Friday 16 April 2021

New music round-up: April

'Gobez' by Anbessa Orchestra

The fantastic 7-piece Anbessa Orchestra have presented their celebration of 60s/70s Ethiopian music and culture for years now.  And through their current single, as well as past projects, the Anbessa collective strive to find the positivity - those rare glimmers of hope - from the difficulties continually engulfing the world.  'Tch'elema' (2019) was a track released in response to the seemingly endless series of injustices that continue to unfold across the US, seeking to uplift and inspire in spite of the series of tragedies that resulted in the song's creation; follow-up single 'Werik'i' succeeded in attempting to bring joy to listeners ushering in these cherished moments for each of us; Even all proceeds from their live at New City Brewery set, released in 2020, were donated to Black Lives Matter causes.

Latest single, 'Gobez', which was recorded during quarantine, strives to continue within that positive Anbessa ethos this time celebrating the very nature of resilience.  'Gobez' as an Amharic word in itself translates to "brave" and is absolutely a fitting title in light of the charged, horn-heavy composition now synonymous with Anbessa's message.  Anbessa's music is very much becoming a product of the times it finds itself created within - although offering a sometimes harsh social commentary, it will always be the Anbessa Orchestra's goal to inspire listeners towards positive and uplifting experiences despite of such difficult and extraordinary times.

'It Should Have Been You' [The Sunrise Mix] by Lasperanza featuring Izzy Chase 

Dome Records

One of the most unexpected treats that has been unveiled so far this year would have to be this gem which revisits Lasperanza's 'Seeds' album.  Initially released in 2019, 'Seeds' serves as a genuine treasure from the hallowed catalogue of Dome Records.  The musical alter ego of the saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Rico Garofalo, released the ten-track debut project that saw Rico & company tackle some revered classics by George Benson, Keni Stevens and Michael Jackson - lovingly reimagining them with a refined, soul-drenched, string-heavy perspective and providing inspired new contexts to each track.

It's Gwen Guthrie's 'It Should Have Been You' however which has the great fortune of finding itself the subject of a second life.  Featuring a great vocal from Izzy Chase, Garofalo updates the rousing soul number from 'Seeds' presenting the track through an entirely different aesthetic - boasting a tinge of Roy Ayers and a tinge of 70s-style jazz-funk, the aptly-entitled Sunrise Mix provides a worthy extension for the incredible ground work established by 'Seeds'.

'Sentiment' by Nezelhorns 

Barefoot Records

Barefoot Records have long been a label that celebrates the boundless wonders of jazz.  Continually championing artists and encouraging them to step outside of the box in a bid to provide fascinating new perspectives on what constitutes jazz in the 21st century.  Nezelhorns are a collective that are indicative of those very values and their mesmerising new release 'Sentiment' sits high amongst Barefoot's finest.  Led by saxophonist Nana Pi, also credited for handling the bulk of the project's compositions, 'Sentiment' is a joyous record that marvels in its ability to explore itself through the notion of free improvisation.

Even the song titles point towards the type of personality and charm that Nezelhorns bring to their recordings - 'Ultra Magnus' for example seems to tip its hat towards the one-time leader of the Autobots and while 'Moobs' may well mean something different in Scandinavian countries than it does in the UK it certainly made me smile.  'Frontless' kicks the album off in fine fashion, 'Red Ballet Shoes' has some fantastic energy but the more ballad-like numbers like 'The Worst Case Scenario' and 'L√•ngsamt' are just exquisitely performed.

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