Spreading wings out into the wider world from Birmingham this is as good an advert for the city as any. TJ first came to national note in 1996 with ‘The Fusionist’ on Nation, soon Europe took note of his stylish, chilled use of drum’n’bass and cultural roots and further superb releases and re-mixes followed. This is his fifth full-length release, the core of drum’n’bass, Asian traditional and beats remains but the style has evolved as the talent has grown so the whole is more organic more expressive and simply superb.
Parisian harmonica player J.J. Milteau brings in Gil Scott-Heron, Terry Callier and N’Dambi to produce a varied release that brings a whole new perspective to any thoughts you might previously of the harmonica. J.J.Milteau is a musical explorer, this time he¹s heading for the land of soul ‘The Lonely Knows’ with its opening of harmonica straight out of a western glides into N’Dambi’s soulful blues while ‘Some Kind Of Pressure’ with Terry Callier has your man getting dirty with the blues. Lou Donaldson’s ‘Turtle Walk’ features some tasty baritone from Howard Johnson whilst Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Home Is Where The Hatred is’ works just right with Gil’s vocals bouncing off J.J.’s flowing harmonica breaks. Very good.
Re-issue, Cassandra Wilson’s sublime vocals (listen to the classic Body & Soul) in their earlier days at the start of her journey to become a jazz superstar. Here in 1990 she gives notice of what is to come with her interpretations of both her own and material from Billy Strayhorn, Aretha Franklin etc. She has ideal accompaniment here, particularly pianist Rod Williams and percussionist Tani Tabbal but it¹s always the voice that moves you, timeless yet fragile. Graham Radley
Lebanese saxophonist and composer Toufic Farroukh has re-visited his France only first album from 1993 and added a little mixed a bit more before re-mastering the whole to produce a fine contemporary CD of middle-eastern jazz. Toufic studied music at the Conservatoire National de Musique in Paris and collaborates regularly as a composer with the department of modern dance at the Paris Conservatory, that training and environment gives his music a more expressive feel with jazz giving added freedom. Well worth checking out.
According to the sleeve notes this is just a small selection of literally hundreds of previously unreleased recordings which Roy himself owns and to which he has given Barely Breaking Even label boss, Peter Adarkwah unlimited access. The resulting album is quite brilliant since everything here is pure quality. Of the 13 tracks though my current favourite’s are ‘I Really Love You’, ‘Oh What A Lonely Feeling’, ‘Mystery Of Love’, ‘I Just Wanna Give It Up’ and ‘Brand New Feeling’ which all feature Merry Clayton on vocal chores. The latter being the only inclusion from the recent 12” releases. It’s quite staggering that tracks such as these have been kept hidden for so long but thankfully their time has now come. Let’s hope there are plans to release further volumes.