Friday, 25 September 2009 11:19 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


One of the UK's leading independent soul labels, EXPANSION, has a varied batch of new releases out this autumn. Reissued on CD for the first time are the late-'70s albums 'I'm On My Way,' and 'With Your Love' by Southern soul siren, JACKIE MOORE. Both LPs - which are now available on a single CD - were originally issued by Columbia and produced in Philadelphia by Bobby Eli, who gave Moore a slick, mirror ball makeover. Included is Moore's anthemic disco version of the O'Jays' 'This Time Baby.'
Also reissued for the first time are a couple of long players by the Windy City-based tunesmiths-turned-performers, (Zane) GREY & (Len Ron) HANKS. The duo's RCA albums 'Prime Time' (1980) and 'You Fooled Me' (1979) can be found on a new Expansion twofer that features the hits 'Dancin' and 'Now I' Fine.'
Talking of duos, contemporary soul twosome KLOUD 9 (aka twin brothers Kendall and Kelvis Duffie) have a retrospective out called 'Everything Is Good 2Nite.' The 16-song collection features their biggest and most popular tunes - like 'Can't Stop Thinking About You' - alongside some previously unissued cuts and remixes.
Kloud 9 are also featured on Expansion's new modern soul compendium, 'Soul Togetherness 2009.' A beguiling mixture of new and vintage cuts, the 15-song set includes noteworthy songs by KYLIE AULDIST, CHAKA KHAN - whose non-album flipside from '81, 'Lover's Touch,' gets its first run out on CD - THE IMPRESSIONS, TYRONE LEE, JOVONNIE, PAPRIKA SOUL, VICTOR HAYNES, TAVARES and ROOT SOUL.
More stellar names from the soul world are present on a new 2-CD compilation, 'The Soul Of Smooth Jazz.' The set includes killer tunes from the likes of LONNIE HILL, GEORGE DUKE, JAMES DAY, LEDISI, FRANK McCOMB, LESETTE WILSON, ADRIANA EVANS, ANGELA JOHNSON, BOB BALDWIN, MIKELYN RODERICK and RAHSAAN PATTERSON. Tasty!

Go to for more info.
Look out for reviews soon at



Wednesday, 23 September 2009 15:01 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF


Here's our second round-up of some of this Autumn's best jazz releases…

ALEXANDER ZONJIC; 'Doin' The D' (Heads Up)
Maybe we wouldn't normally feature an album by a classically trained Canadian flautist, but this album has a lot to recommend it. First of all, Zonjic works out of Detroit (his home for the last three decades) and he's a key part of that city's vibrant jazz and soul scene. His status is such that he can call on star names to help put his music together and 'Doin' The D' features Jeff Lorber, James K Lloyd, Kenny G, Lenny Castro, Bob James, Rick Braun, Brian Bromberg and a mighty horn section that brings real vitality to 'Passion Island' and 'Good as Goldie'. His other principal guest is Maysa Leak whose vocals feature on a cover of the Guess Who's 'Undun'. Between them, Leak and Zonjic transform the rock song into a soul winner. The album's other standout is a cover of Freddie Hubbard's 'Little Sunflower'.

PETER WHITE; 'Good Day' (Peak)
Luton-born Peter White's acoustic guitar sound has become a smooth jazz staple and on this, his new album, it's used to showcase ten brand new, original songs. Fans coming to White albums don't expect fireworks so they won't be disappointed here, though they might be surprised by the keener edge brought to the material by French keyboardist Philippe Saisse. 'Just Give Me A Chance' is particularly snappy with some nifty horn work from Shannon Kennedy and Dan Savant. 'Mission To Mars' is pacey while 'Ramon's Revenge' is a bright Latin piece. White is touring the UK in November … check the usual sources for details.

J. DEE; 'Smoove On The Move' (Nu Groove)
J. Dee (Bolden) is a sax player who does most of his own music programming and also fancies himself as a bit of a singer … though it's not always successful. On the odd 'Too Hip Fa Seafood' (whose lyrics hint at 'Be Thankful) he comes on like a poor man's Johnny Guitar Watson. Claude J Woods Jr, though, adds his gruff tones to the equally odd 'Boom Ba Boom Boom'. The oddest cut, however, is 'Let's Walk'. Essentially a steppers' tune, it has a great soul groove but the rap style instructions make it sound a little like the kiddies' hit 'Cha Cha Slide'! On the instrumentals Mr. Dee does a passable Kenny G/ Najee impression.

JESSY J; 'True Love' (Peak)
Jessy J hails from Oregon but works out of California, though her heritage is Mexican and Texan. A jazz studies graduate, her sax playing has been an integral part of the Temptations' road band for a couple of years and 'True Love' is her second full album. It's essentially a Latin album though many of the cuts have a strong soul undertow - notably 'Mr Prince' - a glowing tribute to the Purple One! The album's main vocal is a take on the classic 'Morning Of The Carnival'. Jessy takes it at a swift pace and her vocal has the touch of Astrud Gilberto. She sings in Portuguese on 'Llegaste Tu' and the romp that is 'Baila!', while the gentle 'Brazilian Dance' has its writer, Sergio Aranada, on vocal.

BRIAN BROMBERG; 'It Is What It Is' (Artistry)
'It Is What It is' is star bassist Brian Bromberg's seventeenth album! Like most of them, this album is a mix of Bromberg originals and covers - the two here being 'Love Shack' and 'Sanford And Son' - a Quincy Jones-composed classic US TV series theme. Unlike Bromberg's previous sets, this new one boasts a huge horn section. The core, led by Nathan Tanouye, is drawn form the top Las Vegas show bands and augmented by guests like Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Richard Elliott, Gerald Albright and Rick Braun. If that's not enough the 13 tracker also features input from George Duke and Patrice Rushen. The funky burner, 'Excuse Me' sums up the album's feel.



Monday, 21 September 2009 11:49 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF


Fans of eighties soul need to know that ALAN CLARKE'S 1989 TV drama, 'The Firm' has just been adapted for the big screen and will be at a cinema near you very soon. The story focuses on the world of the football casuals and naturally the soundtrack reflects that tribe's particular musical passions. The film therefore features tunes from KOOL AND THE GANG, DONNA SUMMER, YARBROUGH AND PEOPLES, The GAP BAND, RENE AND ANGELA, ZAPP and The FATBACK BAND. The soundtrack album is available now on Universal Music



Monday, 21 September 2009 11:48 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF


Ronnie Scott's Club is joining forces with Jazz FM to present "Funky Sensation", a new jazz funk and soul night every Saturday. Jazz FM's jazz funk DJ MIKE VITTI and soul guru PETER YOUNG, two of the station's most prolific presenters, will launch the season on Saturday 26th September with a rich mix of new and old jazz funk favourites. The venue is the Frith Street club's upstairs bar and other DJs will include RALPH TEE and CHRIS PHILLIPS. Entry is free before 8pm, rising to £7.50 after 8; then £10 after 11pm

For more details ring the Box Office: 020 7439 0747



Wednesday, 16 September 2009 14:20 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness … of which fruitfulness there's a fine crop of Autumn jazz releases - across every flavour… here's a selection of some of the best …

CARL ALLEN and RODNEY WHITAKER; Work To Do (Mack Avenue)
'Work To Do' is drummer Carl Allen and bassist Rodney Whitaker's second collaborative album and as with the first (2007's 'Get Ready) this new one redefines the soul-jazz idiom. The pair - augmented by stellar sidemen - stamp their own mark on pop and soul classics like 'Eleanor Rigby', 'With You I'm Born Again' and 'A Time For Love' while also managing to capture that same classic spirit on their own material like 'For Garrison (Both)'. Standouts include the Isley Brothers' title cut, an inspirational version of Marvin's 'What's Going On' and an emotive reading of Donnie McClurkin's 'Speak To My Heart'. Kirk Whalum's sax work on all three is outstanding.

RICK BRAUN; All It Takes (Artistry)
Since his solo debut in 1993 with 'Intimate', Rick Braun has become a doyen of smooth jazz and his distinctive muted horn sound has become a mainstay of the genre. This new album offers nothing new though the collaborations with French keyboardist Philippe Saisse bring an obvious continental feel to tunes like 'Tijuana Dancer' and the cinematic 'Christiane'. All the tunes are originals and there are no vocals - save for the scat on the Tania Maria-flavoured 'Puerto Allegre Jam' (scat courtesy of Vanessa Falabella). The album also includes a heartfelt tribute to Braun's key influence - Freddie Hubbard, 'Freddie Was Here'.

WILLIE NELSON; American Classic (Blue Note)
Country icon Willie Nelson's no jazz singer but on this new long player there's plenty of jazz input - most notably from Joe Sample and Christian McBride. There are also guest vocals from Diana Krall and Norah Jones who enhance versions of 'If I Had You' and 'Baby It's Cold Outside' respectively. Those titles - and indeed the album's tag - let's you know that Nelson here pays another visit to the Great American Songbook and with Tommy LiPuma in the producer's chair you know what to expect.

KARL DENSON'S TINY UNIVERSE; Brother's Keeper (Shanachie)
Vocalist/saxman Karl Denson cites his influences as Herbie Hancock, the Rolling Stones and Wayne Shorter. He's worked with Michael Franti, the Allman Brothers, Fred Wesley and Lenny Kravitz and in the 90s he recorded with Dave Holland, Lonnie Smith, Roy Hargrove and Jack DeJohnette; all that diversity's evident in this new set which features a cameo from Meshell Ndegeocello and input from Lenny Kravitz's road band and members of the Dap Kings. The music's a mixture of rock, soul and jazz - (I believe it was called 'fusion' back in the day) - best summed up by 'Shake It Up' and the loose 'Just Got Paid'.

CLAIRE MARTIN; A Modern Art (Linn Records)
Where ever-dependable Claire Martin's last album was a tribute to Shirley Horn, this new set is an intriguing mix of brand new material, carefully chosen covers and an eclectic dip into the great American Songbook. The two from that last source are Cy Coleman's 'Everybody Today Is Turning On' and Rodgers and Hart's 'Everything I've Got Belongs To You' while of the other covers perhaps the most interesting is a take on Steely Dan's 'Things I Miss The Most' while a version of Esbjorn Svensson's 'Love Is Real' has an outstanding soul quality. Of Claire's original material 'Edgeways' is a Latin delight , rivalled by the album's title cut which takes a much-needed swipe at celebrity culture and the dumbing-down of popular music… naturally, no dumbing-down here though.


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