9th May 2004
of Grey by CM
2004 album by jazz trumpeter/composer CM is his fourth album under his
is an adventurous album and some of the songs take a while to grow on
you. Among the more accessible, I particularly like the gently
funky opener Hotel D’Space, where the warm, airy and sublime
flugelhorn sends me to Donald Byrd heaven.
Heart of the Matter features some seriously moody muted
trumpet licks, which are doubled by the guitar very effectively.
It also features the sinewy fretless bass of Bill Lawrence and I
really would love to hear this live!
busy Midnight in San Remo has a funky 70’s sound, reminiscent
of the Average White Band. A
remix of this with tighter drums, a serious bass player and weightier
keyboards would make it a floor-filler.
The sax burns!
Be Afrika by Winston Mankunku Ngozi
is another of the many talented players on South Africa’s SheerSound
label and this CD contains moments of real beauty.
I love Give Peace a Chance, which is a lazy, melodic tune
featuring the flugelhorn of Prince Lengoasa and the piano of Andile
Yenana. The soprano sax on this song is beautiful.
The most identifiably African song is Abantwana Be Afrika,
with its winding horn lines. It’s
mellow and old-fashioned and when the backing vocals come in halfway
through, this sounds like a party.
a truly universal sound on George & I.
Soprano sax floats over the moody jazz trio backing.
When I first heard this, I said out loud “these guys could be
from anywhere” – how classy. There
are real surprises here; on the dreamy Lakutshon’ Ilanga, the
horn interplay is like hearing Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker on “The
Nearness of You” from 1953. Yenana’s
piano is very bluesy and lovely.
of mellow jazz could find that this very quickly becomes one of their
4 / New Crossings by Sipho Gumede & Pops Mohamed
is the fourth collaboration by Pops Mohamed who keeps the sound of many
traditional African instruments alive and Sipho Gumede whose distinctive
bass guitar sound has been heard on his collaborations with many
musicians from outside Africa.
is a very commercial CD and where can you hear a more commercial and
danceable song than Straight Ahead?
The electronic rhythm, jaunty trumpet and carnival atmosphere are
irresistible. The title
track prominently features Gumede’s trademark woody bass sound and
some very lyrical fretless work and has a nice breakdown.
adventurous Jungle Whispers has a moody bassline and bird sound
effects matched with a nice, strutting rhythm and strong sax lines.
The warm electric piano sound is very appealing.
My favourite song of the ten here has got to be the melodic Why
Me? The piano and organ
sounds are old-fashioned and Thabo Mashishi’s trumpet is gorgeous and
breathy. Both the soprano
sax and piano solos are fantastic.
is the 100th artist release by SheerSound whose distribution
deal with Sony in South Africa and with New Note in the UK should bring
their music to a wider audience.
of Summer – a SheerSound sampler
Mtukudzi’s Totutuma is what many people will recognise as
African music, with its beautiful, tight, male/female vocal harmonies.
You’ll want to try to sing the lyric as that bouncy rhythm
carries you along. In stark
contrast is Jonathan Butler’s urban groove treatment of If I Ever
Lose this Heaven. He’s
been a great ambassador for African music and the rich semi-acoustic
guitar and great vocals on this song show why…
my notes I wrote that Nana Coyote’s Luph’ Uthando was
“confident and MASSIVE”. The
big beat, accordion, brass stabs and huge bass just bowl you over with
their sheer exuberance. Similarly,
I described Cesaria Evora’s Nha Antone Escaderode as “African
disco with a Portuguese overtone”.
It sounds old-fashioned with a simple lead vocal and lovely
western soul influence creeps back with saxman Najee’s Someone
Watching Over Me. It’s
a big song with drama and sweetness at the same time – as classy as
you’d expect. What’s
the hardest track to categorise? Probably
Bul Ma Miin by Orchestra Baobab.
It’s got everything: ‘60’s-style rock and roll guitar,
reggae and latin influences and a vocal sound which comes straight out
of a Bollywood film. The
guitar solo is pure Duane Eddy and I adore the sax on here!
you can find this sampler, you’ll get a great taste of South African
music but, as I’ve heard, it may not be quite as you expect…