Your Sunday iPod Add: Soweto Kinch: Jazz, Hip Hop and A Morality Tale

Soweto Kinch

Welcome back (again) to your Sunday iPod add, which will hence forth be called, “Your Sunday Playlist*.”

For those who indulge in and appreciate both hip-hop and post bebop jazz and at times wondered what sounds would emerge if these two genres collided head on; meshed their energies; twisted and tangled their rhythm and rhyme; or collaborate a freestyle from a common theme. Well wonder no more!  Let me introduce you to Soweto Kinch!  Kinch, according to his social media page is an “Award winning alto-saxophonist and MC” and “is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes.” Yes, Kinch has his feet firmly planted in both genres where he is capable and thriving.

(Photo copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk)

(Photo copyright John Watson/jazzcamera.co.uk)

A few months ago I, Mr. Johnny-come-lately, embarrassingly later than even George Colligan at jazztruth.blogspot.com, stumbled onto Soweto Kinch’s music (as I tend to do happily with plenty of artists) and was blown away by his fluid versatility and dexterity in both the hip-hop and post bebop jazz genres.  Upon hearing his music, I was reminded of other artists who have dabbled in combining hip-hop with jazz, most notably A Tribe Called Quest’s album “Low End Theory,” which featured the iconic bassist Ron Carter amid stripped down jazz samples and certainly Guru’s “Jazzmatazzjazzmatazz Vol. 1,” in particular, genre bending album, which employed heavy post bebop hitters such as saxophonist Brandford Marsalis, pianist Lonnie Liston Smith, vibist Roy Ayers, the late trumpeter Donald Byrd, and the late guitarist Ronny Jordan. While these albums elegantly blended the rhythmic lyrics of hip hop with syncopated drum grooves and bebop chord progressions, Kinch’s music, rather, abuts freestyle post bebop tracks next to freestyle hip hop jams, which allows the listener to hear the similarities in the music’s spontaneity and freedom. Kinch’s movement back and forth between the genres recalls the origins of both jazz and hip hop’s gritty sounds and street attitude. The magic and intention of jazz and hip hop is not lost on Soweto Kinch.

The first track of Kinch I stumbled onto was “Never Ending” from the album The New Emancipation. After this, I began a fever pitch search for more of Kinch’s music. I found all of his brilliant music and surprisingly some videos of his legendary rap battles on the streets of London (check it). Ultimately, I found his most recent album (recent to me) The Legend Of Mike Smith.new eman This is a tightly put together concept album. Kinch described it as “an exploration of the seven deadly sins in the modern context. It also follows the travails of one young character, Mike Smith as he’s attempting to get signed by a major record label and curtail his normal style to see what he thinks they will find successful or appealing.The album contains post bebop burners, spoken word, and heated rap, which all serve to drive a narrative a modern day morality tale. The Legend Of Mike Smith is compelling to listen to as any concept album out there.

So if the idea of Common meets Charlie Parker meets a 90s Greg Osby meets a Mos Def is intriguing, then take a listen and wonder no more!mike smith

Add some Soweto Kinch to your playlist. You will thank me later.

Your Sunday iPod add: Tony Momrelle’s Soul From Across the Pond

momrelle1Welcome to your iPod add.

Today I’m going to introduce you to that new soulful voice you’ve been looking for for some time now.  He’s singer songwriter, Tony Momrelle! He has been laying down amazing groove oriented soul from across the pond for years.  Sorry, your favorite terrestrial radio station may be clueless to who he is and thus will never air his talent in any rotation. Their loss! Momrelle is a talent who has for years been the lead vocalist for the flat out bad ass British band Incognito; a featured vocalist for the dance and smooth grooves group Reel People; as well as a backing vocalist for my girl, Sade. Yep!

Momerelle with Sade

Momerelle with Sade

Momrelle’s Extended Play (EP) titled Fly was release almost a year ago and is still kickin’ today. The standout tracks are the eponymous “Fly”–an up tempo jam with a James Brown “funky drummer” shuffle rhythm which opens up a vast space where Momrelle demonstrates bright flashes of the vocal stylings of Stevie Wonder.  His lyrics are both simple and fantastically poetic.  Upon listening to the song, SoulBounce writer Ivory, stated, “Hope and happiness seem just within reach on this joint” and imagined through the lyrics “getting away from it all could be so simple.”  While his second track Spotlight spins a tale of meeting that special someone amid a crowd of people.  This cut finds Momrelle’s voice settled deep in the soul aesthetic surrounded by a driving groove.

This is Tony Momrelle Ladies and Gentlemen! Take a listen and know this is the soulful voice you been looking for. Add some Momrelle to your iPod and you will thank me later!

Check out “Fly”

Check out “Spotlight”

Your Sunday iPod add: Zo!’s ManMade . . . it’s not too late!

zo albumWelcome to your Sunday iPod add.

For a few weeks now I have shared some of my favorite neo soul and jazz artist in an effort to reveal what I call good music–part of my endeavor to listen to good music this year. So far I’ve only shared female artists who embody the elements of what I call good music.  Exposed in my search for good music, I’ve found female soul artists are simply more abundant and fill every nook and cranny of the soul genre.  But the Men are not lost in this crowd.

With that being said we switch gender.  Below is the first of many men to follow who are deeply committed to creating various styles of good music from soul to R&B to jazz.

Lorenzo Ferguson, better known as Zo! to his fans, latest album ManMade was released a year ago and is a shining example of well thought out fun and conscious soul.  Zo!, who hails from the Foreign Exchange (+FE) camp of talented singers, songwriters, and musicians, has orchestrated, as usual, a great collaborative effort.  Zo! recorded this album with familiar, amazing and capable voices like underground neo-soul artist-soon-to-be-legend Gwen Bunn on bouncy cut “Count To Five”; Erro Soul himself: Eric Roberson on the retro 80s jam “We Are On The Move; and duets by Choklate with Phonte (“Making Time”) and Anthony David with Carmen Rogers (“Show Me The Way”) bang out some awesomeness that you must to hear.

zo!!Overall the album is couched in the modernity of astutely assembled soul.  It fills the genre of “synth soul.” Zo!’s release is polished yet grooves in a raw organic way.  The music and lyrics are straightforward and positive. They have substance! Also Zo! has a talent for crafting strong and catchy choruses, which make the album highly listenable from beginning to end.

Enough said! If you are craving some good modern soul to make your head bop and you weren’t sure where to look for it, here it is! Take a listen and enjoy it’s not too late!

Add Zo!’s ManMade to your iPod.  You will thank me later!

Your Sunday iPod Add: My Mother’s Favorite Songs!

Music Angel 2 by Charles Bibbs

Music Angel 2 by Charles Bibbs

Welcome to your very special Sunday iPod add.  Today is Mother’s Day—a special day we set aside to acknowledge the awesomeness of our mothers and profess our unwavering love we have for them.  Recently NBA star Kevin Durant at his MVP press conference, acknowledged his mother as he spoke greatly about her and ultimately, amid tears, proclaimed her as the ‘real’ MVP for loving and caring for him and his siblings with meager means for years. Mothers are special!

Our mothers are indeed special and become even more special when we begin to assess their favorite song and ascertain why the song is special to them at all. Songs are meaningful and certain songs hold particular capital with our mothers.  Their favorite songs are revealing in that they give us a wonderful glimpse into the person, character, and women that is our mother.  It’s an amazing sight to watch your mother sing or dance to her favorite song.  Yep mothers are special!

Personally it’s been more than ten years since I’ve seen my mother wrapped up in the melody of her favorite song.  Today I hold fond memories of her singing and listening to her favorite music. My mother’s musical taste was eclectic.  It spanned the genres of classic Motown, country to folk to funk and R&B.  Each genre of music resonated with her.  Each song brought out her personality and character.  My mother’s favorite songs musically narrated special moments in her life.  These songs continue to happily remind me of the life she lived.

This Mother’s Day get to know your mother’s favorite song/songs and hold on to them.

Here are a few of my mother’s favorite songs from an era that held special meaning for her. You may want to add these songs or your mother’s favorite songs to your iPod—you might thank me later.

Your Sunday iPod add: Cécile McLorin Salvant and Zara McFarlane are the new wave of Jazz

Welcome to your new iPod add.

salvant

Cécile McLorin Salvant

This is a two for one iPod add. Oh snap! There are several jazz vocalists who are part of the exciting new wave of artists in the jazz genre.  Vocalist such as Gregory Porter and José James, just to name a few, are definitely members of the new wave.  To be sure, Miami born pianist, singer, songwriter Cécile McLorin Salvant and London born singer, songwriter musician Zara McFarlane are emerging movers and shakers in the genre.

Zara McFarlane

Zara McFarlane

Salvant and McFarlane share Caribbean roots and have attained European music training over the past few years, which in a sense makes them truly international. Together they contribute to the wonderful world of jazz in terms of their skill, sincere performances, and honest lyrics that speak of their life’s journey thus far.

I’m ecstatic to have added Salvant’s Womanchild, (2013) and McFarlane’s If You Knew Her, (2014) to my collection.  This week double up your jazz and add these fine ladies to your iPod! You will thank me later!

Listen and enjoy:

Your Sunday iPod Add: Valerie June and Organic Moonshine Roots Music

val 1When Tennessee born, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Valerie June is asked about the type of music she plays she simply responds by saying “it’s Organic Moonshine Roots Music!” Of course it is! Valerie June writes and records music reminiscent of the serendipitous Seeger family re-discovery, Elizabeth Cotton. Cotton was indeed one of the many progenitors of turn of early century guitar based root blues and gospel music of the South. June easily fits in that genre with a little soul, country and R&B added in the mix. Her latest and first studio produced album Pushin’ Against A Stone (2013) is a grand example of her stated style of music–Organic Moonshine Roots Music (OMRM). Co-Produced by Dan Auerbach of the awesome Black Keys and features legendary artist Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & The M.G.’s), this album is entirely grooving down a decidedly different road–a respite excursion from any terrestrial radio today. For me, it hits the spot on my quest of listening to good music this year!

June’s album features the song “You Can’t Be Told”. This is a bold and catchy mid tempo song that will make one hum its chorus long after the song has ended. It begins with a crunchy and gritty guitar riff as well as handclaps that keep the listener (well the indoctrinated listener) rooted in raw Southern gospel. val 2This establishes the chorus. You are instantly hooked! Junes voice, piercing and shinny, slides in to the verse to sustain the songs momentum. She soon takes a guitar solo that is skillful and compelling. This joint is rockin’!

Also not to be missed on June’s album are “Workin’ Woman Blues” and “Somebody To Love”. Yes I’m enjoying Valerie June’s OMRM! Add Valerie June’s “You Can’t Be Told” to your iPod and you will thank me later!

 

Check out June’s video for “You Can’t Be Told” and an awesome interview below:

Your Sunday iPod Add: Leela James is giving it to you!

Artist: Leela JamesWelcome to your iPod add.

Ever since I first heard artist, singer, songwriter, and soon to be reality T.V. star Leela James belt out a song I was hooked. James’ voice oozed a soulful and funky consistency that reminded me of more than a few of the best soul singers some decades ago. Her raw classic voice, when she first arrived on the music scene, was a welcome sound to my ears in 2005. Her first album A Change is Gonna Come was her own personal statement that her voice and her style of music (classic soul) was relevant and certainly need amid the pop music muck. In short, James was about the work of regenerating and maintaining classic American soul.

A few weeks ago, after reading one of my posts, a friend of mine (A.K.A. my soul brotha from anotha motha like no otha) asked me if I listened to Leela James as her music is a new discovery for him. I proclaimed in the affirmative and was immediately flooded with the memory of her music. Of course I binged on her music for the next few days.

Listening to James I was reminded of her determination to preserve soul music. She sings with a feeling and sincerity and a mission to make good music. Leela james 2She carries with her the vocal and attitudinal influence of luminaries such as Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin, and Mavis Staples to contemporary artists such as Jill Scott, Ledisi, Musiq, and Anthony Hamilton. James’ mission can be heard on all her albums from A Change is Gonna Come (her statement piece) to Let’s Do It Again (2009) (a celebration of soul and a little funk music of the 70s), to My Soul (2010) (her highest charting album), to finally Loving You More . . . In The Spirit of Etta James (2012) (which she dedicated to the memory of Etta James and her music).

Today Leela James is hard at work recording good music. At the moment James is working on a new album and has recently released a duet with fellow soul artist Anthony Hamilton called “Say That” and “Fall For You”-a nice soulful ballad that trumps anything you heard on the radio lately. [Listen Below]

Do yourself a favor and add Leela James to your iPod and binge on some excellent heartfelt soul . . . you will thank me later!