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Droppin' Science - Saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch talks maths and music...

Saturday, 22 October 2016 08:36 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


"Really, this album is about unity in the face of division," says double MOBO-winning saxophonist, MC, DJ and radio presenter, SOWETO KINCH, explaining the concept behind his latest long player, 'Nonagram.' It's the Birmingham-based jazz man's fifth album and the follow-up to 2012's  epic double CD, 'The Legend Of Mike Smith,' which, incidentally, is soon to be revived as a travelling stage show. But 'Nonagram' finds this former Oxford scholar (he studied Modern History) exploring the relationship between geometry and sound.

"Essentially, it's about the connection between numbers, music and healing," states Kinch, "and the fact that you can't see music or numbers but you get the sense that they're there. There are sonic and fundamental laws that govern how we feel: that make us on edge or at harmony or peace. That was something that I was keen to explore on this album. Also, in this age of division and polarisation based on race, class and gender, there are some really fundamental, universal truths that I think that numbers and sounds hold for us."

While the main thrust of 'Nonagram's' conceit sounds a tad abstruse, perhaps, to the layman - especially those not conversant with geometry and mathematics - you don't have to be cognizant of the theorizing behind the music to truly appreciate what Kinch is doing. Just in terms of its listening appeal, Kinch has produced a very direct, down-to-earth collection of songs where post-bop jazz improv of the highest order and socio-political, 'conscious' hip-hop intersect in an accessible yet meaningful way.

In a revealing interview with Charles Waring's SJF, the 38-year-old Mercury Music Prize-nominated musician and radio presenter of BBC Radio 3's Jazz Now programme talks in depth about 'Nonagram' and other aspects of his career...

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 October 2016 08:53



Friday, 21 October 2016 18:53 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altROBERT 'BIG SONNY' EDWARDS of famed Philly vocal group, the INTRUDERS died on Saturday October 15th. He was 74. Reports suggest that Edwards suffered a sudden heart attack at his Philadelphia home and died at a local hospital.

The news of his sad passing was announced by Philadelphia International Records co-founders Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The Intruders were particularly dear to the duo; the group were one of the first that they signed to their fledgling Gamble imprint. In a joint statement Gamble and Huff said: "The Intruders, featuring Big Sonny and the rest of the original members, helped start our musical career as a team. Not only was the group one of the first artists we wrote for and produced, they were also our close friends."

The Intruders began their musical odyssey as a do-wop group with the line up of Robert Edwards, Phil Terry, Sam "Little Sonny" Brown and Eugene "Bird" Daughtry. In 1966 they signed to Gamble Records and scored a hit with '(We're Gonna be) United' –an early example of the classic Gamble/Huff sound. In 1968 they enjoyed bigger success with 'Cowboys To Girls' an indeed its told that it was the success of the Intruders that convinced Columbia Records to provide some of the finance for Gamble and Huff to set up Philadelphia International. In 1970 lead singer Little Sonny Brown was replaced by Bobby Starr and the group enjoyed success with 'Win, Place Or Show'. Then in a turn around Brown was back to front what is possibly the group's best known song, 'I'll Always Love My Mama'.

The Intruders disbanded in 1974, though Daughtry re-launched them in 1984 without any other original members. After one album for the UK Streetwave label, they disbanded too for Bobby Starr to then launch another reincarnation.

Daughtry died in 1994; Brown committed suicide after years of drugs misuse and now Edwards' death leaves just Phil Terry from the original line up. This week he wrote: "Not only was Big Sonny my long-time friend for over 59 years, he was like a brother to me. He was clearly the heartbeat of the group and had a positive impact on all of us."

Big Sonny Edwards is survived by his wife Deborah Edwards, son Nijer Edwards and two grandchildren. Memorial services will be held on Oct. 29 at Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Philadelphia.


Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2016 18:58



Friday, 21 October 2016 07:47 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


Phil Chess (pictured far right with his brother Leonard on the left and Leonard's son Marshall Chess in the centre), one of the co-founders of arguably the greatest rhythm and blues record companies, Chicago's iconic Chess Records, has died at his Arizona home aged 95.

Born in Motule, Poland, seven-year-old Fiszel and his elder sibling, eleven-year-old Lejzor Czyż (pronounced 'Chy-zh') followed their father to America in 1928  and ended up working in his Chicago scrap yard. But the brothers - who anglicized their names to Phil and Leonard Chess - had bigger ambitions and opened a liquor store in the south side of Chicago before purchasing a nightclub, the Macomba Lounge, in 1948. That led them to getting involved in the music industry and in particular rhythm and blues. Believing that there was money to be made by making records primarily aimed at the developing African-American market, they formed Chess Records in 1950. Signing influential musicians such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Little Walter,  and Chuck Berry, Chess rapidly established itself as the house of blues in the 1950s. Before the '50s had ended, Chess had already branched out into jazz, adding the Ahmad Jamal Trio to the company's Argo subsidiary imprint.

In the '60s, Chess moved into the emerging soul market with artists like The Dells,  Etta James, Laura Lee, Fontella Bass, Mitty Collier, and Marlena Shaw but one of their biggest selling acts of the '60s was the Ramsey Lewis Trio, who served up infectious, finger-clicking platters of soul-jazz on the company's Cadet label.

In 1969, the Chess brothers sold their company to GRT though they continued to be involved with its daily activities. Sadly, Leonard Chess died in 1972 and by this time, the label was going into a terminal decline. In 1975, an ailing GRT sold Chess to Joe and Sylvia Robinson's New Jersey-based All Platinum company and later, in the '80s, Chess was acquired by MCA, which was later absorbed into the Universal Music Group.

In founding Chess Records and bringing to the world's attention many groundbreaking artists, Phil and Leonard Chess undoubtedly made a major and profound contribution to the cultural and musical history of America.

Ramsey Lewis posted on his Facebook page: "Phil and his brother Leonard were a great team. As the Ramsey Lewis Trio was first getting started, they signed us to a contract which eventually led to our first hit, 'The 'In' Crowd.' I remember while Leonard would be working more on the business side of Chess records, Phil would be upstairs with the musicians in the studio. He wasn't a musician per se but during one session he told me, "play more of the high keys" (meaning the treble portion of the piano). After another take, we all realized that was just what was needed and it made the recording sound far better. After a long life, he will be greatly missed but his contribution to recorded music will never be forgotten."

R.I.P. PHIL CHESS 1921-2016

Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2016 07:55



Thursday, 20 October 2016 07:39 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


For the first time ever, jazz's favourite cosmonaut, the enigmatic SUN RA (1914-1993), has all of his singles brought together in a must-have compendium from the UK's Strut label. Titled 'The Definitive 45s Collection,' the set spans the years 1952-1991 and includes many rare sides  that were issued in small quantities on the small, independent Chicago-based El Saturn label.

The music is available in four formats - as a download only; a 3xLP set in gatefold packaging with a download code included; a 3-CD digipak set; and best and most luxurious of all,  a flip-top box set housing ten 7-inch singles that features original sleeve art, which is limited to 500 copies (it also includes a download code).  Accompanying the music are detailed sleeve notes and track-by-track commentary from Ra experts, Francis Gooding and Paul Griffiths, which includes an interview with Alton Abraham, the founder of Saturn Records. All the music is remastered from the best possible audio sources

The releases date is November 25th. 

Read an interview with the Sun Ra Arkestra's Knoel Scott:

Sun Ra DVD review:

Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2016 13:41



Monday, 17 October 2016 13:42 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLondon-based indie soul man DAPAUL is right now putting the finishing touches to his new album, 'London Town'.... our man's homage to his much-loved home town.

By now you should be familiar with the title track... it's been out there for some time and enjoyed plenty of air time on all the best soul stations.

Whilst we wait for the finished long player, Dapaul has just released another single from the set... the sprightly, optimistic 'The Way I Do'. The song is actually a duet with Korin Deanna, a soul singer from Atlanta, Georgia. She adds some delightfully soulful touches to the cut which also features some tasty jazz piano!

Last Updated on Monday, 17 October 2016 13:49


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