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BRIGHT SPARK!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:40 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altMELVIN SPARKS was a soul-jazz guitarist who enjoyed a renaissance after being discovered by the Acid-Jazz crew in the 90s. He was a prolific session player and recorded in own right on labels like Prestige, Eastbound and Westbound.

Most of Sparks' recordings are fairly easily accessible and now Ace/BGP has made available a rather rare and in-demand Sparks album.... the 1975 recorded 'I'm Funky Now'. The 7 tracker was never officially released by Westbound. It's thought, oddly, that the label suits disliked it because it was more of an ensemble piece than a Sparks solo set. Whatever, the LP is an easy on the ear, brash and funky set. Don't expect anything too cerebral – you know, I guess, what to expect with titles like 'Disco Booty' and 'I'm Gonna Funk You Up'. Most interesting tune is the slow and sensual 'Love Tones' and listening, I'm thinking that the bass line influenced Omar's 'There's Nothing Like This', though I don't know how that could be!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:44

 

SPIRITUAL FINGERS...

Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:32 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSPIRIT FINGERS are a jazz quartet led by pianist GREG SPERO. Born in Chicago, Spero's first pro gig was playing in his father's blues band while studying jazz and composition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

After college, the young piano man was a mainstay on the local Chicago music scene before working with the Buddy Rich Big Band. Then Greg formed his own band – Polyrhythmic, who morphed into Spirit Fingers. The line up is pianist Greg Spero, Parisian bassist Hadrien Feraud, Dallas drummer Mike Mitchell and Italian guitarist Dario Chiazzolino and their music has already amassed more than 250,000 hits on Youtube.

Next March Spero and Spirit Fingers will launch their eponymous CD on the Shanachie label. It's described as "a glorious genre-bending excursion of free-wheeling groove, unbridled swing, and rhythmic fancy". We'll let you know just as soon as we have our copy!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 16:46

 

STILL GROOVING’

Saturday, 09 December 2017 16:37 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

alt'Tis the season of the remix! Re-tweaks, re-toolings and re-imaginings of top tunes are coming thick and fast – just in time for the Festive Season soul nights and parties.

The latest outfit to take the remix trip is the GEORGIE B led GROOVE ASSOCIATION. UK soul fans – especially those down in the South East- know all about Mr B and his band and this year their album 'Soul Family Affair' won huge acclaim – witnessed by the fact that tunes from it were licensed by Expansion for their modern soul genre defining 'Soul Togetherness' and 'Luxury Soul' albums.

Well, busy old George has been beavering away in his Second Image Studio and come up with a whole "new" long player ... well not really "new" – but a remix of the original! Amongst the highlights are a lovely "Soul Weekender" mix of 'Mystery Girl' which really does evoke the memories of those 80s Weekenders and a sweet n' smooth "Sweet Temptation" mix of 'Secret Love'. If you like it slow n' smoochy you'll also love the jazzy "For The Love Of You" mix of 'I Gotta Thing For You' where the obvious reference point is the classic Isleys/Whitney tune

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 December 2017 16:42

 

PROVIDING SOUL!

Saturday, 09 December 2017 16:34 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altBack in the summer we highlighted a promising American blue-eyed soulster DANNY KEAN. Danny's from Farmingdale, New York and, blind since birth, he mastered the piano at an early age. Blessed with perfect pitch, he soon found a job on Sesame Street (honest!) and was soon playing the bars and lounges of New York City. Since then Danny's worked with people like Maxine Brown, Lenny Kravitz, Steve Harvey and Gary US Bonds and fronted his own band, Danny Kean and Friends. He released a solo album back in 2011 and since then his talent has taken him to festivals and gigs worldwide.

Since summer, Danny's been promoting a new EP 'Here It Is' and from it we were particularly impressed by the jaunty Motown-esque 'I Can't Wait'. The latest single from the EP is different all together. 'Soul Provider' (not the Michael Bolton song) is a moody, broody affair with a poignant, double-edged lyric.

DANNY KEAN; SOUL PROVIDER is out now

 

ONLY HEARSAY!

Friday, 08 December 2017 19:49 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altWow... it's thirty years since ALEXANDER O'NEAL released his iconic 'Hearsay' album. Boasting tunes like 'Criticise', 'Sunshine', Fake' , 'The Lovers' and 'Never Knew Love Like This Before' the set was a proper soul landmark. To celebrate the anniversary of the album, Alex has been touring but he's also found time to get into the studio to re-record the whole thing!

The new set, imaginatively titled 'Hearsay 30', was recorded in Manchester and helmed by Alexander Johnson who doesn't stray too far from the original Jam and Lewis template. No Cherelle on the recording, of course. Her place on the duets is taken by London based soulstress, Kristin Hosein.

Alex will continue to tour through 2018 alongside his nine piece band, Mamma Freedom and he tells us that he's working on a brand new album - 'Resurrected'. In the meantime we can all enjoy one more time the magic that was 'Hearsay' .

Last Updated on Friday, 08 December 2017 20:04

 

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