UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Steve Williams

Steve’s 20 favourite albums of 2019:

1. Mark Lomax II – 400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia)

2. Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Orchestra with Brooklyn Raga Massive – Ragmala: A Garland of Ragas (Meta)

3. BRAHJA (aka Devin Brahja Waldman) – Brahja (RR Gems)

4. The Curtis Brothers – Algorithm (Truth Revolution)

5. Mikkel Nordsø Quintet – Out There (Stunt)

6. Scopes – Scopes (Whirlwind Recordings)

7. Scatter The Atoms That Remain – Exultation (Dot Time)

8. Leon Maria Plecity – Otherworld (JazzHausMusik)

9. Nat Birchall – The Storyteller – A Musical Tribute to Yusef Lateef (Jazzman)

10. Mark Lotz Trio – The Wroclaw Sessions (Audio Cave)

11. Muriel Grossmann – Reverence (RR Gems / Dreamlandrecords)

12. Benjamin Boone / Philip Levine – The Poetry of Jazz Vol. 2 (Origin)

13. Ashley Henry – Beautiful Vinyl Hunter (Sony Music)

14. Alexi Tuomarila Trio – Sphere (Edition)

15. Plume – Escaping The Dark Side (jazz&people)

16. Club d’Elf – Night Sparkles Live (Face Pelt)

17. Etuk Ubong – Tales of Life (Jazzaggression)

18. Petter Eldh – Koma Saxo (We Jazz)

19. Jason Palmer – Rhyme and Reason (Giant Step Arts)

20. Peter Lin & TNT Quartet – New Age Old Ways (Self-released)

UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Kevin Ward

In alphabetical order:

Joe Armon-Jones – Turn To Clear View (Brownswood Recordings)
BaBa ZuLa – Derin Derin (Glitterbeat)
BRAHJA (aka Devin Brahja Waldman) – Brahja (RR Gems)
John Coltrane – Blue World (Impulse!)
The Comet is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of Deep Mystery (Impulse!)
Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips (Sargent House)
Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones – From Untruth (Northern Spy)
Ezra Collective – You Can’t Steal My Joy (Enter The Jungle)
The Flaming Lips – The King’s Mouth (Bella Union)
El Khat – Saadia Jefferson (Batov)
Kokoroko ‎– Kokoroko (Brownswood Recordings)
Kongo Dia Ntotila – 360° (Pussyfoot)
Mother Earth – Soona Than Much Layta (Self-released)
Georgia Anne Muldrow – VWETO II (Mello Music Group)
Neue Grafik Ensemble – Foulden Road (Total Refreshment Centre)
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Heavy Rain (On-U Sound)
Pond – Tasmania (Marathon Artists)
Phil Ranelin – Collected Works 2003-2019 (Wide Hive)
Steam Down – Free My Skin (Decca)
24-7 Spyz – The Soundtrack To The Innermost Galaxy (Fraternity Music Group / Gumbo)

Randy Brecker / Ada Rovatti ‘Brecker Plays Rovatti: Sacred Bond’ 2LP/CD (Jazzline) 4/5

‘Brecker Plays Rovatti’ may mark the first official album that sees trumpeter Randy Brecker and saxophonist Ada Rovatti share top billing but, as many may know, the husband and wife partnership has actually served as long-term collaborators appearing on many of each other’s past projects dating as far back as Rovatti’s first solo album ‘Under The Hat’ released in 2003.

It’s the prestigious German label Jazzline who can now boast having hosted this long-overdue project which sees Ada Rovatti’s compositions take centre stage for the album. As a quick aside, it would be remiss not to mention Jazzline’s very successful 2019 – along with ‘Brecker Plays Rovatti’, there was the recent stunning live project from Snarky Puppy pianist Bill Laurance pairing him with the WDR Big Band for their ‘Live At The Philharmonie Cologne’ set, and in fact a further Brecker project ‘Rocks’ which saw the trumpeter partnered with NDP Big Band – The Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra.

But such is Brecker’s prolific nature – the US trumpeter’s staggering career kicked off in the mid to late ’60s having contributed to music from acts as diverse and iconic as Horace Silver, Jaco Pastorius, George Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Frank Zappa as well as having appeared in countless quartets and big bands. And then there’s the other half of that coin, Italian saxophonist Ada Rovatti. Although having taken a much different path, Rovatti’s credentials have proved awe-inspiring – there have been collaborations with artists including Carmen Lundy, Jeff Lorber, Aretha Franklin and Herbie Hancock, four solo projects as well as her work with The Elephunk Band.

‘Brecker Plays Rovatti’ brings together many long-term friends and collaborators really highlighting the personal and family-inspired nature present throughout ‘Sacred Bond’. The musicians include bassist Alexander Claffy (Charles Owens Quartet, Ben Eunson), keyboardist Jim Beard (Pat Metheny, Steely Dan), pianist David Kikoski (Wayne Escoffery, Monday Michiru), drummer Rodney Holmes (Wayne Shorter, Carlos Santana), percussionist Edson Da Silva Cafe (Harry Belafonte, James Taylor) and guitarist Adam Rogers (Terri Lyne Carrington, The Michael Brecker Group) who appears on a handful of the album’s tracks.

With subtle dalliances into Latin styles the music here is very much presented as a celebration – ‘The Other Side of the Coin’ and ‘Quietly Me’ serve as strong album highlights, as is the swing of ‘The Queen of Bibelot’, helping the poignancy of ‘Sacred Bond’ really shine through. Beyond the fact that saxophonist Ada Rovatti now stands beside her husband Randy in the way his brother, saxophonist Michael Brecker, once did as the other half of the renown Brecker Brothers, the album’s title track also features additional vocals from Randy and Ada’s 10-year-old daughter, Stella, which is an exquisite touch.

Imran Mirza

UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Imran Mirza

Catching Flies ‘Komorebi’ from Silver Linings (Indigo Soul)
The Comet is Coming ‘Unity’ from Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Impulse!)
Mark de Clive-Lowe ‘The Offering’ from Heritage (Ropeadope)
Ishmael Ensemble ‘Lapwing’ from A State of Flow (Severn Songs)
Jason McGuiness Feat. Keyon Harrold ‘Empyrean Tones’ from Empyrean Tones (Common Good)
Scrimshire Feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow ‘Thru You’ from Listeners (Albert’s Favourites)
Ghost Funk Orchestra ‘Modern Scene’ from A Song For Paul (Colemine)
ATOMGA ‘Lucidity’ (Color Red)
14KT ‘Down The Street From Peace’ from For My Sanity (First Word)
Alfa Mist Feat. Jordan Rakei ‘Door’ from Structuralism (Sekito)
Bobby Oroza ‘Alone Again’ from This Love (Big Crown)
Koma Saxo ‘Cyclops Dance’ from Koma Saxo (We Jazz)
Cykada ‘Dimension Stepper’ from Cykada (Astigmatic)
Quantic Feat. Denitia ‘You Used to Love Me’ Alfa Mist Remix (Tru Thoughts)
Tensei Feat. A Billi Free & Brandee Younger ‘Liquid Tongues’ from Constellations (Tokyo Dawn)
Building Instrument ‘Lanke’ from Mangelin Min (Hubro)
Bryony Jarman-Pinto ‘Threads’ from Cage and Aviary (Tru Thoughts)
Lasperanza Feat. Heidi Vogel and Keni Stevens ‘Under The Moon and Over The Sky’ from Seeds (Dome)
JEDI ‘Momento’ Full Album (Color Red)
Durand Jones & The Indications Feat. Aaron Frazer ‘Don’t You Know’ from American Love Call (Colemine)

Gianluca Vigliar ‘Plastic Estrogenus’ CD (A.MA) 4/5

Plastic Estrogenus is the second album for Rome based saxophonist Gianliuca Vigliar. Here the quartet of Vigliar on tenor sax, Francesco Fratini on trumpet, Luca Fattorini on double bass and Marco Valeri on drums is now a quintet with the inclusion of Andrea Biondi on vibraphone. The majority of the tracks are also composed by Vigliar.

The hypnotic theme of the first track, “Julaya” is kicked off by warm chiming vibes, closely followed by horns in harmony. There’s a refreshing Latin feel which is especially effective during the good quality sax and vibes solos. The throbbing insistent bass underscores the more sombre “Apokalypto” with a neat call and response solo section from sax and trumpet.

A burst of vibes introduces “Plastic Estrogenus”, the stand out track on this release. The title refers to the effect of our pollution of the oceans. The empty space is slowly and sporadically encroached by the individual players as they orbit and gravitate towards the wondrously sinuous motif. The instrumentation is acoustic but the precise and intricate playing is in the spirit of fusion.

The driving bass initially propels “Minors” with relatively simple lines but the joy comes from the measured and intelligent improvised interaction between the players when it breaks down midway through. “Taxi Stereo” is smooth but groovy and has slight hints of soul. The uptempo, idiosyncratic “Loopy”’s galloping rhythmic signature is a little disorientating but the track is a platform for more wonderful improv. Slow blues “Suerte!” closes the set, an extended showcase for enjoyable solos from all the players.

This album’s a pleasurable listen with some really quite exciting and beautiful moments. The standard of musicianship is good and the band is tight and energetic. The musical interchange gives the impression there was a pretty strong rapport between them in these sessions. I admit I have a soft spot for the old vibes but expanding to the quartet is a master stroke and has brought more balance and colour to the mix.

Kevin Ward

Dan Rosenboom ‘Absurd In The Anthropocene’ 2LP/CD (Orenda/Gearbox) 4/5

“This album is about responding to our modern world in a way that is reflectively critical yet frenetically joyous,” Dan Rosenboom says. “Maelstrom and cognitive dissonance are everywhere, online and on the news. People cherry-pick what they want to believe and discount factual data. Inequity is rampant. In the face of such overwhelming chaos, turning toward our inner humanity is a powerful move. I want to take all that emotional fuel, and turn it into something creative, spontaneous, and beautiful.”

Trumpeter-composer-producer-entrepreneur Rosenboom is considered one of Los Angeles’ top musical pioneers. Indeed, the Los Angeles Times dubbed him “a musician dedicated to exploration and expression, regardless of anyone’s imagined boundaries.” His cross-genre penchant has had him work with John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Josh Grogan as well as many personal projects including Balkan jazz-rock group, PLOTZ, and socio-political protest band, Burning Ghosts. His need is not lost on the wide-ranging mix of high-quality musicians assembled here either: Jeff Babko (keyboards), Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak, and Zach Danziger (drums), Jimmy Johnson, Tim Lefebvre and Jerry Watts Jr. (bass), Rosenboom’s longtime mate Gavin Templeton and jazzer David Binney on saxophones…the list goes on, you get the picture.

“Mr. Lizard Said” has Danziger hurling himself around the kit and around Babko’s fat synth bassline as Rosenboom horn-scats some smoothed-off angles, sometimes doubling up with Babko, sometimes returning to a motif. Special energy between them.

If God gives you lemons…riff hard. “Lemonade” high-density rocks. Danzinger again bringing power, as the band make deep, thick saxy Sabbath and Tim Conley goes all Maggot Brained on us.

“Pushed to the Edge of Ideas by Dispassionate Bias-Algorithm Bots” is definitely the best track title of 2020. Musically, it has an early-mid 90s vibe about it, like a slightly less algorithm-obsessed M-base or something. The space created for solos by Novak and Watts Jr is inviting, enthusing and both Templeton and Rosenboom take full advantage. Rosenboom’s solo is so well-paced and deliberate, creating high drama and continued expectation. Love it when the horns come back together to coda.

Expansive and hovering with very little projection is “Still”. +6 minutes of sparse glam space jazz backing to a deft, pure, heartfelt Rosenboom’s slow exploration of feeling and location. Gorgeous.

“Heliopteryx” is wild and exuberant; washes, scrapes, grinds and burps support Danzinger’s massacre of his kit as fierce riffing horns lead to both Rosenboom and Templeton letting rip. Kinda art jazz prog metal, kinda.

“Nebulounge” (another great title) is tight n funky with Rosenboom a bit Miles and Templeton nice and lyrical. Feels like they’re jamming but keeping it tidy.

“Apes in Rapture” (yet another great title!) is a joyful, big band, 70s space trekking TV soundtrack with a touch of the Zappas about it. It’s so good-natured yet classy in its captivating swells and releases, its difficult time changes. High glamour too; it must be that Hollywood influence…

The jazzy IDM-aware “Forget What You Know” has Danziger battling some robotic square fuzz as first Templeton then Rosenboom heroically duck n dive. The serpentine “Green Moon” appears to effortlessly meander until Novak’s explosive work is finally wrapped up tight by those damned snake horns.

Chugging dampened metal guitar throbs “Obsidian Butterfly” along. Swinging horn riffs come and go. Haunted, chaotic sax. Distorted, delayed guitars wail. Scales occasionally head east. Epic.

Novak gets very busy during the final adventure, “Drowning On The High Ground”. Ganged, tentacle-like lines explore the higher ground, comping and dancing keys take over, subduing Novak briefly before Rosenboom stands proud, tentacles return and our musical journey gently comes to an end.

There’s A LOT going on here. The musicianship is faultless throughout. And, yes, genres are blurred and envelopes are pushed but it never feels forced or that the blurring-and-pushing is its main purpose. It feels spontaneous, euphoric, characterful and always like the musicians are having lots of fun; together. That’s a pretty healthy response to this chaotic, dissonant modern world, I would’ve thought.

Ian Ward

UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Molly Gallegos

My favourite albums of 2019
(In No Particular Order)

Orieta Chrem – Tótems (Matraca)
Mitú – Tandem (Ajabu!)
Nicola Cruz – Siku (ZZK)
Mateo Kingman – Astro (AYA)
Various – Flora y Fauna: Ecosistema de Folklore Digital Argentino (Pura/Discos Crack)
Combo Chimbita – Ahomale (ANTI‐)
Quitapenas – Tigrada (Cosmica)
Helado Negro – This is How You Smile (Universal Music Australia)
Liniker e os Caramelows – Goela Abaixa (Self-released)
Catalina – Multifacética (Self-released)
Los Retros – Retrospect (Stones Throw)
Girl Ultra – Nuevos Aires (Finesse/Empire)
La Santa Cecilia – La Santa Cecilia (Rebeleon/Universal)
Sister Mantos – Songs in the Key of Destroy Capitalism (Self-released)
Making Movies – ameri’kana (3/2 Recordings)
Fémina – Perlas y Conchas (Self-released)
Juana Molina – ForFun (Crammed Discs)
Y la Bamba – Mujeres (Tender Loving Empire)
Daymé Arocena – Sonocardiogram (Brownswood Recordings)

UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Mike Gates

Mike Gates’ Best of 2019:

1. Dr. Mark Lomax, II – 400: An Afrikan Epic (CFG Multimedia)

2. Nat Birchall – The Storyteller: A Musical Tribute to Yusef Lateef (Jazzman)

3. Bridges with Seamus Blake – Continuum (AMP Music & Records)

4. Plume – Escaping the Dark Side (jazz&people)

5. Muriel Grossmann – Reverence (RR Gems / Dreamlandrecords)

6. Ethan Iverson Quartet with Tom Harrell – Common Practice (ECM)

7. Liam Noble – The Long Game (Edition)

8. Tom Syson – Different Coloured Days (Self-released)

9. Julian Lage – Love Hurts (Mack Avenue)

10. Esbjörn Svensson Trio – Live in Gothenburg (ACT Music)

11. Espen Berg Trio – Free To Play (Odin)

12. Szabolcs Oláh Quintet – Crystal Book (Self-released)

13. Kit Downes – Dreamlife of Debris (ECM)

14. Rebecca Nash/Atlas – Peaceful King (Whirlwind Recordings)

15. Adam Rudolph’s Go Organic Orchestra – Ragmala (Meta)

16. Crosscurrents Trio [Dave Holland / Zakir Hussain / Chris Potter] – Good Hope (Edition)

17. Enrico Rava / Joe Lovano – Roma (ECM)

18. Anton Eger – Æ (Edition)

19. Andy Hay – Many Rivers (Self-released)

20. Mike Walker – Ropes (Market Square)

UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Andy Allen

Andy Allen’s Rhythm Chronicles favourite new releases of 2019:

A Man Called Adam – Ou Pas (Other)
Aldorande – Beauty Island (Favorite)
Nat Birchall – Love Theme From “Spartacus” (Jazzman)
Camarão Orkestra – Nação África (Favorite)
John Coltrane – Blue World (Impulse!)
Darkhouse Family – All The Way feat. Tyler Daley & Kaidi Tatham (First Word)
Mark de Clive-Lowe – Offering (Ropeadope)
EVM128 – Changes feat. Renato Paris [Renato’s Live Version] (Studio Rockers)
Greg Foat – The Dreaming Jewels [Full Album] (Athens Of The North)
14KT pres. Iamabeenie – The Power Of Same feat. Muhsinah (First Word)
Muriel Grossmann – Reverence [Full Album] (RR Gems / Dreamlandrecords)
Matthew Halsall – Distant Land (Gondwana)
Matthew Halsall – It’s What We Do (Gondwana)
Billy Hoyle – Infinite Instance (House Of Beige)
Javonntte – Blue Lady (Ten Lovers Music)
Deborah Jordan – Stay With You feat. Oz & LaNote (Futuristica Music)
Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka [Full Album] (Polydor)
Oso Leone – Virtual U (Apollo)
Han Litz Group – Elaboration Of The Spirits (Han Litz)
Daniel Maunick – One Nite Stand (Far Out Recordings)
The Midnight Hour [Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad] – Harmony feat. Loren Oden (The Midnight Hour)
Mildlife – How Long Does It Take? (Heavenly)
Myele Manzanza – Itaru’s Phone Booth (First Word)
Mosambique – Big City Moves (Jazzland)
Natural Lateral – Cogito Ergo Jam [Full Album] (Social Joy)
Anderson .Paak – King James (Aftermath/12 Tone Music)
Theo Parrish with Maurissa Rose – This Is For You (Sound Signature)
The Pendletons – Blessings For The World (Bastard Jazz)
Jordan Rakei – Origin [Full Album] (Ninja Tune)
Resavoir – Taking Flight feat. Brandee Younger (International Anthem)
Ronin Arkestra – Stranger Searching (Albert’s Favourites)
Ruby Rushton – Eleven Grapes (22A)
Saul – Earth & Rain feat. Poppy Ajudha (Rhythm Section International)
Scrimshire – Won’t Get Better feat. Emma-Jean Thackray (Albert’s Favourites)
Seed Ensemble – The Dream Keeper feat. Cherise Adams-Burnett (Jazz re:freshed)
Sivey – Nobody Else (CoOp Presents)
Summer Children – Samba Bacchanalia (Kid)
Georgie Sweet – Sorry (Futuristica Music)
Dwight Trible – Mothership (Gearbox)
Etuk Ubong – Suddenly (Jazzaggression)
Yelfris Valdes – After Sly (Musica Macondo)
Marcos Valle – Odisseia (Far Out Recordings)
Ash Walker – Aquamarine [Full Album] (Night Time Stories)
Leon Ware – For The Rainbow (Be With Records)
Brandee Younger – Soulris feat. Ravi Coltrane (Self-released)

UK Vibe ‘Best of 2019’ – Brian Goucher

Brian Goucher’s Best of 2019 (In no order)

A Different Sound – Eclectic (Chamber Nickel)
Bastards Of Soul ‘The Waiting Time’ (Eastwood Music Group 45)
Arthur Adams ‘Tear The House Down’ from Here to Make You Feel Good (Cleopatra Blues)
Black & Blues “Chains” (BGP/Flying Dutchman 45 – Unissued early 70s)
Gloria (Rosebud) Black ‘Would You Believe’ (Odav 45 – Unissued Slow Version)
Kelly Finnigan ‘Impressions Of You’ from The Tales People Tell (Colemine)
Sugar Ray Rayford ‘My Cards Are On The Table’ from Somebody Save Me (Forty Below)
The Jay Vons ‘Maybe I Loved You’ from The Word (La Castanya)
Little Anne ‘What Should I Do (Alt Take)’ from Detroit’s Secret Soul (Kent)
Roland Johnson Feat. Emily Wallace ‘Still Here’ from Set Your Mind Free (Blue Lotus)
Laville ‘The Truth’ from The Wanderer (Acid Jazz)
Beres Hammond ‘I Will Take You There’ from Never Ending (VP Music)
Miles Davis Feat. Randy Hall ‘I Love What We Make Together’ from Rubberband (Warner/Rhino)
The Brand New Heavies with Laville ‘Dontcha Wanna’ from TBNH (Acid Jazz)
Menahan Street Band Feat. Saundra Williams ‘There’s A New Day Coming’ (Dunham 45)
Calvin Richardson – Gold Dust (Shanachie)
J. Red The Nephew – Platinum Soul (Soulmop Music)
Reggie Boone – Made Of Love (Moma Moma Music)
Authentics Feat. Ronnie Walker ‘No One Will Ever Know’ (MD 45 Unissued early 70s)
Cool Million Feat. Boogie Black & A.Tobin ‘Save Your Love’ from Stronger (Sedsoul)

Astral Travelling Since 1993