Wednesday 18 December 2019


Imran Mirza presents a very special edition of FunkOn//WaxxOff which aired 18th December - part 3 of our multi-part celebration for 2019's stunning music releases that you can catch all week on Blue-in-Green:RADIO.

Below is a small handful of some of the music you'll find on the complete show:

'American Love Call' by Durand Jones & The Indications [Colemine Records]
With Durand Jones's gospel-inspired vocal taking centre-stage and writing/producing duo Aaron Frazer and Blake Rhein at the helm, lightning was captured in the proverbial bottle with the group's gritty, soulful debut album three years ago 'American love Call' sees the collective deliver, dare I say it, an even more well-rounded and soulful record than its predecessor.  Heavy on the strings, the album really finds itself at home with a series of lush ballads steeped in beautiful vocals (shared between Jones and Frazer) and quality musicianship throughout.

'The Wild Root' by AE3 [Vintage League Music]
Partnered with guitarist Danny Mayer and organist/keyboardist Kris Yunker, 'The Wild Root' is very much a product of  timing and circumstances all naturally aligning to birth this stunning record.  Named after the café that Evans, Yunker and Mayer would visit before each recording session, the collaboration was initially supposed to be about three friends reuniting and playing together with no final product in mind but when the stars align, the stars align.  That joyous energy carries over to the recording we have now - from the crashing drums of the title track opener to the melodic groove of 'The Surveyor', the lead single 'Black Rider' and the sublime closing of 'Sanctuary'.  It's a 5-star masterclass of contemporary soul music.

'Cage and Aviary' by Bryony Jarman-Pinto [Tru Thoughts]*
Spearheaded by the singles ‘As I’ve Heard’ and ‘Saffron Yellow’ – Jarman-Pinto’s distinctive, unhindered style of soul, jazz, folk and beat-heavy tracks, coupled with an earnest and heartfelt approach to her songwriting, served as excellent examples to what her pairing with Tru Thoughts label-mate Tom “Werkha” Leah would breed for a full-length album.  The project is currently receiving new life thanks to the recent remixes Tru Thoughts have just unveiled by Jesse Fischer ('Saffron Yellow') and Wonky Logic ('All About Life').

'It Rains Love' by Lee Fields & The Expressions [Big Crown Records]
Backed by the Big Crown/Truth & Soul/Daptone super-group mash-up of incredible musicians including Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Dave Guy (trumpet) and produced by Leon Michels, Lee Fields once again excels, delivering a powerhouse selection of tracks this year.  With Fields using his music to inspire love as the healing factor, as a direct response to socio and political events in the US, he continues to cement himself as the best soul artist there is in contemporary music.

'Runnin (To Get To Your Love)' by Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints [Dala Records]
The brand new single from seasoned vocalist Bobby Harden finds him a new label home on Brooklyn's Dala Records.  Having toured the world as a vocalist for various groups including The Uptown Horns and Original Blues Brothers Band, as well as having performed with heavyweight names like Solomon Burke and Ben E. King, the New York-based vocalist continues his unwavering passion for his craft by ushering in the beginning of an exciting new era.  Dala house band The Soulful Saints provide a high-energy and Northern Soul-inspired backdrop for Harden's passionate delivery hopefully opening the door for more releases under the Dala banner.

'Tch'elema' by Anbessa Orchestra
'Tch'elema' (which in Amharic, translates to 'Darkness') serves as Anbessa Orchestra's own response to events in the US but it isn't a piece of music born of anger, but one born of the belief that things will get better.  Based in Brooklyn, New York, the 7-piece Anbessa Orchestra have presented their blend of Ethiopian musical culture for years: their debut 'EP' having been released in 2015 and subsequent follow-up 'Negestat' in 2018; the ensemble have proved a mainstay on the feverent New York live scene delivering their distinctive take on 60s/70s Ethiopian-inspired styles and compositions.

'Lucidity' by ATOMGA [Color Red Recordings]
Formed in 2011 from their home in Denver, Colorado, this ten-piece afrobeat orchestra have long been one of the most creative and unique collectives amongst a thriving funk & soul scene.  Their all-encompassing sound - rooted in the style and tradition of afrobeat as established by its pioneer, Fela Kuti - is confident and bold enough to push beyond the restrictions of just one tag masterfully embracing elements of Calypso, soul and jazz.  LaShá "CalySol" Afarko continually proves to be the match-made-in-heaven vocalist for the variety of sonic soundscapes the band immerse her into and as she matches ATOMGA's fervent pace throughout.  'Lucidity' is joyous, it's introspective, it's ATOMGA at their absolute best.

'Part Time Millionaire' by Flevans [Jalapeno Records]
Nigel “Flevans” Evans’s eclectic and versatile productions have made him a shining light in the UK for years, and now having partnered with Jalapeno Records, seems to have achieved his most successful outing with the release of 'Part Time Millionaire' which sees the producer/DJ/musician bench his trademark style of developing tracks around samples, instead opting to partner with a variety of vocalists including Laura Vane, Elliott Cole and Izo FitzRoy to develop songs from scratch.  The wheels are already in motion for the follow-up to this album which we're very much looking forward to in 2020.

'Back From The Brink' by The Soul Immigrants [Lateralize Records]
The Soul Immigrants have established themselves as a name in the UK's contemporary funk scene to be revered as highly as any band you could compare them with.  Initially formed in the 1990s, by Emrys Baird and Nitin Sawhney, the band has seen its fair share of evolution over the years but it's design has always remained intact: the focus on old-school sensibilities with their own distinctly contemporary twist.  From 'The Hustle Is On' to 'Covers For Lovers & Others' and now to 'Back From The Brink'; spearheaded by the incredible Barbara Lynn cover of 'I'm A Good Woman' - featuring vocalist Ria Currie - 'Back From The Brink' presents eight excellent tracks reintroducing The Soul Immigrants as leaders of the pack.

'Stand Up' by Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound

Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Roxy & The Underground Soul Sound released their sophomore album, 'Stand Up', five years after their initial debut, 'Don't You Know?'.  With multiple awards to their name, and renoun as fervent live performers, Roxy & Co prove a refined act which uses their affection for the classic sound of Motown Recordings artists as a starting point to build upon and develop their own soul aesthetic.  'He's Alright', 'Let's Work It Out' and 'Left Behind The Good Times' all serve as strong album highlights but do what you can to catch the excellent video for the single 'Helpless'.

'Express 76' by Crowd Company [Vintage League Music]
'Express 76' actually debuted as the closing song on the Blue-in-Green:PODCAST #29 when we had the pleasure of playing host to Crowd Company founder, Rob Fleming.  One of two singles released from the UK funk & soul contingent, both featuring members of Lettuce's horn section, as well as boasting production from Alan Evans, we're incredibly excited about Crowd Company's third album due for release early-2020.

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