THE FUTURE-JAZZ DIGEST | 14 FEBRUARY 2020

JAMES BKS | MAC MILLER | FATOUMATA DIAWARA | NUBIYAN TWIST | GIL SCOTT HERON + MAKAYA McCRAVEN

Hello again friends, freaks and fans of future-jazz.

Like a Love Island contestant who’s been skiving off their job (as much as Instagramming / being a nightclub shot-girl / full time knobhead can be considered ‘real jobs’) for the whole of January, ‘tis true I’ve been somewhat absent of late.

But lo, on this day of romance, I return like a six-packed, sex-starved hunk of stunning stupidity to oil you up with five tracks of the finest future jazz.

This week’s selection includes some kinda sombre stuff from musicians sadly no longer with us (Gil Scott Heron and Mac Miller) as well as some exciting stuff from far-flung locations (Cameroon’s James BKS and Mali’s Fatoumata Diawara)… as well as something just a bit bloody mental from, um, Leeds.

And so, with my shiny new format (blame/thank Google’s ‘fraggles’ – SEO-fans) why bother waiting any more.

Here more here…

– 1 –
THE CHARM OFFENSIVE

JAMES BKS: NEW BREED

French-born Cameroonian Producer James BKS calls in some favours from his buddies. Who just happen to be Idris Elba (yes, that Idris Elba), Little Simz (yes, that Little Simz) and Q-Tip (yes, that Q-Tip).

New Breed is everything we’ve already come to expect from Mr. BKS – a colourful collaboration of African flavours and ‘Funta$y Fa$hion’ rap / hip-hip beats.

Further listening: this BBC interview on the meaning of the song.

***

– 2 –
THE MILITARY COUP

MAC MILLER: WOODS

One of the stand-out tracks from the Pittsburgh rapper’s remarkably well-realised first post-humous release, Circles.

Circles has been described in many, um, circles as being an ‘optimistic’ companion piece to 2018’s Swimming and, while nothing on this LP quite hits the funky freshness of tracks like What’s the Use? and Ladders, Woods is about as cool and composed (in all senses of the word) as Miller has ever got.

Further reading: this review of Circles in Pitchfork.

***

– 3 –
THE PEACEFUL PROTEST

FATOUMATA DIAWARA: NTERINI
(A COLOURS SHOW VERSION)

Malian renaissance woman, Fatoumata Diawara unfurls a majestic version of her 2018 hit from Grammy-nominated album Fenfo and shows us the gal can shred in the process.

Far from being simply an eye-catching aesthetic, the COLOURS Studio is fast establishing itself as a leading voice in championing global music (Kojey Radical, Sudan Archives, Earthgang and Michael Kiwanuka have been featured on it in just the last few months.) Even set against a golden backdrop, Diawara’s voice and easy charisma shine brightest.

Further watching: any stellar performance from the COLOURS YouTube channel.

***

– 4 –
GUERRILLA WARFARE

NUBIYAN TWIST: IF ONLY

Leeds’ Excell-ent (in-joke there, like) Brazilian-percussion-propelled jazz pioneers return with a two-track single – the A-side of which is the more horizontal tune, Portraits.

If Only sees our Nubiyan friends once again lend their signature mind-twisting, time-signature teasing talents to another genre-slaying piece of UK-scene jazz.

Further watching: the music video for Portraits (if you’d like to see what the band actually do).

***

– 5 –
THE QUIET RIOT

GIL SCOTT HERON + MAKAYA McCRAVEN: I’M NEW HERE

Drummer, self-styled ‘Beat Scientist’ and fast-becoming jazz legend Makaya McCraven remixes, reinterprets and re-revolutionises the artist (and already well-established legend) whose own insurgency, famously, declined to be televised. Scott Heron’s entire final album gets a little McCraven magic sprinkled on top of it on new release We’re New Again.

Placed second on the album, I’m New Here is the perfect scene-setter for what is to come. Added to the original’s mournful vocal is lush orchestration (particularly notable, the sparkling harps here), backing vocals and, of course, McCraven’s own tasteful drums.

Further reading: this Guardian article on the links between the two Chicago musicians.

THE OUTRO

You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.

If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.

– SV –

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