Archive for the ‘ Hip Hop ’ Category

Jules Leyhe – Your First Rodeo

YourFirstRodeoThis ain’t your granddaddy’s blues. Heck, it ain’t even your daddy’s blues. Guitarist Jules Leyhe is on an entirely different trip. His forthcoming “Your First Rodeo” is a whimsical mashup of blues, hip hop, funk, fusion, jazz, rock and Latin music dropping September 17 on Monkey Finger Records. Producing the set with Protist, the Oakland, Calif.-based slide guitar slinger wrote the bucking bronco of an album that obstinately refuses to be categorized.

An audacious collection evading lasso, “Your First Rodeo” brilliantly juxtaposes futuristic elements with downhome “comfort” sounds. Leyhe paired inventive sonicscapes with soulful blues guitar play. Conceived and constructed using vivid fantasy, the guitarman wondered what it would sound like to pair diametrically opposed artists – or, in this case, use signature elements of the imagined artists’ unique style – on one recording. Picture Cardi B sitting in with the Buena Vista Social Club. Or Jimi Hendrix playing in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Or Duane Allan jamming with jazz pianist Gil Evans.

“I wanted to create music based off of collaborations that I’ve pictured of many of my favorite artists who never actually worked together. The clearest example is picturing Jimi Hendrix playing with the psychedelic Beatles era, a wild pairing that never actually happened but sure is fun to imagine and try to create with my own flavor. My bandmates’ fantastic playing and imaginations helped me reach for this sort of potential for pairing abstract, disparate musical ideas and getting away with it, or at least creating something unique to us. This album encapsulates so many musical idioms with a gritty, urban, fun feel of an old-soul Oakland band,” said Leyhe who was empowered by his Family Jules Band – keyboardist Ian McArdle, saxophonist Nancy Wright, bassist Murph Murphy and drummer Isaac Schwartz.

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Maurice Brown – The Mood

a0135359142_16Trumpet sensation Maurice “Mobetta” Brown orbits simultaneously through three worlds: contemporary jazz, blues-rock and cutting-edge hip hop. He’s a mastermind as a trumpeter, composer, arranger, and producer. When Maurice picks up his horn, his soulful melodies soar into a rarefied space that uniquely marries be-bop to hip-hop and rock, producing his own distinctive sound.

The Chicago area native won the national Miles Davis Trumpet Competition as a teenager, followed by a move to Louisiana to study under legendary clarinetist Alvin Batiste. His critically acclaimed debut, “HIP TO BOP”, recorded in New Orleans, foreshadowed Brown’s unique talent for creating fresh bop-inflected jazz with an urban pulse. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina’s devastation forced Maurice to relocate, taking his horn to New York where he established himself by recording with Aretha Franklin, Wyclef Jean, De La Soul, Macy Gray, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lettuce and The Roots.

His second album, THE CYCLE OF LOVE was named by NPR and the Huffington Post as one of the best records of the year. Brown embraced his be-bop roots with hip-hop hooks and laid raw his dogged insistence on charting his own musical course after a life uprooted post-Katrina. Maurice was then invited to join the newly formed Tedeschi-Trucks Band where he won a Grammy for his horn arrangements on the band’s debut album, “Revelator”. His trumpet was a wailing counterpoint to Derek Truck’s searing guitar wizardry and became a staple of the TTB sound. Continue reading

Saxappeal – Black Gold

LaDarrel Johnson has been playing the saxophone since he was child, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that the instrument is an extension of himself. Professionally known as Saxappeal, the GRAMMY-nominated musician/producer is highly sought-after for his skills on stage and in studio. Before the pandemic, his busy schedule included touring with legends like Charlie Wilson. But quarantine allowed him the chance to direct all of his energies towards his new solo album Black Gold, and it’s literally music to our ears.

The album fuses jazz, soul, hip hop, funk, R&B and spoken word into a groovy amalgam that deserves a permanent spot in your music rotation. Although we were privileged to receive an exclusive first listen over the summer with “The Song That’s Called…,” we weren’t prepared for the straight heat that Saxappeal brings on this 15-track collection. Perhaps that’s why he titled the opening track “Don’t Be Alarmed.” Backed by horns and laced with beats, the song is a vibe that sets the tone for the remainder of the album. In fact, Black Gold is an entire mood.

Mr. Johnson is a man on a mission, transforming his saxophone into an unstoppable force of nature. There’s no escaping the sheer force and brilliance on tracks like “Swazi Tribe Vibes,” “I.P.T.,” the aforementioned “The Song That’s Called…” and “Red Cup, Turn Up.” Tribute songs “For Mack” and “Mamba Mentality (Homeboy)” are quite remarkable, not just because you feel Saxappeal’s heart and soul through his playing, but also because of the men that they honor. Far from a somber affair, both tracks stand out in a sea of spectacular compositions. Continue reading

Jeff Bradshaw – Stronger

Mr. Magic Slide Jeff Bradshaw is one of the rare musicians who has chosen the trombone as lead instrument. Born in Philadelphia Jeff performed as professional musician with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Floetry, Darius Ricker, Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, The Roots, Musiq Soulchild and more. However his debut album Bone Deep was first released in 2003 on the label Hidden Beach Recordings. With Bone Appétit, a double album, he set a powerful signal on the same label in 2012.

In 2014 followed his live album Home on Shanachie Entertainment. Now Jeff is back with Stronger (2020) which is equivalent to a double album in size. Jeff can boast an illustrious collection of guest musicians. Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Lin Rountree, Marqueal Jordan, Paula Champion, Mike Burton, Raheem Devaughn, Robert Glasper, Christian McBride, James Poyser, Micki Miller, Conya Doss, Glen Lewis, Frank McComb, Marsha Ambrosius, Amber Navran, Jeff Murrell, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Wadud Ahmad are to discover on the album.

The album opens with the martial title War & Thunder in which Jeff delivers a musical battle with Trombone Shorty. Sonorous sounding African drums underscore the thoroughly time-related background.

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Jef Kearns – Jazzy AF

Toronto based flautist Jef Kearns is already from his outer appearance an extraordinary manifestation. His various hats and clothes are an embodiment of his individualistic personality, which also finds its expression in his music.

Before we talk about his new album, here in short his discography: His debut album is On the Level (2009), followed by Soulfisticated (2013) and The Flute (2016). Jazzy AF (2020) is his fourth project.

Categories are not Jef’s thing. Jeff explains: “Jazzy AF is an instrumental album featuring simple melodic jazzy lines with modern pop production. The best descriptors of this project compared to my previous releases are “shinier” and “evolution.” Evolution not only of myself as an artist but as well as of the instrumental genre (which has done little to modernize itself.)”

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Clarence T Kyle – The 2ND Coming

Trumpeter, keyboardist, vocalist and composer Clarence Theodore Kyle is CTK.  CTK joined as young man the first band “7th Wonder”. While 16, he did jam sessions with a group called “Power“, which included future members of Fattburger Carl Evans Jr (piano) and Hollis Gentry (sax) and Fourplay founder Nathan East (bassist). CTK performed with Ike Turner, Al McKay and in several cover bands from EWF, Sade to Chicago. He has been in a number of top 40s bands who played jazz, soul, R&B, funk, rock, gospel and classical.

His new album The 2ND Coming is a musical gumbo for the soul, with Smooth Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop & Funk.  Get the new album on CDBaby.

Marcus Miller – Laid Black

Bass icon Marcus Miller, one of the top five world bass players, enjoys high name recognition. He not only possesses a high reputation among critics but also among his professional colleagues. Ever since he took over the role of host at the smooth jazz cruises, he is well known far beyond the field of jazz.

His solo albums are not pure collections of songs but conceptually planned. On his previous album Afrodeezia he themed not only Africa, but sought a close alliance with numerous African musicians. Marcus comments: “With Laid Black, I decided to bring the music right up to the present – using elements from what’s happening in urban music today. So you’ll hear hip-hop, trap, soul, funk, R&B and jazz on this album”.

Marcus performs on the new album bass, keyboards, vocals, synths, Wurlitzer electric piano, clavinet, bass clarinet, drums, and rhythm programming. Further supporting musicians on selected tracks are Marquis Hill, Patches Stewart, Russell Gun (trumpet), Alex Han (alto sax), Brett Williams (keyboards, piano, Fender Rhodes), Alex Bailey (drums, percussion), Russell Gun with New Orleans horns, Selah Sue (vocals), Adam Agati (guitar), Trombone Shorty (trombone), Jonathan Butler (vocals, guitar), Louis Cato (drums), Kirk Whalum (flute, tenor sax), Caleb McCampell (vocoder), Cliff Barnes (piano), Julian Miller (vocals), Richie Cajate-Garcia (percussion), and Take 6 (vocals).

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Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Black Track

Don’t let the name fool you. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions is a group of Japanese musicians whose brand of jazz is unconventional, yet noteworthy. Their new release, Black Track (Red River Entertainment, 2017) combines elements of what’s commonly known as “black music,” a mix of R&B, hip-hop and jazz.

“By Your Side” features special guests Bambu and Nia Andrews. It’s a soulful rap. Unlike conventional hip-hop where the rap and the beat are all that matters, this song is underscored by a hybrid of smooth jazz and R&B instrumentation. Bambu handles the rap skillfully, like some of the old-school artists of the genre. Andrews provides a change of mood, singing the melody in a soft, romantic style. As the song progresses, a lead vocal sings different lyrics while the title is sung in the background, following the phrase of “For Your Love,” an obscure album track from producer Peter Brown’s only release as a vocalist. The piano and soprano sax are prominent throughout.

“Black Milk” is a lively instrumental. The main theme features the soprano out front, joined by a trumpet on alternating phrases. Emphasis on bass line and percussion complementing the other instruments. The piano and soprano are frantic during their high-speed solos. And just when you think they’re about to revert to the main theme, the soprano enters a mind-blowing sequence, with the piano offering a Latin-style counter-solo.

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