Exquisite Tones of Leela James

Hear any Leela James song and you’ll know that it’s a Leela James song without being told.

You won’t know from the sound of the music. It’s not exceptionally different to the familiar, classic, feel-good sounds of R&B music from yesteryears.

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But you will be absolutely sure it’s Leela James’ music by the sound of her voice. Because the tone of that voice is absolutely and distinctly unique in the great big world of vocalists within it. All in all the sound of that voice is smouldering, sexy, sometimes gritty and others sweet, emotive and exquisite. For that, for her, Leela James songs can be listened to over and over again at any ole time.

Leela James

With the release of her new album Fall For You, the world has 10 more soul/R&B songs with the one and only Leela James Voice to appreciate. One of them has the added bonus of featuring the silky-smooth, always-flawless vocals of Anthony Hamilton.

Leela James - Fall For You (2014)

The inclusion of Leela James in the line-up for Soulfest 2014 alongside her contemporaries of the Soul/R&B world (including Anthony Hamilton, Angie StoneAloe Blacc, D’Angelo and Maxwell) means people in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand soon get the pleasure of having the ultimate Leela James experience – hearing her exquisite voice live – with her band :) .

“I’ve been performing on stages for as long as I can remember, every since I was a little girl. I’ve shared the stage with the greats and toured with the best traveling the world. Doing shows with my band because yes I like to do it live…that is with a live band, because to me that’s where it all started from. That’s real music, real instrumentation, real live sangin. That’s what I do and what I’ve been doing. That’s what I plan to keep doing until I can’t do it anymore. So thank you….thank you for years of love and support! I’ll see you in your city or a city near you soon!”  (Leela James – 24.9.14)

Leela James

For the South Pacific “your city or a city near you soon” means at Soulfest in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland on 18, 19, 25 and 26 October 2014 . Or for a more intimate live experience with Leela James and Maxwell, in Sydney at their Enmore Theatre side-show on 21 October.

This is Australia and New Zealand’s ‘first annual neo-soul, jazz & hip hop festival‘. The 1st has a killer line-up that no lover of contemporary soul and R&B music should want to miss.

Soulfest 2014 flyer

To get you warmed up for it (or just feeling good anyways), listen here to the distinct and exquisite tones of Leela James on these sample tracks from the new album Fall For You + her 2010 album My Soul.  A reminder as always before you listen – they are just mp3s. These and past Leela James albums in hard copy are easy to find and buy.

Leela James - Fall For You (2014)Leela James - Fall For You (2014)Leela James - Fall For You (2014)

‘Give It’ – Leela James - Fall For You (2014)

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‘So Good’ - Fall For You (2014)

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Leela James - My Soul (2010)

‘I Want It All’ - Leela James - My Soul (2010)

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‘I Ain’t New To This’ - My Soul (2010)

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Check out sample tracks by other Soulfest 2014 artists here.

Then see y’all in person at Soulfest real soon listening to the “real music, real instrumentation, real live sangin” of the gorgeous Leela James and more.

Leela James

If you ain’t

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Flying Lotus: Coronus, The Terminator

The new Flying Lotus album drops on October 7th. After hearing the latest teaser track from it, ‘Coronus, The Terminator’, You’re Dead! has for me become the most anticipated new album music release in a very, very long time. I am absolutely bursting to get a hard copy of this album into my hands and playing through my speakers.

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

Why?  Because when I hear this ethereal piece of brilliant music artistry by Flying Lotus and his collaborators, I feel everything moving inside of me.  It affects me deeply – and that’s the very best music in the world.

Why else? Because You’re Dead! not only features FlyLo’s fellow Californian artists Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Niki Randa singing vocals on Coronus, The Terminator; but also one of the most special artists in the whole of our music history -  jazz fusion pioneer Herbie Hancock. I’d say Flying Lotus and Herbie Hancock making fusion music together is a collaboration of epic proportions.

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock
photo ℅ minglecity.com

Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus
photo ℅ heartymagazine.com

Reactions to Coronus, The Terminator by Soundcloud listeners sum up this music  ever-so-perfectly really…

what the fuckkkkkkk          holy shit    

dammnnnn          JEEEEESUS CHRIST!!!          lawd have mercy

Getting chills, damn          Goosebumps, Goosebumps all around!

crazy shit. next level shit          fuckin phenomenal          absolute perfection

out of this world          sweet salvation          enlightenment through sound

you are a damn genius          one of the cleanest fucking mixes ive ever heard

you cannot be human

if this is what dying sounds like then i look forward to it

Hear Coronus, The Terminator yourself and you’ll probably be nodding in agreement with all of the above reactions. Check it out on Soundcloud here…

So no doubt after hearing it, you’ll agree with these other Soundcloud comments too…

so fucking excited for october

SO happy about this… very glad I pre-ordered ;)

I’m hella pumped to get this on vinyl.

Yes appreciators of good sound quality and hold-in-your-hands-albums, Flying Lotus is of course giving us You’re Dead! on sweet vinyl and cd.  You can pre-order it and collect the mail excitedly each day because that could be the day the postman or woman delivers your copy of this incredible piece of music artistry.

When you get it, remember these Flying Lotus words about You’re Dead!

“the first time you listen to You’re Dead! try to clear 30+ min of your super busy and important schedule and listen to the whole ride”

Until then, remind yourself of the great goodness of Herbie Hancock’s music with this sample track (shitty mp3 only – this is a must-have-album on sweet vinyl or cd) from his 1973 groundbreaking album Head Hunters

Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (1973)

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

‘Chameleon’ – Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

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D for Red Baraat’s ‘Dhol n Brass’

D in Beaver’s ‘A to Z of Fusion Genres’ could also go to New York’s Red Baraat for pioneering the fusion music genre of ‘Dhol n Brass’.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

The dhol in that phrase refers to the Punjabi drum and the rhythms of Bhangra music – played by Red Baraat’s founder and band leader Sunny Jain – who’s joined in percussion by a drum kit and a congas player.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Sunny Jain

The reference to brass is to brass :)  - homage to the sounds of New Orleans big-band jazz. Red Baraat has a five-piece-strong brass section.

All in all, the music these 8 musicians create is “a merging of hard-driving North Indian bhangra rhythms with elements of jazz, go-go, brass funk, and hip-hop”.  

It’s mostly instrumental (their greatest strength) but some tracks have hip hop, Hindi and Punjabi vocals in the mix.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

I caught 2 live Red Baraat shows in March while having the experience everyone who’s into incredible, diverse worldwide music wants to have – WOMADelaide.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

The live experience was special; and the music unique enough to justify taking home the 2014 South Pacific Tour edition of their 2013 album Shuggy Ji.

Shuggy Ji - South Pacific Tour 2014

No the effect of ‘Red Baraat in studio’ isn’t as powerful as hearing their percussion and brass battles live. But I keep going back to Shuggy Ji because brass instruments and the music made by them are my beloved – and this ensemble’s music has two trumpets, a saxophone, a trombone and a sousaphone doing their things. That brass-heavy focus is a rare treat in music.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Get a glimpse here of both the live and the studio versions of Red Baraat – with sample tracks from Shuggy Ji and videos of their 2 WOMADelaide 2014 shows

Shuggy Ji (2013) album cover

‘Private Dancer’  - Shuggy Ji (2013)

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‘Apna Punjab Hove’ – Shuggy Ji (2013)

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Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014 – VIDEO on YouTube or Vimeo

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014 – VIDEO on YouTube or Vimeo

 

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You can get yourself a copy of Shuggy Ji and Red Baraat’s past albums plus Sunny Jain’s other musical projects direct from the artists through their Bandcamp site. 

So then people, which ‘D’ is more up your musical alley - Dancehall Electro Hip-Hop’  from P-Money and Gappy Ranks – or Red Baraat’s ‘Dhol n Brass’?

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Independent Music Stores – The Last To Know

“Once upon a time it was just the radio stations that knew about a new music release before we did. These days now that it’s all on-line, we’re the last to know.” 

This was what a local independent music store owner said frustratedly to me this week as she searched on-line for a long time, unsuccessfully trying to find out about 3 new album releases from internationally-known music artists I asked her about buying, and pre-ordering if possible.

pre order music closed“I’ll keep looking for them, but the only way for now seems to be pre-ordering digital copies”, she said.

Buy new Janelle Monae cd from music stores or pre order on iTunes?

Buy Ne-Yo cd from music stores or pre order on iTunes?

(Not the particular albums I was looking for this week in my local, independent music store, but you get the picture)

The experience that I’d hoped to instead have in that music store was this…

I might be able to pre-order the albums from her. If not, she’d at least say “Yes, we’ll have them as soon as they’re released. Come back then”.

I’d leave the store happy.

Then I’d count down the days in anticipation and excitement of going back to the music store on the release date to pick up my new musical joy I’d been waiting to get my hands on and hear.

On the release date, I would go back to the music store and gladly hand over my money to the owner and walk away with my new record or cd.

The Record Store

I’d take it home and put it on. I’d listen to all of the sounds of the recording that the artist who made the music recorded and wanted me to hear. I’d admire the album art work. Check out the names of the artists who worked on the album and where it was recorded. I’d read the acknowledgments or other messages written by the artist.

It would be a happy, happy musical day for me.

I miss those good ol’ days. They weren’t so long ago.

Independent music store owners undoubtedly miss them too.

I suppose we should count our blessings that in the bad new days of digital music consumption, some independent music stores still have their doors open to go in and ask – that those store owners are passionate enough about music to stay open whilst barely making enough money to pay themselves a wage.

Yes, I know it’s all been said before but it needs to be said again and again.

Blessed be the independent music store owners.

Blessed be the music artists who release their music on vinyl and cd.

Tads Records - music stores, Jamaica

Damned be digital music consumption and it’s ever-increasing global monopoly.

Buy new music from music stores or pre order on iTunes?

Anyone out there apart from me and music store owners, feeling frustrated and saddened by these bad new days in the world of music? 

Funk fans out there who aren’t sure, hear this beloved George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars song in its dirty, compressed mp3 format, and mull over the format in which you’ll be buying the highly-anticipated new Funkadelic album that George Clinton has just announced is coming our way…

George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars - T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (1996)

George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars – ‘Funky Kind (Gonna Knock It Down)’ – T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M (1996)

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Wild Marmalade Consistencies

Musicians in the world have certainly taken on as their own, the live and improvised didjeridu-dance sound of its Australian originators Wild Marmalade. But after experiencing Wild Marmalade’s Sunday show at Brunswick Heads, I’m convinced that none of them could really sound like, or sound as good as these highly skilled, Australian artists do when doing what they do.

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Wild Marmalade’s core and founding members and drivers of its high-energy musical force, are Si Mullumby (Dream Drone) on yidaki (didjeridu) and Matt Goodwin on drum kit.

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Si Mullumby (left) & Matt Goodwin (right)

These days, 14 years after Wild Marmalade began, you’re likely to find more than those 2 artists on stage.

‘Woodford Folk Festival Wild Marmalade’

I last caught a Wild Marmalade show at Woodford Folk Festival 2013/2014.  There they were joined by Tijuana Cartel’s vocalist and flamenco-inspired guitarist Paul George.  His guitar in the mix put Wild Marmalade’s sound much more up my musical alley than the straight didj/drum combo.  But hey, that’s just me and my personal music needs.

Wild Marmalade with Paul George live @ Woodford Folk Festival 2013/2014

Woodford Folk Festival 2013/2014

‘European Wild Marmalade’

Since then Wild Marmalade have been playing gigs and festivals throughout Europe with a different line-up of Australian musicians: Si Mullumby + Paul George with reggae/dancehall/hip-hop producer and musician Jake Savona (aka Mista Savona) on keys…

Jake Savona

Jake Savona

and one of Australia’s top percussionists, the music machine who is Ben Walsh (Orkestra of the Underground - Scotch & Soda – The Bird – Crusty Suitcase Band – Circle of Rhythm)…

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Ben Walsh

Since my musical needs are generally melodic ones, I’m especially sorry to have missed the European Wild Marmalade experience with Jake Savona’s melodies in its mix.

‘Brunswick Heads Wild Marmalade’

At the Brunswick Heads show on Sunday, Matt Goodwin and Si Mullumby were playing on their Australian home shores again. This time the duo was joined by Ben Walsh and another Australian multi-instrumentalist, solo artist and musical collaborater with many, Matt Ostila on jaw harp.

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Ben Walsh

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Matt Ostila

Wild Marmalade Always

No matter which particular artists you find on a Wild Marmalade stage, no matter the venue and no matter the crowd, two things seems to consistently be the same at every show:

1. the impressive level of musicianship and musicality of the artists, and how special that is to see and to hear live.

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

At the Brunswick Heads gig I especially appreciated the chemistry between Ben Walsh and Matt Goodwin.

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2. the musicians seem to successfully sense the individual nature and vibe of each crowd they’re playing to, and create a fluid journey of improvised sound (sometimes chilled, other times frenzied) which makes that crowd move, and feel happier for the experience.

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Get a glimpse of the Brunswick Heads Wild Marmalade’ experience on these video snippets from Sunday’s show...

Wild Marmalade + Ben Walsh + Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Watch VIDEO on YouTube or Vimeo

Wild Marmalade + Ben Walsh + Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

Watch VIDEO on YouTube or Vimeo

 

Check out Woodford Wild Marmalade’ with Paul George on video here.

Hear the sounds of Paul George in the Wild Marmalade mix with this dirty mp3 version of a track from their 2014 live album Flux.

Wild Marmalade with Paul George - Flux (2014)

Flux (2014)

‘Tyagarah Mosquito’ – Flux (2014)

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Finally for your own Wild Marmalade experience, for a taste of some uniquely-Australian music – find them playing live in the world where you next can.

Wherever that show is, you’re sure to find a 3rd consistent thing  - Si Mullumby playing didjeridu. He’s the only member (core or guest) who’s played every show except one in their 14 year history.

Wild Marmalade with Ben Walsh & Matt Ostila live @ Brunswick Heads

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Little Dragon Live & Sublime in Sydney

On their 3rd visit to Australia, I was blessed this week to finally get the live Little Dragon experience I’d been waiting so long for.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory

Only Sydney and Melbourne got shows on this tour.  Consistent with the band’s other sold-out shows this year on their seemingly-non-stop tour schedule in the U.K, U.S.A, Japan and Europe since releasing Nabuma Rubberband, both their Sydney and Melbourne gigs sold out too. For very good reason…the live Little Dragon show is one that’s sublime, and not to be missed.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

The fact that the members of this 4-piece Swedish group have been playing and performing together since 1996 is plain to hear live. The cohesiveness of the combined sound contributions of Little Dragon’s four members is water-tight, and no 1 member’s sound drew my focus away from the others.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Visually on the other hand, vocalist Yukimi Nagano makes it hard to keep your eyes off of her with her mesmerising movements across the stage with a tambourine – those movements and sounds themselves being an integral part of the whole that is the sublime live Little Dragon experience.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

And Yukimi Nagano’s voice, with it’s live humanly “imperfections”, for those live “imperfections”, sounded simply perfect.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

The other 3 parts of Little Dragon are Fredrik Wallin (bass), Håkan Wirenstrand (keys) and Erik Bodin (drums).  Their musicianship was a dream to hear, see and appreciate in a live environment, especially the extended versions and jams during some of the songs.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Fredrik Wallin

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Håkan Wirenstrand

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Håkan Wirenstrand (left); Erik Bodin (right)

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Erik Bodin

Little Dragon whole – the parts of the four artists combined  - was a better experience for me live than on cd…and isn’t that exactly what we want from all of our live music experiences?

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

Sydney’s set list was made up of these 16 songs from Little Dragon’s 4 albums – including one of their 1st songs ‘Test’ (on video below)

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Killing Me + Underbart + Pretty Girls + Paris + Klapp Klapp + Only One + Nabuma Rubberband

Little Dragon - Ritual Union (2011) - album cover

Ritual Union + Please Turn + Crystal Film + Summer Tears + Shuffle a Dream

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Machine Drums - Little Dragon (2009)

My Step + Runabout

Little Dragon. Self titled album cover. 2007.

Twice + Test

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Given the many years Little Dragon have been around for, it was interesting to see that a lot of their Sydney crowd seemed younger than I would’ve guessed they’d be; and to hold the newer songs played from Nabuma Rubberband dearer to them than older Little Dragon tracks. I guess that’s a testament to the group’s success in constantly making relevant new music that appeals to both old and new fan bases.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

The only other thing I can tell you about the gig is the unexpected feel-good moment that came near the end of Little Dragon’s show when one of those young women in the crowd joined the band on stage and proposed to her girlfriend.  A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer I don’t know, but they looked happy.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

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The only consolation I can offer to peeps who missed out on tickets to Little Dragon’s Melbourne and Sydney shows this time around, is these videos from Tuesday night at Oxford Art Factory

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Arts Factory - Nabuma Rubberband

‘Nabuma Rubberband’ VIDEO - live @ Oxford Art Factory – Youtube or Vimeo

‘Paris’ VIDEO – live @ Oxford Art Factory – YouTube or Vimeo

 

 

‘Ritual Union’ video -  Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory

‘Ritual Union’ VIDEO - live @ Oxford Art Factory – Youtube or Vimeo

 

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney, 2014

‘Test’ VIDEO - live @ Oxford Art Factory – YouTube or Vimeo

 

Elsewhere in Beaver Land you can check out sample tracks from Little Dragon’s Ritual Union and Nabuma Rubberband albums.

Right here is one more sample from Nabuma Rubberband. The usual ‘mp3 only warning applies – hard copies of Little Dragon’s music is easy to find and buy on-line or on foot in your local, independent record store…

Little Dragon - Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

‘Underbart’ – Nabuma Rubberband (2014)

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Lots of people missed out on tickets to Little Dragon’s Sydney and Melbourne shows. These artists could easily have filled bigger venues than Oxford Art Factory and the Corner Hotel. Fans in other Australian cities wanted a Little Dragon show too.  The band’s tour schedule in the U.K, U.S.A and Europe for the rest of 2014 means Australia’s unlikely to get shows again this year. But I’m sure we’ll see Little Dragon over this side of the world again soonish rather than later.

Little Dragon live @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney - August 2014

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D is for ‘Dancehall Electro Hip Hop’ – ℅ P-Money and Gappy Ranks

Hip hop I love, most Dancehall not. The only dancehall music I have in my collection are videos from live shows in Jamaica.

But dancehall melded with hip hop, that’s a different story – one I’m more into hearing. Dancehall joins my cd collection for the first time in the form of P-Money and Gappy Rank’s new dancehall/electro/hip hop EP The Baddest.

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

P-Money and Gappy Ranks – The Baddest EP (2014)

‘D’ then in Beaver’s A to Z of Fusion goes to ‘Dancehall Electro Hip Hop’ – care of P-Money and Gappy Ranks. Their collaboration on this EP is another example of the very cool musical things that happen when artists from different parts of the world get together, mix up music styles and create unique new sounds.

The Lighter ‘D’: P-Money and Gappy Ranks

P-Money if you don’t know, is a hip-hop DJ and producer from the magical musical lands of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Baddest is released by P-Money in decade no. 2 of having his production fingers in many solo and collaborative musical pies. P-Money’s craftsmanship on The Baddest EP is impressive as always – and ultimately the reason a dancehall cd made its way into my collection to stay.

Gappy Ranks hails from England. He’s responsible for vocals and/or production on a long list of dancehall music releases he’s made solo or with other artists from the U.K, Europe and Jamaica – including the Jamaican ‘King of Dancehall’ himself, Beenie Man.  His vocals on The Baddest are a good match for P-Money’s production.

P-Money and Gappy Ranks

P-Money and Gappy Ranks

The EP has 8 beautifully-bass-heavy tracks, each sounding more electro, or dancehall, or hip-hop flavoured than the next. Three are remixed versions of the opening song (and previously released single) ‘Baddest’. One is by Houston producer Ape Drums and another (sampled below) features New Zealand hip hop MC Sid Diamond (aka Young Sid).

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

The Baddest might have snuck its dancehall ways into my music collection for its hip hop (and P-Money) ways, but it is still dancehall. That means lyrically you’ll get light.  Gappy Ranks swears his love for his Mamma til he dies, wants us to follow him on Instagram, affirms his remaining loyalty to the “old crew” now his dreams have come true and boasts of being “sicker than bipolar”. You get the idea yes?

You can check out sample tracks from The Baddest EP  here. They’re just mp3′s. If you want to hear all the sounds P-Money and Gappy Ranks recorded, order the EP in hard copy from Amplifer or get it on your feet at a good record store :) .

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

P-Money and Gappy Ranks - The Baddest EP (2014)

P-Money and Gappy Ranks – ‘Fire Shot’ – The Baddest 

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P-Money and Gappy Ranks – ‘Baddest (Remix feat. Sid Diamond)’ – The Baddest

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The Darker ‘D’s

D’ definitely has some darker ‘fusions’ than the light dancehall/electro/hip hop one P-Money and Gappy Ranks have delivered with The Baddest EP:-

Darkstep - a style of darkcore jungle that takes its signature sinister feel and fuses it with upbeat breakbeats and ambient noises, creating an excessively chaotic tone.

Deathcore - fusion of death and punk metal.

Deathdoom – fusion of death and doom metal.

Deathgrind – fusion of death metal and grindcore.

Death industrial - fusion of death and industrial metal, linked heavily to the power electronics scene.

I’m pretty sure the fusions starting with ‘dark’ and ‘death’ won’t ever find their way into my music collection like P-Money and Gappy Ranks’ has.

What about yours?

P-Money and Gappy Ranks

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A Soul-Drenched Spring @ Soulfest 2014

Springtime in Australia is glorious: blue skies, sunshine, flowers and butterflies, happy people – and a steady stream of music festivals to make those days even happier. None of those festivals are dedicated only to soul, r&b, hip-hop and jazz music though – except now for one: Soulfest.

If you haven’t already concreted your plans to be in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne this October to have yourself a soul-drenched Spring at Soulfest 2014, now would be the time to do so.

Soulfest 2014

It dubs itself “Australia’s First Annual Neo-Soul, Jazz & Hip Hop & Festival”.  True to that, Soulfest is kicking off by bringing a group of stunning international contemporary soul, r&b and hip hop artists to Australian shores to play alongside up-and-coming Australian based artists making music in those genres.

International artists on the Soulfest 2014 bill are diva Angie Stone, D’Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, Aloe Blacc, Leela James, Maxwell, Mos Def, Musiq Soulchild and Common.

Yes folks, it’s true – all these artists in one festival day…

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Australian-based artists announced so far are Ngaiire, Nathaniel, Thandiwe Phoenix, Milan Ring, Ms Murphy, M-Phazes, EMRSN and Miracle.

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One more Australian act will be added to the line-up in each city.  Those artists will be the winners of ‘Soul Search’, Heat 3 of which is happening this week at venues in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne (details on Soulfest’s FB page).

Soulfest 2014 - Soul Search Competition

The emergence of a new Australian festival dedicated to soul, r&b, hip hop and jazz is something to get excited about. Here’s hoping Soulfest 2014 comes before Soulfest 2015 and many more annual Soulfests thereafter.  You can help make that happen by booking it in, getting your tickets and not missing the chance to hear these incredible artists perform Down Under.

If you’re not quite sure you need to be at Soulfest 2014, remind yourself here of the musical goodness you’ll get if you are – live.  Check out these (mp3 only) sample tracks featuring the silky-smooth sounds of Angie Stone, Anthony Hamilton, Aloe Blacc, Common and D’Angelo.

Angie Stone - Mahogany Soul (2001)

Angie Stone – Mahogany Soul (2001)

Angie Stone – ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ – Mahogany Soul

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Angie Stone - Stone Love (2004)

Angie Stone – Stone Love (2004)

Angie Stone (Feat. Anthony Hamilton) – ‘Stay For A While’ – Stone Love

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Aloe Blacc - Good Things (2010)

Aloe Blacc – Good Things (2010)

Aloe Blacc – ‘Miss Fortune’ – Good Things

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Aloe Blacc – ‘If I’ – Good Things

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Common - 'Be' (2005)

Common – Be (2005)

Common (Feat. The Last Poets) – ‘The Corner’ – Be 

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D'Angelo - Brown Sugar (1995)

D’Angelo – Brown Sugar (1995)

D’Angelo – ‘Jonz In My Bonz’ – Brown Sugar

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D'Angelo - Voodoo (2000)

D’Angelo – Voodoo (2000)

D’Angelo – ‘Chicken Grease’ – Voodoo

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You can also check out sample tracks and live videos here of the very gorgeous and talented Australian-based artist Ngaiire.

Surely by now you’re sure you need to be at Australia’s first annual Soulfest?

Soulfest 2014 flyer

Sydney gets Soulfest 2014 first on 18 October 2014Melbourne next-up on 19 October and Brisbane on 25 October.

Aotearoa also gets its own ‘New Zealand’s first annual neo-soul, jazz & hip-hop festival’ in Auckland on 26 October.

Perth – although you don’t get the whole Soulfest festival experience, you do get your own intimate Angie Stone, Anthony Hamilton & Musiq Soulchild show at the Crown Theatre on 23 October.

Which Soulfest will I see you at?

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Jah9 – Woman of ‘Good Music History’

There’s not enough female dub/reggae singers or songwriters in the spotlights of our musical history.

I only just realised that while listening to the debut album of Jamaica’s Jah9 – and in each and every track appreciating the jazzy, soulful and refreshingly feminine vocals of She Who Is Jah9: Janine Cunningham.

Jah9 - Janine Cunningham

There’s so much more to appreciate about the album New Name over and above the fact that Janine Cunningham has cemented a place for herself as a successful woman in the contemporary dub/reggae sphere – or as pioneer of  ‘Jazz on Dub’.

To begin there are the positive, socially and spiritually-conscious content of Jah9 lyrics  – and their poetic composition.  Old-school Jamaican roots reggae lovers (and any switched-on new ones) would approve and appreciate, certainly.

Also Janine Cunningham’s stellar vocal phrasing.

Ever so importantly, that those Jah9 vocals are combined with contemporary reggae and dub music that is refreshingly good quality in every way.

Finally there’s the fact that Janine Cunningham not only wrote the songs, but also co-arranged and produced alongside Rory Gilligan of dancehall sound system/label Stone Love.

Jah9 - New Name (2013)

Jah9 – New Name (2013)

Beyond all of that, Janine Cunningham deserves more respect because it seems that she does a decent job of living out in actions, the words she sings. Through her music and lyrics, as well as her human ways of being (check out youth NGO Manifesto Jamaica for example) I’d say Janine Jah9 Cunningham is contributing lots and lots of human and womanly and musical goodness to this world of ours.

That Jah9 goodness is of great benefit to me and the world – because as a human and a woman, it inspires me to try and contribute the same level of positivity to the world in which I live; and because it also means I have the lifelong pleasure of listening to Jah9 music.  You can too.

Check out these sample (dirty mp3) Jah9 tracks yourself and see if you agree that this female artist has earned her place in a spotlight of our ‘Good Music History’…

Jah9 - New Name (2013)

Jah9 – New Name (2013)

‘Intention’ – Jah9 – New Name

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‘Legitimate’ – Jah9 (feat. Protoje) – New Name

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Agreed?

You can buy yourself all the sounds written and recorded by Janine ‘Jah9′ Cunningham and Rory Gilligan on cd to have in your music collection forever after, through Dub Vendor – or better yet, get yourself to Jamaican shores (via Cuba :) ) to find it.  I promise you that Caribbean trip will be filled with a whole lot of musical goodness.

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Carlos Sarduy – Charly en la Habana

Like with so many Cuban music artists, not enough people in the world have probably had the chance to access and hear Carlos Sarduy’s unique Afro-Cuban jazz music or super-fine trumpet playing.  This artist is another little gem from the much-insulated music bubble of Cuba.

Like with most Cuban music artists, there’s little to be found about Carlos Sarduy in the global press or cyber world.  No content on an official website.  No official musician/band page on FB (enough on its own to earn this artist my respect). Nothing really to be found in Wiki. So I don’t know much about what he’s doing musically in these days.

What I know is that during Carlos Sarduy’s long career in his so far short-lived life, he has collaborated with a long list of Cuban and Spanish music greats including Esperanza Spalding, Los Van Van, Roberto Carcasses, Bebo Valdés, Horacio el Negro, Julio Barreto, Ojos de Brujo and Buika.

On Carlos Sarduy’s first (and I think, only) solo album Charly en la Habana you’ll also find guest artists Chucho Valdés, Amadito Valdés,  Teresa García Caturla, Francis del Rio and Germán Velazco.  That’s a pretty great sign of something musically special yes?

Carlos Sarduy - Charly en la Habana (2005)

Charly en la Habana (2005)

Of all the instruments in the world I have an especially-sweet spot for the trumpet. So I can also tell you that Carlos Sarduy’s chops are pretty phenomenal – as is the level of musicianship of all musicians on Charly en la Habana, both guests and core ensemble members.

Also I know that the music on this album is skilfully composed (by Carlos Sarduy mostly) Cuban jazz with a sound only made in Cuba.

Check the music out yourself with these mp3 sample tracks from Charly en la Habana ‘Rumbatere’ features Carlos Sarduy’s contemporary Cuban jazz counterpart, saxophonist Germán Velazco (an artist for another day in this here Cuban series). ‘Erifa’ has some beautifully-minimalist vocals by Cuban singer/composer Francis del Rio.

Carlos Sarduy - Charly en la Habana (2005)

Charly en la Habana (2005) – Carlos Sarduy

‘Rumbatere’ – Charly en la Habana  – Carlos Sarduy (featuring Germán Velazco)

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‘Erifa’ – Charly en la Habana  – Carlos Sarduy (featuring Francis del Rio)

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You could buy the physical Charly en la Habana cd through on-line stores.  Or you could listen to and buy electronic copies of the music through Carlos Sarduy’s Bandcamp page or on Soundcloud.  But a much, much better and brilliant idea is to get yourself on a plane to Cuban shores and find this CD and more. It’s unfortunate for Carlos Sarduy and most music artists in Cuba, and unfortunate for worldwide appreciators of Cuban music that for political, social and economic reasons, you’ll probably have a hard time finding Charly en la Habana (and most other contemporary Cuban music CDs) in record stores outside of Cuba.

Maybe you’d find it in Spain these days where Carlos Sarduy might be?  Maybe he’s recording new music? Releasing it on vinyl?

Playing live?  You see it’s the live Carlos Sarduy experience that I really want to have now…in Cuba or anywhere else in the world he might be.

Anyone know where in the world we can find this?

This here salute to Carlos Sarduy, numero 2 in a Cuban music series, is dedicated as each one will be dedicated to my Cuban grandfather in heart (mi abuelo del corozon) and my dear friend (mi amigo querido) Elio. May you be in some beautiful place akin to dancing salsa, son, trova and rumba amongst the clouds.

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