Bobbi Humphrey – ‘Baby Don’t You Know’
After collaborating with the Mizell Brothers on her seminal album, flautist and singer Bobbi Humphrey began her career the 1980s by working with another key figure of jazz-funk, Roy Ayers, on ‘Baby Don’t You Know’. The track was seen as a departure for both artists at the time as they swapped their signature soul-jazz sound for a more boogie-inflected disco direction. The track starts innocently enough with its funky bass line and Humphrey’s syrupy vocals, yet when those classic Philadelphia strings sweep in and she unleashes her jazz flute solo at the song’s midway point, you know that you are in the hands of two masters at the top of their games.
Ihsan Al Munzer – ‘Jamileh’
After the re-release of Mezare Yekabtzenu’s Jazz Workshop, Fortuna Records continue to showcase the best in Middle Eastern groove with Lebanese maestro Ihsan Al Munzer’s ‘Jamileh’. Originally released in 1979, the track is an atmospheric and moody slice of dubby disco, which you could imagine Gilles Peterson pulling out the bag in one of his genre-spanning sets. Fortuna Records are becoming the go-to record label for anyone interested in wrapping their ears around something slightly different.
James Mason – ‘Rhythm Of Life’
Despite being his only full length album released to date, James Mason’s 1977 Rhythm of Life should be filed alongside the likes of Places and Spaces, Headhunters, Gears and Azimuth as one of jazz-funk’s masterworks. The album begins with the mystical ‘Sweet Power Your Embrace’, a visionary meshing of funk and synthesisers which is still as devastating on the dancefloor today as it was back then. Whilst the rest of the album fails to reach the scope and ambition of its opening number, we still are treated to a number of bona-fide fusion classics which will please any true jazz-funk aficionado.
Lnrdcroy – Much Less Normal
Originally released on Vancouver-based tape imprint 1080p last spring, Lnrdcroy’s ambitious debut release Much Less Normal is now available on wax via Firecracker Recordings. Over its nine tracks, Lnrdcroy treats us to beautiful New Age (‘Land Repair Refuel’), brooding disco (‘Telegraph My Love’), summery ambience (‘I Met You On BC Ferries’) and sparse techno (‘If Sylvia Built a House’). Yet, despite the albums wide range of different genres, each track is still filled with the sort of analogue, spaced out and psychedelic sounds which we have come to expect from producer that hails from the Canadian Riveria. There are few debut electronic albums in recent memory which can rival Much Less Normal for such imagination and originality.
Theo Parrish, Osunlade & Rick Wilhite – ‘Blame It On The Boogie (ft. Billy Love)’
Three legends of soul-driven electronic music join forces on ‘Blame It on the Boogie’, a track originally released on Wilhite’s album Analog Aquarium (2009). Grainy lo-fi beats, gentle guitar licks and jazzy keys combine together with Billy Love’s vocal inflections off the beat, creating a brilliant track which could only be made in Detroit.