All The Fine Ladies (Live At South Beach) –  Go Go Satish (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

iuWe already know that Satish can deliver the goods in the studio, La Reina Cubana put any doubts to rest with its blend of hip-hop rhythms and Latin sass, lyrical salvos and infectious grooves. But for many the test comes with the live performance, this is after all music whose disparate threads were found on the street corners of South Bronx, Caribbean dancehalls and South American carnivals, backstreet celebrations and DIY party gatherings. It existed in a live setting long before it got anywhere near a studio.

This time around we get to experience Satish, here using his alias of Satish Dat Beast, playing the modern descendant of those past party scenes, a live rooftop performance delivered with his trademark verve and vigour. A far cry from the current wave of bedroom rap mumblers claiming hip-hop heritage but essentially welding outdated cliches to the same electronica backing tracks, Satish proves that he can deliver it live too. This is hip-hop remembering where it comes from and embracing the future, the latin groove being up-dated for an up-town, up-scale, urban audience. A celebration of the fairer sex and a damn good tune that gets people moving and proving once again that Satish is just the man for the job.

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Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow –  Addy C. (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

IMG_20180303_175452_778.jpgThis isn’t normally the sort of thing I get to review on this site. Usually I am surrounded by piles of CDs from European dream-pop explorers or West Coast alt-country bands. But music comes in many forms from the highly promoted and studio polished artists forging a professional career to those just starting out and it would be hypocritical of me to spend all this time writing about bands with a decade of experience behind them without acknowledging where it all begins. And it normally begins with a young kid, hair brush in hand, singing and dancing in front of the mirror at home with a song in their heart and a dream in their head.

Addy C is a bit beyond that, she is out there performing and anyway you look at it, that makes her the equal to any other live performer no matter how big. Treading the boards is what it all comes down to. And whilst I can’t really talk about her in the same way as those releasing slickly produced original albums, the one thing we can talk about is potential.

And the potential of this girl is obvious. At 8 years old singing and dancing live on a stage of a size many of the indie I get to write about would kill to step on to, full of confidence and charm…how can you not love that? And vocally, considering that her voice is yet to undergo many changes and developments, she not only has a great delivery, but great  control. Power and other techniques can be learnt over time, but what she has right are the fundamentals, the basics, the things that you can’t teach, the base upon which everything else will be built. Add to that confidence, grace and charm and you get the impression that Addy C can take these initial steps and head out in any creative direction she wants.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow is a brave song to choose, The Shirelles are a tough act to follow and there is a wonderful subtext here, the song marked the first all-girl group to have a number one in the US and the video arrived in my in-box on International Women’s Day. If I were a superstitious person I would say that the portents are all there for a successful solo career. You go girl!

Scene and Heard – CCLXVII : La Reina Cubana by Go Go Satish (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

738657cf-cd02-4c0b-a576-7c456831373f_1.fa94e5325c8e9569fc7d49b2f0c8b008There is something boundless about Go Go Satish (aka Satish Dat Beast) music and it comes as no surprise that his own personal story is one that has seen him grow up and travel in many different and varied cultures, from South America to Europe and of course his native USA. And it is this diversity which informs his music, it being a blend of old school hip-hop sass, reggae groove, latin swagger and even a pop awareness that makes his music accessible and genre hopping beyond the boundaries of urban music.

My review desk and inbox is full of New York rappers, singing about New York streets and New York aspirations (replace New York with any urban sprawl) and it is that parochialism, that narrow experience which means that whilst some of it is good, much of it follows the same music lines driven my the same references, musical, geographical, cultural and otherwise. Go Go Satish sounds more like a citizen of the world, a global troubadour collecting music, playing with genre and fitting together music which general would cross the street to avoid being seen next to each other.

Because of that La Reina Cubana is a strutting and groovesome piece, existing where a latin sun and a Caribbean beach party dance a tango with the rap and hip-hop of the meaner Stateside urban experience. But more than anything, it is as infectious as hell, and that is the bottom line for any music of this nature.

Los Weekend –  Slang (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

26239514_1912189822129129_4496369493560034842_nFrom the punningly clever title and the vibes emanating from the cover, it is obvious that this is no mere return to the rock based journeys that formed last years Growing Wild. And as I said at the time, even that was a new take on the instrumental rock guitar format, exploring some wonderful musical tangents and meanderings into jazz, blues and funk along the way. This time around Slang takes that musically inquiring mind and deft creativity and visits warmer and more chilled climes and delivers his own unique take on acoustic driven world music.

And the world in question here is one of the eternal beach, of Island life, Carnival, or at least its chilled out after party, and of drinking wine under the Iberian sun. He weaves classical Spanish sounds, Calypso grooves and latin cool together, subtle and supple acoustica cradled in just enough musical accompaniment to act as a cradle around the guitar but never get in the way of the central instrument.

The music is highly evocative,  Sunset Siesta paints the sun going down over the Sierra Morena, Pub Street captures all of the hustle and bustle of a busy bar and the to and fro of tourists and socialisers in a vibrant blend of steel drums and flamenco-esque guitarwork and Fading Slowly is lilting, latin and lovely.

If most music relies on the lyrics to get the message across, Slang shows us another way. This really is music paining pictures, setting scenes and describing scenarios, using just a song title and after that using only the music presented here, a series of small films appear, snapshots of journeys have yet to take or wonderful aids to revisit those you have already experienced. As always Slang is a master painter, it is just that his brushes are guitars, his colours are notes and his easel is the listeners imagination. How cool is that?

Music People – Emilio Crixell & Border Soul (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

emiliocrixellbordersoulBorders are always interesting places for fusion and creativity. Cultures clash; community’s blend and wonderful new hybrids arise from the melting pot to take on a life of their own. South Texas is just such a place and if that is reflected in its music, there is no better mirror than Emilio Crixell and his musical gang.

The music does take a bit of unravelling, if you are the sort of person who likes to do such a thing, and I like nothing better than unpicking musical threads. It isn’t so much complex, more textured, with all the sounds that have found their way to this culturally diverse region finding a place to co-exist in the music. Mediterranean grooves carried through the Latin sounds of South America, African rhythms that evolved into soul and gospel; Mariachi spice, southern blues-rock and everything in between rub shoulders in one big musical celebration.

If you took the showboating and psychedelia out of Carlos Santana’s early albums, this would sit right in there along side them, in the same way linking the sultry and the sassy, the emotive and the energetic, the familiar and the forward thinking. And also like him this is music that represents the creative gene spicing which takes place in the ever shrinking, ever shifting modern world. Revolutions are fun for a while, but evolution is the way forward.

 

Tropical Soul – Holly Holden Y Su Banda (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

B3E3D5EB-6A83-40C8-9D7B-384AFBAD068DWhen the term “world music” crept into the public consciousness it tended to be the domain of a certain type of guy (and it generally was a guy). One who would use the fact that you hadn’t heard of a certain Moroccan hip-hop/jazz fusion band or his new favourite Mongolian Tuvan choir, to play his favourite game of one-upmanship with you. Well, we quickly saw through him and soon realised that there is no such thing as “world music” there is just the world and music.

But if you were going to invent such a thing as world music from scratch then Holly Holden would fit right into such a genre. The antithesis of the aforementioned cultural bore collecting music like rare stamps, Holly is instead a troubadour in the perfect sense, a wander through musical worlds and physical places and it is her adventures in Latin America and The Caribbean which have informed the aptly named Tropical Soul.

Reggae, salsa, bolero and other Latin cornerstones blend effortlessly with soul, pop and R’n’B vibes and even language becomes a fluid element as English and Spanish become blended and interchangeable. And all this creates a truly world sound, one not quite belonging to any one place but fitting effortlessly in many. Musical Esperanto if you will.

Pop fans will love the accessibility, Latin aficionados will love the sensual grooves, beach bums will love how it reminds them of sun soaked tropical memories and everyone else will just marvel at how infectious, euphoric and optimistic the songs are, even when dealing with more wistful and reflective issues.

With a full album to follow, this e.p. really is a great calling card for what should amount to a very productive year and if groovesome, bi-lingual sultry, sunshine, tropical pop happens to become the musical fashion statement of 2017, and it very well might, remember where you heard it first.

A Sound Inve$tment – Tony Marino (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

aaeaaqaaaaaaaat2aaaajgewmjy0zgi5ltqxytitndhmzi05mwvjltmxnzjhnzblodexoqTwenty years and nine albums down the line from his debut release, The Latin Jazz Project, and Tony Marino is still expertly exploring the boundaries and back roads of that genre. This new album takes instrumental excursions through myriad sub-genres, from the expected Samba, Calypso and Funk to the more niche grooves associated with the carnival vibes of Frevo and the percussive urges of Baiao.

I have to confess that I am not as well versed in the intricacies of jazz as I would like, so I will apologies to aficionados for the absence of a detailed unpacking of the music. But then most of us approach such things, as a punter and consumer, which is fine, as those with only a casual relationship with the genre, like myself, will find an accessible, infectious and hypnotic collection of sounds within.

Forget the mechanics, music for my money is all about evocation, the painting of visions and vistas, a conjuring of people and places and here there is no shortage of images brought to life as these magical sounds pass before your ears. Draw a line connecting Brazilian carnivals to Cuban dancehalls, another from chilled beach parties to ancient African rhythms and then many more connecting places and thoughts, music and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of the lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars and patterns dancing behind your eyelids is the music of this outstanding composer.

If you have found contemporary jazz too impenetrable, too complex, then maybe this is the place to start. Not only does the straighter delivery of the Latin groove sit more easily on the listener, but also the gathering of global influences keeps things nicely fresh and spontaneous. This fusion of world sounds hits a high point on Pradeep and Neera, a tabla drum driven groover that matches classical India rhythms with modern jazz piano, orient meets occident, to fantastic effect.

And it is this disregard for cultural boundaries that is the charm of the album, rather than explore just the one musical path way to exhaustion, Tony Marino is set on gathering the largest amount of experiences, casting his net wide and taking in a broad range of musical styles. But it is then what he does with these musical building blocks that is the key, for despite the wandering and exploratory nature of the album; there is a consistency and house style that turns this coming together of ideas a unique brand.

And as a mere punter, I can easily see the attraction of this wonderful collection of tunes and it’s subtly changing dynamic means that it fits in as chilled background music, conducive to a quiet night in but crank the volume up and you have nothing short of a very sophisticated party sound-track.

Jazz fans will appreciate the dexterity of playing and the deftness of the compositions, regular punters will find a groovesome and fun re-examination of seductive and sensual sounds but everyone will find something to love in a collection of musical soundscapes that have one foot firmly planted firmly in Latin jazz but the other stepping out to explore the world and its music.

To The Border – Browlin (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

13938372_1187221004632101_3181558456578511960_nWell, this is different, but that’s a good thing right? As you join Browlin on his musical journey toward the titular border of his albums title, you realise that the border isn’t necessary that Tex-Mex river crossing that seems to readily spring to mind. The border in question is more likely to be much further south in a Latin-American hinterland as those southern rhythms infuse the subtle and supple Americana top line of the record.

Let me draw a line connecting South American street parties with Morricone’s apocalyptic western soundtracks, another from Santana’s west coast latin fusions to Detroit’s funk groove and then many more connecting places and thoughts, music and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of the lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars dancing behind your eyelids is the music of this outstanding musical fusion.

In short it is timeless in that it can’t be pinned down to any era, it is evocative and nostalgic without tugging unnecessarily at too many heartstrings, it is fresh without trying to be fashionable and it is effortlessly experimental without seeming to try too hard to be clever, though a wonderfully clever musical creation it certainly is.

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