A regular exploration of folk, classical, world and jazz on the rise and causing waves around the globe.
STE with J.Lamotta – All I Want
J.Lamotta Suzume was born in Tel Aviv to a family with Moroccan roots. Her relationship with music actually started with the blues, singing tunes by Lightnin’ Hopkins and R.L Burnside. Later as a teenager she fell in love with Jazz, and the sounds of Billie Holiday, John Coltrane and Sun Ra.
In 2014 and just before finishing her Bachelor degree in Jazz, she decided to relocate to Berlin – instead of New York – where she was supposed to finish her studies. In Berlin, she discovered her passion for soul and hip-hop through the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and J Dilla. That was also when she began flipping samples, producing her own beats, and singing on them, as well as rapping, playing trumpet, percussion, synthesizer & the guitar.
Joining J.Lamotta for this release is world famous Japanese DJ / Producer Tatsuo Sunaga’s solo unit, Sunaga t experience, known as STE. Together they have covered Joni Mitchell’s historical masterpiece ‘Blue’, which recently marked the 50th anniversary of its release. Joining them are leading Japanese jazz musicians Yuri Dazai, Setsu Fujii, Yoichi Okabe, Tetsuji Shiota, Ken Ota, Wataru Oyama, Akiyoshi Sekine and Mayuko Katakura. In addition, Yusuke Nakamura (Blu-Swing) and Maki Mannami (Mannami Maki) have contributed their skills as arrangers. The entire album is re imagined as a remarkable jazz work, overflowing with deep affection for the original album and Joni Mitchell herself.
Peter Gregson – III. Three Parallels: 3
We are all familiar with the blight of unfinished projects in our lives: half-filled diaries, abandoned computer folders, sun-faded membership cards, pathetic relics of our idealistic pasts. When cellist and composer Peter Gregson wrote and released the first two instalments of his “quartet of string quartets” concept in 2016 and 2017, and then allowed his blossoming career in scoring and composition to distract him from its completion, nobody could have blamed him for never returning to finish it. Rejoice, then, and slightly resent him, as five years on, he returns with the third and fourth parts of this sprawling series. ‘Quartets: Three’ finds him building on the electronic and synthesised texturing that he began adding to the base string quartet ingredients
in the second part, even if you have to gently arch your ear towards the music to perceive the added flourishes at times. The writing takes centre stage, from the endearing ‘Cantus’, its melody a tide gentle lapping to the piece’s ancient rhythm, to ‘Murmuration’, which, like the titular flock, moves with a logic and grace that, when observed, defies prediction or clear pattern, but dances with such effortless elegance that it is understood at a deeply satisfying level.
The grand, lachrymose timbre of swelling cello rises to the fore in ‘Even’, while the four-headed beast that we know to possess fearsome power exercises stately restraint. The clipping and popping of plucked, taut strings in ‘Up’ conjure a playful scramble in the overgrowth, nudged only gently by the assembled atmosphere of electronics, more an augmented background setting, a mise-en-scene.
With ‘Quartets: Four’, Gregson returns to the magnificent simplicity of the four string instruments. Over its three movements, the fragility is raw, the tension is high and the humanity of the players is foregrounded. You hold your breath as the second piece opens delicately, but you soon lose any further sense of your own actions in the face of the rich, nutritive, grounded assurance of the arrangement. Gregson has been shown throughout his career to have a fine grasp on the establishment traditions, a basis from which he has often jumped off into creative new tangents. But with these two new collections, he reminds us that even with just that bare essence, that foundry of classical music, the string quartet, he remains a modern master. — loudandquiet.com
Ana Moura – Arraial Triste
Ana Moura is not a breaking artist by any stretch, but she continues to break with tradition. She’s one of Portugal’s biggest stars, a fado singer (or fadista) who has sold millions of records and is about to release her seventh album. She already did for fado what Rosalía did for flamenco as far back as 2012 – without hopping on a motorbike or the dance routines, mind – when she worked with Joni Mitchell producer Larry Klein and Prince on Desfado, thus revitalising fado for her generation. But now Moura is reinventing again, making alt.fado that is intriguing, layered and at home in the global-pop sphere while remaining distinct.
Casa Guilhermina, out now, is largely inspired by the Lisbon scene known as novo fado(new fado). At club nights and parties, local DJs and producers mix up traditional guitarra and samples from old fado classics with the music of the Afro-Lusophone diaspora, such as semba, Cape Verdean morna and the 80s electronic-geared kizomba, finding links with Afrobeats, Brazilian genres such as samba and the contemporary skitter of US trap.
Moura’s mother is Angolan, her father Portuguese, and this album is a bridge. Her robust, emotionally intense vocals (they don’t call fado the Portuguese blues for nothing) entwine with African rhythms and the contemporary production ofnovo fadoup-and-comers Pedro Mafama and Pedro da Linha – a multicultural mix that suggests musical freedom. “It’s points of connection that interest me,” she has said, and her new music certainly has plenty to lock on to. – The Guardian
Cheick Tidiane Seck – Bara Oké
There are few places to hide on a solo piano record. The often fragile and expressive format has been a gauntlet for some of music’s great improvisers, including Abdullah Ibrahim on 2021’s Solotude and Keith Jarrett on his bestselling 1975 record The Köln Concert. Malian master musician Cheick Tidiane Seck now provides an entry into the canon with Kelena Fôly – his first solo album in an almost 50-year career.
Making a name for himself as a versatile keys player capable of backing the likes of vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman and Damon Albarn, Seck’s four albums as bandleader have experimented with synth-funk, vocoder and an earthy sense of groove.
The nine tracks of Kelena Fôly herald a marked departure from this previous output. Here we find 68-year-old Seck in an acoustic and intimate setting. Where Ibrahim and Jarrett use their voices as an intuitive whisper or yelp, bolstering the underlying melodies of their improvisation, Seck harnesses his gravelly baritone to make it the central asset of his record, displaying a lifetime’s worth of hard-won experience in its coarse expression.
Opener Kana Kassi sets the tone, playing through a cascade of bright chords before settling on a bluesy rhythm with Seck’s yearning vocal, while his tribute to Aimé Césaire sees his range reach a pleading falsetto while repeating the poet and politician’s name in an evocative, emotional chant.
It is by no means flawless – his cover of the standard Motherless Child wobbles through an extensive vibrato, while speedy descending runs on Sogomada Tchaman stop and start as if they are tripping over themselves. But the beauty of the solo format is to embrace momentary imperfection and improvise it into context. In the context of Seck’s album, he displays the freedom of his creation through this imperfection. His playing is ultimately deeply human – sometimes teetering on the edge of collapse but persisting with the driving force of its feeling. – Ammar Kalia