Category: jazz fusion

New Audio: Emerging French Act Yusan Releases a Breezy and Summery New Single

Yusan is a French jazz sextet — Ann Shirley (vocals), Romain Cucq (saxophone), Ralph Lavital (guitar), Kevin Jubert (piano), Gwen Ladeux (bass), and Mathieu Edward (drums) — that can trace its origins back to when its members serendipitously met at at unexpected residency at The Maison Des Artistes in Chamonix, France. Bonding over common musical influences, the members of Yusan felt an instant simpatico and decided to create music together. 

Interestingly, the act, which specializes in sound that draws from Caribbean music, African rhythms, gospel and others was given the name Yusan by a mutual friend — and according to the band Yusan in Korean means “heritage.” 

The act’s latest single “Chiraj” is a breezy swing centered around  an arrangement that features African polyrhythm, Afro-Caribbean scatting, a sinuous Jaco Pastorious-like bass line, shimmering and dexterous guitar work, some and a playful horn line. Each musician seems to know when to push, pull and lead — and with a joyful, fun-loving mischievously air. The expansive song structure allows the act to dabble in Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian jazz, Weather Report-like jazz fusion and funk with a summery air. 

Individually Norwegian-born and-based trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and French-born, Brooklyn-based percussionist Mino Cinelu have had accomplished careers: Cinelu first gained attention playing on Miles Davis‘ We Want Miles and Amandla, which has landed him gigs playing with Weather Report, Gong, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Sting, Santana, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and a eclectic and lengthy list of internationally acclaimed artists. The French percussionist has also released three solo albums and has collaborated with Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks on World Trio. With 1997’s Khmer released through ECM Records, Nils Petter Molvær quickly established his unique sound and aesthetic — one which combines the Nordic feeling of nature with Southeast Asian sound philosophies. But since then, Molvær’s work has found him pushing his sound deeper into uncharted areas, while exploring various combinations of acoustic and electronic sounds. His work has allowed him to collaborate with German electronic producer Moritz von Oswald in 2013 with reggae artists Sly and Robbie in 2018 and with Bill Laswell on several occasions.

Slated for a September 4, 2020 release through BMG’s Modern Recordings, Cinelu and Molvær’s collaboration together SulaMadiana can trace its origins back to 2015 when the duo first met at a solo Molvær played in Turkey. Quickly agreeing to embark on a joint project together, it took several more meetings in different parts of the world and a handful of years before they were able to get together for a studio session in Oslo. Early this year, the recordings were rounded off in Cinelu’s Brooklyn studio with post-production completed as a remote, Transatlantic endeavor as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns. Speaking about the process, Cinelu says “The best way to start something is to start it. So I said: ‘let’s get started’. Nils brought a groove along which I liked, we enriched it with sounds and other grooves, wanted to find a melody, and it just made ‘Bang’. It was a real trip. A lot of blood, sweat and tears, but even more love.”

Sonically speaking both artists’ work represents two completely different worlds — Molvær’s work evokes the boreal cold of his homeland while Cinelu’s work evokes the rhythms and heat of Latin America and Africa. The album, which derives its name as a tribute to both artists’ heritage — Sula is the Norwegian island where Molvær grew up and Madiana is a loving nickname for the island of Martinique, where Cinleu’s father was born. The album’s material finds the duo finding a common sonic playground initially inspired by their previous work — but while pushing each other and their sound together into completely new territories: the album’s material finds Cinelu taking up vocal duties while Molvær plays acoustic, electric guitar and various other electronics. Of course for this to work, the interplay between the musicians is key. “We are different, but what we have in common is that we like to give some space to things,” Molvær says. Cinelu adds: “It doesn’t matter who has what share in music. We both know each other’s cultures, we find bridges and crossings, and often we walk these paths that lead in the same direction. We wrote everything together and followed our feelings. There are no limits or barriers.”

The album’s first single, album title track “SulaMadiana (For Manu Dibango)” is an ethereal yet funky tribute to Cinelu’s mentor Manu Dibango, centered around a propulsive acoustic guitar line, pedal effected trumpet, shimmering electric guitar soloing, atmospheric electronics, Afro-Latin percussion and Cinelu’s dreamy vocals. The end result is an adventurous and loving Vulcan mind-meld in which a wintry breeze blows through the propulsive funk in a way that evokes late summer.

 

 

 

 

Crowd Company is a rising, London-based acid jazz/jazz fusion/funk octet featuring core members Rob Fleming (vocals, guitar), Emil Engstrom (bass), Claudio Corona (keys), Esther Dee (vocals), Jo Marshall (vocals) and Robin Lowrey (drums) with a horn section including a rotating cast of top local players like Piers Green and Ed Benstea that specializes in sound that draws from and features elements of 1960s soul, 70s jazz fusion, contemporary funk, the blues and jam band rock: their material is centered around arrangements that feature Hammond organ, a virtuous horn section, soulful vocals and three part harmonies and funky grooves paired with razor sharp hooks.

The British octet has also built up a reputation for a powerhouse live show, while opening for an impressive list of acclaimed and legendary artists including The MetersGeorge Porter, Jr., JOVM mainstays Soulive, The New Mastersounds, Saun & Starr, James Taylor Quartet and Monophonics among others.

Earlier this year, the band released their most recent album, the Alan Evans-produced and mixed Lowdown, which The Big Takeover lauded as an album “that bursts at the sonic seams with rich, vibrant and varied compositions.”  The rising British act’s latest single “Orbital” was recorded during the Lowdown sessions at Evans’ Iron Wax Studios. And although the track sees the members of Crowd Company continuing their collaboration with Lettuce’s Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom, it wasn’t included as one of Lowdown‘s album tracks. Clocking in at a little under 5:30, the funky and intergalactic composition sees the act bridging acid jazz, jazz fusion, retro-futuristic funk and psychedelia in a way that reminds me of Switzerland’s merchants of jazzy grooves L’Eclair— but with an enormous Parliament Funkadelic-like horn section.

New Video: Swiss Instrumental Act L’Eclair Release a Hallucinogenic Visual for Shimmering and Funky New Single “Carousel”

Through the course of their first three albums, 2017’s Cruise Control, 2018’s Polymood and last year’s Sauropoda, the Geneva, Switzerland-based instrumental act L’Eclair have perfected and established a difficult to pigeonhole sound, centered around their unique groove-driven vision of instrumental music, which fearlessly blends genres and styles. It shouldn’t be surprising that at one point, the Swiss instrumental act managed to describe their sound in a number of different ways on their Facebook page, including referring to their sound as being “as if Booker T and the MGs came from Eastern Europe,” an obscure 70s movie soundtrack and as “kraut-exo-soul, brutal funk and Turkish groove.” Interestingly, the act closed out last year with a collaborative 7 inch with The Mauskovic Dance Band.

Building upon a growing profile, the Swiss sextet has toured to support those albums across Europe, bringing the funky grooves to audiences in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Luxembourg and the UK, including thee European Festival circuit, playing sets at Montreux Jazz Festival, Bad Bonn Kilbi, Les Transmusicales, Eurosonic Nooderslag, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and others. 

Continuing the momentum of the past couple of years, the Swiss sextet’s latest effort, Noshtta EP is slated for a May 22, 2020 leas through Bongo Joe Records, and the EP reportedly continues a run of material that’s specifically crafted to make you dance and cry at the same time. “Carousel,” Noshtta EP’s latest single is centered around an expansive and free- flowing arrangement of shifting tempos, shimmering and reverb drenched guitars, propulsive four-on-the floor, twinkling keys and a sinuous and funky bass lines. The track finds the act seamlessly meshing funk, jazz fusion, disco and kraurtock with a mischievously anachronistic retro-futurism — and it may arguably be the most dance floor friendly track they’ve released to date. The recently released video is a trippy mix of old-school CGI graphics, videotape hiss, and geometric shapes undulating in syncopation to the song.

Live Footage: Dani Lòpez Quartet Performs “Cafetera Stuff” at Olot Spain’s Sala El Torin

Dani Lòpez is a rising, Olot, Spain-born and-based composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and producer, who picked up music at a very young age. Learning several different instruments, Lòpez quickly began writing original music for bands across an eclectic variety of genres and styles, including folk, jazz, classical and contemporary chamber music. Lòpez attended the Liceu Conservatory, where he studied classical saxophone under Albert Julià and David Sallers, graduating in 2016 — and composition under renowned composers Benet Casablancas and Benjamin Davies, graduating in 2018, Towards the end of his studies, the rising Spanish multi-instrumentalist earned the Ferrer-Salat Scholarship and a special prize for the composition degree. 

Over the past couple of years, Lòpez has written several chamber music pieces, including two scores for ensemble-based adaptations of Prudenci Betrana’s “Una agonia” and “En Busqueta” centered around flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and soprano vocal. He’s also written “Mirall Trencat,” a piece for saxophone quartet that has been performed in venues across Catalonia and Zurich, as well as a small concert for saxophone that has been performed in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. As a saxophonist, the Spanish multi-instrumentalist has won several contests for solo composition and chamber music, including 2013’s Arjau Catalanmusic and 2014’s Ecoparque de Trasmiera. 

Currently, Lòpez works as a freelance musician, who has played with several different projects including Magalí Sare, El Pot Petit, Holoquè, and Hop al Metro among others. 2020 has been a rather busy year for the rising Spanish artist: he recently produced, co-produce, crafted arrangements and/or cowrote material for three applauded albums: El Pot Petit’s 10 Anys, which won the 2020 Premis Enderrock Award for the Best Recording of Music for Families; Criatures’ Praxinoscopi, which won the 2020 Premis Enderrock Award for Best Folk Recording; and Aires del Montseny’s Lilure Albir. 

Adding to a busy year, the Spanish multi-instrumentalist’s forthcoming album El que fan les cases quan no les mires is slated for release this year through Segell Microscopi. Featuring a backing band of Andreu Moreno (drums, SPD), Vic Moliner (double bass, bass synthesizer), Alejandro Esperanza (piano, Rhodes, synths) and of course, Lopez (sax, flute, piano, synths, vocals), the album was recorded during a three day recording session at Ground Recording Studios in Cornelià de Terri.  The album’s compositions finds the Lòpez-led quartet crafting a sound that meshes elements and blurry the lines  of jazz, contemporary chamber music, folk and pop with a forward-thinking experimentalism, inspired by the Spanish multi-instrumentalist and composer’s fascinating with observing reality from up close. Instead of immediately taking the material to be mixed, there was a month of patient and painstaking post-production of the album’s material with Lòpez hand-picking the best tracks to be included on the album, as well as the album’s overarching theme. 

 El que fan les cases quan no les mires’ latest single “Cafetera Stuff” can trace its origins to a previous composition Lòpez had written for a chamber orchestra “Star Stuff.” As the story goes, in an inspired bout, he had started experimenting by playing the composition in a different chord. Centered around an expansive arrangement of shimmering piano arpeggios, atmospheric synths, rapid-fire rhythms, a propulsive bass line and samples of a coffee machine, the song shifts between tempos and modes with a mischievous and whimsical air. 

The recently released live footage features the quartet performing the song at Olot’s Sala El Torin — and it’s shot in a gorgeous black and white, while capturing the quartet’s energy and connection as a live unit.