Smooth Jazz: Tok Tok Tok - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover


With that in mind, I'm at a loss to explain how Tok Tok Tok's album 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover is so enjoyable. It's got all the classic earmarks of the smooth jazz movement - simple stripped-down arrangements built around upright bass and saxophone behind a soulful female vocalist with the occasional bit of percussion thrown in to round out the mix. And the track listing doesn't exactly inspire confidence that we're in for an exciting time. 

Amongst the artists whose back catalogues are mined for this all-covers album are Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, and Gilbert O'Sullivan. On paper, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover looks like little more than a trite album of elevator music that no self-respecting music lover would ever want to sit through from start to finish.

It doesn't take more than a moment or two of actually listening to the album, though, to realize how misleading those simple summaries are. Consider the title track, for one. Olaf Casimir's and Morten Klein handle acoustic bass and tenor sax duties masterfully sliding between slow-burning, soulful verses and the bouncy pop of the choruses to really bring the song to life.

Klien also doubles on percussion, creating all the drum sounds vocally with a beat-box precision that any college a capella group would kill for. Give a listen to the their take to The Beatles' Day Tripper, that translates that familiar guitar riff to a bouncy, playful bass line. 
Jump over to the band's take on Stevie Wonder's I Wish, which creates a neo-soul wall of sound with just that single bass with over-dubbed saxophones, backed by those vocal drums. They capture the somber melancholy of the traditional spiritual tune Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child the joyous energy of Ray Charle's Hallelujah, I Love Her So, adding in a Fender Rhodes piano to the arrangements of those sounds to round out the sound.

Tok Tok Tok definitely do some great work with songs that already have a jazzy element to them, but it's even more impressive to see how well they reach further afield for their songs. Take their interpretation of AC/DC's The Jack for example. 
Stripped down to a slow walking bass line and swingin' sax riff, it’s the kind of song you'd expect to hear at two in the morning in a smoky, dimly lit jazz club that Bon Scott and Angus Young would never set foot in. And the above mentioned Gilbert O'Sullivan? Tok Tok Tok take the weepy schlock-pop of his Along Again (Naturally), gussy it up with some syncopated tropical island jazz rhythms, and turn it into a sweet little melancholy escapist fantasy. 

They even manage to take cheeky vaudevillian pop the Beatles' songlet Her Majesty and work it into a sultry little jazz ditty.
The jazzy instrumentation on 50 Way to Leave Your Lover lends a great deal of appeal to the album (despite how easy it may be to incorrectly classify the sound as "smooth jazz"), but the lion's share of the album's charm comes from singer Tokunbo Akinro's voice. Her deep, breathy voice captures the same sultry sensuality that made singers like Nina Simone, Sade, Lena Horne, and Billy Holiday so memorable. 

And her pipes are just as good at putting a playful spin on the words as they are at bringing the inherent sensuality of the lyrics.

While the easy label for 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover is "jazz," the album has an eclectic, quirky nature that makes it difficult to truly nail down. There are enough rock and pop songs to be found amongst the source material that listeners who aren't normally fans of jazz will find something to hook them in. 
It's far from the most energetic, bombastic album out there, opting most of the time for a low-key, subdued charm, but that just helps it to stand out from all the heavy handed, big name albums out there today. No matter what you may think of the original version of the songs presented here, Tok Tok Tok's interpretations are well worth a listen.


Funky British Pop: Just Jack - Writers Block - Overtones


Overtones:An impertinent album by its fraicheur and sound from feet to nose in everything the stereotypes of the hip-hop.

The crystalline singing of an acoustic guitar, the power of a cello, the punch of the percussions, everything is there. All the tones but also all the feelings: of the dance 'Stars In Their Eyes' in the sorrow of 'Mourning Morning' by way of the bondissante 'Glory Days' which will make you Valium forget. 

An unique style which makes us travel so easily in a universe of 80 ' No Time' that in the British rap close to that of Dizzy rascal with ease!

It's weird, this mixture of accent so British and of the phrasing which would make, Hip-hop singers go pale with good envy. Just Jack: This small young person is full of energy, and he mixes the styles with such an ease. It's disconcerting!

If you are not really fit, listen to him; if you're full of energy, also listen to him!! It's the kind of Funky British Pop album that we can listen to again and again without ever growing tired of it...This album is a real jewel led with class.

Delightful Cultural Mix: Jehro - Tonight Tonight - Paradise Cantina

Born in Marseille, in the 'Panier' neighborhood, Jérôme Cotta, alias Jehro is cradled in his childhood by his father's music taste like 'left side singer-songwriter' Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Georges Moustaki… 

Then, he will be influenced by pop-rock and reggae, during a few years while he was living in London. Back in France, he joined the group 'Solo' before launching his own career. He released his first album in 1999 entitled 'The Tree And Fruit'. 
And then collaborated in the writing of several albums: Veronica Antico 'Gates of Heaven', and Marathonians 'A Tropical Soul Adventure' in 2003.

Here, he took a new turn in his musical career to move to a different musical style, close to reggae and calypso.
When he made the tour of record companies, in 2005 with his first album, he was able to test the resistances of the decision-makers. Nobody wanted of the record, except the major company Warner, which inspired well signed the singer for the charmingly felted voice. 

Five years after the success of his single, finally Jehro is coming back for brightening your day with his new album, Paradise Cantina.

A solar album which results from a trip to Panama and Cuba. The title evokes these South American cheap restaurants where the villagers take a snatch at good price: " places of life where young people and old men meet in a friendly and family atmosphere".
The artist is a passionate person of journeys and photography, and the songs of his album listen to as so many postcards, without the exotic clichés, sent since his distant destinations.

Worn by melodies never streetwalkers, alternating silky South American reggae, soul flights and rhythms, Paradise Cantina radiates a warmth, authenticity and ease-specific to self-taught musicians.

"I compose by ear, without writing a single note," said Jehro whose father (who died when he was six years old) was a professional musician: "Many artists went to the house, painters, sculptors, musicians Léo Ferré, or Almanda Altai. I'm probably came to music by atavism, a very natural way. "

Formed during five years in the hard school of clubs and pubs - "my private conservatory" - the music written by Jehro is peaceful, but not naive. In his thoroughbred voice, full of soul feeling, he celebrates the saving or faded love, the joys of fatherhood, without forgetting to inject with delicacy its ecologist and anti-capitalist convictions… 


On the song Guantanamo, he tackles with a caustic irony the multinational of transgenics Monsanto, and claims its part of utopia on One World, an ode to a world without borders, freed of his tyrants. "Can you feel the wind of Freedom ... 

All Powers all leaders THEY Will Come Down." Understand, "Do you feel the wind of freedom ... All the powers and leaders will fall. A hymn written long time before " Arab Spring ". Jehro's evidence that does not preach in the desert!

Jehro finally emerges from his silence! A Singer-songwriter who handles both English and Spanish, reveals the first single, Tonight Tonight, brilliant and catchy song part of the calypso and Caribbean sounds, reflecting the eclecticism of the new album Jehro. Cantina Paradise, a delightful cultural mix to listen for any occasion !!!


Funny British Soul: Lack of Afro - A Time For - This Time

Place to the British Soul and to the label Freestyle Records! To announce "This Time" album coming DJ / producer Adam Gibbons, also known as pseudo Lack of Afro, Alex Genn-Bash directed the video for "A Time For."

A tasty and delightful piece that involved the singer Wayne Gidden and that you can already buy in vinyl. The highly anticipated LP is itself expected to on September 26. So by then, it remains for us to salivate while listening to this first single in loop ...


Phenomenal Soulful Voice: Alice Russell - Living the Life of a Dreamer - Pot Of Gold

Alice's demand as a vocalist has gained an enviable reputation as one of the UK's hottest singers, recording with the likes of Massive Attack, The Roots, The Quantic Soul Orchestra, Mr Scruff, Roy Ayres, and De La Soul . 
Blessed with a lavishly soulful voice, Alice's sound is modern, but firmly rooted in the past. Although her style is predominantly bluesy and soul lament it also encompasses everything from funk to Gospel to Jazz and beyond.

Her 4th album "Pot of Gold" is produced once more by TM Duke which is a serious credit in itself, but many of the songs could've been crafted by the Motown legend Berry Gordy when heard. Alice Russell shows off an impressive array of vocal chops, conjuring up the wails of divas like Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle. 
Russell isn’t afraid to use hints of her British accent as an asset and Russell’s band,from the horn section, to the bassist- Alex Cowen, to violinist- Mike Simmons truly feel what they are putting down on tape and have enough versatility to offer something more than your average Neo-Soul house band.

“Let Us Be Loving” grooves with an electronic beeping that recalls Grace Jones and is our first indicator that Pot of Gold strives to do more than rehash the mid-70s. One minute you’re wooed by the klezmer fiddle of “Lights Went Out,” and before you know it you’re bobbing your head to the Stevie-groove of “Hesitate” or sipping the Acid-Jazz juice of “Universe”. 

From there, she jumps to a bit of Afro-beat on "Living the Life of a Dreamer". The varied production keeps Pot of Gold fresh for its duration as Russell’s consistent yet still stylistically eclectic vocals ensure that the album never feels scattered.

Perhaps the highlight of Pot of Gold is what should be a head-scratching cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” I mean really, isn’t covering a song as overplayed as “Crazy,” almost like covering the “Macarena”? 
But Russell’s performance turns the whole track on its head, slowing down the tempo even more than the original to crank out a gradually burning hurricane that’s barely recognizable as the “Crazy” we all overplayed a few years back.

Will this album have any staying power for years to come? Who knows? But for an alternate musical pill to the Joss Stones and Adele's of the world of British “Soul", Pot of Gold is mighty tasty for now. And damn can that girl sing ;) If you ever read this Miss Russell…Thank you and please don't stop !!!

One Long, Languid, Shimmering Groovy Nu-Soul : D'Angelo - Spanish Joint - Voodoo

Let's be drunk in a lazy epicurean way & celebrate the sweetness of home comfort, with the only remedy elixir potion-liquor, this Nu-Soul album of D'Angelo "Voodoo". A disc that works as an additional layer, and when it ends the whole house has stripped. The rumors that the artist left for pacifier, let him walk naked in his videos.

So what? you're never walk naked at home? D'Angelo has made this disc as a woman procreate, except that he took him five years and this explains the intimacy of sound. 
The music itself goes back slowly in the womb of mother notes or so. At the end of the song is a babbling and the bells ring out as the memories of our childhood.

Crowning the ease of production, some songs were recorded in the bathroom with two percussion in the bathtub and a friend who claps his hands to keep time ... good spirit...because he came on almost all pieces and this is the "leg" of D'Angelo, the clap a little damp and languid.

The artist looks pretty marabout, perhaps no coincidence that the Nu-Soul album is called "Voodoo".

In any case, it has taste since it uses the breath of Roy Hargrove, Charlie Hunter's finger and chat Redman and Method of tacky. Amazing, to name "Voodoo" album atmospheres if not muted or crazy trance rhythms soared. 

It is the mystic who wins, D'Angelo reminds us that today the sacred simply means to bring the attention thing, respect the tradition and take the time to do it.

And the message is wonderful because the music sounds like a testimony. Includes that of an artist whose world enchants us. So hurry up and eat your yogurt before it expired, the album D'Angelo himself has no use-by date and should be declared of public utility.


Catchy Urban Grooves : Una Mas Trio - Clear As Water - Ritmo Del Futura

Una Mas Trio have a vision. Based on a blend of traditional south American styles meeting contemporary club music they construct their very own, crystal-clear 'Ritmo Del Futura' and release it as their debut full length album. 
Una Mas Trio are Christian Schilgen, multifaceted instrumentalist on guitar and keyboards, composer and engineer as well as producer in his own studio, and Fab DJ Sammy, musical mastermind, disc-jockey and record collector extraordinaire. 
They define their irresistible upbeat harmonies as boogaloo, a fusion of Cuban salsa rhythms and American soul.

In 'Clear As Water', Una Mas Trio blend urban grooves, catchy up-tempo energy and world music traditions. With the enigmatic poetess/singer Bajka’s tone and  phrasing provides perfect vocal flavor to

 the track.

With 'Ritmo Del Futura' Una Mas Trio release a treasure trove of hitting rhythms that are fresh and modern, keeping the spirit of original Latin and Brazilian music alive while placing it on firm grounds in the present and, of course, for the future.

Clear As Water by Loo Van Burns


Wonderful Blues Vibrations: Ndidi O - On The Metro - The Escape

Imagine a voice that sings the blues like a street urchin: slightly hoarse, all in nuances and sensitivity. A voice equally at home in jazz than in the soul, from the folk and pop to country and to the cabaret style or anything else, always with the same natural. 
A soft voice and powerful at a time, able to express the strongest emotions.
Now do you represent a woman’s brown hair, dressed in satin and tulle, dancing vividly in red lacquer shoes.
A woman who is inspired by love and loss, as well as in poetry, tombstones or snippets of conversations captured on the fly. 
A complex and enigmatic woman of Nigerian origin and German, who spent his childhood in British Columbia, Canada, to observe grizzly bears-and escape as soon as she could into her imagination.


Wonderful Fusion Of Soul & Jazz: Impromp2 - It Is What It Is !!

MOJAZZA low-down dirty funky groove with a sexy bass-line and Isleys / Chris Jasper era type keys thrown in for good measure. A salvo of questions hit the chaps from a number of voices asking whether it be hip hop, soul, pop, R&B, funk, neo-soul etc…The answer according to the soulful chorus is…It is what it is.

This wonderful fusion of soul, jazz and softly spoken rap suits Impromp2 to the ground. They are not finished there, though. “You’re A Queen” is a splendid track and is receiving a lot of interest of Urban radio stateside. 

In this offering, a message is sent to ALL women about not allowing themselves to be portrayed as objects by the brainless R&B / Rap industry – the videos typifying women as only able to wear next to nothing or shaking their booty.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget the endless parade of car bumpers or basketball courts.As Sean says, he hates to think of his small children growing up, seeing that and ascribing to that thinking. The “music industry” is sick and thank God for the likes of Impromp2 for a dash of sanity and intelligence.