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JAZZ SAX LEGEND JOHNNY GRIFFIN DIES...

Tuesday, 29 July 2008 02:10 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

JAZZ SAX LEGEND JOHNNY GRIFFIN DIES...

JOHNNY GRIFFIN, the diminutive Windy City-born tenor saxophone player who was nicknamed the 'Little Giant' died suddenly at his home in the village of Mauprevoir, France, on Friday 25th July. He was 80. Born in Chicago in 1928, Griffin - whose rapid-fingered hard bop style earned him the title 'the fastest saxophone player in the west' - rose to fame in the ranks of Lionel Hampton's band in the 1940s. In 1957 he recorded a famous album for Blue Note alongside fellow tenor sax titans John Coltrane and Hank Mobley called 'A Blowing Session.' After spending some time with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the late-'50s, Griffin decamped to France in the 1960s, where he stayed until his death. In May this year, Griffin celebrated his eightieth birthday by performing two concerts at Ronnie Scott's in London.


 

NEW EXPANSION RELEASES...

Thursday, 24 July 2008 03:32 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

NEW EXPANSION RELEASES...

One of the UK's leading independent soul music labels, Expansion, releases three new titles in the first half of August. Perhaps the most eagerly awaited of the bunch is the first ever UK reissue of LAMONT DOZIER'S 1981 album for Columbia, 'Working On You,' which was only previously available on CD in Japan as a limited edition item. It features the sought-after rare groove, 'Starting Over.'
Released the same day - 11th of August - is a sterling 15-track collection devoted to soul man, TYRONE DAVIS. The tracks are drawn from his '70s tenure with Columbia Records though the collection's bonus track, the in-demand 'Do You Feel It,' first appeared in 1985 on the indie Future label. The set includes the soul gems 'In The Mood,' 'Never Stop Loving Me,' and the Beyonce-sampled, 'Ain't Nothing I Can Do.'
Expansion also releases a 2-CD compilation on August 4th called 'New Soul Woman.' The 30-track set features some of the best distaff names in contemporary soul - ranging from Maysa Leak and Adriana Evans to Ebony Alleyne, N'dambi, LaToya London and Ledisi. The compilation features exclusive songs by Gianna, Tonia Smith and Eleana Young.


 

GOODIES FROM DOME

Wednesday, 23 July 2008 12:45 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

GOODIES FROM DOME

August sees the ever-reliable Dome label issue two fab new albums… though the first of the pair isn't brand new - it's CONYA DOSS'S acclaimed debut album 'A Poem about Ms. Doss.' The CD was originally issued in 2002 - but only in the US, and when word of its brooding sensuality and potent soul energy filtered across the Atlantic the collection was soon in demand despite being difficult to track down. Now, Dome are giving the set a full UK and European release so that those who've followed the Cleveland-born soulstress's career through her last three releases (all on Dome) can catch up on that all-important first chapter. Dome's second August biggie is the new album from Brixton's own DON-E. The album's called 'Naturally' and it's an amazingly varied affair though each cut is rooted in real, modern soul. One of the high spots is a down tempo take on BOB MARLEY'S 'Waiting In Vain' while the set also features duet input from KEISHA BUCHANAN, KELE LE ROC and MUTYA BUENA. Biggest coup for the Brixton boy, however, is to have D'ANGELO on keys on 'So Cold' - a song that's been eagerly sought since bootlegged versions leaked out a while back.

 

A TRIUMPHANT RETURN FROM VETERAN JAZZ-ROCK DEITIES...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008 06:22 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

A TRIUMPHANT RETURN FROM VETERAN JAZZ-ROCK DEITIES...

It was like being transported in a time machine back to 1975 - to an era before punk rock was born when turgid prog-rock dinosaurs ruled the album charts and musicians were revered for their technical prowess rather than their ability to convey feeling or write a decent tune. At least that was my experience as I witnessed the recently reformed '70s jazz-rock fusion supergroup RETURN TO FOREVER play to a packed house at Indigo2 on Monday 21st July. Just prior to the concert - their first in London for 25 years - the band (comprising keyboard sorcerer CHICK COREA, bassist STANLEY CLARKE, guitarist AL DIMEOLA and drummer LENNY WHITE) picked up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Jazz Awards, presented to them by the Fab Four's legendary producer, Sir George Martin. After performing their classic track 'The Romantic Warrior' at the awards the group rushed down the Thames to Indigo2 where they proceeded to dust off their back catalogue in front of a surprisingly youthful audience (many of whom, I dare say, weren't even born when the band was at its undoubted peak in the mid-'70s). For both diehards and neophytes, Return To Forever didn't disappoint. Considering that the quartet hadn't played together as a group for a quarter of a century, there was a remarkable, and at times, jaw-droppingly potent, synergy in evidence - Corea's mercurial keyboards duelled thrillingly with DiMeola's rapid-fingered, Latin-esque guitar passages, while Clarke's sinewy bass lines and Lenny White's propulsive drums provided a solid rhythmic bedrock (that didn't stop the dexterous Clarke from delivering some tremendously imaginative solos on double bass in the second half of the show). Understandably, songs from the new 2-CD retrospective, 'Return To Forever: The Anthology' dominated the group's set, though it was edifying to witness Corea and his confreres - minus DiMeola - perform the standard 'Alice In Wonderland' in a straight-ahead acoustic trio setting. During the two-and-a-half hour set there were, I have to confess, a couple of dull moments (Lenny White's drum solo was one) and a pretentious one as well (Chick Corea hitting his piano strings with a soft-headed drum stick) but given the sometimes self-indulgent nature of this ancient jazz-meets-prog-rock Leviathan, that wasn't at all surprising. Overall, a triumphant return.
(CW)

 

MUTHAFUNKIN' MARVELLOUS

Wednesday, 16 July 2008 14:31 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

MUTHAFUNKIN' MARVELLOUS

One of the biggest soulful house anthems of recent years has been the MUTHAFUNKAZ'S 'The Way You Love Me' - in all its various incarnations. Still sounding great today, with DJ SPEN, RON HALL and vocalist MARC EVANS all in the mix, the tune epitomises the best of the soulful dance side of Philadelphia. The good news is that the gang are about to unleash a whole album offering the same uplifting musical message. Using the 'The Way You Love Me' as its title, the LP is stuffed with classic soulful house grooves, some sweet ballads and a couple of cuts that will please right across the whole soul spectrum. First up there's the luscious 'This Thing Called Love' and then there's 'If You Want My Love Put Something Down On It'. That latter is set to become of the year's big tunes as its sweeping Philly-style grooves ignite modern soul rooms. The label is the DEFECTED imprint TSOD and there'll be a full review on www.soulandjazzandfunk.com very soon.

 

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