With so much good music coming through thick and fast, it’s easy for albums to drop online and go overlooked. To help prevent this, check out our weekly mini-guide to the best albums you need to hear — stream music from Matana Roberts, Hector Plimmer, Jamael Dean, Junius Paul, Da Lata, Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy, Maria Chiara Argirò, Okumu, Herbert, Skinner, Still Moving and GoGo Penguin. If you like what you hear, hit the links and support the artists.
Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis
Matana Roberts returns with the fourth chapter in her acclaimed Coin Coin project. On this latest chapter, she’s joined by a new band, featuring Land Of Kush and Dwarfs Of East Agouza’s Sam Shalabi on guitar and oud, prolific trombonist Steve Swell and percussionist Ryan Sawyer to name a few. If there’s one thing that we love about Roberts, it’s the fact that her work is so bloody original and singular having spent the past nine years carving out an individual sound within her avant-garde composition! Laden with themes of history, free jazz improv, meditative bewitching explorations, raucous melodic themes, and folk traditions, it’s one of those albums that you can play again and again without ever getting bored.
Hector Plimmer – Next To Nothing
Hector Plimmer returns with his second LP “Next to Nothing”, released once again via the ever-excellent Alberts Favourites. Having caught our ear back in 2016 with his Our Space Secrets EP the producer and composer weaves his magic again to deliver a celestial album that connects the dots between electronic, soul, beats, jazz and other genres. The forward-thinking and deeply absorbing body of work brings together an array of talented guests including Ego Ella May, Emma-Jean Thackray, Pie Eye Collective, Alexa Harley; and Andrew Ashong who all add their mark to the album. ‘Next To Nothing’ spans a range of moods from hypnotic compositions such as opening title track to the intricate percussive grooves of tracks such as ‘Still Here’. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is an album full of clever studio trickery as his flair for addicting songs full of catchy melodies and sharp arrangments are evident on tracks such as ‘Joyfulness’, ‘Before The Sun’ and ‘Somebody Else’. Don’t miss out on this one.
Jamael Dean – Black Space Tapes
Pianist, producer, and jazz prodigy, Jamael Dean has shared his debut LP Black Space Tapes. Even though this is only his first album, he’s already collaborated and performed with the likes of Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Carlos Niño. His music reflects the dual influence of his Los Angeles contemporaries and jazz ancestors – Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and soul-jazz drummer Donald Dean, who also happens to be his grandfather. Awash with an eclectic array of sounds dean happily hops across the spectrum of hip-hop, electronic, R&B, and ambient with a jazz aesthetic. Co-produced by Carlos Niño whose influence is laced throughout but not forced upon this release, Black Space Tapes announces Dean’s arrival as an incredible talent and undoubtedly one of the jazz stars of the future.
Junius Paul – Ism
Brilliant new album on International Anthem from Junius Paul. Although Ism is Paul’s debut album as a leader, he’s featured on numerous records including Makaya McCraven’s In The Moment, Highly Rare, Universal Beings and The Art Ensemble Of Chicago’s We Are On The Edge. The album was co-produced by McCraven and features a whole host of talent including the likes of Justin Dillard (piano, organ, synth), Corey Wilkes (trumpet, shofar), Isaiah Spencer (drums, percussion), and Tomeka Reid (cello) to name a few. The experimental and free-flowing instrumentation on opener ‘You Are Free To Choose’ sets the tone for this adventurous collection. ‘Spocky Chainsey Has Re-Emerged’ is a near 20-minute cut that takes up a whole side of the vinyl LP but stays fresh, thrilling and swinging for its duration. “Tune No. 6,” recorded live at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Chicago, is a sweet interlude here to remind us that jazz is alive and bristling with what’s yet to come. Our favourite cut ‘Paris’ pairs bright sax with slick bass and deep, rumbling drums. Closer “Outro” features Paul giving thanks while his bass rides the groove of a slick and steady beat closing out a varied and vital album.
Da Lata -Birds
Five years on since their last album and Da Lata the brainchild of Chris Franck and Patrick Forge, continue to carve out a special corner in the music world. The 10-track LP features long-time friends and collaborators Ernie McKone, Vanessa Freeman, Bembé Segué, Jason Yarde, Finn Peters, Mike Patto, Davide Giovannini, Tristan Banks and more. The record effortlessly skips across styles with tracks ranging from irresistible funk (‘Thunder’) and Brazilian grooves (‘T B’) to gorgeous, uplifting Afrobeat (‘Oba Lata’), it’s a vibrant and exhilarating journey from start to finish.
Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy – Mam Yinne Wa
Bolgatanga’s number one Frafra gospel artist Alogte Oho has released his first internationally released album, Mam Yinne Wa via Philophon. Backed by the awe-inspiring female choir, Sounds of Joy, the king of gospel music among the Frafra people of northern Ghana is spreading his infectious afro roots, and Frafra gospel sounds to the whole world. Moving from one infectious track to the next the nine songs will be stuck in your head for days. Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy deliver the perfect album to rid you of any negative energy.
Maria Chiara Argirò – Hidden Seas
‘Hidden Seas’ is Maria Chiara Argirò’s second full-length album – a dreamy jazz, electronic and folk concoction featuring a stellar line-up of talent in Leila Martial (vocals), Sam Rapley (sax/clarinet), Tal Janes (guitar/effects), Andrea Di Biase (double bass), and Gaspar Sena (drums). The 10-track album sees her further developed her style of jazz with a twist of contemporary genres, influenced by her numerous tours with bands such as Radiohead and These New Puritans. The record is a genre-bending collection of timeless, jazz with a modern spin. Dive in below.
Okumu, Herbert, Skinner – Undone: Live at the Crypt
Dave Okumu, Tom Herbert and Tom Skinner join forces on a live album Undone: Live at the Crypt. Recorded live in June last year at The Crypt in Camberwell, South London, the album captures the trio performing twelve tracks by John Abercrombie, Björk, Miles Davis and more, alongside Okumu, Herbert, Skinner originals. We were lucky enough to see the long-time friends recently perform with Angel Bat Dawid at The House of St Barnabas, an intimate night where their loose and organic rhythms filled the chapel with freestyle energy and virtuoso musicianship. This fine album is a testament to their collective brillance.
Still Moving – Still Moving EP
London jazz and electronic trio Still Moving land on Lanquidity Records! Drawing inspiration from jazz, folk rhythm traditions, club-oriented electronics, and progressive experimentalism, Still Moving recently revealed their new self-titled EP. With an explosive sound that combines freestyle energy with electronic club vibes and a mature mastery of their instruments, the trio has released a multi-layered, detailed and highly exciting record full of colourful soundscapes. Essential listening.
Go Go Penguin – Ocean In A Drop
Manchester-based band Go Go Penguin recently released a brilliant new EP on Blue Note Records. The EP titled ‘Ocean In A Drop’ draws inspiration from the band’s famous live soundtrack for Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 cult doc Koyaanisqatsi – the trio has performed their score for the film all over the world. Merging of acoustic and electronic techniques the electrifying intensity of GGP’s live performances has translated to this record too. The project starts with ‘Time-Lapse City’ a vibrant piece carried by gorgeous piano progressions, swirling drums and slick double bass, ‘Ocean In A Drop’ combines those rich piano chords with soft and subtle bass and closer ‘Nessus’ is poignant, delicate and heartbreakingly beautiful. There is an immersive power within the most exquisite detail of Ocean in a Drop, and an emotional resonance that lingers, even beyond the final note or frame. A must listen.