Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Blue-in-Green Sessions presents: "BLISS by JaZZ"

In crazy exciting news for us, I'm pleased to announce we have a new show!  As well as our usual Starpoint Radio, Sunday morning slot, we now broadcast on Tuesday afternoons, 5-7pm on Urban Jazz Radio.  Our new show will launch our "BLISS by JaZZ" series focusing on our adoration for the contemporary jazz music we celebrate so enthusiastically on this site.

We go live next Tuesday, 2nd December, but in the meantime I've prepped a special preview show of the type of tunes you can expect to hear on our show.  Every single one will be uploaded to Mixcloud so check in every week.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

What I'm listening to...

'Our Basement' - Ambrose Akinmusire f/t Becca Stevens
I've actually been rocking this song for quite a while and it's not sat well with me that I've yet to feature it on this site in any fashion.  Such an exquisite number from this Blue Note trumpeter with an incredible guest vocal by Stevens too.

'Another Love' - Alice Smith
If Prince decides to cover one of someone else's songs then it's a pretty good indication that it may be worth a listen.  Already the standout track from Prince & 3rdEyeGirl's 'PlectrumElectrum' album, it turns out to be the standout track on Alice Smith's 'She' album too!

'Uptown Funk' - Mark Ronson f/t Bruno Mars
Here's one that's come as a bit of a surprise - it's been quite a long gap since Ronson's last album and let's keep our fingers crossed that the new one will follow in the vein as this 80s-Time-throwback-funk record.  Rekindling his chemistry with Bruno Mars - following their work together on Mars's recent gargantuan-selling 'Unorthodox Jukebox' album - here's one not to be missed.

Monday, 10 November 2014

'Whole Other*' by Richard Spaven [album review]

Marking an incredible year for drummer Richard Spaven, which we’ll address shortly, the icing on its cake must surely be the release of his own full-length album, ‘Whole Other*’ available in the UK through Fine Line Records.

Following on from the 2010 well-received EP release of ‘Spaven’s 5ive’, Richard Spaven’s ability to straddle that incredibly fine line between contemporary jazz and drum-n-bass makes for a distinctly unique listening experience, both, from his EP and the brand new album release.  Beyond this though, this year also serves to show just how diverse his musicianship really is – being the featured drummer for long-term collaborator Jose James’s eclectic album ‘While You Were Sleeping’; featuring exclusively for Takuya Kuroda’s contemporary jazz release ‘Rising Sun’; and again featuring on all tracks for Seravince’s nu-jazz/funk album, ‘Hear To See’ – another album we’ve recently got hold of that’s occupying our speakers fairly prominently.  

Even with all the aforementioned projects – plus a resume that consists of work with Flying Lotus and The Cinematic Orchestra – Spaven genuinely has created a lane all of his own.  I mentioned previously this no man’s land where electronica and jazz music occupy the same space but it takes an artist of incredible vision and skill to make it actually work and make it a decent piece of music happily adopted by either genre.  But much like ‘Spaven’s 5ive’, ‘Whole Other*’ nails it.  Trumpeter Takuya Kuroda appears on the album opener as do The Hics on the title track and Cinematic Orchestra guitarist, Stuart McCallum, rekindles their musical chemistry as well. 

Well worth your time and you're definitely encouraged to get your hands on 'Spaven's 5ive' as well.

Friday, 31 October 2014

New mix: "Wax On, Funk Off!"

Seeing how well 'BinG Loves Jazz!' has done, I'm jumping at the opportunity to compile our second mixtape focusing on contemporary funk numbers that I'm pretty sure many of you are going to enjoy.

These have become so much fun to put together and my mind is already racing for a theme for a follow-up mixtape.  Like with jazz, I kinda feel contemporary funk doesn't really get its due so hopefully we can convert a few people with 'Wax On, Funk Off!'. I've had fun with some of the interludes as well so hope you enjoy...

As keen as I am to do another, in November, I'm hoping to unveil episode 8 of our 'get to know' series and the contenders have been whittled down to: Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Eric Krasno and Casey Benjamin.  Hopefully, we'll have that prepped within a few weeks from now.

In the meantime, please find the full tracklist below for "Wax On, Funk Off!"...
(Blue in Green Sessions intro)
'My Man Is A Mean Man' (DJ Spinna Remix) - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
'Hit The Floor' - Breakestra
(Interlude I: Harrison Ford)
'It's Coming Up Again' - The Relatives
'The Magic Is Gone' - Chris Read f/t Myles Sanko
(Interlude II: 'Perception' drum break, Quantic)
'Move On Up' - Lettuce f/t Dwele
(Interlude III: Will Ferrell)
'Don't Take My Shadow' - Kings Go Forth
(Interlude IV: 'PSA' (IMS "Statement of Intent" Mashed Mix), Jay-Z)
'Oh Yes I Will' - Ed Meme f/t Myles Sanko
(Interlude V: 'Just Like U', Prince)
'There Was A Time' (Kenny Dope Remix) - James Brown
'Outta Control' - Plantlife
'Funk Is Ruling My Head' - Pitch & Scratch f/t Alex Prince
'Soul Intoxication' - Basement Freaks
'Mind Beam' (pts1&2) - Twisted Tongue
(Outro, Roy Ayers)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

'PlectrumElectrum' by Prince & 3rdEyeGirl [album review]

The more I think about it, the more I am considering anyone reading this to actively stop reading this.  Seriously, stop reading this.  If you’re a fan of Prince and have yet to pick up the new album with 3rdEyeGirl, ‘Plectrumelectrum’, then definitely stop reading this.

(Between you and me, I’m secretly happy that you are in fact still reading this :))

Since completing the review of ‘Art Official Age’ for the site recently, I’ve come to the realization that reviews of Prince albums over the last 15-20 years really tend to fall into two categories: people that relegate Prince’s only worthy output from 1978-1988, and people who tediously declare any release as a ‘return to form’ or ‘his best in years’.  One notable reviewer described ‘Art Official Age’ as his best record in ten years.  For my money, neither of the aforementioned reviews are correct.  ‘3121’, released in 2006 and led by the infectious funk number, ‘Black Sweat’, was an incredible release; ‘Lotusflow3r’, released in 2010, again widely well-received and noteworthy for Prince’s indelible guitar work.  For some reason, there’s an element of surprise if people like a new Prince record and it’s probably about time we move on from that.

As we discussed in the ‘Art Official Age’ review, ‘PlectrumElectrum’ – probably released a year later than everyone had expected – has seen several of its ‘Purple Rain’-esque, rockier style of songs released online within that time, and it’s those heavy guitars and sing-along choruses that this album presents here as well – it’s stadium music captured expertly through songs like ‘Fixurlifeup’ and ‘Pretzelbodylogic’, but it’s very much ‘Anotherlove’ that steals the show here (an excellent cover of the equally excellent Alice Smith tune from 2013).  3rdEyeGirl comprises of guitarist Donna Grantis, bassist Ida Nielsen and drummer Hannah Ford Welton, who also doubles as the album’s lead vocalist along with Prince, excelling on songs like ‘Whitecaps’ and ‘LOL (Live Out Loud)’, which is another song unfortunately not included here but still available online.

‘PlectrumElectrum’ and ‘Art Official Age’ – landmark albums for Prince & Co. and hopefully through the renewed relationship with Warner Bros, we’ll get more music from this foursome in due time.  So remember, these albums are not to be ignored because they fall out of Prince’s golden period, and neither should they be hailed as the only good releases in the last ten years… they’re just really good Prince albums.

Friday, 24 October 2014

What I'm listening to...

'What Kind of Cool' [Questlove Remix] - Cody ChesnuTT
I actually wanted to cite this song in the last 'What I'm Listening to...' post we did in September but I couldn't find the song posted then - thankfully it's here now!  This version of the song (originally from ChesnuTT's 2012 sophomore album release, 'Landing on a Hundred'), is from the 2014 EP release 'B-Sides and Remixes' features excellent production from Questlove, reigniting their famed chemistry from 'The Seed 2.0'.

'Fade Away' - Gaelle
This is from Gaelle's one-and-only album release, 'Transient', from 2004 which I've finally got round to buying.  I used to rock 'Separate Rooms' probably as far back as the album's actual release, but 'Fade Away' is the song which became the clincher.

'I Believe in You' - Black Dub
From the very cool self-titled album by Black Dub, this supergroup consists of jazz drummer Brian Blade, Daniel Lanois and vocalist Trixie Whitley.  It draws on many influences, from dub, reggae and soul.  One for good music fans!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

'Art Official Age' by Prince [album review]

With what was over a year’s worth of promotion which included a brand new web site selling songs directly, a very well-received appearance on ‘New Girl’, a hefty dose of performances including a run of secret gigs amid a series of intimate London hot spots, new material from Prince & 3rdEyeGirl was becoming increasingly anticipated, but amidst the slew of exciting promotional activity, what no one saw coming after all these years was that Prince would go on to realign himself with Warner Brothers: the Lex Luthor to his Superman, the Joker to his Batman… well you get the picture.

Something else that people weren’t expecting was that the project would evolve into not just a ‘Prince & 3rdEyeGirl’ release but also a ‘Prince’ one as well.  And that both projects would go on to be released on the same day!  Putting the actual releases of the albums aside, it’s already been a helluva year for Prince and for his fans too.

Let’s tackle the ‘Art Official Age’ album first, the Prince album which marks his longest gap in between studio releases since… well, since probably ever.  I mentioned the 3rdEyeGirl web site earlier which has featured songs for a lot of last year – while it’s great that a few of these songs featured on both projects like ‘Breakfast Can Wait’ for ‘Art Official Age’, it’s unfortunate that ‘Extralovable Reloaded’ didn’t make the cut, and it’s baffling to me that ‘Groovy Potential’ is nowhere to be seen either!?  But let’s not dwell on that, let’s talk about what we do have: a strong, funky albeit slightly EDM-tinged opening number with a guitar riff that you’ll want to hit the rewind button for, ‘Art Official Cage’; a ballad that Prince described much earlier this year on the Arsenio Hall show as being one of his favourites ever, ‘Breakdown’; an Andy Allo-assisted ‘What it Feels Like’ which could have sat perfectly at home on her (highly-recommended) ‘Superconductor’ release from 2012.

The most fascinating song though – as well as my favourite – would be ‘Way Back Home’ and its subsequent reprise through the album-closer, ‘Affirmation III’.  It features a string-laden, orchestral, airy sound and lovely backing vocals that are akin to an Imogen Heap or Julia Easterlin record but what’s specifically fascinating about it is the fact that Prince would even need affirmation – it’s a strange vulnerability that I can’t recall seeing from him previously.  Sure, he’s sung about heartbreak and being cheated on (cue the masterpiece ‘I Hate You’ from ‘The Gold Experience’), but this song seems to stem from a self-doubt which is refreshing in a strange way from him: His introduction to ‘Pretty Man’ from ‘Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic’ (“Don’t hate me cos I’m beautiful”), or ‘Never B Another (Like Me)’ from ‘LOtUSFLOW3R’ – each archetypal examples of Prince’s famed confidence. 

The plan was to discuss ‘Plectrumelectrum’ here as well but due to the length of this review, we’ll unveil that one in a few days time.  Suffice to say though, Prince is easily one for two with ‘Art Official Age’ so fingers crossed equally nice things can be said for ‘Plectrum’.