Monday, 12 March 2018 15:11 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altFIVE ALARM FUNK are a Canadian band (another Vancouver outfit) and you can guess that they specialise in funk. They've been feeling the funk for almost a decade now and their current line-up is Tayo Branston (drums/vocals), Gabe Boothroyd (guitar), Oliver Gibson (guitar), Jason Smith (bass), Thomas Towers (congas), Ricki Valentine (timbales), Eli Bennett (saxophone) and Kent Wallace (trumpet).

We're told that these feisty funkateers also deal in gypsy rock, Afro-funk, Latin, ska, punk and even at times prog-metal though there's no evidence of any of that on their new single. The double A sider features the fairly routine funk workout 'Wheels On The Bus' though the other side is just a little different. You see 'We Play The Funk' features input from a certain BOOTSY COLLINS.

It seems, that dear old William loved the band's 'Capital City' so much that he asked could he work with them and the result is this bizarre, but tasty four minutes worth of funk. Catchy and insistent, 'We Play The Funk' offers up all of Bootsy's laconic take on the genre. The single is out right now and it also features on a Five Alarm funk EP, 'Boots and Wheels'.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2018 15:18



Monday, 12 March 2018 15:06 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBack in 2015 we introduced you to an experimental jazz collective called METAQUORUM who were led by Russian born, British composer Dmitrty Ermakov. Mr E told us back then that the band's mission statement was to "to blend "jazz, funk, rock, blues, reggae, baroque, electronica, and more with a cool-foot-tapping swing to make the room buzz".

Metaquorum continue in their quest to deliver that exotic and eclectic blend with their brand-new 12 tracker 'Witchcraft Jazz'. Though still predominantly electronic, this new set is maybe a tad mellower than their previous 'Midnight Sun' long player. That said, it's still not an easy listen –a quick glance at the track titles will tell you that.... I mean 'Socket Swing', 'Goldfinch Charm', 'Limping Mathematician' and 'Seven Dwarfs Rock'!

The sleeve notes are equally oblique:"The vanishing point of horizontal veils, shiver of vibrating stillness in the motion of bending expanse of thought, looking at itself". Dmitrty describes his words and music as "experimental structural fusion" and if you're prepared for the adventure, 'Witchcraft Jazz' is out now.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2018 13:54



Monday, 12 March 2018 15:04 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altCOCO JAFRO are a hard working soul n' funk combo working in around Canada's beautiful Vancouver. The seven piece say their main influences are Santana, Chaka Kahn and Stevie Wonder though they also embrace Latino, reggae and Afrobeat rhythms. Hear all of that and more on the band's latest long player.

'Forces Of Nature' is Coco Jafro's third long player – following their debut instrumental set and the 6 song EP that was 'Voodoo'. The album's title track sums up exactly where the band are at. 'Forces Of Nature' (the track) is a hard driving, funk workout with shades of classic Earth, Wind and Fire – brash and brassy with a convincing feisty femme vocal from Karina Morin. The rest of the band are Amine Said (Guitar), Karl Oystensen (keys) Jean Sebastien LeDoujet (Bass), Sangito Bigolo (Percussion) Chris Couto (Drums) and Dominic Conway (Tenor Saxophone)

'Forces Of Nature' offers two other immediate grabbers - a punchy 'Marhaba' – which, at the risk of causing confusion, I'd describe as "Steely Dan does Latin!" and the sweet 'Fallin''. 'Fallin'' is the album's most understated cut and the better for that – this is the one that soul crowd will have no problem in connecting with.

Elsewhere there are several loose band jams like 'Common Ground' that would benefit from tightening up; a reggae excursion in the form of 'Do What I Want'; an overly dramatic 'Nomad' and the jazzy 'Biliki' which features rocky guitar and crazy flute. Yep, plenty of variety and never less than interesting.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2018 14:01



Friday, 09 March 2018 19:49 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altRONNIE WRIGHT (no, not the sometime, late great Miracle) is a soul man who works out of Portland, Oregon. Oddly he also pursues an alternative career as designer and fashion director; his creations have been taken up by companies like Nike and Adidas. Ron says the designing is a great way to allow him to explore his creativity and to "give love".

Luckily he also gives plenty of "love away" via his music and his collaborative 2015 album 'Bespeak Love' was a gem that was revered by those who discovered it.... enough to get it to #1 on the UK soul album chart in November of that year.

Ronnie has now released the official follow-up confusingly (maybe) titled 'aka Bespeak'. However, there's no confusion about the soul quality. The ten tracker offers great music from start to finish and in these days of "one track long players", 'aka Bespeak' is revelation – one of those (rare) long players you can listen to right through without reaching for the remote to skip!

The album's lead single is the snappy groove, 'I'll Always Love You'. If features a great soul hook and Ron explains the song's meaning: "Everyone one needs that significant other who, without a doubt, has your back. 'I'll Always Love You' expresses that real connection with the true ride or die." Deep and meaningful, for sure, but if you immerse yourself in the song, you'll understand what Ron's about!

Very different is the lovely, 'Let It Go' – a meandering soul ballad in the manner of Luther Vandross or Ruben Studdard and a great vehicle for Mr Wright's velvety smooth, jazz-infused voice.

By singling out those two tunes we're not belittling any of the other eight cuts. At different times we could have highlighted any of them. Yep, this is one great grown up, proper modern soul album. Ronnie again says: "There is a desire for individual expression within each of us that BESPEAKS our persona, style, beliefs, and culture". Don't know about you.... I'm not quite sure what big Ron means. I prefer to let the wonderful music do all the talking. Like someone said the message is in the music. Hugely recommended!

Last Updated on Friday, 09 March 2018 19:58



Friday, 09 March 2018 19:45 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altIt's just been announced that soul legends THE O'JAYS will be coming to the UK for a very special one-off show this summer.

The action takes place @ THE THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE, LONDON on July 15th and tickets have just gone on sale.

The trio still features two original members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams while Eric Grant is the third member. Fans of the group will be keen to catch the show as they'll know that Eddie recently intimated that he was going to "retire" the group next year... and with a pedigree that goes back to the 60s, maybe he deserves a good rest!


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