates on acoustic piano with beautifully arranged orchestrations and a female vocalist to die for. Why has no-one re-issued the album from which this number originates? An anthology of Harry Whitaker’s career to date is urgently needed and would be a major event. Secondly, a stunning example of Tony Williams, the propelling drummer in Miles Davis’ mid-1960s quintet, from 1980, in an edited version of ‘Lawra’, which is a small gem of a tune and Williams’ in acoustic trio format is a precursor to some of his later work in the 1990s on Blue Note. A third jazz-inflected number pays homage to the jazz-fusion era in Herbie Hancock’s canon of work and Ian O’Brien’s cover of ‘Spiralling Prism’, from a 1980 album that this scribe purchased while resident in Narbonne, south west France, just a year later. Quentin Kane and Simon Sheldon are new names to this writer, but their 2016 recorded, ‘The Blue Room’, with T.K.Blue on vocals actually has a heavy 1980s undercurrent with the Fender Rhodes intro, and could well be the equivalent of Atmosfear for 2018. Rounding off matters, contemporary soul from the D’Angelo sphere of influence, in, ‘Turn It Around’, by Ruth Koléva. A terrific compilation that encapsulates precisely what any kind of retrospective should do; open up the mind of the listener to new artists and musical perspectives.

Tim Stenhouse