ALL ABOARD THE BATTLESPARK GALACTICA - Bobby Sparks II Talks Schizophrenia, Chilli Sauce And Prince

Friday, 05 April 2019 07:16 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

      alt"My father made the best chilli in the world," says Bobby Sparks II in a deep, sleepy voice that possesses a languid, molasses-rich, Southern drawl. "He used to win chilli cook-off contests all the time. He was known as Chilli Poppa." The quietly-spoken 46-year-old keyboard player originally from Texas - who can heard on Snarky Puppy's latest album, 'Immigrance' - is reflecting on the inspiration behind a spicy number that appears on his debut album, 'Schizophrenia - The Yang Project.' It's a succulent funk jam with a sticky backbeat called 'Bobby Sparks Sr.'s Famous Chili' and is intended as a homage to his late father's famed piquant Mexican stew.

Though, Bobby Jr. might not be noted for his culinary prowess, on his new album - a sprawling double platter released via the Leopard label - he blends together different musical ingredients like a bonafide master chef. Indeed, the album is characterised by an abundance of tangy and delectable flavours. As already mentioned, you'll find some searing chunks of funk, but you'll also discover R&B, hip-hop, jazz, blues, and rock flavours together with elements drawn from symphonic and world music. It's a kaleidoscopic collage of sounds and styles that is breathtaking, and at times, almost epic, in its scope...

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2019 18:07


CHEAP DREAMS ... The Eli Reed Interview

Thursday, 28 March 2019 14:35 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

altELI "PAPERBOY" REED was one of the first of the new generation of "for real" soul singers and he's all set to launch his next t album '99 Cent Dreams'. We last spoke back in 2010 when he was riding high with his long player 'Come And Get It'. That album had the backing of the mighty Capitol label and Eli's next LP was out on Warner Bros... before long, though, he was back working for the indie set up Yep Roc – also the imprint for '99 Cent Dreams', so when we hooked up again we wanted to know just what happend at those major labels....

That's am big question! A lot happened in between 2010 and now, some good and some bad. Unfortunately, major labels these days can be quite topsy turvy. Especially a few years ago, there was a lot of bureaucratic upheaval that went on, with people being shuffled around to different positions or losing their jobs altogether. It was a tough time for artists like myself because no one at the majors wanted to take a chance to push for a big campaign since if things didn't pan out they could easily be fired. Ultimately I ended up getting dropped from Warner in 2014 after a lot of my champions at the label either lost their jobs or were moved to different areas. I was quite disillusioned with the whole process and ended up channelling that to make the "My Way Home" album that came out in 2016. I made that record on my own dime and was put in touch with Yep Roc by my old friend Nick Lowe. They loved the record and were happy and excited to be in business with me which was a feeling I never really got at any of the majors I was on. In the end it was a tough process and I'm just now coming out the other side of it.

Try to define the differences between major labels and indie ones.... in retrospect do you regret signing with those big labels?

I still say that the answer is no and if I got the chance to work with a major again I most likely would. I think the major labels can provide funding and infrastructure that just about nobody else can match and if you're looking to make a big splash as an artist, that's the way to do it.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 March 2019 16:50


STILL SWINGING - Sergio Mendes Talks Cheltenham, Sinatra ... and Pele.

Friday, 22 March 2019 08:57 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

  altWe live in an age where the words 'legendary' and 'iconic' are overused and bandied about my mainstream media commentators with indiscriminate abandon to describe anyone who's been in the public eye for more than a couple of years. But in an era of ephemeral celebrity, SERGIO MENDES is someone who lives up to the true definition of 'legendary' and 'iconic'. A noted pianist and bandleader, he's a bona fide legend of Brazilian music who rose to fame in the mid to late 1960s when he and his group Brazil 66 took the alluring music of his homeland to a wider audience with big US pop hits like 'The Look Of Love,' 'Fool On The Hill,'  and 'Scarborough Fair.'  Fifty years on and Sergio Mendes, who recently celebrated his 78th birthday, is still going strong. He's the subject of a forthcoming documentary, In The Key Of Joy, which is due for release soon, and is working on a new album, the 43rd of his career. 

Sergio is due to fly in and do a handful of concert dates in the UK later this year and his short itinerary includes a stopover at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, where he and his band are due to perform a 75-minute set on Saturday May 4th at 2.00pm. Ahead of his Cheltenham gig, the Rio-born maestro talked exclusively to SJF's Charles Waring about his forthcoming trip to the UK and his long and storied career...

Last Updated on Friday, 22 March 2019 11:23


NO KIDDING! August Darnell Talks Alter Egos, Cab Calloway, And Hails Kid Creole & The Coconuts' New Album, Live In Paris 1985.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019 08:23 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


        alt"Our music was very difficult to categorise," explains softly-spoken August Darnell, the Bronx-raised creator of the 1940s-era retro hustler, Kid Creole, who together with his band, The Coconuts, brightened up our lives in the 1980s with memorable songs such as 'I'm A Wonderful Thing, Baby,' 'Stool Pigeon,' and 'Annie, I'm Not Your Daddy,' all of which were UK Top 10 hits.  "You could find our albums in Third World music bins in record stores," the singer/songwriter remembers, "only because there were some reggae or calypso in it. It was just bizarre because in my opinion it was just pop music, whether it borrowed from salsa, jazz, R&B and funk."

Darnell, now 68, is as charming and charismatic as ever and though he's  laughing at how his homeland pigeonholed his group's music, he's making a serious point. In Europe, Kid Creole & The Coconuts were huge, but in America it was a different story. Their music appeared to confuse some listeners. That's because in the USA, music was strictly segregated in terms of radio play, marketing and promotion and Kid Creole's fusion of different styles caused a consternation bordering on discombobulation. Musing on his band's failure to be wholeheartedly embraced by America, Darnell says: "I used to blame it on the dichotomy of the radio stations because in America if you didn't fit into a slot comfortably - if it wasn't R&B, if it wasn't jazz, if it wasn't pop, but it was all those things combined - then radio stations didn't know what to do with it. That was my excuse in the old days."  

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2019 09:56


SPREADING HIS WINGS: Grammy Winning Birdman Soundtrack Composer Antonio Sanchez Talks Drums, Bad Hombres, And Pat Metheny Ahead Of His May Barbican Concert

Monday, 18 March 2019 18:15 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


There's never been a movie soundtrack quite like the one that Antonio Sanchez created for the 2014 Hollywood movie, Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), helmed by the much-lauded Mexican director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu. That's because it consisted solely of improvised drum patterns played by its composer, who used the instrument's array of percussion sounds to reflect the many moods and mindset of the film's troubled central protagonist, Riggan Thompson. Superbly played by Michael Keaton, Thomson is an actor famous for his portrayal of a masked, crime-fighting superhero character (Birdman) but doesn't want to be typecast and instead desires to be taken seriously by drama critics. The film, a mordant black comedy with some surreal fantasy elements sprinkled in it, charts Thomson's attempts to become a bona fide thespian by starring in his own Broadway stage adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story.

If you've seen the film - which deservedly garnered a plethora of awards, including four Academy Awards - you'll know that Sanchez's drum soundtrack is an essential component of the whole Birdman experience. On Saturday May 4th at London's Barbican venue - as part of the capital city's keenly-anticipated Latin music festival called La Linea - the British public will get an opportunity to see the Mexican-American drummer/composer play the complete soundtrack live in sync with a screening of the film. It promises to be nothing less than a singular immersive spectacle and to tell us what to expect when he takes to the Barbican stage, Antonio Sanchez talked exclusively to SJF's Charles Waring...

Last Updated on Monday, 18 March 2019 19:48


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