Blue-in-Green:RADIO

Tuesday 19 December 2023

2023 in 100 Songs



We at Blue-in-Green:RADIO are increasingly enamoured by the amazing music we manage to get our hands on each year and are always compelled to celebrate such wonderful pieces of brilliance in any way we can.  So this year, we're unveiling 100 of our favourite songs that we were just over the moon about and desperate to share with you all.  


These year-end lists should always come with the caveat that this is naturally a celebration of the music we were actually able to get our hands on so that discovery will naturally continue into the new year.  Also, the list is compiled alphabetically so not ranked in any way.


Please let us know if there's any we may have missed though and we hope some of the below tracks will inspire you all to explore these catalogues and artists further.


1. 'A Friend to All' by Georgie Sweet 

Futuristica Music

While we eagerly await the sophomore album release from Georgie Sweet, this year we were treated to a brilliant Simon S-produced track expertly building upon the groundwork as established by her 'Misunderstood' album in 2020.  Since the rapturously-received debut, Sweet has treated listeners with a selection of tracks for us to enthusiastically scoop up including featured appearances for Marc Rapson and Children of Zeus and a track exclusive to the phenomenal Futuristica Music 15 year compilation.  'A Friend To All' however picks up on those elements where Georgie Sweet soars - an exquisite vocal adorning the backdrop of a lo-fi, Jazz Chronicles-esque production typical to Simon S that instils such high expectations for the impending full-length release.


2. 'A Queda' by Minus & MRDolly featuring Luca Argel 

Giant Stops; Jazzego

For his latest offering, Hugo Oliveira (under the guise of Minus & MRDolly) uses 'Giant Stops' as a means to examine the increasing impact that technology has on each of our lives as our inevitable reliance on it continues to permeate through to the facets of our day to day in fairly concerning ways.  'Giant Stops' showcases great compositions born of live instrumentation that tease this general sense of electronic and digital foreboding that make for a riveting listen.  The fantastic near 8-minute album centrepiece that is 'A Queda' runs the gamut of great production, awesome solos and an excellent vocal contribution from Luca Argel who ties the whole song together beautifully.


3. 'Andromeda' by Pippo D'Ambrosio 

Beyond The Sky; A.MA Records

Marking his second album release for A.MA Records, the Italian drummer and composer Pippo D'Ambrosio uses the new album to explore the celestial space beyond the sky.  Space has long had a rich and intertwined connection with jazz with music dating as far back as the 1950s to music by Sun Ra to contemporary names like Poland’s EABS and the UK’s The Comet is Coming - D’Ambrosio uses 'Beyond The Sky' to continue the genre's lengthy lineage with a series of ten elegant compositions.


4. 'Apho' by Alfa Mist featuring Bongeziwe Mabandla 

Variables; Anti- Records


5. 'Arise' by Nicola Conte featuring Zara McFarlane 

Umoja; Far Out Recordings

The fantastic new release from Italian guitarist, composer and producer, Nicola Conte, sees him continue his long-standing relationship with Far Out Recordings, gifting the label his excellent new album, 'Umoja'.  Packed with Conte's typical bossa-infused rhythms with jazz and a dash of 70's soul, 'Umoja' is bolstered by an all-star line-up of vocalists including Zara McFarlane, Bridgette Amofah and Myles Sanko.  Certainly an album to appease long-time Conte fans as well as an excellent project to serve as an introduction to his music should you have yet to include one of his releases amongst your collection.


6. 'Bamboo' by LLLucifer 

Lofi & Chill vol.2; Millennium Jazz Music


7. 'Beautiful Ones x One in a Million' by DJ Phatrick

This one is about as inspired a mash-up as you could get: Prince's 'Beautiful Ones' meets Aaliyah's 'One in a Million' results in something fairly exceptional.  The track also nudges us a step towards answering the question of what a Prince and Timbaland collaboration could actually have sounded like and, thanks to DJ Phatrick, we could have had high hopes it seems.  This track serves as the first of two contributions to this list from the LA-based DJ so his is a Bandcamp page definitely worth exploring.


8. 'Behind The Sun' by Speakers Corner Quartet featuring Lafawndah & Trustfall 

Further Out Than The Edge; OTIH Records

Having established themselves as key players for other artists for some years now, the Speakers Corner Quartet take that decided leap towards introducing themselves as a key name in their own right.  Presenting an awesome showcase of their dynamic and varied music, 'Further Out Than The Edge' is bolstered by some top-tier talent in the form of Joe Armon-Jones, Tawiah, Shabaka Hutchings and Sampha who provide invaluable assistance for this fantastic project.  A souped-up, digital-only, deluxe version of the album exists boasting a total of 23 tracks so keep your eyes peeled for that too.



9. 'Bhimpalasi' by Alpacas Collective 

Big Words

As diverse and shining examples of contemporary afrobeat and funk, the Alpacas Collective move their sophomore album release on from the fantasy settings and imaginary lands of its predecessor to the more stark and abrasive contexts of our everyday politically corrupt and morally bankrupt world.  The album title, and subsequent title track, even serve as a Fela Kuti-inspired stance about a disillusioned society and the continuing lack of faith within self-serving governments and political systems. 


10. 'Bir Adım Öte' by MLDVA 

MLDVA & Cinar Timur; Shapes of Rhythm

Fusing elements of Turkish psychedelia and pop music, the mind-blowing project from the Polish collective has had a lengthy and fascinating journey to get to this milestone. With MLDVA actually beginning life back in 2013, theirs has been a passion for the music that has grown and evolved since its inception with varying facets and genres continually jocking for lead position across their varied musical soundscapes.


11. 'Bless' by New Sector Movements featuring Mike City 

These Times; First Word Records

The brainchild of the mighty IG Culture, the 'These Times' EP serves as the first New Sector Movements release in fifteen years.  A really fantastic return within the typical vein of IG Culture's penchant for electronic/broken-beat/nu-jazz infused compositions.  Featuring excellent vocal contributions from Allysha Joy, Mike City and Natalie May, we have our fingers crossed that more New Sector Movements will follow in 2024!


12. 'Borealis Dancing' by Jaimie Branch 

Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((World War)); International Anthem

As a trumpeter, vocalist, improviser, band leader and composer, Jaimie Branch offered up a thrilling and impassioned world view which saw her boldly wearing her heart on her sleeve through everything that she did; throughout her revered 'Fly or Die' series, her indefinable "it" factor seemed to permeate through her music and resonate with audiences the world over.  Described by the band in the album’s liner notes as "far bigger" than previous Fly or Die releases, 'World War' is absolutely defined by its ambition – a sensational nine-track release bolstered by stunning pieces like 'Borealis Dancing' that carry the torch for the philosophies established across the entire series. The music is impassioned, fiery and quintessentially in a class of its own.


13. 'Bossfight' [Blue Lab Beats Remix] by TC & The Groove Family 

First Home: Remixes; Worm Discs

Headed up by bandleader, drummer and founder, Tim "TC" Cook, the Leeds-based, ten-piece ensemble unveiled their fantastic full-length release from last year, 'First Home', through Worm Discs.  Bursting with charm and personality, the band's fusion of jazz, afro rhythms and Latin influences delivered an incredible album and sees a wonderful revisiting this year with a six-track remix suite boasting some inspired names like Rebecca Vasmant, Nikitch as well as the dream pairing of Blue Lab Beats.  Helming the remix for 'Bossfight', the eclectic London-based duo retain the track's anthemic qualities while still providing a brilliant showcase for group vocalist Pariss "Elektra" Joseph.


14. 'Bring in the Gorilla' by Duo Brothers 

Cream and Sugar; Raw Tapes


15. 'Bug Night' [Elbert Phillips 'Trippy Tribute' Remix] by Antonio Trinchera 

A.MA Records

This single marks the third remix by Elbert Philips for guitarist and composer Antonio Trinchera, and second for Trinchera's 'Fauves' album of last year.  Over the course of his music releases dating back over the last thirteen years, Trinchera has continually embraced the opportunity to present his multi-faceted vision for modern-day jazz and electronic music whether releasing music as part of the BitMapCrew with Dario Antonelli or as a solo artist.  The introduction of Chicago's dance and house music icon, Elbert Philips, for the 'Fauves' project generated the remix for 'The Tractor and the Child' last year ahead of this year's 'Bug Night'.  Drawing inspiration from the UK's 80s-90s jazz-funk scene, Philips bestows a fantastic contribution to the A.MA catalogue and continues his wonderful chemistry with Trinchera as well.


16. 'Canopy' by Mick Destitut

Canopy EP; Folded Music

With two EP releases this year for the electronic music label, Folded Music, Manchester's Mick Destitute ushers in his lush, downtempo soundscapes for 'Everyday Sounds' and 'Canopy'.  Seemingly drawing inspiration from disparate realms such as hip-hop and ambient influences, Mick's penchant for creating music based around everyday sounds and experiences has served his production talents no end as his intricate compositions seem to burst with detail and personality.  For our list, we've opted for the title track of the sophomore EP but with no missteps for Mick in 2023, we could've picked any of his releases for inclusion here.


17. 'Celestial Dance' by PVIBEZ 

A Retrospektiv Delux - side II

Following a lengthy hiatus, Paul "PVIBEZ" Morgan seeks to reintroduce himself through a lengthy two-part anthology of his past releases.  Marking an incredible career that has seen him perform as a member of the Shez Raja Collective for many years, Morgan pulls together some of his personal favourite releases, standalone singles and unreleased tracks to comprise 'A Retrospektiv Delux'.  This collection of tracks stands as a fitting testament to the multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist nodding to long-time listeners and delivering a warm welcome to new ones.  'Pretty Buddafly', 'Shine On' and 'No Fantasy' are strong album highlights along with potentially the project's shining moment in the instrumental gem that is 'Celestial Dance'.


18. 'Cendres et Poussieres' by Cinephonic 

Visions; Marlow Records

Following up on Cinephonic's debut release 'Les Paradis Artificiels' (2020), Pierre Chrétien has clearly stumbled onto a winning and creatively satisfying formula that sees the multi-instrumentalist and producer employ his years embedded within the broad pallette of music-making and transform them into a series of lush, cinematic soul-infused soundscapes.  'Visions' owes so much to the charm and personality that just beams through the music - wonderfully presented with crisp performances all enriched by its gloriously dusty analog aesthetic.


19. 'Chase the Wind' by Kikimora

This single release from the Texas-based collective serves as an enthralling introduction to the group's distinct blend of contemporary soul music.  In honesty, theirs is a sensational education in the art of bold and personality-driven fusion that skillfully presents their statement of musical intent through a wonderfully eclectic and diverse sonic palette.  Kikimora's ability to create music boasting equal parts psychedelic soul, jazz-infused performances and a no-rules approach to composition makes 'Chase the Wind' one of a lengthy series of fantastic Kikimora releases to date. 


20. 'Chromesthesia' by GreenTTea & The Tempos 

Color Red


21. 'Company' by Abi Farrell

The immeasurably talented Abi Farrell is steadily ammassing an excellent collection of music with a mix of independently released singles and releases as part of Big AC Records.  Whether Abi's music finds her addressing wider societal issues or whether they find her speaking to more intimate dynamics, her songs seem to permeate through to audiences and resonate with those fears, concerns and joys that we all experience.


22. 'Crazy DNA' by Benjamin Samuels featuring BLANK SPACE

Bridge The Gap

Australian saxophonist Benjamin Samuels delivers an outstanding solo introduction through the release of his 'Crazy DNA' single.  A composition that openly embraces a variety of influences from broken beat and electronica to contemporary jazz and hip-hop, the vibrant and engaging single is bolstered by the personality-driven guest verse from rapper BLANK SPACE who really manages to shine during the song's closing moments.  Waving the flag for the ever-expanding line-up of incredible Australian talent, Benjamin Samuels sets the bar frighteningly high with lots of enthusiasm from us for his follow-up release.


23. 'Desert Star Leaf' by London Odense Ensemble 

Jaiyede Sessions, Vol.2; El Paraiso Records

This year proved to be a big year for the supergroup that is London Odense Ensemble.  Comprised of leading musicians from London, UK, and Odense, Denmark, listeners were treated to the collective's distinctive blend of psychedelica meets spiritual jazz meets electronica. The riveting project carried through the band's genre-less ideologies into their sophomore album release and into a further recording this year in 'Live at Jaiyede Jazz Festival'.


24. 'Do Me Baby' [Tomahawk Bangs Remix] by Prince


25. 'Don't Call Me (On My Birthday)' by Kasia Konstance featuring Dylan Jones 

Different Skies EP


26. 'Dream in Colour' by The Peter Franks Group featuring Marc Rapson & Rachel Crennell 

Days Ahead; Futuristica Music

While the initial Peter Franks release in 2018 sought to pay loving tribute to influences and inspirations via a series of exquisite, nostalgia-driven compositions in 'Days Past', 2023's 'Days Ahead' - as the title suggests - is an infinitely more assertive and confident record. Its commitment to creating its own identity is very much an ideal that gives focus to the album and unifies much of its context. With Simon S/Peter Franks credited for the album's production along with drums, samples, bass, keys and percussion, the 'Days Ahead' table is set for an exalted line-up of contributors including Amanda Whiting, Nat Birchall, Robert Mitchell and Marc Rapson among others.


27. 'Eja' [Dave Okumu Remix] by Monzanto Sound 

TT&T Remixed; None More Records

With a stunning concoction of contemporary-jazz-meets-neo-soul, Monzanto Sound's musical melting pot is comprised of so many influences making EP releases to date - 'Time Lapse' (2020) and 'Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow' (2022) - absolute treasures.  Released through the eclectic None More Records, their latest EP, 'TT&T Remixed', fully embraces musical concepts perhaps just teased up to this point with the  man who can do no wrong at the moment, Dave Okumu, offering up a scintillating and immersive take on 'Eja'.


28. 'Elna' by Little North 

Wide Open; April Records

Since the trio's fruitful collaboration with the pioneering April Records, Little North have steadily released full-length projects at an incredible rate with 'Wide Open' marking their fourth album since the band's self-titled project in 2020.  The Little North catalogue has long served as gleaming gems amongst the April Records treasure chest with 'Wide Open' potentially serving as their most revered piece yet.  The exquisite 'Elna' serves as the album's masterpiece - its haunting allure weaves an undeniable magic that you can't help but be captivated by.  Bliss!


29. 'Ethiopiques' by A Plane to Catch 

Moko Jumbie; April Records

The fantastic five-piece that is A Plane to Catch deliver a fantastic statement of intent through their celebration of a multitude of styles as far-ranging from Ethiopian compositions to classic 60s soul and 70s funk.  And throughout their eight-track 'Moko Jumbie' project, A Plane To Catch strive to find the positivity - those rare glimmers of hope - from the difficulties continually engulfing the world.  An album created to uplift and inspire in spite of the extraordinary set of circumstances that resulted in the project's creation.


30. 'Find A Way' by Sunny Reyne 

I've Been Sleeping Too Long; Bridge The Gap


31. 'For A Moment' by Jihad Darwish 

4 Parakeets

The boundless talents of Jihad Darwish are on full display throughout '4 Parakeets' with his name attributed throughout the album to guitar, sitar, piano, double bass, electric bass and drums.  Having previously released music under the mononym of "Darwish", the multi-instrumentalist and composer has long been lauded for his uncanny fusion of jazz, electronica and pop.


32. 'Glorious Game' by El Michels Affair & Black Thought f/t Kirby 

Glorious Game; Big Crown Records


33. 'Good Love' by Aphrose 

Roses; LRK Records

Canadian vocalist Aphrose releases her full-length album this year 'Roses' on LRK Records, who are having an exceptional year themselves with further releases from Bella Brown & The Jealous Lovers and Gary Beals.  Aphrose raised anticipation and subsequently expectations for the release of her record, particularly as the release was spearheaded by some excellent singles.  Despite contributing to an excellent build with 'YaYa' and the album's title track, we've opted to pick the album's lead single 'Good Love' as our shining example of this wonderful project.


34. 'Here' by Ntjam Rosie + SMANDEM 

Elle (Reworked); O-Tone Music


35. 'House of Hoshii' by Hoshii 

Hoshii

Through a variety of projects over the years, Kuba Więcek has long demonstrated his distinct and all-encompassing perception of contemporary jazz.  Under the guise of his current project, Hoshii, Więcek seems to have found the appropriate vessel to help unify all of his seemingly disparate ideas and concepts and fuse them into a fairly sensational project.


36. 'I Asked' by MABGATE

MABGATE

While still using their lush, high-energy and soul-infused soundscapes as a launch pad, the Leeds-based MABGATE confidently infuse varying styles and genres like the minor twinges of psychedelic soul and stronger nods towards their affections for jazz.  Formerly known as The Mabgate Organ Trio, what's initially surprising about the band's genesis is that while creativity and the arts suffered during the dreaded quarantine, it was actually this period that brought MABGATE's original trio together affording them the time and space to begin their collective journey.


37. 'Joy & Pain' [Pete Rock Remix] by Lady Wray 

Big Crown Records

Lady Wray's second full-length release for Big Crown Records further solidifies her as a premier name within contemporary soul music.  And despite the release of 'Piece of Me' dating back to January 2022, the album proves to be the gift that keeps on giving as we've been treated this year to remixes by Les Imprimes, Surprise Chef and a reworking of the album's title track featuring the inimitable Ghostface Killah.  But it's the dream pairing with Pete Rock that we're opting to include here as he wonderfully tackles 'Joy & Pain' for a brilliant reimagining.



38. 'Just Be (Free)' by Don Leisure & Amanda Whiting featuring Deborah Jordan 

Beyond The Midnight Sun; First Word Records

From the fantastic seven-track release pairing the production and beats of Don Leisure with the sublime performance of Amanda Whiting on harp, 'Beyond The Midnight Sun' serves as the new duo's inaugural collaborative release which has been unveiled to a raptuous reception.  Building upon the initial collaboration on Don Leisure's 'Shaboo Strikes Back' (2021) and the track 'All Praises Due' featuring Amanda Whiting, the pairing proved ingenius even back then so it's a real thrill to see the collaboration expand into the release we now have.  With two tracks featuring the inimitable singer-songwriter, Deborah Jordan, who blesses the project with a typically excellent vocal, it's the project's lead single we're shouting about for this list. 



39. '還 (Kaeru)' by Eki Shola
 

還 (Kaeru)

For the release of her fifth album, singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Eki Shola builds masterfully upon past successes with her explorations taking not just a creative leap for this release but a geographic one as well.  Recorded and conceived in Japan, '還 (Kaeru)' really delivers as a triumph for Eki Shola in so many ways.  We mentioned the concept of exploration which represents such pure-of-heart intentions within an artist's own music - while this album has perhaps challenged Shola musically, the record further sees exploration on more personal levels.  Always one to wear her heart on her sleeve, past releases have found Shola tackle themes of personal tragedy and address issues revolving around Black Lives Matter, but '還 (Kaeru)' more openly embraces the notion of identity and belonging resulting in an incredible new aesthetic to anything we've heard Shola bless previously.


40. 'Kalifornia' by Jazzbois 

Higher Dimension Waiting Room; Blunt Shelter Records

Citing the works of 1970s jazz-fusion architects Herbie Hancock and Azymuth in the same breath as contemporary names like Karriem Riggins and Kiefer as inspirations, Jazzbois’ varied releases demonstrate their ability to create music boasting an exciting and eclectic mix of both of these styles. With improvisation forming the core basis of their music, the Jazzbois trio have cultivated a fierce reputation for their revered live performances and similarly being able to walk into a studio setting leaving with everything needed to comprise a new album after a mere handful of hours of just playing in that moment.


41. 'Kanazawa' by Mark de Clive-Lowe, Shigeto & Melanie Charles 

Hotel San Claudio; Soul Bank Music

Uniting the efforts of Mark de Clive-Lowe, Shigeto and Melanie Charles, 'Hotel San Claudio' sets an exciting stage for a project comprised of three very different artists in their own right who each bring phenomenal value to the table. The album manages to present each of the three with music that finds them all suitably at home while still sounding unlike any of their previous offerings; 'Hotel San Claudio' doesn't so much straddle a line between jazz and electronica anymore than it just wholly embraces both facets throughout the album.


42. 'Khamsin' by azmari 

Maelstrom; Sdban Records

'Maelstr​ö​m' marks the new album release from Belgian collective, Azmari, who unveil another project establishing their unrivalled perception of contemporary jazz.  Azmari's sound has been described as fusing everything from modern and spiritual jazz to psychedelia, dub, afrobeat and even masterfully introducing an Ethiopian aesthetic into the mix.  It's a delectable musical gumbo which seems to always place Azmari one step ahead of their time.


43. 'KOHAN' by The Circling Sun 

Spirits; Soundway Records

'Spirits' marks the brand new release from The Circling Sun who can boast their debut project having found an apt home through Soundway Records.  A supergroup of sorts, The Circling Sun comprises an elite selection of New Zealand's jazz luminaries, many of who have served as long-time friends and collaborators each boasting a lengthy lineage of eclectic and dynamic projects that have helped to establish the country’s burgeoning jazz scene.


44. 'Laser Beam' by Zeñel

Zeñel 5ive; Jazz Re:freshed


45. 'Let Me Go' Jullian Gomes, Kuniyuki Takahashi & Sio 

World Without End


46. 'Let Me Not Forget' by Irina Pavlovic 

The Soulful Heritage; A.MA Records

Born in Belgrade, Serbia, pianist and composer Pavlovic offers up her debut album which finds a suitable home on Italy's A.MA Records.  The album's sensational ten tracks seems to burst with ideas and serve as a wonderful collage of styles and inspirations ranging from a quintessential jazz aesthetic to strong Afro-Cuban influences. 


47. 'Let The Sunshine In On Days Like This' [DJ Phatrick Remix] by Jimetta Rose


48. 'Little Steps' by KAU 

The Cycle Repeats; Sdban Records

Amassing a slew of single, EP and full-length releases over a comparatively short time, the Belgian trio of KAU unveil their brand new album in 'The Cycle Repeats'.  With compositions continuing in their now synonymous vein of joyful exploration, the keen improvisers seem to celebrate the luxury of the playground afforded to them over the course of 'The Cycle Repeats' – the sublime 'Little Steps' takes the album down new hip-hop-inspired avenues once again rounding out the versatility of such a fantastic project.


49. 'Living & Loving in My Own Way' by Brandee Younger featuring Pete Rock 

Brand New Life; Impulse!

The new album from harpist Brandee Younger sees the New York native embrace entirely new concepts and inspirations for her second release through the revered Impulse! label.  Chalking up collaborations with hip-hop producer 9th Wonder and vocalist-bassist Meshell Ndegeocello for the album, it's Younger's collaboration with the legendary Pete Rock that makes the list this year.


50. 'Love Don't Live Here' by Slone 

Lofi & Chill vol.2; Millennium Jazz Music

As with the divine 'Bamboo' track by LLLucifer cited earlier in this list, Slone's 'Love Don't Live Here' is the second track we're shouting about from the brilliant Millennium Jazz Music compilation 'Lofi & Chill vol.2'.  A collection of 14 superb tracks befitting the project title, 'Love Don't Live Here' is just heavenly and an essential inclusion for the year-end wrap-up.



51. 'Loving You' by Laura Llorens & The Shadows of Love 

No Love No Peace; Q-Sounds Recordings

'No Love No Peace' marks the latest release from Laura Llorens & The Shadows of Love available through the always excellent Q-Sounds Recording.  The music throughout finds the group further plunging their authentic sound within the 1970s with tracks paying homage to the variety of styles attributed to the era - the gritty funk of 'Deep Fried Butter', the Blaxploitation aesthetic of the powerful 'BLM' opener, the rousing 'Time Is All' or the sweet soul of 'Magic Love'.  Of course special mention is due to the Curtis Mayfield-esque 'Loving You' which really delivers as the album's high point - the sensational number relishes in its lengthy instrumental opening half with Llorens ushering in mid-way to elevate the track into one of the best you're likely to hear all year.


52. 'Low Boy' by Hot Mustard 

Seconds; Color Red Records

Having introduced their unique concoction of dusty 60s and 70s analog era soul music via their debut 'Mother Sauce', Hot Mustard found just as much inspiration from hip-hop's golden era when it came to constructing their over-arching sound.  In second album, 'Seconds', Hot Mustard continue to build upon the ideals as established through its predecessor but now seeks to elevate the project and its scope into new levels of ambition.  'Low Boy' as a song serves as an excellent example of a track enhanced beautifully through these additional contributors with a notable turn by cellist Helen Gillet who transforms the composition into something particularly sublime.


53. 'Low Intensity Nexus Point' by Socool 

Ephemera Remixes

Paying homage to Socool's 'Ephemera' album released a year ago, this new EP offers up tracks for reinterpretation from an inspired guest list of friends and frequent collaborators including DJ Soo, Cloudland Blue Quartet, Lehto and Edward Spark each delivering some wonderful new dimensions to Socool's originals.  The tracks here are beautifully presented, elegantly compiled and serve as loving extensions to Socool's 'Ephemera' project that absolutely warrants your attention.


54. 'Meme Heure Meme Endroit' by Paloma Paloma 

MENACE IN SYNC; MENACE


55. 'Morning Vitamin' by Tigeroak 

Living and Living; April Records

Accentuated by lush textures, warm production and Anna Prinds' enthralling vocal, the Tigeroak duo of Prinds alongside multi-instrumentalist and producer Laurits Steen Møberg have stumbled onto a captivating formula which transcends throughout the album's stunning interpretation of neo-soul stylings like the more sparse arrangement of 'Listening for Noises' or the riveting drum & bass-esque break at the conclusion of 'Morning Vitamin'.


56. 'Mother Tongue' by Andorra 

Current; April Records


57. 'Never4get' [Rui Fradinho Remix] by Deborah Jordan & K15 

Futuristica Music

Stemming from the collaborative project between Deborah Jordan and K15, 'HUMAN' (2022), Rui Fradinho adds his name to the list of remixers including Marc Rapson and Simon S who have revisited gems from this release.  Already a sensational album, it is proving to leave behind a lengthy legacy thanks to these continued (re-)interpretations.  In the hands of DJ and producer, Rui Fradinho, 'Never4get' relishes its place within its new broken beat tendencies and dance-floor friendly aesthetic.  A fantastic remix.  Special shout-out to Simon S and his extended edit of the track as well.


58. 'Night Woman' by Azamiah featuring INDIA BLUE 

In Phases; Rebecca's Records

Comprised of vocalist India Blue, Josef Akin on keys, Norman Villeroux on bass, drummer Alex Palmer and Romy Wymer on harp, Azamiah present a sensational twelve-track project that delivers a no-rules approach to music-making that delivers some fantastic tracks throughout 'In Phases'. Tracks like the album's preliminary singles 'Night Woman' and 'Celesta' are elegant and sublime in their execution, as are numbers like the neo-soul-inspired 'Heroine' or the ethereal and electronica-tinged 'Half-Man'.


59. 'No Time' by Allexa Nava

With the release of her third single, saxophonist and flautist Allexa Nava presents another brilliant track showcasing her talents as a writer, composer and performer.  Backed by an excellent team of musicians, Nava's dynamic and spirited track surely establishes her as a burgeoning talent within the UK's ever-booming jazz landscape.  Put together within a week - hence the song's title - 'No Time' represents Nava's most ambitious work to date with the bold composition paying dividends.  


60. 'No Words Left' by Hanakiv featuring Alabaster DePlume 

Goodbyes; Gondwana Records


61. 'Nothing New' by The Gladdics 

Bathurst

Certainly a different sound from the down-tempo and lush sounds typically associated with the Bathurst label.  Headed up by Renegades of Jazz's David Hanke, who also serves as the writer and producer for this double-sided single (along with 'Lucy'), the respectable pop aesthetic The Gladdics exude is a welcome addition to the Bathurst catalogue.  A little indy, a little popp-y, The Gladdics put forth just the right quantities of the aforementioned genres, with a dash of psychedelic soul, to make you a believer even if you didn't think this was for you.


62. 'Over Tage' by Svaneborg Kardyb 

Over Tage; Gondwana Records


63. 'Petites Heures' by Elise Preys 

MENACE IN SYNC; MENACE


64. 'Pieces' by Yazmin Lacey 

Voice Notes

Incredible to think that 'Voice Notes' actually marks Yazmin Lacey's debut album.  With three EPs to her name and a smattering of additional material floating around - including a standout performance on the Blue Note compilation, 'Blue Note Re:imagined' - Lacey's distinct contributions have long secured her place amongst the front-runners of the UK's ever-evolving and ever-expanding musical scene.  With production from Dave Okumu, 'Voice Notes' delivers above and beyond with what anyone could have hoped for here.  Wonderful writing, fantastic vocal, superb production... everyone should own this.


65. 'Pistachio' by Archie the Goldfish

Archiefishal Intelligence

With 'Archiefishal Intelligence', guitarist Chris Bestwick and trumpeter Graeme Flowers embrace the opportunity to return Archie to its instrumental roots with five tracks that showcase some wonderful performances.  The new EP presents a more stripped-down interpretation of songs which sees the Bestwick & Flowers duo helm much of the project along with drummer Bernardo Yacono who collectively present a series of sublime performances that make a timely statement about the burgeoning influence of AI as it begins its slow permanence into unthinkable facets of the art that we consume.


66. 'Places In Your Mind' by The Soul Sound Collective

Since their debut single release back in 2018, a year has yet to pass whereby we haven't had the fortune of celebrating new music by The Soul Sound Collective.  With two new singles released this year, the collective's imaginative take of jazz-infused soul music continues to evolve with new aspects being added to their overall sound from subtle dips into the realms of electronica or even slight nods to 1970s-styled jazz-funk.  Headed up by Craig Sims and featuring long-standing collectives Tim Higgins (bass), Simon Lee (guitar) and Colin Watling on saxophone, 'Places In Your Mind' serves as another shining example of the group's indelible talents.


67. 'Pour que tu ne m'oublies pas' by The Vogs 

Du Fond du Coeur; Q-Sounds Recordings

'Du Fond du Coeur' marks the brand new album release from The Vogs who continue their journey as part of France's sensational Q-Sounds Recordings.  Excitingly, the album marks the first full-length follow-up to the band's 2018 debut, 'A Change is Coming', which brilliantly established the foundations for a contemporary soul band who openly acknowledge their influences by soul music's architects.  For this record, The Vogs openly declare for French soul music of the 1960s with affectionate nods towards northern soul as well.


68. 'Rainbow' by As Valet & So-Li featuring J.McFysian 

Way Out

'Way Out' marks the new collaborative project from producer As Valet and vocalist So-Li who uneil their lush downtempo-inspired independent release.  Boasting lush, lo-fi soundscapes alongside an elegant vocal that drifts from understated to playful, So-Li's ethereal voice sounds tailor-made for As Valet's sublime production with each artist instinctively understanding how to bring the best out of each other's performances.  



69. 'Ray' by Socool & Mama RayRay
 

Penumbra / Ray; Dragon Trax

The first of two Dragon Trax entries to our list this year, the Sheffield-based techno/drumn'n'bass label have presented some fantastic music over their burgeoning catalogue.  This collaborative single release from Vancouver's Socool and Sheffield's Rachel Stockton (Mama RayRay) generates an intimate and transcendent piece bolstered by lush vocal samples and stirring synths.  The collaboration between the two artists absolutely does justice to each of their immeasurable talents as DJs and music-makers so fingers crossed they'll be more to follow from the two in time to come.


70. 'Riptide' by Lehto featuring Socool 

YVR to LBC; Bathurst

'YVR to LBC' is the collaborative four-track EP between Canadian DJ, producer and vocalist Emily "Socool" Sobool with David Hanke under one of his many guises, Lehto.  The EP presented a sublime and fairly fantastic excursion into downtempo bliss with Socool's lush production only matched by her luxurious vocal on EP track 'Riptide'.  Socool and Lehto delivered a brilliant combination for Bathurst which the two will hopefully revisit in time to come.


71. 'Road Trip' by V.B.Kühl 

It's hard not to marvel at the fantastic array of recent single releases from the prolific Frankfurt-based DJ and producer, V.B.Kühl.  From 'Duck Rogers' to 'Flight Time' to 'Right Now' (through Nervous Records), the indelible "V.B.Kühl" stamp can be found adorning the eclectic and dynamic compositions in each case.  Brilliantly produced with layers of intricate detail weaving into each other, 'Road Trip' boasts elements of dance, house and even traces of gleeful disco in its breakout moments.  A pounding bass and killer groove cement the track once again for the dance floor in V.B.Kühl's inimitable way. 



72. 'Romantic Loco' by DJ Khalab featuring Tenderlonious 

Layers; Hyperjazz Records

Walking an incredibly fine line that typically finds Khalab mastering the perfect balancing act of creating music steeped within electronic foundations, boasting the sensibilities of spiritual jazz and spearheaded by African rhythms, the music across the nine-track album release is ingeniously produced and intricately composed creating a phenomenal sonic experience.  From the moody, late-night club setting of 'Conscious Friendship' to the somewhat jovial bounce of 'Acid Vaccine' and not forgetting the infectious rhythms of 'Romantic Loco'.  Brilliant.  


73. 'Rooms To Go' by Two Things of Gold' 

Two Things of Gold; A.MA Records

Marking a welcome return to the A.MA fold is vocalist Francesca Sortino now serving as one-half of the Two Things of Gold duo alongside producer Diego Lombardo.  The album showcases some fantastic production throughout its fourteen tracks and, if possible, really exceeds the scope of its predecessor.  Spearheaded by the infectious groove of lead single 'Rooms To Go' - a track that wouldn't be too out of place to have Nicola Conte's name stamped all over the production - the album's diverse and versatile productions more openly embrace jazz, elements of future soul and downtempo electronica. 


74. 'Running Away' by Ash Walker featuring Yazz Ahmed & Laville 

Astronaut; Night Time Stories

The brilliant Ash Walker provides the perfect follow-up to his 'Aquamarine' (2019) album with 'Astronaut', a multi-faceted release that sees the DJ and producer build upon inspired new concepts aided by a world class roster including Amp Fiddler, Sly5thAve, Ebi Soda and Oscar Jerome.  The brilliant pairing of Walker with trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and vocalist Laville provide the scene-stealer for the album in this emotive number that just manages to stand tallest amongst some fantastic tracks.  Another standout release from the indelible talents of Ash Walker.


75. 'Rust' by Yussef Dayes featuring Tom Misch 

Black Classical Music; Brownswood Recordings


76. 'Sanctuary' by Jay Phelps 

The Now

The excellent new release from Jay Phelps generated some excellent tracks across the project's six compositions.  The Vancouver-born, London-based trumpeter and composer boasts such an eclectic and varied career that has seen him perform alongside revered names including Amy Winehouse, Ty, Charlie Stacey and Xhosa Cole and still find time to deliver some inspired releases solidifying himself as a revered name in his own right.  Lots to pick from on this release including the brilliant 'Through The Clouds' and 'The Malleables' but the infectious joy that is 'Sanctuary' is the one we'd scream loudest for.


77. 'Show U Love' by Cosmic Link 

Cosmic Link; High Noon Music

Comprised of Bristol-based producer Ben Dubuisson and Florida-based vocalist Jay Myztroh, the Cosmic Link project serves as an excellent introduction to the duo's shared musical philosophies conveyed through an innovative concoction of a neo- and future-soul aesthetic. It has certainly been a lengthy journey for both Dubuisson and Myztroh whose respective careers have seen each take considerably different paths before ultimately converging under the collective banner of Cosmic Link.  Special mention is afforded to the excellent ‘Show U Love’ which lovingly captures a late-90s aesthetic in its presentation that is just undeniable.



78. 'Sleepless Nights' by Dweller 

Orange Feel EP; Millennium Jazz Music

Paying homage to the boundless glory of the summer son, Dweller's four-track EP manages to make those glorious golden summer rays extend far into the winter months.  Four fantastic productions showcasing Dweller on production, bass and guitar, any one of the tracks here would have warranted inclusion on our list but we've opted for the sublime hip-hop-inspired 'Sleepless Nights'.


79. 'SoundPearlSong' by LaNote 

The Nola Clarks Xprmt; Laissedoudis Records

LaNote's new album finds its home on the French label, Laissedoudis Records.  Helming the album's vocals, writing and production, the beat tape-inspired approach finds the artist very comfortable over intricate and immersive production that provides her space to veer the music into different realms.  Backed by a sensational video for 'Au fonds des boids', highlights on the album include the effervescent bounce of 'Bonjour Caroline', the sublime instrumental 'Pretty' and the erratic harmony of 'Witness of their End'.  The folk-esque 'SoundPearlSong' also marks as a nice change of pace for the album, again, demonstrating the artist's exciting and varied facets. 


80. 'Space and Time' by Jonny Wickham 

Terra Boa; Fresh Sounds

'Terra Boa' marks the full-length release from bassist and composer Jonny Wickham whose debut project finds a home on the revered Spanish label, Fresh Sound Records.  an album rooted musically within Afro-Brazilian rhythms but steeped in Eastern philosophies that perpetuate – amongst many things – a harmonious balance within ourselves that steer us away from unrealistic expectations affording us an appreciation for the day-to-day.  Across the album’s eight tracks, there really are some remarkable pieces – the playful energy of the brilliant 'Uncanny Valley' featuring a vibrant performance from Jonny Mansfield on vibraphone is a clear standout, as is the enthralling Latin-drenched gem of 'Berimbau'. 'Space and Time' may very well be the gleaming jewel within the 'Terra Boa' treasure chest, however – again, a great vocal backed beautifully by incredible performances.


81. 'Stokes Croft Sleep Clinic' by Snazzback featuring t l k 

Ruins Everything; Worm Discs

'Ruins Everything' marks the new album release from the eclectic, genre-pushing Snazzback, who continue their association with Bristol’s Worm Discs.  The dancefloor is very much the goal this time around and Snazzback are keen to get you there in whatever way is necessary as a variety of tracks confidently embrace stronger elements of dance music like the late 90’s trip-hop-esque lead single 'In Tides' featuring rapper Grove or the quick-fire pace of 'Gherkin' and 'Superstar Fish Bar'.  'Stokes Croft Sleep Clinic' showcases the band's penchant for neo-soul stylings with an excellent vocal from t l k.


82. 'Stranger' by Ill Doots

It's been a great year for new music from the Philadelphia-based hip-hop collective, Ill Doots.  With two single releases along with the recent free-to-download EP 'Co-Missions', there's lots of great music to wrap your ears around.  Following the release of their Ropeadope Records, self-titled debut in 2018, Ill Doots have consistently released an array of singles showcasing their ability to present a distinct and all-encompassing perception of hip-hop which embraces soul and R&B as well as a more dancefloor-orientated aesthetic.  Consistently innovative and consistently creative, the group's releases are always ones to look out for.


83. 'Stretch - (The Body)' by Marquis Hill featuring Joel Ross 

Rituals + Routines; Edition Records

The brilliant new release from Chicago-based trumpeter Marquis Hill boasts several excellent tracks but it's this gem with vibraphonist Joel Ross that stands tall.  Despite serving having amassed a formidable reputation as an in-demand collaborator and featured artist, chalking up frequent collaborations with Makaya McCraven and Greg Spero amongst others, Hill manages to maintain a healthy release schedule for his own projects with albums unveiled on an annual basis.  


84. 'Sundew' by Neavh 

Nook; Bathurst


85. 'Temptation' [Mark de Clive-Lowe Remix] by Charlie Parker


86. 'The Bush' by HoodyBoi

Beautiful Memories; Millennium Jazz Music

Steeped within an affectionate nostalgia, John "HoodyBoi" Linhart provides a joyful collection of tracks to comprise the aptly-named 'Beautiful Memories'.  Created in loving memory of Linhart's grandmother, the four-track EP serves as a wonderful testament to her memory and the inspiration her artistic endeavours have subsequently bestowed onto her family's next generation.


87. 'The Dimmed' by John Ghost 

Thin Air . Mirror Land; Sdban Records

Four years following the release of John Ghost's debut, the Belgian sextet return with their mind-blowing new project through Sdban Records, 'Thin Air . Mirror Land'.  John Ghost have long perpetuated a somewhat humble and sincere approach to music-making as their releases are conveyed mostly as explorations. With ‘Thin Air . Mirror Land’, John Ghost once again seek to broaden the net with notably inspired sources of inspiration. The album's Bandcamp description cites the paintings of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch serving as particular influence, most notably his 1893 painting, The Storm. 


88. 'The Only Way' by Kaidi Tatham featuring Uhmeer 

The Only Way; First Word Records

Kaidi Tatham releases always come with high levels of expectation. Despite a contact list that could see him feature a colossal-sized guest for every track, Tatham seems to gravitate towards releases that allow him to cater to his own musical tendencies without compromise. Typically, we’re introduced to glorious sonic soundscapes that are Herbie Hancock-esque in fusion-inspired scope allowing Tatham the confidence to draw from his various influences like his passion for jazz-funk elements blending effortlessly with a broken beat aesthetic that is distinctly Kaidi Tatham's.


89. 'The Rising Wave' by The Soul Sound Collective


90. 'The Wanderer' [Javier Santiago Remix] by Jesse Fischer 

Resilience (Recharged) EP

'Resilience (Recharged)' presents a four-track EP with songs from the 2020 album 'Resilience' lovingly remixed and reconceptualised and featuring inspired new perspectives.  With Jessi Lee, Tomoki Sanders and Fischer himself tackling the remix duties, it's the work of pianist and composer, Javier Santiago, who takes the elegance of 'The Wanderer' and presents the track through a diverse and vibrant lens incorporating subtle twinges of electronica around the original track's core performance. 


91. 'To Call My Own' by Badge and Talkalot featuring Steven Bamidele

The Gap

The Italian DJ and producer  Gilberto Caleffi has long been heralded for his diverse approach when it came to establishing the Badge & Talkalot brand. For new album 'The Gap', Caleffi again finds himself in the privileged position of reinventing his sound and looking to convey his passions through inspired new ways.  Aligning with musicians Andrea Cappi on keyboards and Paolo Zoboli on bass throughout the album, the eight-track release celebrates the glory days of neo-soul with lush compositions and backed by some fantastic vocalists. 


92. 'Tropika' by DJ Soo 

Tropika EP; Dragon Trax

DJ Soo's latest EP release for Dragon Trax marks a stunning return to form for the versatile DJ and producer.  With a host of releases, remixes and mashups, DJ Soo's enviable ability to flit from drum'n'bass to disco-tinged dance floor-fillers has long defined his inate skill.  His new 'Tropika' EP proves a further testament to his catalogue by hosting a distinctive blend of vibrant and enthralling textures from the personality-driven opener of 'Ah hah!' to the more urgent production of the gloriously uptempo 'Dark Haus'. 



93. 'When The Sun Rises' by EMAMKAY 

Love Is Energy; STY TRU BTS

The boundlessly talented South African rapper, producer and musician EMAMKAY releases his frankly perfect new album this year that pays homage to the concept of love.  The whole album plays like a glorious celebration of love and inspiration with sublime production that nods to Jay Dee and a fantastic hip-hop approach that embraces jazz and neo-soul. 


94. 'When You Find It, You Will Know' by Human Being Human

Disappearance; April Records

'Disappearance' - as a complete project by the Danish jazz trio Human Being Human - seeks to embrace the opportunity of a new challenge for their fascinating sophomore album release.  While one can mourn the notion of fading into obscurity and the subsequent (and perhaps inevitable) loss that comes with that, Human Being Human use their second album to celebrate the joy that goes hand in hand with the fragility of life.  The ideas are conveyed throughout the album with such poise and elegance which is a manner we should all have now come to expect from the trio. 


95. 'WHO?' by Leona Berlin

Continuing her trend of creating music rooted in sincerity, Leona Berlin returns with an excellent new single release.  With lush production and rounded out by a typically excellent vocal, 'WHO?' sees Berlin honestly assess her motivations when it comes to pursuing her art and raises anticipation for album #3.  With some international performances now under her belt alongside frequent musical collaborator Magro, the boundless talents of Leona Berlin are always missed when new music isn't available so 'WHO?' marks a welcome return.


96. 'Who Cares' by Matt Wilde 

Hello World; Band on the Wall

With a series of single and EP releases through Root Records/DeepMatter over the past few years, pianist Matt Wilde finally releases his debut full-length 'Who Cares' through Manchester's Band on the Wall Records.  Boasting his signature intricately woven, multi-textured compositions, Wilde has long created music that celebrates hip-hop's influence on contemporary UK jazz.  Having been surrounded by strong hip-hop influences for years, Wilde's affection for the piano eventually grew following introductions to jazz and the music of revered Miles Davis collaborator Bill Evans, jazz-funk legend Herbie Hancock and "American classical music" icon Ahmad Jamal.  The fusion was the union that made sense and his extensive releases to date are inspired reflections of those two worlds. 


97. 'Without You' by flyt 

Slow Motion Soul

From the North London-based duo, Mary and Josh Mycroft, the new album provides a wonderful extension to Flyt's unique chillout, nu-soul and R&B aesthetic.  Mary Mycroft's ethereal voice continues to sound tailor-made for Josh's sublime production making their ever-expanding discography an ongoing pleasure.


98. 'Words for Love' by Seravince featuring Truvi 

Can You See Me Now?

There's something about the boundlessly talented Vincent Helbers adopting his "Seravince" moniker that lends itself to a particular type of magic.  Many will be used to seeing the prolific producer, musician and studio wizard's name gracing a variety of projects under a variety of roles and responsibilities but when he wears the Seravince hat... the molecules in the studio tend to change a little.  'Can You See Me Now?' serves as a fantastic five track EP that veers towards nu-soul territory with its lush production and smooth vocals.  Vocalist Truvi provides excellent accompaniment appearing on three of the EP's tracks including the scene-stealer in 'Words for Love'.


99. 'xoxoxo' by corto.alto 

Bad With Names; New Soil

The release of an official full-length from corto.alto seems massively overdue but incredibly welcome. The brainchild of trombonist, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Liam Shortall, corto.alto have been bubbling away for years unveiling a steady flow of independently-released singles dating back to 2019.  Theirs is an unhindered approach that embraces a variety of ideas, genres, collaborators and concepts - by its very nature, corto.alto is designed to evolve and grow and serve as a representation of Shortall’s all-encompassing vision along with the best of what makes UK jazz resonate with listeners the world over. 


100. 'Your Thing Is A Drag' by Principles of Joy 

Q-Sounds Recordings

Rounding out a great year for our friends over at Q-Sounds, this cover of the Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings classic (from 'Naturally', 2005) is gifted wonderful new life.  Serving as the group's first release since their 2021 sophomore album '9-3', the Principles of Joy have often been partial to a healthy reimagining of songs they're fans of - while their debut album featured an inspired cover of Paul Young's 'Come Back and Stay', '9-3' delved into pop superstar Adele's bag of tricks to deliver a brilliant take on 'He Won't Go' from her '21' album.  With the new Principles of Joy album scheduled for 2024, expectations are typically high for the incredible soul collective.


1 comment:

  1. Reflecting on the year's music, embracing the essence of physical formats remains timeless. Each album a journey, and contemplating recording a significant new release invites the tangible joy of cherished formats.

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