Category Archives: Album Reviews

Cassandra Wilson – She Who Weeps. JMT

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

Toufic Farroukh Ali On Broadway – The Other Mix. Le Chant Du Monde

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.

Graham Radley

Roy Ayers ‘Virgin Ubiquity: Unreleased Recordings 1976-1981’ 2LP/CD (BBE Music)

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 favourites 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.

Andrew Allen

Gipsy Kings ‘Live’ CD (Columbia)

Compared to the likes of Jaleo or the late Cameron, Spanish rumba flamenco fans are apt to give the Gipsy Kings something of a slating for lacking a certain authenticity. But let’s face it, the lads could never be described as either dyed in the wool traditionalists or flamenco progressives. The nettle they grasp is sheer unabashed commerciality. That’s their tried and tested formula, and with another album set to sell by the barrowload, they’re obviously sticking to it. This was recorded during their ’91 world tour and as you might expect it’s packed with their all-time favourites. The feel of a live performance is well captured even if the finale of Bamboleo complete with audience participation is enough to put you off that catchy number for life. Destined to sell.

Brian Parsons aka Zuppa Inglese

Sharon Shannon ‘Sharon Shannon’ CD (Solid)

Best known for her work with The Waterboys, this album was conceived as a solo project, that is before the accordion wiz took off for a year’s arduous touring with the Boys. But it was worth the wait. In true Irish style, so many guest musos dropped in that the solo project turned into a huge session featuring some of Ireland’s finest players. There are a few subtle deviations from what is largely an instrumental traditional Irish norm, including a traditional Portuguese dance and a touch of cajun and imaginative use of Hammond organ on many tracks. It’s a fine album that shows off the woman’s musical talent and virtuosity to the full.

Brian Parsons aka Zuppa Inglese