Sunday, 05 March 2017 19:53 BILL B E-mailPrintPDF

altAfter a long career being known as the premier Luther Vandross sound-alike, MARC STAGGERS has, over the last couple of years, finally won recognition in his own right. A slew of quality singles has won him the respect of the whole soul community and his most recent efforts 'Let Me Be The One' and 'Bring It Home To Me' were big soul chart hits, dance floor fillers and mainstays on radio playlists!

Now, Marc's new release is all set to consolidate his position and indeed it's already getting multiple plays on the very best soul stations.... little wonder, it's a gem!

Jewel in question is a subtle mid-tempo groove, 'Keep Those Fires Burning' which was written by Mr S in tandem with current top mix man Nigel Lowis. Marc's voice is as warm and intense as ever and Nigel's clever production allows it to shine soulfully through... a great augury for Marc's upcoming album 'Timeless'.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 March 2017 20:08



Friday, 03 March 2017 10:55 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


The nominations are in for this year's Jazz FM Awards ceremony, which is scheduled for 25th April, coinciding with the centenary of Ella Fitzgerald's birth.

Two winners have been announced already (the rest will have to wait until the ceremony itself on 25th April). The first of them is UK R&B legend, GEORGIE FAME (pictured above), is set to be honoured by a PPL Lifetime Achievement Award and will perform an exclusive show on the evening in tandem with a quartet fronted by noted arranger, Guy Barker. The second winner announced ahead of the awards show is man of the moment, DAMIEN CHAZELLE, the director of the critically-acclaimed movie, La La Land (he also directed the jazz movie, Whiplash). Chazelle is set to scoop the Impact Award for his work in taking jazz to a broader audience.

Said, the film director, talking to Jazz Fm: "What's interesting about jazz now is that it's an art form that is kind of at a crossroads and maybe has been for some time. An art form where there's a lot of debate about what it's supposed to be… It was important to me to have that said out loud in the movie....[The views of the characters] are the two sides of my brain ...purity and tradition versus the need to keep an art form alive and modern.”

The nominees whose fate has yet t be determined include R&B/pop siren Laura Mvula, Stax Records talisman William Bell, and neo-soul auteur Jordan Rakei who are aiming to scoop Soul Artist of the Year. US jazz heavyweights Brad Mehldau, David Bowie collaborator Donny McCaslin, and genre-bending pianist Robert Glasper are all nominated for International Jazz Artist of the Year, while groove duo Yussef Kamaal, pianist Ashley Henry, and Nubya Garcia who represent the outstanding British talent that has emerged in 2016 and are up for Breakthrough Act of the Year.

Veteran rockers The Rolling Stones have been nominated for two awards under the categories of Album of the Year and Blues Artist of the Year for Blues & Lonesome, with US singer-songwriters Bonnie Raitt and Eric Bibb also in contention for the latter award. Another dual nominee is drummer and social activist Jaimeo Brown for Jazz Innovation and Digital Initiative of the Year, where he will be up against DJ Gilles Peterson and US trumpeter Dave Douglas.

The public still has an opportunity to cast their votes in the categories of Album of the YearUK Jazz Act of the Year and Live Experience of the Year. Nominees featuring in these categories include Shabaka Hutchings, Gregory Porter, Wayne Shorter, Madeleine Peyroux, Soweto Kinch, Anderson .Paak, Kurt Elling, Roberto Fonseca and Julian Arguelles.

Public voting is open now at and will close on 31 March 2017.

 Click 'Read More' link to see full list of nominees.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 March 2017 11:06



Thursday, 02 March 2017 09:52 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF


Noted Grammy-nominated Cuban keyboardist, ROBERTO FONSECA - who toured with the legendary Buena Vista Social Club before forging a solo career - visits the UK this month for three concerts. He opens his mini-tour on Friday March 10th at the Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds, followed by a gig at Coventry's Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday 11th and concludes with a much-anticipated show at London's Barbican on Monday the 13th.

Accompanying 41-year-old Fonseca will be Ramses ”Dinamite” Rodriguez (drums), Adel Gonzalez (percussion), Yandy Martinez (electric & acoustic bass), Javier Zalba (saxophone, flute, clarinet), Jimmy Jenks (saxophone), Matthew Simon (trumpet) and Ucha (vocals).

The Havana-born pianist's latest album (and his eighth so far) is 'ABUC' on Impulse!, which is out now

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 March 2017 09:58



Wednesday, 01 March 2017 19:53 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altThe latest offering from Quantize Records is a wonderful re-working of a little-known O'Jays tune, 'Stairway To Heaven'. The song first surfaced, I think, as the B-side to the group's 'Livin' For The Weekend' and since then Philly connoisseurs have revered it for its soulfulness and danceabilty.

For this new version Quantize's DJ Spen has paired RANDY ROBERTS & RICHARD BURTON who, while paying total respect to the sound of Philadelphia, bring the tune right into the 21st century especially on the original mix which comes in a radio friendly edit as well as an epic version that maximises those sweet strings. The other mixes come courtesy of Direct Drive and John Morales and there's little to choose between them. All three tweaks are guaranteed to lift your spirits... and isn't that what great soul music is all about?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 20:00



Wednesday, 01 March 2017 19:51 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSoul collectors know that in the genre's golden era there were thousands of tiny, independent soul labels. None were tinier of or more independent than San Diego's MUSETTE RECORDS. Research reveals little about Musette simply because the owners were oddly secretive and, even more oddly, not that interested in music!

You see the tiny California label was set up in 1965 by a group of Afro-American doctors as an elaborate tax dodge... a business against which they could claim tax relief! Musette was in business between 1965 and 1968 and issued less than 20 singles. There was no airplay, no distribution agreement and consequently no sales!

Most famous name to record for Musette was Lani Groves who, sleeve note anoraks will tell you, was a member of Stevie's Wonderlove in the 70s. Her father was Ervin Groves who also recorded for the label... as Ernie Groves and as Ervin Rucker and Big Daddy Rucker. Ernie/Ervin also set up a Musette offshoot, GME Records, but like the parent company it enjoyed no success!

However, as you might guess, Musette/GME Records have now become collectable and to meet the demand Germany's TRAMP RECORDS has just issued a 15 track compilation, 'THE SOULFUL SIDE OF GME AND MUSETTE RECORDS' which offers a selection of both label's output.

Musically, the soundscape is rough and ready and channels what were the then current popular soul sounds. Tracks that offer plenty of interest include 'The Price I Had To Pay' from Dede Copleand that has the flavour of Bobby Bland and Little Mary Staten's 'Helpless Girl' that nicks the intro of Barbara Mason's 'Yes I'm Ready' before morphing into a Southern soul sizzler. Blues fans will love Big Daddy Rucker's 'Christmas In The Ghetto' but most soul collectors will find plenty to enjoy.

'THE SOULFUL SIDE OF GME AND MUSETTE RECORDS' is released on Tramp Records on March 3rd


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