Curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden the BBE J Jazz Masterclass Series is a blessing in transcendent music. In this case from 1983 and drummer Takeo Moriyama’s blinding East Plants long player. If the albums shuffling sensibilities that drive the combination of percussion, bass and reeds forward are of note then look no further than the albums opening title track. Drenched in telling atmosphere, yet robustly punchy care its deft array of percussion and breezy sax. The more unforgiving 竹 (Take) then follows in a blaze of pacey, excitable rhythms that cumulate in a rush of fiery instrumentation. Leaving the remaining tracks to play in-between the two sides of the coin. Completion occurs via the also excellent 遠 (Tooku) which sees suggestive, unnerving meanderings tie in with punctuating drums and the gentle whir of double bass. Available in both vinyl and cd format with the originals accompying sleeves notes plus art work now is your chance to experience something out of the ordinary. Not necessarily for the faint hearted but why should music be anything less than intense.
Ahh, the re-assuring bliss of classic instrumentation to soothe you all the way down. Sounds that reoccur and are endlessly satisfying. Sprung from the well of Jazz, compacted by House, accompanied by the breath of emotion that surrounds Lono Brazil’s effortlessly cool words which never lose their impact. Shinning a light on the path of a promise to a promised land and at over ten minutes the arrangement doesn’t lose sight of its goal, serving a succession of brisk bass and repeating keys augmented by string stabs and occasional sprinkles of piano. And that’s before we even get to the brilliant Dazzle Drums version. Which injects the rhythms with further percussion and breezier vibes that simply emanate soul.
There’s something inescapability intoxicating to be found in the summer breeze, just like there is in the electric downtown air of night, as this Jazz blows hot and cold across the spectrum. Rescued from relative obscurity by DJ Amir’s 180 Proof Records and originally released back in 1974 by Detroit’s infamous Strata imprint this ‘live’ recording my not spell lush in terms of smooth production but more than makes up for that via its sheer, crunching emotion which at once soars with fiery Horns amid punchy, free-thinking drums and Kenny Cox’s – who owned the label – poignantly, engaging Piano along with the sort of robust bass playing we frankly need to hear much more of. Four tracks of equal majesty await your discovery here teasing you with an abandon of rough textures and challenging impressions which catch the very essence of being.
Can you describe your musical background and how you came to choose the name Pal Joey?
GREW UP WITH DAD PLAYING JAZZ, SISTERS PLAYING MOTOWN, AND ROCK, R&B IN THE STREETS.
MY NAME COMES FROM THE MOVIE PAL JOEY, THOUGH I NEVER SAW THE FILM UP UNTIL RECENTLY, I LOVE FRANK SINATRA AND THE IMAGE OF HUSTLE THAT WENT ALONG WITH IT.
One of your earliest tracks Earth people ‘Dance’ was big on both sides of the Atlantic in 1990. What are your memories of creating the record/ what equipment were you using at the time?
I USED A DRUM MACHINE, KEYBOARD, DJ MIXER, TURNTABLE, SEQUENCER, 4TRACK REEL TO REEL, GREAT AMPLIFIER, AND GOOD SPEAKERS.
Another great production is Hot Music which has a much Jazzier flavour. Can you tell us about those Jazz influences?
JAZZ IS EVERYWHERE, IT HAS NUANCE, WHICH I LOVE. IT’S NOT POWER THAT I FEEL. I DON’T LIKE TO BE OVERPOWERED.
I LOVE SOLFEGE
What is your attitude towards sampling?
I LOVE TO SAMPLE.
OUR CHOICES ARE, USE THE SOUNDS THAT COME FROM A KEYBOARD OR FIND YOUR OWN.
What was your experience of working at Vinyl Mania in NYC?
THE BEST TIMES.
IT WAS GREAT HELPING MUSIC LOVERS DISCOVER NEW MUSIC. A LOT OF SHARING. A WEALTH OF INFORMATION. AND THE BEST BOSS.
How did you first get in Dj’ing, who initially inspired you?
WHEN I WAS 16 I GOT A HOLD OF A CASSETTE WHERE A DJ WAS CUTTING UP COOL SONGS.
I LOVED THE WAY HE WOULD REPEAT SECTIONS OF THE SONG. I LOVED THE STORY THAT WAS TOLD. I WISH I STILL HAD THAT CASSETTE.
Your latest album: Pal Joey presents Hot Music, is a compilation of your productions from then to now. How did you go about choosing what went on it?
I PICKED MY HITS, SONGS I FEEL DEFINE ME. I PUT MAYBE A DIFFERENT MIX IF I HAD DONE ONE FOR CERTAIN SONGS, AND I PUT MY FAVORITE NEW SONGS AS WELL. COMPLETE PACKAGE 😉
How do you think that Dance Music has evolved from when you started out?
PEOPLE WOULD DANCE MORE BACK IN THE DAY. EVEN COUPLES WOULD DO MORE COOL STEPS.
THERE WAS LOFTING, BREAKDANCING, AND THE PUERTO RICANS HAD THERE SPECIFIC STEPS FOR THEIR FREESTYLE MUSIC. NOW THE DANCE IS NOT AS SERIOUS, PEOPLE TALK DRINK , HAVE A DANCE, HAVE A DRINK AND LEAVE. THERE ARE STILL SOME COOL PARTIES WHERE PEOPLE DANCE ALL NIGHT LONG.
Can you tell about what you have been producing recently?
I PRODUCE MUSIC. NOW I AM A FATHER. I TRY TO BALANCE EVERYTHING. I LOVE SPORTS.
I HAVE NEW PRODUCERS DOING REMIXES OF SONGS THAT WERE RELEASED TO KEEP THEM BUSY.
THE SONGS I GIVE THEM ARE USUALLY HIP HOP BEATS THAT LACKED SOMETHING. THAT SOMETHING THAT WAS MISSING AT THE TIME WOULD PROBABLY HAD BEEN A RAPPER, BUT BECAUSE OF TIMING THE SONG NEVER CAME OUT WITH VOCALS. SO I HAVE THESE GUYS ADD TO THE FOUNDATION I CREATED.
Mr G’s second album for Rekids sees the renowned producer continue his trademark theme of smoking beats and funky attitude to supply yet another winning formula. What I love here is the way that the music embraces technology yet retains a distinctly soulful element – State Of Flux couldn’t be a more apt title. Take the first track G’s Riddem which perfectly sums it all up: Thumping kick drums, heavy-duty bass, offset by treated timbale and emotive chords to produce a stunning, uplifting effect. The album then continues to fuse together a range of influences and styles, taking the best cues from House and Techno. From the brutal end of Pumped Up to the twisted Disco of Absurd Beatz No.4 this one journey that you won’t want to get off in a hurry.
The first label compilation for Magda, Troy Pierce and Marc Houle’s Berlin-based label ‘Items & Things’ is fittingly called Variables. Variable in so far as the imprint champions cutting-edge electronic music that’s neither afraid to get deep and nasty, or even comparatively subtle such as on Miro Pajic’s infectious intro: Love Love Love. What follows next is a selection from the aforementioned and the likes of Jimmy Edgar, Tomas More and Andy Martin plus a few newer artists. There’s plenty in the way of hot syncopated Disco action to get into here too, all with Items & Things distinctive twist of course. Try Howard Watson’s, Keep Away and Nyma’s, Brain Crunch plus the beyond comprehension: In The Mirror for size. Satisfaction guaranteed. release: July 13. Mixed CD version by Magda released July 29
Your Feelin’ undoubtedly references synth-pop with its fizzy keyboard lines and restrained European melodies, but also counter balances it all with subtle contemporary pads and punchy beats. And just to drive the point home an Acapella follows so you can judge the vocal for yourself, although this proves to be something quietly addictive the more you hear it. Title track, Kisses sounds more like what you would expect with deeper, moodier sounds playing off against intriguing vocals, and this time comes in vocal and instrumental versions.
The second release from Holic Trax sees Tuccillo deliver the title track House 19 in a blaze of House flavoured Techno that seeks to capture the spirit of 1988, and quite frankly succeeds – smiling faces all round. Eves Sky is next and gets deeper with provocative drums and deliciously moody bass, while teasing you with haunting voices and a killer arrangement. PercussHolic then invites into you into a creative play on instrumentation with its excellent combinations of beats and fiery percussion. These tracks appear on ltd 10” vinyl while the digital release features the added bonus of Dubao, whose addictive electronic rhythms become uplifting in the most pleasing way.
Benjamin Quint and Markus Schwarzbauer aka Bara Bröst deliver their second album for BBE and if you’re not already familiar with their unique sound then prepare yourself now. Quirky, lively and thoroughly excitable the music and words play with each other while seeking to let you in on the party. Having said that, this will either work for you or you may find it all not quite serious enough with titles such as Juicy Lady, My Mess and Tony Curtis (try the soundcloud link below). Despite the eager wordplay there are some fine \House and tech grooves which reveal themselves as on the instrumental Tiger Milk and as with everything else it all boils down to personal taste.
Franck Roger & Mandel Turner Through The Motions Real Tone Records
You may recognise the beats from the eighties but if they’re fresh to you then you can relive the excitement generated for new. Through The Motions goes through anything but that with smooth vocals feeling soulfully refreshing in the summertime, as layers of keys build up the tension on yet another rewarding release from the label. An excellent Dub version pays compliment by stripping back the voice to highlight the cool bassline and hot House groove.
Next single to be lifted from their self titled album Into The Night is accompanied by a typically hot video along with a series of excellent remixes courtesy of Prince Language, CFCF, Nicolas Jaar, Renaissance Man and Seth Troxler, Masomenos & Jaw. All of which you could simply say speaks for itself. Like them or love them, you know this is good already from hearing the album.
Not often an artist album comes along displaying not only valuable words but musical skills on this level. Marc Mac (also one half on 4Hero) who whose been producing music for the past couple of decades has arrived at this point, again, with his second Visioneers album, Hipology. Listening to this reads like a history lesson in sight and sound while expert instrumentation is employed via a sterling set of players. Indeed, try an instrumental track like LaAnne from Harlem and tell me it doesn’t move to tears of joy. The album creatively evokes moods and plays with words both spoken and sung throughout, while for the dancefloor try the take on B-Boy legend, Apache (Battle Dub) for size, plus any number of other sure-fire gems. Something for everyone exists on here with the summer funk of Come Sand Play in the Milky Night destined for any beach party worth its salt, or Shine which feeds your mind with meaningful word and soulful tones.
Laura Jones invigorating exploration of electronic sound continues with her first compilation mix for the prestigious Leftroom imprint. Starting with moody brilliance of dOP & Masomenos Hello! the album rapidly proceeds to entice you with its emotive selection of beats and rhythms that never fail but to ignite your imagination. Combining a diverse selection of music from labels like Vitalik Records, Visonquest, and of course Leftroom means that you know you’re always in safe company. What’s also particularly notable here is the way the album weaves between styles, flipping from Techno to House while never feeling contrived. The second half of the mix picks up the pace with a sure succession of killer tracks from Gavin Herlihy and Polyrhythmic, amongst many significant others, finishing on Guy Gerber’s masterful The Mirror Game.
Sao Paolo’s D-Edge combines with long standing House Music impresario Luke Solomon to release this testament to the DJ’s undoubted prowess in all things musical and techincal. The Classic Records co-founder carefully teases every inch of rhythm from this truly intense mixture of distinctive House, unsettling Techno and general electronic madness into the bargain. Whether that’s Red Rack’em’s bassline master class of How I Program, or Boo Williams severely funky Devil Music this will truly rock your discotheque. Any mix that climaxes in the process with the Roberto Rodriguez version of Seven Reasons can only probably be described as transcendent.
Excellent EP from Germany’s Klasse Recordings beginning with the melodic technology of Soul123 which references Detroit like it was just around the corner. Next, Skeleton Keys gets busy with classic House bass and organ creating perfect tension in the air. While, Fakie Snot Bubble cleverly hits you hard at first with fizzy old-school stabs and ‘work this’ vocals, then turns it all upside down with warm pads and House strings causing emotive confusion? Despite its somewhat dubious title the more I hear this, the more seriously impressive it sounds.
Walker & Royce You’re Not Welcome Crosstown Rebels
You don’t really need me to tell you that this latest from Crosstown is excellent, do you? Put it like this: it feels ever so slightly sinister with sumptuous bass notes driving the taught beats, as the uber cool vocals feel deeply soulful in a Trans-European setting with sparkling keys lifting it all skyward. Stare If You Want To feat. Javi happens next with killer syncopation feeling like disco never went away (I know, it didn’t) but coupled with tripped out voices and more contemporary chords plus guitar, this again transcends the timeline. The Francesca Lombardo Remix of You’re Not Welcome resists the titles negative appeal with addictive notation and proves the vocal to be defiantly happy.
I Cube once again produce’s something so startlingly original that when it’s primed it will explode all over your dancefloor. Y.O.U.R.O.C.K is somewhat self-explanatory here as shimmering electro keys clash with strident disco beats, while repeating to infinity and beyond. This has to be heard to be believed! Followed by Popular Electronics which frays the edges with twisted synths and a lot more besides, but possibly saving the best to last is In Alpha which replays eighties guitar funk, via the curious mind of I Cube, to feel compellingly uplifting and certainly rather beautiful. The album is coming…
Clearly in his own class Justin Martin’s debut album acts like a conduit for his myriad of influences and own particular brand of music. Encompassing everything from U.K bass to Acid the album avoids treading a cliqued path by its use of trippy voices and unexpected combinations of styles, which none-the-less always feel exciting and pertinent. Butterflies is a case in point with edited child-like voices playing off against synthetic chords and squelchy basslines to sound like not a lot else out there. Also try Molokini for some heavy-duty business, and The Gurner with Pillow Talk for something a little deeper and more spiritually motivating.