jazz posts

Robin McKelle

Sunday, November 1st, 2009 by Julija

vocal jazz // swing jazz

As the days become shorter and the nights get colder, I find myself immersed in smooth tasty retro swing and vocal jazz. Robin McKelle’s Modern Antique (2008) provides with that tasty kind of vibe that sounds so good while sipping warm apple cider. Indeed, Robin’s repertoire is “antique” — mostly songs from the 40’s to early 60’s, yet her approach is fresh. Her retro-big-band-swing interpretation of Steve Miller’s pop hit “Abracadabra” is an absolute gem. It’s so charming, inventive and sweetly flirtatious you wouldn’t recognize the original in it. Another favourite, “Go To Hell” (Nina Simone’s tune) features refined and stylish arrangements with Robin’s emotive and powerful phrasing.

Tasteful finger-snapping jazz.
Robin McKelle – Abracadabra
Robin McKelle – Go To Hell
+ Purchase/Visit

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

Saturday, October 31st, 2009 by Kyle

Orchestral // Jazz // Ambient

Overtures creep toward you bearing ominous insight. A ravenous beast of symphonic scale lurks behind every measure; its teeth a menacing discord that devour your surroundings presence. Henryk Górecki could be leading The Cinematic Orchestra through a dirge, yet the scourge of blaring horns and thunderous storms evoke nameless regions. This elegant, brooding ardor bleeds from The Netherlands as The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble; a project originating with Jason Köhnen and Gideon Kiers to recreate scores for the classic films Nosferatu and Metropolis. Angelic offerings scarcely appear to cradle your stay, but whirlwind strings and industrial plight will have their say. Aching with beauty and purpose, Here Be Dragons is a story I do not want to unhold.

Arrangements for Hallows’ eve.
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Caravan!
The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Embers
+ Purchase / Visit


Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 by Kyle

Downtempo // Jazz

Adam Scrimshire‘s music fascinates me with a quality of being patient with the listener. As if built from maps referencing harmony’s emotions, an introspective and worldly odyssey flourishes with sublime enrapture and plush vitality. It’s spacious and grand, uplifting and cinematic, yet personally affective to cadence nestled deep inside. Along came the Devil one night… transpires awe, friendly accord and console; a beautiful achievement by a gracious music lover and maker.

Mellifluous embodiment of music.
Scrimshire – All Roads Lead You Home
Scrimshire – Springtime (with Claire Laurent)
+ Purchase / Visit

Tony Allen

Friday, May 22nd, 2009 by Andrew Ladd

afrofunk // jazz

The opening to “Too Many Prisoners (Elewon Po)” sounds like it could be taken right off an Isaac Hayes record (one extremely well-known one in particular…), which is funny because Hayes is one of the few people not commonly listed as an Allen influence (viz. Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, James Brown, Fela Kuti, etc.). After that, though, the Shaft theme is quickly dropped for something more like Pucho Brown: a breezy, carefree collection of bass, vocals, and the drumming for which Allen is most renowned. The single was released May 11 and is available on iTunes; the album (Secret Agent) comes out June 8. (We also covered some of Tony’s other work way back in August 2007.)

Bright and flavorful
Tony Allen ““ Too Many Prisoners (Elewon Po)
+ Purchase/Visit

Indigo Jam Unit

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 by Kyle

nu-jazz // clubjazz

Vastly more magnificent than any emerging technology’s precisely programmed ability to enthrall for ages, Osaka’s Indigo Jam Unit unleashes an afferent stream of crystal clear sonic consciousness that is impeccably scored with invigorating, astonishing rapture. Notes come alive within songs that maintain constant creativity; patterns changing and folding over another, weaving in and pulling out sensations that suddenly burst into existence. A pure marvel what piano, drums, double bass and percussion can achieve. This is storytelling without words; using images developed entirely from sound.

Now you’re playing with power.
Indigo Jam Unit – Pirates
Indigo Jam Unit – Arctic Circle
+ Purchase / Visit

Kate Schutt

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 by Julija

jazz // singer-songwriter

Kate Schutt’s debut studio album No Love Lost (2007) stretches from Jazz standards to American singer-songwriter tradition. A guitarist, producer and songwriter, Kate shifts throughout her album from slow-paced and melancholic ballads to slightly more up-tempo moments, often accompanied by her 8-string guitar. “Wrecking Ball” is a sweet display of pre-World-War II continental jazz influences such as tender gypsy-like arrangements and melodic trumpet hooks alongside southern-style harmonica riffs and heartfelt vocals.

Clear vocals, old-fashioned jazz instrumentation.
Kate Schutt – Wrecking Ball
+ Purchase/Visit


Sunday, April 19th, 2009 by Paul Irish

swing-jazz // balkan // swedish hiphop

“Django guitar, windy street swing; music for both art directors and for your mother” is how MOVITS! describe their sound. Well-known in Sweden, but unheard of elsewhere, they fold together elements of 1930’s big band swing, roma swing and rhythm & blues, then drop hiphop vocals on top for some serious energetic firepower. The ability to seamlessly interweave a number of genres reminds me of The Cat Empire, but while MOVITS! could relax on their catchy beats, they expertly drop variations (i.e. 2:00 in the video above) that’ll keep you smiling throughout the song.

Music for art directors and your mother
MOVITS! – Äppelknyckarjazz
MOVITS! – Swing För Hyresgästföreningen
+ Purchase/Visit

Aaron Parks

Monday, February 23rd, 2009 by Andrew Ladd

jazz // rock

Aaron Parks was born in Seattle “” though he currently lives in Brooklyn with the rest of his taste-making hipster brethren “” and you can almost hear the city in his music. The pitter-patter of rain in the cymbals, the grey swoop of fog in the guitar, and the occasional glimpse of sun in the piano; “Nemesis” is a Mt Rainier in the haze, and “Roadside Distractions” is a fish flying through the air at Pike Place Market. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it all. But either way it’s a nifty album “” take a listen and see for yourself.

A city’s worth of sounds.
Aaron Parks – Nemesis
Aaron Parks – Roadside Distraction
+ Purchase/Visit

Sonar Kollektiv Orchester

Sunday, February 8th, 2009 by Paul Irish

jazzy downtempo // remixed minimal

Sonar Kollectiv is the label-home of about a dozen of Aurgasm’s features. Their roster consistently churns out top-notch rhythm and jazz. Recently an ensemble of fifteen musicians got together to cover some of the label’s catalog. The result, Guaranteed Niceness, is like the MTV Unplugged of the jazz & downtempo world, turning comprehensive arrangements into organic jazz jams. Âme’s minimal techno epic, “Rej” lent itself perfectly to a re-imagining by the group.

Thick and epic. From synth to string.
Âme – Rej (Sonar Kollektiv Orchester cover)
+ Purchase/Visit


Sunday, February 1st, 2009 by Andrew Ladd

global // folk // jazz

Gaida is one of those (*yawn*) dime-a-dozen singers who also makes a living as a speech pathologist, and has a similarly dull list of cities that she’s called home: Damascus, Kuwait, Paris, Detroit, and now, New York. Barely worth mentioning, right? In the meantime, she’s received classical voice training, recorded a couple of tracks for Jonathan Demme films, and at the end of last year dropped her first full album, Levantine Indulgence, a spooky mix of traditional Arabic and Syrian sounds, plus her own, jazz-like vocals, and the occasional hip hop beat for good measure. She’s currently shopping for a distributor; until she finds one, the full album is available at her shows, or via MySpace message.

Sultry voice, spicy instrumentals.
Gaida – Almaya
+ Purchase/Visit