New York-Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975(Strut/Inertia)
The ever reliable Strut records continue to mine the crates for another impeccably presented history lesson in world grooves. Sitting at the place where world music meets party music, this is the latest in a long line of so-called ‘undiscovered’ masterpieces. Vibraphone and keyboard player Mulatu Astatke left his native Ethiopia in the 60s, eventually finding himself in the hot bed of emerging contemporary jazz scenes of London and New York. This compilation is a testament to the first African musician to combine traditional music with the freeform grooves of the jazz world and a great statesman of modern music. For most people the idea of a world music/jazz fusion invokes images of over studious chinstroking muso buffs., but this lands on the right side of funky, applying intelligent melodies to a strangely appealing bass-led groove. And as with all Strut releases the attention to detail in packaging and liner notes make this an essential purchase.
Shoes your Illusion I & II(Shoes Recordings/Inertia)
Are re-edits really just the preserve of music fans with little discernible musical talent, but a working knowledge of pro tools? Or are they in fact part of a rich musical tradition taking in the earliest dancefloor pioneers searching for a way to make the record just that little bit funkier? This comp from the shadowy Shoes Crew is in fact a cut above the traditional formula of extending the intro and stringing the breakdowns out a bit. Shoes your Illusion is a double album of unashamed funk and soul standards, each given a subtle but intelligent work-over to create more than the sum of the parts. To tackle a set of classics of this calibre and come out on top is no mean feat, and the Shoes crew re arrange classics such as Bitches Brew and Why Can’t we Live Together to admirable effect. It’s a great way to rediscover your favourite songs, or for the uninitiated the perfect introduction to your musical heritage, highly recommended.