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My Funky (In)Disposition´╗┐

The LF soul music blog run by music-mad Imran Mirza, in conjunction
with his Starpoint Radio show, 'The Blue-in-Green Sessions'.


Thursday
May312012

Maxwell update (sorta!)

I’m smiling as I refer to the following as ‘bad news’.

Recent tweets and Facebook updates from Maxwell bring huge focus on to his much delayed sequel to ‘BLACKsummers’night’, ‘blackSUMMERS’night’.  (No, I haven’t typed the same album name twice – the clue is in the caps.)

The first of what was to be a trilogy of albums came to us in 2009, and after an 8 year gap since his last album, ‘Now’, the new work was hugely well-received.  Truth be told, it’s something that was fairly incredible.  The initial plan was for the follow-up releases (‘blackSUMMERS’night’ and ‘blacksummers’NIGHT’) to be unveiled over the following two years but I imagine was a plan that crumbled following BLACK’s success – Columbia Records perhaps wanting to make sure they squeezed everything possible from the album that they could?

Anyway, seeing as the next in the series was to be dubbed ‘SUMMERS’’, it was fairly logical for fans to have been eagerly awaiting the follow-up in the summer of 2010.  Sadly, when that didn’t happen, all hope fell on to the summer of 2011.  Nothing.  And, here we are in 2012 and the following tantalising carrot dangled by Maxwell himself.


http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150797845190997&set=a.196353330996.138750.97452840996

OF ALL KIND

one day in and the next you’re out
there’s no way to insure that no danger
will not be found
will your angels hear the sounds
will i ever be where you are where spirits go
if my end should come i can only hope that..

there is a light and no end in sight
where god and you are combined
in the brightest light of all kind..

musze/david | Copyright © 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Including album artwork too:  https://twitter.com/#!/_MAXWELL_/status/205150280592003072

Where’s the bad news then? I don’t know.  I guess I’m just a pessimist.  With no release date announced, no single released to radio, there’s really only about three months to put everything together.  Will it happen?  I dunno.  I hope so.  But I just fear that the baited breath will still be holding until 2013.

Ha Ha, I do sound bad, don’t I?  I guess like all serious fans, the waves of anticipation are the hard part to deal with.  It’s very much like the eventual return of D’Angelo which had 12 years of periodic “He’s back!” moments, inevitably followed by, “No he’s not!”.

The super cool part about Maxwell is the fact that since 2008, he’s consistently worked.  He released 4 singles from that album, toured extensively with an amazing band that included Saunders Sermons and three-quarters of the Robert Glasper Experiment).  Furtherly cool is the fact that I have complete faith this album IS coming, it’s just that for this news, a date would have been cool.

I shall keep you posted my friends.

Thursday
May032012

More Spice

Thanks for those that have read our feature on the excellent new funk/soul act, Third Coast Kings.  If you’ve yet to, please click here for Liberation Frequency’s interview with drummer and band leader, James Keovongsak. 

As per usual, we always like to keep a little portion back exclusive to the My Funky (In)Disposition readers so here’s James discussing the band’s lead single from their debut – unmissable – self-titled album, followed by a look at the video itself.

LIBERATION FREQUENCY: Why was 'Spicy Brown' chosen as the first single?

JAMES KEOVONGSAK: It seemed that this track would work well on video and as a good way to visually introduce ourselves to the world.  We’ve had a few singles released on Record Kicks compilations, but never a video.  It just seemed like the best track to do, so we went with our gut instinct.

LIBERATION FREQUENCY: How was the video to put together?

JAMES KEOVONGSAK: The video took a while to reach fruition, mostly because we couldn’t decide on a concept.  All we knew was that we wanted it to look vintage and funky.  So we met with a local videographer and came up with a few ideas.  Once a location was locked down, we showed up and let the director work his magic.  Now we know to always trust the videographer!  All in all, it only took about two hours of setup and filming. 

Tuesday
Apr172012

New Soul...

A couple of new releases I wanted to talk about – that are both certainly getting lots of airplay with me and on the show – are Khari Cabral Simmons’ ‘Clementine Sun’ and Lee Fields & The Expressions, ‘Faithful Man’.

Brand new – in many ways – for Dome Records, Simmons’ album sounds like nothing else I can think of ever having come out from UK’s Dome, which is a great thing!  Heavily summer soul and jazz-tinged, this bass player has rounded up an impressive array of talent for his debut release, including the brilliant bossa star, Sabrina Malheiros, who appears on the appropriately-named, ‘Major Bossa’; label-mates, Incognito, who deliver the album’s standout song, ‘How Can We Go Wrong’; Oteil Burbridge (who, as a quick aside, can also be heard on last year’s live release from Soulive, along with his brother Kofi Burbridge, ‘Bowlive’ – very worth the price of purchase if I may say!) who plays bass on ‘Ninos’; and India.Arie, who appears on the Stevie Wonder cover of ‘Never In Your Sun’, and had boasted Simmons as a member of her band for some years.

 

Secondly, we doth our proverbial caps to Truth & Soul’s marquis act, Lee Fields, who, along with The Expressions, delivers ‘Faithful Man’ – his official follow-up to the extraordinary ‘My World’ in  2010.  ‘Lee Fields’ releases now seem to be dripping consistently from the vault as ‘Problems’ and ‘Treacherous’ have both now been made available in the interim.  A record from Truth & Soul, brought to life by the quality of musicians including members of the Dap-Kings, is never going to be met with the question, ‘Is it any good?’, just, ‘How good is it?’, but the one gripe I’d make mention of is the length.  Clocking in well below 40 minutes, and consisting of nine songs plus an instrumental, you do feel that tiny bit short-changed as it’s a fraction more than EP status.  Short and punchy has always been the Truth & Soul/Daptone way, but when you compare that structure to songs like the album closer, ‘Walk On Through That Door’, it gives you an indication of what’s achievable when songs are allowed to be fleshed out a bit more.  Ultimately, another stunning release though from someone who’s fast becoming my most bankable name in traditional soul music!

 

Tuesday
Apr102012

'Black Radio'+

Y'know, as much as I adore the Robert Glasper Experiment album - it is fantastic, isn't it? - there is one little nagging issue I have with it that tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

On the album, there is an interlude following the Ledisi-assisted song, 'Gonna Be Alright', where, presumably, Robert Glasper and members of the band are casually discussing the 'state of the music industry'.  There are a few choice statements made here, namely:

"I don't think people know what's good and not good anymore"

"Anything popular, even if it's whack, is what sets the pace nowadays... like 'this is hot' but it's whack"

"There's no bar anymore - the bar used to be so high, people had a greater appreciation for music"

"It's up to [the record labels] because they're the ones that do the programming, because people don't really think anymore, not much"

Firstly, I don't really think that interlude has any place on that album, but ultimately, to me, it's a null and void argument - what constitutes 'whack'/bad music? Subsequently, what's good music? Someone once told me, there's no such thing as 'good or bad music' only music you like and music you don't.  I don't think there's a more apt statement made about music - it totally hits the nail on the head.  I'd be hard-pressed to find someone whose opinion matters more than someone else's.

What if Nirvana fans, or Dave Grohl himself, turned around and lambasted the Experiment's jazz-laden interpretation of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' - who's right in that argument?  Surely, it comes down to you either like it or you don't.  Summing everything you don't like up as 'whack' is surely short-sighted and a little pompous?

The most arrogant part of the of this interlude comes at the end when I imagine Glasper himself says, "We gotta do something", almost perpetuating himself as something of a musical saviour.  It's the kind of comment I'd love to lay into but when the album is so frickin good, it's hard to say anything at all really.  

Friday
Mar232012

'Black Radio' by Robert Glasper Experiment [album review]


‘Black Radio’ will certainly be looked back upon as the album that rocketed jazz pianist Robert Glasper to a brand new plateau, and I imagine if his new album isn’t already on your radar then it must already be rocking your iPod and/or CD player.

Well let me correct myself first of all as this should officially be credited as the first full-length release of ‘The Robert Glasper Experiment’.  For some years now, Glasper has divided the output of his music between The Robert Glasper Trio and the aforementioned Experiment, but if either of them was going to propel him towards becoming a household name, it was always going to be the Experiment - the more traditional and classic approach to jazz by the Trio could never compete with the more genre-encompassing and versatile spin of its sister band, which comprises a stellar list of members.  Derrick Hodge (bassist and producer, having worked with Common, Jill Scott and Gerald Levert), Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave on drums, who not only played throughout Maxwell’s last album release BLACKsummer’snight, but also most recently joined D’Angelo on his 2012 European tour, and Casey Benjamin whose vocodered voice can be heard all over 'Black Radio', has notched up performing credits with Saunders Sermons and his own group, HEAVy.

Perhaps surprisingly, Glasper has made no bones about the fact this is a direct crossover-targeting album (I mean, it’s obvious when you look at the line-up of guests, but you’re not really supposed to say it, are you?!).  As I say, the line-up does scream of that being the intention as it boasts, although a logical selection of R&B and soul vocalists, it’s a slightly predictable one as well - Musiq, Chrisette Michele, Erykah Badu and Ledisi are amongst the names added to the mix, along with rappers Mos Def, featuring under the name Yasiin Bey (why and when did that happen?!) and Lupe Fiasco.  As great as many of the guest features are, it’s certainly the band that are the stars here - with immaculate production on a near flawless album, it’s actually difficult to not just hand Chris Dave the crown as the drumming is perfection throughout.

Standouts are far too many to delve into but, not to discredit other songs, ‘Why Do We Try’ (f/t Stockley of Mint Condition), ‘Afro Blue’ (f/t Erykah Badu), 'Move Love' (f/t KING) and the bonus track, ‘Fever’ (f/t Hindi Zahra) are simply awesome.  A selection of covers have also been tackled here: there’s an almost unrecognisable, but genuinely exquisite, cover of Sade’s ‘Cherish The Day’ with Lalah Hathaway, David Bowie’s ‘Letter To Hermione’ is employed masterfully by long-time Glasper friend and collaborator, Bilal, and the song that sounds like it would have been an absolute disaster on paper, a cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, which is - surprisingly - sublime.

Jazz projects like this are always exciting - the most notable comparison I tend to draw on is jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s off-shoot soul/funk project, RH Factor (whose spin-off group was very much created in the same vein as the Experiment) and their debut effort, ‘Hard Groove’, whose new sound and line-up of guests, including D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Q-Tip, were used as glorious bait to lure fans from the soul world to a new and exciting world called jazz.  In this instance though, it doesn’t seem like Glasper is trying to lure fans over to this new and exciting world, he’s crossed over to the soul one and decided to set up camp there for this project.  Perhaps some instrumental numbers might have acted as more of an incentive to entice new listeners to delve through Glasper’s back catalogue?

Glasper’s next project will certainly be intriguing - will the collaborative nature of the Experiment continue to reign supreme? Will he have the confidence to perhaps look past his new fan exposure and revert to the traditional jazz stylings of the Trio?  Whatever we’re delivered with, for now, we have a fantastic new album to cherish, and one I imagine would walk with ease towards the title of ‘Album of the Year’.