Monday, March 25, 2019

Farewell, Scott Walker


"I was sleeping the sleep
of the dead.
When the spade
hit my
poor greywacke head.

Woke me."

Scott Walker, from The Boston Green Head, 2016

I've long taken comfort just knowing Scott Walker was out there, like a NASA probe on a 30-year trajectory to unknown realms. He was biking around London, his adopted city, thinking about Elvis Presley's stillborn twin, villains and heroes of the 20th Century (Mussolini, Ceausescu, Brando), or of the distant past (Herod), or even imagining an inner life for an artifact from Egypt's 30th dynasty, a portrait sculpture of a priest known as The Boston Green Head. No matter how deep or dark the material he mined, there was always a dimension of humanity and a critical connection between the intellect and the emotions. 

Albums would arrive like transmitted downloads of information from a distant planet, usually after a gap of more than a decade. Each one created its own sonic universe, whether the disjointed but sleek art rock of Climate Of Hunter (1984), the even more abstract Tilt (1995), the infamous pounded meat of The Drift (2006), the nearly-Viennese art song of Bish Bosch (2012), or the soaring and gnashing guitars (courtesy drone-rock band Sunn O)))) of Soused (2014). 

One of many remarkable things about the career of the man born Noel Scott Engel is that those five records, which could have represented a complete - and completely fascinating - discography for most artists, were merely a segment of his achievement. A quick look at trending Twitter gives a hint of the byways he traveled since first singing lead on a Walker Brothers song in 1965. You have the fans remembering Walker as their first crush, most of them from Britain, where The Walker Brothers had their greatest success. For a brief period their fan club outnumbered that of The Beatles! Then you have art rockers of all stripes, from Brian Eno to Marc Almond to Thom Yorke, paying tribute to his influence on their work. It's well-known that David Bowie was a huge fan, covering Nite Flights and distilling some of his hero's dark essence on late masterpieces like Heat from The Next Day.

There was also an extraordinary run of orchestral pop albums, starting with Scott (1967), which found Walker not only expanding his unique gifts as an interpreter, chiefly of Jacques Brel, but also as a writer, creating new standards like Plastic Palace People and It's Raining Today. That period ended with 1970's Til The Band Comes In and has long been lionized, most recently in the remarkable 2017 London Proms concert, The Songs Of Scott Walker (1967-1970). The show found notable singers such as Jarvis Cocker, Susanne Sundfør and John Grant interpreting a selection of songs - handpicked by Walker - in front of a large orchestra. It's the kind of tribute that has yet to be even attempted here, in his country of birth.

We also have yet to fully grasp what Walker himself called his "wilderness years," when he seemed to develop writer's block and sought success in light rock and country. He reformed The Walker Brothers, releasing three albums, and put out a string of records that are mostly out of print. I've always loved his silken take on Tom Rush's No Regrets, from The Walker Brothers album of the same name, but one listen to his devastatingly suave version of Bill Withers' Use Me from Stretch (1973) is all I need to know that further investigation is required! His four compositions on Nite Flights (1978), the final Walker Brothers album, brought him out of the wilderness and pointed the way forward to Climate Of Hunter and the rest of his groundbreaking albums.

In recent years, he had been developing his skills as a soundtrack composer, most successfully for The Childhood Of A Leader in 2016. That fine score once again ignited my hopes that the classical community would recognize the opportunity presented by his catalog and start incorporating some of his latter-day songs into their programming. I can't help but hear his flamboyant and pitch-black material resonating with the music of Missy Mazzoli, Du Yun and others. Sundog, a book of selected lyrics published by Faber & Faber last year, also allowed us to contemplate Walker as a literary figure, marveling in his Beckett-like ability to shift from absurdity to sorrow, and from cutting sarcasm to plainspoken words of love.

So, although the man himself has left this earthly plane, there are continents yet to be fully mapped on the world he created over more than a half-century of music-making. The best atlas to date is the wonderful documentary 30 Century Man, which featured interviews with Walker and many others on whom he had a profound impact. Perhaps we will even be gifted with a new album, as I've heard from a few sources that he had one nearly completed, with his perfectionism being the only obstacle to its release. If the musical settings match the power of the six new songs included in Sundog, it will rank with his finest work. To whet your appetite, I'll leave you with an excerpt from Attaché:

"Of the night

there is scant to relay.

The moon's cervical smear
refuses to appear
and give notice
to my occupied building. 

Of the world
as it's fading away.

Not a whisper.
Not a whisper."

This playlist has 20 of my favorite songs written by Scott Walker from across his career - take the journey. 


You may also enjoy: 

Note: all lyrics copyright Scott Walker, 2018, as printed in Sundog (Faber & Faber, 2018)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Best Of 2018: Out Of The Past


One probably unintended consequence of the development of high-fidelity recording is that many genres of music are now in direct competition with their own past. The CD era put this into overdrive, with the rise of remastered, deluxe editions of classic albums as well as the further reclamation of records that were out of print, because they were forgotten, or swamped by legal or economic issues. And now we have the vinyl revival going over much of the same ground. Small as it is, the return of 12” plastic represents the only growth area in physical media.

Some styles are more in danger of being overcome by their legacies than others - reggae, jazz, country and blues, come to mind. While it would be fascinating to explore why that is, in the interest of space I will simply point out that some of the examples below may provide more instant satisfaction than new releases in those genres. So dig in and feast - but remember to put in the effort with current artists to keep the music alive. 

First, catch up with this mid-year post that focused on reissues. 


Reggae Redux

Various Artists - The #1 Sound: From The Vaults, Vol. 1 Don’t judge this album by its cover as it is not your standard Studio One collection. Originally put out in a limited edition for Record Store Day, this really does deliver a “from the vaults” experience with one rare reggae single after another, most never compiled before. Each sounds like a lost classic, with only the slightest dip in quality in the 80’s tracks. Will the river ever stop flowing?

Justin Hinds - Travel With Love Speaking of great reggae, having Omnivore Recordings, one of the best reissue labels out there, turn its attention to Jamaica is something to celebrate. Their attention to sonic detail is present from the first notes of this beautifully remastered collection, most of which comes from 1984. It's amazing to think that was 20 years after Hinds recorded such genre-defining songs as Carry Go Bring Come, but you don’t even need to be familiar with that song to enjoy this smooth celebration of deep grooves and positivity. 

King Tubby with the Riley All Stars - Concrete Jungle Dub After Lee Perry, Tubby is really the only dub master who can hold your interest over a full album - and this is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Originally pressed in 1976 in an edition of 300, the fact that we can so easily access these cavernous epics is a jaw-dropping benefit of the age of streaming. Don’t take it for granted, though, just sit in awe as some of the best musicians on the island are put through some truly fascinating paces. 

Horace Andy - Exclusively I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of these 80’s Horace Andy reissues. This one contains the original version of Live In The City, later revisited by Massive Attack. 

Jazz Journeys

Charles Mingus - Jazz In Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden This four-hour-plus cornucopia of Mingus circa 1973 was taped, broadcast on WDET and then squirreled away in a suitcase by drummer Roy Brooks, where it stayed until its rediscovery and release last year. It's no wonder he grabbed it up because for that one night, he was one of the greatest drummers I've ever heard. His solos are bold, dramatic, positively Bonham-esque masterpieces and the rest of the time finds him goading on the superb rhythm section of Mingus on bass and Don Pullen on piano. The latter also turns in some stellar work, either sparkling solos or soulful comping for sax player John Stubblefield and trumpeter Joe Gardner. Mingus is maybe a little subdued (for him) but always swinging and I can only imagine his bemused expression when Brooks brought the house down with a musical saw solo for the ages. The sound is mostly very good, but be prepared to ride out some distortion at times. All of the tracks are of epic length and there's also a generous interview with Brooks. In fact, this release is perhaps even more crucial to his legacy than it is to Mingus's!

Thelonious Monk - Mønk This concise and delightful Monk set from Copenhagen in 1963 was almost landfill when an intrepid soul reclaimed it and gifted it to the world. One of my favorite things to do when listening to Monk his really focus on his comping behind solos - it's so fractured and fun - and he was in fine form throughout. Charlie Rouse, John Ore and Frankie Dunlop (sax, bass, drums, respectively) were old hands with the master by this point and more than deliver. If you see a master tape in a dumpster, grab it!

Bubbha Thomas & The Lightmen - Creative Music: The Complete Works The invaluable Now-Again label has done quite the service in bringing these four LP's by Bubbha Thomas and The Lightmen back to, er, light. Spanning the years 1970 - 1975, Thomas leads his shaggy group down paths previously explored only by the likes of Sun Ra, creating his own cosmology of Afro-spiritual jazz-funk. While not every track is a stone classic, there is nothing less than fascinating to be found here and much that is stupendously involving. You might lose a little time listening to these, but when you resurface you will feel refreshed and ready to face new challenges.

Various Artists - Nicola Conte Presents Cosmic Forest: The Spiritual Side of MPS Conte is the Italian composer with big ears who put together the amazing Viagem collections of rare Brazilian music (must-haves, BTW). Here he's turned his discerning taste toward MPS (Musik Produktion Schwarzwald (Black Forest Music Production)), an important German jazz label. As the title suggests, there's an exploratory nature to what Conte has selected, but you also get some hard-swinging and even a sprightly Dexter Gordon/Slide Hampton cut that somehow fits right in.

Global

Gecko Turner - Soniquete: The Sensational Sound Of Gecko Turner If you’re not already obsessed with Turner’s pan-Latin, Afro-Carib jams, filled with killer grooves and singing that alternates between honey and sandpaper, you probably just haven’t listened yet. This collection is a great starting place, cherry picking from his four albums and adding one new song, the infectious Cortando Bajito. Don’t come running to me when you don’t want to hear anything else but Gecko - unless it’s to say “Thank you.”

Basa Basa - Homowo This 1978 release is the third album by this Ghanaian band and from what I’ve heard it’s the best. Their grooves by the rhythm section of twin brothers Joe and John Nyaku are never less than deep but the addition of extremely creative synth wiz Themba Matebese lifts Homowo into the stratosphere. Prepare to dance and to be surprised by this crucial reissue from Vintage Voudou. 

Orchestre Abass  - De Bassari Togo This brief collection, now more widely available after a limited vinyl release, also rides keyboards to glory. But instead of synths it’s the wildly overdriven organ that stuns here. Polydor put out a couple of singles from these 1972 sessions, but half these tracks sat in a Accra warehouse for decades. Thanks to the intrepid work of Analog Africa, we now have the first approximation of what an album by this group would have sounded like. 

Funk, Soul & Hip Hop

Jerry Peters & Jerry Butler - Melinda OST Well, pardon me for not looking deeply enough into the credits of albums by The Sylvers or Friends of Distinction, just to name two artists Peters worked closely with as a songwriter and producer - because his name was completely unfamiliar to me. But one listen to the ultra-funky Part III on this obscure Blaxploitation soundtrack put him instantly in the pantheon of groove. Two chicken-scratch guitars mesh tightly to a Clavinet for a workout that will work you OUT. There are many other pleasures to be found here, too, including four vocals by “Iceman” Butler who gives it gritty or smooth, as the material demands, knowing Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye were providing stiff competition in cinemas around the country. He more than holds his own, which can be said for this soundtrack in general. Get to it. 

C-Bo - Mobfather: The John Gotti Pack Go ahead, complain about this west coast veteran’s completely unreconstructed lyrical approach, I’ll be too busy nodding my head to his mesmerizing flow. Even in 2003, when the earliest material here first appeared, he wasn’t necessarily moving with the times. Look, one song is called I Like Gangster Sh*T - and so do I - so if you don’t, steer clear. His 2019 album, Animal, is even better, making him one of the few rappers that has sustained a career for over 25 years. 

Eric B. & Rakim - The Remixes (1987 - 1992) I’m not sure I would recommend listening to all 2.5 hours in one sitting, but it’s fantastic to have all of these expanded and exploded versions in one place. For all their grousing about what the Brits did with their Long Island boom-bap on the Seven Minutes Of Madness mix of Paid In Full, they were smart enough to engage some of the U.K.’s finest on subsequent remixes. So you get classics by Norman Cook, the Wild Bunch and Blacksmith alongside stellar work by DJ Mark “The 45 King” and others. Eric B. himself takes on Mahogany and gives it a new groove that shows he was listening keenly to the Bristol sound. Sprinkle these around your party playlists and astonish your friends. 

It’s All Classic Rock

The Beatles - The Beatles 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition Say what you want about the Apple machinery that keeps churning out new reasons for you to buy old Beatles, but at least they are doing a kick-ass job with it. Also, unless you can’t live without the visual component (I’ve heard the book is nice), you can listen to every track on Spotify, something you can’t say for every box set (ahem, Bob Dylan!). This set has more of the famous Esher (or Kinfauns) demos than I’ve ever heard, which allows you to hear how good the bones of most of these songs were. Then, when they get into the studio, there are a few terrifying moments when it sounds like they might lose the essence of a song - and then the thrill when they solve it and make it to the magnificent final take. Listen carefully to all the outtakes to hear Paul say "I was trying to do a Smokey - and I aren't Smokey."And the new stereo mix of the final album sounds really great, punchy and thick, without supplanting my favorite version, the 2014 mono vinyl remaster.  Fab gear, boys! Let’s see what they do with Abbey Road...

Jimi Hendrix - Both Sides Of The Sky and Electric Ladyland 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition The first of these is supposedly the final collection of studio outtakes - and there is some barrel-scraping in evidence as we get TWO tracks with Hendrix essentially a sideman for Stephen Stills. And one vocal performance by Lonny Youngblood is usually more than enough. But there are some glories here, too, especially the wonderful Things I Used To Do, with Johnny Winter. It makes you realize how rare it is to hear Hendrix with another guitarist, yet another reminder of what should have been. The Electric Ladyland box set is, in a word, magnificent. From restoring Hendrix’s choice for a cover photo to making the album sound better than ever, it feels like a true labor of love. Read my write-up in Rock & Roll Globe for more details.

Bob Dylan - Live 1962-1966: Rare Performances From The Copyright Collections There's been a lot of talk about the More Blood, More Tracks dissection of Blood On The Tracks, but it didn't move me. The final album is just too perfect. This, however, is a wonderful alternate history of his career from Folk City to the motorcycle accident. The electric cuts are especially essential.

The Doors - Waiting For The Sun 50th Anniversary Edition As I noted in my Rock & Roll Globe article, not every outtake or demo of interest from this period of The Doors was included here. But the extra tracks were certainly illuminating and occasionally hair-raising, like the spittle-drenched rough mix of Five To One. For more context, check this handy playlist of previously released demos and live takes. 

David Bowie - Glastonbury 2000 and Never Let Me Down (2018) It's easy to overlook all the Bowie product coming out just because there's so much of it. But having the legendary Glastonbury concert so easily available is not to be taken for granted. Even more worthy of attention is the reclamation of Never Let Me Down, with new string arrangements, less clutter and other sonic improvements, revealing a fine set of songs. It shouldn't work but it does! It's currently available as part of the Loving The Alien box set, which also has live albums and everything Bowie released from 1983-1988. Find Never Let Me Down on its own here.

The Allman Brothers Band - Bear’s Sonic Journals: Fillmore East February 1970 More Allman Brothers, you say? Another Fillmore East show, you cry? Yes, but this set has been out of print for some time and finds the ABB at a key point, connecting the dots between the rough and ready Ludlow Garage shows and the world-beating 1971 concerts recorded at the same venue. Do not ask for whom Duane’s slide guitar weeps - it weeps for all of us who miss him. 

Hiss Golden Messenger - Virgo Fool If you don’t already have the first three albums, by all means get the box set called Devotion: Songs About Rivers And Spirits And Children. But if you’ve already delved into M.C. Taylor’s rich catalog than this rarities collection will be a wonderful treat on its own. In fact, it hangs together so well, it’s almost like getting a new studio album from one of today’s finest songwriters, which is something to celebrate indeed. 

Fleet Foxes - First Collection (2006 - 2009) This beautifully packaged set puts that seismic first album in context, with demos, prototypes and early releases. Some of it reminds you how hard Robin Pecknold & Co. had to work to be great - and what a high level they reached in fairly short order. The facsimile notebook is a nice bonus and putting the bonus material on 10” discs helps you focus on each period of their development.

Public Image Limited - The Public Image Is Rotten (Songs From The Heart) There is so much brilliance here that I hesitate to say anything that will turn you off. BUT: the way the set is structured, with one disc of A-Sides, one disc of B-Sides, etc., mostly in chronological order, you take their journey from being unbelievably astonishing (1978-81) to merely good (and occasionally awful) over and over. I think I'll just make a playlist of all the best stuff and leave it at that!

Old Folk

Terry Callier - The Chess/Cadet Singles...Plus! This is a bit of a grab-bag, with classic tracks alongside outtakes that find Callier sometimes trying to be something he isn't. But when it works, say on City Side And Countryside, you marvel at what a unique talent he was. If you're unfamiliar with the man, try this career overview I put together in the wake of his death in 2012.


Beverly Glenn-Copeland - Beverly Glenn-Copeland Album This incredible jazz-folk excursion was recorded in 1970 and is a must for anyone who loves Tim Buckley, Vashti Bunyan or anyone who strums an acoustic guitar but doesn't play by the rules. Glenn-Copeland, now a trans man, has an extraordinary voice and equally magnificent control over it, a rich contralto that seems to have no weak spots. The album itself has one throw-away track (My Old Rag or the Hysterical Virgin - the name is a dead giveaway!) but is otherwise a complete masterpiece. Glenn-Copeland later recorded Keyboard Fantasies, an ambient/new age album, and is still working today, alone in his niche. Join him there.

Find tracks from all of these albums in this playlist or below. For more from out of the past, check out the 2018 Archive here and keep up with this year's rediscoveries by following Of Note In 2019 (Out Of The Past).


Friday, March 01, 2019

Best Of 2018: Jazz, Latin And Global


I sheared these genres off of the “Etc.” part of my last category, Rock, Folk, Etc., both so they wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle and also to provide a more cohesive listening experience for the playlist. Very little of this has been covered before on AnEarful - and some of it has also been missing from the lists I’ve seen that purport to specialize in these areas. Before I get to all of the new reviews, however, I must strongly remind you not to miss Guy One's stunning update on Ghanaian Frafra or Wayne Escoffery's smoking Vortex, both of which deserve a wider audience. 


Jazz 

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio - D’Agala If Money Jungle, the 1963 album by Duke Ellington, Max Roach and Charles Mingus, is like a secret handshake among true jazz aficionados, then Courvoisier is definitely in the club. D’Agala, her latest album with Drew Gress (bass) and Kenny Wolleson (drums) seems to use the textures and interaction of Money Jungle as a launch pad for a glorious exploration of what the piano trio can do. It's possible that is all in my imagination, too, as each piece is dedicated to someone who has served as an inspiration for Courvoisier, from guitarist John Abercrombie to sculptor Louise Bourgeois and other cultural figures of all kinds. This has led to a variety of approaches with expansive, lyrical playing alternating with hard-bop swinging and even a touches of free jazz (on Éclats For Ornette) and chamber music (on Simone). But there’s not a false move on D’Agala and every piano trio from now on will have to confront what Courvoisier & Co. have accomplished here. 

Aaron Goldberg - At The Edge Of The World One of the big stories in my world last year was the return of master percussionist Leon Parker to the New York area. His albums from the 90’s, especially Belief and Awakening, occupy a very special place in the musical firmament of my family, as does the man himself for visiting my son in the hospital when he was dying and later playing at his memorial service. So, that baggage puts perhaps more weight on this album than it deserves. Parker appears here in a trio format with Goldberg on piano and Matt Penman on bass, which is the same lineup I saw at the Jazz Standard last fall. In the live setting their balance between delicacy and intensity was exquisitely calibrated making for a thrilling performance. In the studio, it’s more of a slow-burn throughout and, although I can’t point to anything wrong with the album, it’s just not as gripping as I hoped after seeing them in person. So, maybe a live album next time? I’ll do my best to be in the audience!

Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell -  Labroba Hard to believe this represents the first time Frisell, the protean guitarist, and Smith, trumpeter and composer extraordinaire, have worked together. All credit due to drummer Cyrille for bringing this project to fruition and thinking about the trio format in a brand new way. The music feels new, too: spare, elegant and emotionally eloquent. All three players contributed compositions, but the execution feels organic and collaborative, a beautiful example of collective dreaming by veteran players who have done it all before - except this. 

James Francies - Flight On this debut from Francies, a well-traveled keyboard player and composer who’s worked with artists ranging from Pat Metheny to Chance The Rapper, he somehow manages to find a Venn diagram that includes the light and crisp sound of late Steely Dan and swirling intensity of Dark Magus-era Miles Davis. His use of electronics displays deep mastery as does his sparkling acoustic work. He’s also assembled a great cast of characters around him, with Mike Moreno’s guitar and Joel Ross’ vibraphone demanding mention. There are three highly distinctive vocalists featured as well, including Kate Kelsey-Sugg, who provides a credible alternative to Chaka Khan’s belting on a cover of Ain’t Nobody. That's just one of the improbable things Francies pulls off on the start of what should be a long and astonishing career. 

Wayne Shorter - EMANON Far be it for me to tell Shorter, a sax legend now in his 80’s, to stay in his lane, but the much-hyped collaboration with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra that makes up the first disc of this triple album is kind of a snooze. Pegasus, the first track, already had a definitive recording with the Imani Winds on Shorter's last album, 2013's Without A Net. Maybe the orchestral suite makes more sense if you have the graphic novel included in the physical release - I'll get back to you on that! More importantly, the rest of Emanon is live tracks recorded in 2015 at the Barbican Center in London with his all-star band of Danilo Perez (piano), John Patitucci (bass) and Brian Blade (drums). The same telepathic communication that defined their work on Without A Net is present here, making for a spine-tingling collection of exploratory improvisation. The basis for their ruminations include compositions and arrangements Shorter has been working with for many years, such as Orbits, first recorded with Miles Davis back in 1967, and the traditional song She Moves Through The Fair, last heard on the 2003 album Alegría. But there are no retreads here, just the sounds of fully engaged musicians at the top of their game.

Latin

Eddie Palmieri - Full Circle This gleaming update on eight classic salsa songs finds 81-year-old Palmieri in devastating form on piano and leading a band of elite musicians. Key players on every track are Luques Curtis (bass), Camilo Molina (timbales), “Little” Johnny Rivero (congas), and Nelson González (tres),  who provide a hypnotic underpinning over which Palmieri, along with the brass and reeds, can fly freely. Herman Olivera also does fine work on lead vocals. Muñeca is a perfect example, nearly ten glorious minutes of rhythmic bliss. If you’re not nearly overwhelmed by the power and precision at the end of the album, the big band version of Vámanos P’al Monte should deliver the coup de grace. You’ll die happy. 

Grupo Magnetico - Positivo If Palmieri’s album is a black Cadillac, this UK-based ensemble is like a purple lowrider - a little cartoonish but making all the right moves. If the great New York salsa label Fania was signing new acts, they might have beaten Athens Of The North to the punch! Their cover of Papa Was A Rolling Stone is a perfect mission statement: broad, dramatic, funky AND funny. Apparently, they blow the roof off in concert - I’m keeping an eye out for that opportunity. 

Orquesta Akokán - Orquesta Akokán I must confess a certain skepticism about the Daptone label’s soul revival stuff, even Sharon Jones. It’s all perfectly competent and can be fun in a live setting, but in the end, few truly memorable songs came out of any of those projects. Orquesta Akokán, whose debut is the first Spanish language album on Daptone, doesn’t have that problem. Made up of Cuban musicians young and old (including members of Irakere and Los Van Van) and recorded in Arieto, one of Havana’s legendary studios, this is the the album Buena Vista fans have been waiting for ever since World Circuit closed the door on the Social Club. With blistering arrangements by Michael Eckroth, fiery vocals by José “Pepito” Gomez and plenty of atmosphere, this should be at the top of your stack of party starters. 

Global

Gui Hargreaves - Rebento I’m always on the hunt for sparsely-produced Brazilian bliss and that’s the specialty of this young singer/songwriter from São Paulo. Every sonic touch added to his warm tenor and soft guitar is carefully considered to add to the focus on those basic elements rather than obscure them and let the melodies just flow. Hargreaves is not Jobim (but who is?) so the songs are fine, if unlikely to take the world by storm on their own. It's really all about the mood - and it's a mood you'll want to return to often.

Imarhan - Temet These young Algerian nomads have figured out how to breathe new life into the desert blues paradigm pioneered by Tinariwen and others by injecting British Invasion riffs and Dennis Coffey car chase attitude into their sound. The result is ride that’s hypnotic, gritty and funky as hell - buckle up!

BLK JKS - The Boy’s Doin’ It I wouldn’t normally include a single here, but the return of these South African Afro-psych-legends-in-my-own-mind after eight years is worthy of special attention. I mean their only LP, After Robots, was my #1 album of 2009, ferchrissakes! Anyway, this cover of the Hugh Masekela classic was facilitated by Alekesam in tribute to the master, whose trumpet is woven into the mix, but when the horns and guitars start cooking you know it’s all BLK JKS. And if you’re like me, you’ll say “Damn, it’s been way too long!” before playing the song twice in a row. Okay, three times - but who’s counting?

Listen to tracks from all of these albums here or in the playlist below. You can also hear more in these areas by checking out the archive and by following Of Note In 2019: Jazz, Latin & Global.