‘Agua de Jamaica’ is the first collaborative project between producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II AKA Sly5thAve and pianist and composer Roberto Verástegui.

Agua de Jamaica’ is the first collaborative project between producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II AKA Sly5thAve and pianist and composer Roberto Verástegui. The pair originally met whilst studying Jazz in Texas and began piecing together the release on Sly5thAve’s first visit to Mexico, over a drink of Agua de Jamaica – a drink made with water, hibiscus flower, and sugar. Recorded during the lockdown in Mexico, the LP is built from a passionate and comprehensive understanding of Jazz, a love of Hip Hop, and Mexico City’s ever-vibrant artistic culture, Latin flavors, and the African roots from which these sounds grew.

Epitomizing this fusion of sounds and collaborative talents on the introductory single “Tie Break”, Sly5thAve reworks a track originally written as a big band chart for the Orquesta Nacional de Jazz de Mexico by Roberto. Beginning with the original lead sheet, laced with nods to Funk and Hip Hop, the pair improvised a Jazz reworking before taking it home to layer synths, piano, and beats. With a constant backbeat and harmonic pattern courtesy of Sly5thAve, Roberto’s Hammond organ takes the experimental Jazz center stage.

At the heart of ‘Agua de Jamaica’ is the title track; the moment Sly5thAve and Roberto realized they had something to pursue. Thought of by both Sly5thAve and Roberto as the fullest collaboration on the release, “Agua de Jamaica” considers the constant artistic and cultural exchange between the US and Mexico, despite the political differences. It draws the listener in with a Hip Hop loop intertwined with hypnotic vocals from local artist Silvana Estrada; “she has a voice, unlike anything I’ve ever heard. She has the ability to effortlessly float between genres”, Sly5thAve adds.

Having moved to Mexico City at the beginning of 2020, Sly5thAve stayed with Roberto and his wife Yuki during the first Covid-19 lockdown; outtakes of their time together BBQing can be heard on the serendipitous “Empeño (lil’ bop)” if you listen closely. This time allowed for the pair to build on their ideas and explorations of different sounds and places centered around Jazz. Their combined voice, emotions, and way of working are perfectly presented in the Afrobeat-inspired “La Tormenta”. “I stayed up all night working it out and it came together last minute,” Sly5thAve recalls. “After we had finished recording everything we went back in and started to piece it all together like a Hip Hop record. Thinking about how it all came together, “La Tormenta” (or “The Thunderstorm” in English) made the most sense”. This energy carries through to the interweaving melodies of the Modern Jazz-inspired “The Wanderer” – built from unused demos of a Jazz album Sly5thAve had been working on – and onto the improvised big, tough city vibes of “Past Thoughts”. “We decided to improvise over some Jazz changes that get played pretty often, but with an ‘IN YOUR FACE’ edge”, Roberto says, highlighting the freely played nature of the Jazz tune which peaks with the perfected communication between the rhythm section and Sly5thAve’s sax sound. ~Bandcamp

Released: March 25, 2022

What are you listening to? …”Legacy” featuring the signature grooves of Afrobeat beat, jazz and funk by Kinetika Bloco

Kinetika Bloco’sLegacy‘ celebrates the 21st anniversary of the carnival group of the same name, which was founded by Mat Fox in South London. Usually, around 100 strong, this scaled-down group of Kinetika alumni led by Mat’s son Ruben Fox revisit some of the Bloco’s iconic pieces on this landmark recording and features saxophonist Nubya Garcia, pianist Reuben James, and trumpeters Mark Kavuma, Claude Deppa, and Ife Ogunjobi.

What is effectively a Big Band with tuba (occasionally 2!) in the bass, accompanied by guitar, Hammond B3, and a four-piece rhythm section of surdo drums, bells, and snare deliver an enthralling new sound.

The nine tracks fuse influences from Brazil, New Orleans, Africa, and the Caribbean, and the deeply impressive list of names from this remarkable community deliver highly intelligent arrangements of this diverse repertoire with power, presence, and style. “Remedy” is an iconic homage to dub culture and a tour de force performance featuring Nubya Garcia, Ife Ogunjobi, Richie Seivwright, and Marlon Hibbert.

Caravan” presents a unique take on Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol’s classic featuring solos from Kaidi Akinnibi, Sheila Maurice Grey, and Reuben James. The uplifting anthem “Echoes Of Palmares” is the track that most closely defines the Kinetika Bloco sound. Written by leader Mat Fox in 2001, it features his son Misha Fox and Mark Kavuma.
‘Legacy’ is a stunning representation of artists that have at some point taken fruit from the Kinetika Bloco tree and watered its roots. Dedicated to those who came before, and those who are yet to come, Legacy is released on former participant and current Bloco leader Mark Kavuma’s Banger Factory Records label. ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

Original Release Date: November 20, 2021

At your leisure, check out “LEGACY” by Kinetika Bloco

[NOTEWORTHY] …dynamic trio Sakésho pushes their impassioned polyrhythmic sound without compromising

Sakésho is a quartet built around the characteristic sounds of the steel pans, as played by Andy Narell. He’s the band member most familiar to American audiences, but this is truly a group enterprise, and the roles of pianist Mario Canonge, bassist Michel Alibo, and drummer Jean Philippe Fanfant are all well matched.

Their self-titled debut features the polyrhythmic music from the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe called biguine. It’s a sort of near cousin to the calypso and includes some assorted Afro-Cuban strains.

There is a celebratory nature to the music, with all of the players except Narell contributing vocals–primarily as melodic choruses that add another syncopation to the proceedings. Recorded with warmth and clarity, the genuine and friendly interplay between the four musicians is nicely captured as well. ~David Greenberger | Amazon

Originally Released: January 1, 2002

At your leisure, listen to the infectious Caribbean sounds of Sakésho



What are you listening to? Seasoned vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Adam Scrimshire’s 4th album Listeners

Albert’s Favourites co-founder Adam Scrimshire is set to release his fourth album “Listeners“. Musically, ‘Listeners’ draws from Scrimshire’s passion for jazz, soul, and electronic music of all styles; from an energetic combination of Afrobeat and garage on “Won’t Get Better,” to the lushly orchestrated neo-soul of “Thru You”, and the harmonious jazz experimentations of ‘I Never. The album features a host of esteemed guest vocalists and musicians telling their own personal stories, including Georgia Anne Muldrow, Emma-Jean Thackray, Joshua Idehen, Madison McFerrin, Chip Wickham, and James Alexander Bright. With this album, I wanted to get a more focused sound after six years of relearning and development in the studio. But I also struggled to find my own words, to speak about where I/we are now.

So I allowed my collaborator’s total freedom to tell their own story and as they came back to me, they were telling the same stories I wanted to. It’s resulted in some deeply personal confessional pieces: mourning family, collapsing relationships, extremes of self-doubt and analysis, trying to balance public and inner persona and a reminder that life in all forms is important. It’s called ‘Listeners‘ as I am a listener here, I feel like I’ve been given these very personal experiences to care for. Listeners because, the travesty of the last few years is that we stopped listening to each other, everyone is shouting at each other and no one is learning. And Listeners because I hope I’ve made something that is for other people more than I have before. I’ve tried to craft something warmer and more enjoyable, made for those who give me their time in listening to my music.’- Adam Scrimshire Since joining the Wah Wah 45s label in 2007, Scrimshire has released three albums of experimental cinematic jazz and electronic sounds. Following his 2009 debut ‘Along Came The Devil One Night‘, his second album ‘The Hollow‘ (2011) was a BBC 6 Music Album of the Week, with Gilles Peterson calling it ‘A late contender for album of the year’.

In the time since the release of his last album ‘Bight’ (‘An eclectic range of influences ranging from disco to fusion to more contemporary electronic styles’ XLR8R) in 2013, Adam has worked with long-time musical accomplice Dave Koor on new project Modified Man and launched Albert’s Favourites releasing projects by The Expansions, Hector Plimmer and Jonny Drop. He has continued to gain radio and DJ support for his successful ‘Scrimshire Edits’ series and has produced and mixed records for artists including Stac, Daudi Matsiko, Bastien Keb, Ronin Arkestra, Jonny Drop. He has also continued to develop the Wah Wah 45s label, where he is now a co-owner and director. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Originally released: August 12, 2019

At your leisure, check out “LISTENERS” by Adam Scrimshire

Kenny Garrett Recalls the Sounds of West African Music and its Role in Jazz, Gospel, Motown, Hip-Hop, and More


Sounds from the Ancestors, Available August 27 via Mack Avenue Records

Acknowledges Ancestral Roots with Cosmopolitan Album that Both Incorporates and Defies the Jazz Genre with Stellar Contributions from Vernell Brown, Jr., Corcoran Holt, Ronald Bruner, and Rudy Bird plus Special Guests.

Kenny Garrett’s latest release, Sounds from the Ancestorsis a multi-faceted album. The music, however, doesn’t lodge inside the tight confines of the jazz idiom, which is not surprising considering the alto saxophonist and composer acknowledges the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye as significant touchstones. Similar to how Miles Davis’ seminal LP, On the Corner, subverted its main guiding lights – James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone – then crafted its own unique, polyrhythmic, groove-laden, improv-heavy universe, Sounds from the Ancestors occupies its own space with intellectual clarity, sonic ingenuity, and emotional heft.

Sounds from the Ancestors examines the roots of West African music in the framework of jazz, gospel, Motown, hip-hop, and all other genres that have descended from jùjú and Yoruban music,” explains Garrett. “It’s crucial to acknowledge the ancestral roots in the sounds we’ve inhabited under the aesthetics of Western music.

Indeed, Sounds from the Ancestors reflects the rich jazz, R&B, and gospel history of his hometown of Detroit. More important though, it also reverberates with a modern cosmopolitan vibrancy – notably the inclusion of music coming out of France, Cuba, Nigeria, and Guadeloupe.

The concept initially was about trying to get some of the musical sounds that I remembered as a kid growing up – sounds that lift your spirit from people like John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme;’ Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace;’ Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On;’ and the spiritual side of the church,Garrett explains. “When I started to think about them, I realized it was the spirit from my ancestors.

The core ensemble for Sounds from the Ancestors consists of musicians that Garrett has recorded and toured within the recent past – pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner, and percussionist Rudy Bird. The album also features guest appearances from drummer Lenny White, pianist and organist Johnny Mercier, trumpeter Maurice Brown, conguero Pedrito Martinez, batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy and singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony, and Sheherazade HolmanAnd on a couple of cuts, Garrett extends his instrumental palette by playing piano and singing. 

Kenny Garrett, Photo Credit: Hollis King

It’s Time to Come Home,” a sauntering yet evocative Afro-Cuban modern jazz original, kicks off the album. Garrett’s melodic passages, marked by capricious turns and pecking accents, signals a “call to action” for kids around the world to come home after playing outside all day. While Garrett originally composed the song in 2019, this incarnation reflects his experiences playing with iconic Cuban pianist and composer Chucho Valdés.

Garrett then pays tribute to the late, great trumpeter and composer Roy Hargrove with the dynamic “Hargrove,” a bracing original that evokes the namesake’s mastery of reconciling hard-bop’s intricate harmonic and interactive verve with late-20th century hypnotic R&B grooves and hip-hop bounce. The song also slyly references John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which accentuates both the earthy and spiritual nature of Hargrove’s music and Garrett’s saxophone virtuosity. “What I respected about [Hargrove] is that he was borrowing from all the different genres, different experiences and bringing it to the table,” Garrett says. “And that’s what I did on this track.”

Traces of the Black American church also surge through “When the Days Were Different,” a warm mid-tempo original with a melody that faintly recalls Sounds of Blackness’ 1991 gospel classic, “Optimistic.” “The idea was to take it back to the church,” Garrett explains. “[The song] reminds me of being at a gathering with family and friends having a good time eating, drinking and spending quality time together.”

On the rhythmically intrepid “For Art’s Sake,” Garrett pays homage to two legendary drummers – Art Blakey and Tony Allen. Bruner concocts a stuttering rhythm that alludes to both modern jazz and Nigerian Afrobeat, while Bird adds polyrhythmic fire with his circular conga patterns. On top, Garrett issues one of his patented searing melodies that twists and swirls as the propulsion slowly gains momentum.

Drums and percussion are again highlighted vividly on the swift “What Was That?” and “Soldiers of the Fields/Soldats des Champs.” The former finds Garrett in quintessential form as he navigates through a thicket of torrential polyrhythms and a jolting harmonic bed with the steely determination and dexterity associated with Coltrane and Jackie McLean. The latter is a magnificent two-part masterpiece that integrates martial beats, Guadeloupean rhythms, and a haunting cyclical motif on which Garrett crafts pirouetting improvisations that dazzle with their initial lithe grace and increasing urgent wails. Garrett explains that “Soldiers of the Fields/Soldats des Champs” is a tribute to the legion of jazz musicians who fought to keep the music alive. “They’re the first ones to get hit and shot at in the line of fire on the fields of justice. ‘Soldats des Champs’ is also a tribute to the Haitian soldiers who fought against the French during the Haitian Revolution.” 

The leader’s love for Afro-Cuban jazz returns on the dramatic title track, which begins with Garrett playing a slow melancholy melody on the piano before the music gives way to a soul-stirring excursion, filled with passionate vocal cries from Trible and moving Yoruban lyrics from Pedrito, paying respect to Orunmila, the deity of wisdom. “[The song] is about remembering the spirit of the sounds of our ancestors – the sounds from their church services, the prayers they recited, the songs they sang in the fields, the African drums that they played and the Yoruban chants,Garrett says. The album closes as it opened with “It’s Time to Come Home;” this time Garrett uses his saxophone as a rhythmic instrument to have a conversation with the percussionist without the vocal accompaniment.

With his illustrious career that includes hallmark stints with Miles Davis, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, as well as a heralded career as a solo artist that began more than 30 years ago, Garrett is easily recognized as one of modern jazz’s brightest and most influential living masters. And with the marvelous Sounds from the Ancestors, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Garrett shows no signs of resting on his laurels.

Kenny Garrett · Sounds from the Ancestors Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: August 27, 2021
For more information on Kenny Garrett, please visit: KennyGarrett.com

Source: dlmediamusic.com

There Is No End a posthumous album from drummer Tony Allen released May 7, 2021

“One Inna Million” brings Tony right back in the Lagosian grooves that first made him a global rhythmic icon. Featuring West London indie rapper Lava La Rue and an increasingly dense rhythmic and sonic palette in its arrangement, La Rue’s mellow delivery perfectly floats above Tony’s signature snare and hi-hat filigrees, which call to mind the great Bernard Purdie’s signature funkiness, with that added dose of playfulness that defines the performances of truly great musicians.

ONE IN A MILLION by Tony Allen

Tony Oladipo Allen, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1940, never played a traditional instrument: right from the beginning, his interest was for a distant relative of the ancestral percussion family, namely, the drum kit. He taught himself, serving his apprenticeship while working as a technician for Nigerian national radio, all the time listening to records by American masters such as Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Kenny Clarke, the eminent drummers of the bebop and hard bop eras.


His life changed totally in 1964 when he made the acquaintance of Fela Kuti, whom he would accompany for the next 15 years, first with Fela’s Koola Lobitos, an emblematic highlife band that was a model for all modern African music groups, and then when Fela led Africa 70, for which he developed a new music language: Afrobeat, which combined Yoruba rhythms and funk instruments with themes of revolution. Alongside Fela, Tony recorded some 20 albums and put his rhythm-signature to each of them. From then on, Afrobeat would propel a career that saw him pursue his own projects while collaborating with everyone from Oumou Sangare to Damon Albarn. The language Allen created was as supple and pleasing to the ear as it was complex and difficult to decipher, moving with ease across the avant-garde of modern popular music on both sides of the Black Trans-Atlantic – from jazz to highlife, funk to electronica, hip hop to the full spectrum of African music and its American and European diasporas.

“I play yours, you play mine. The music never ends.” The wisdom of Tony Allen’s words was as deep as his grooves, and these two sentences truly capture the spirit of There is No End. Tony’s motivating concept and desire was to work with younger artists, especially the new generation of rappers, and to give them a voice in a time of global turmoil when music has never been more important – not necessarily as a “weapon” for the future in the manner of Fela’s violently political songs, but also as a medicine to heal a fractured world today.

There Is No End was produced by Allen, Vincent Taeger, and Vincent Taurelle — Allen had produced and written all the album’s beats back in 2019 alongside Taeger. In thinking back on the process of finalizing There Is No End without Tony physically present to guide them, Taeger remarked that his friend and mentor “was a teacher without speaking… a drummer and a guardian, with a great artistic vision and that vision, filled the songs even after he had left us.”

Tony Allen’s singular talent didn’t end when the music stopped. For all those who knew him, he was a deeply spiritual man whose life’s mission was not just to create a new musical language, but to pass it on to subsequent generations. As he put it, “I’m just doing my best to please the universe. Life’s a boomerang, you know? You create bad or good [and] it comes back to you.” Right up to this, his last album, his thoughts were for the younger artists who continued to flock to him, especially in the fraught historical and political moment in which we live. “I want to take care of youngsters; they have messages and I want to bring them on my beat. The idea is to transmit to the young generation, to mix different universes – the hip hop world to the Afrobeat world.”

SOURCE: Blue Note Records

Lunar Octet Re-Emerges with First Album in 26 Years Ann Arbor Ensemble Blends Latin Jazz, Afrobeat, Samba, and Funk on Convergence

AVAILABLE NOW via Summit Records


A decades-long institution in Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, and also the nearby Metro Detroit area, the Lunar Octet is back with a potent collection of originals inspired by such wide-ranging influences as mambo, samba, funk, Afrobeat, and jazz on Convergence. The title itself suggests a confluence of rhythms and styles, and that is precisely what this band of multi-directional musicians has been doing since meeting 36 years ago in Ann Arbor and subsequently recording their 1994 debut, Highway Fun for Schoolkids Records. Reuniting in the studio 25 years later, the members of the Lunar Octet documented their collective growth while remaining committed to their original mission on Convergence, now available on Summit Records.

From the percolating salsa groove of the infectious opener, “Norm’s Nambo,” to the swinging big band flavored chart, “Toote Suite,” the Brazilian music influenced “Mambossa,” the rhythmically charged “Subway Tension”, and the entrancing Afrobeat numbers “Dancin’ in the Doghouse” and “Heart of Congatar,” the Lunar Octet presents a compelling world view of sound. Add the churning “Samba Diabolico,” the buoyantly swinging “Crusin’” (think Neal Hefti arrangements for the mid ‘50s Count Basie band), the alluring tango “Until I Find Words” (an clarinet feature) and the rollicking, Brazilian flavored batucada “Samba Over Easy” (reminiscent of Airto Moreira’s “Tombo in 7/4”), and you’ve got a veritable United Nations of sound that you can also dance to. 

“The Lunar Octet is like a diamond,” said percussionist and co-founding member Aron Kaufman, called “the soul of the band” by his colleagues. “We’re all different facets of the diamond expressing the singularity of our musical mission. And it’s not about our technique, in terms of us being monster chops players who want to show off how amazing we are. Really, it’s the sum of the parts that brings hope and joy, and love to people who come to see us. I believe with all my heart and soul that as artists if we can lift people’s spirits by showing love and celebration of the different world musical cultures that we bring to life in our particular special way, we’re bringing some light to the darkness.

Originally formed in 1984 as the Afrobeat flavored Lunar Glee Club, the group morphed into the Lunar Octet in the ‘90s and began taking on the influences of samba and jazz through the compositions and arranging of alto saxophonist and principal composer Steve Hiltner. The New York City-born Kaufman absorbed music in the Big Apple (represented by his tune “Subway Tension”) before his family moved to Puerto Rico. Through his mentor Norman Shobey (Aron’s tune “Norm’s Nambo” is dedicated to Norm), Kaufman began studying conga and later widened his repertoire with a year abroad in Israel, where he soaked up Middle Eastern music and began playing the darbuka drum. Other founding members of the band include drummer Jon Krosnick (who also anchors the West Coast-based fusion band Charged Particles), tenor saxophonist Paul VornHagen (who also leads the Cuban jazz combo Tumbao Bravo), trumpeter Brandon Cooper (an in-demand freelancer in the Metro Detroit area) and guitarist Sam Clark. Rounding out the Lunar Octet are young piano sensation Keaton Royer, bassist Jeff Dalton, and percussionist Olman Piedra.

Regarding the group’s long hiatus and recent return with Convergence, Krosnick said, “The early ‘90s was the peak time for the band, when we were on national radio broadcasts and playing at major festivals. But then band members moved away. I took a job teaching at Ohio State, Steve Hiltner moved to North Carolina, others moved elsewhere. So we lost momentum. But we rediscovered ourselves five years ago and said, “Hey, this music’s cool, let’s keep doing this.” That reunion came in 2014 with a performance at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. And regular performances have followed ever since. “It’s been fun to come back with live shows,” said Krosnick. “And now with the release of Convergence, we’re feeling like we can create some buzz about the band and do some touring.”

Krosnick explained that the band’s initial Afrobeat influence came in large part from original bassist Dan Ladizinsky, who names King Sunny Ade as a primary influence. As Jon recalls, “It was literally a garage band in the beginning. Guys were getting together and just trying to groove. The more intricate compositions only kicked in years later when Steve Hiltner joined the band. He brought in some of the more highly orchestrated stuff that’s full of complexities and twists and surprises and unexpected bridges. But it was quite the opposite in the beginning. The original version of the band had no piano player and two bass players and a guitar player, so there was a deep African groove thing happening, like a jam band.” 

“I sort of ruined it for the faction of the group that really loved straight-ahead grooves and simple melodic stuff,” said Hiltner. “I started bringing in pieces that were more than just stock 32 bar tunes that could be in the Real Book. I bring a classical element to the band in the motivic development in my compositions, which you can hear on ‘Samba Diabolico,’ for instance.” Of the seemingly disparate musical elements coming together on Convergence, Hiltner, a trained botanist added: “Nature is just miraculous in the way it breaks everything down into constituent parts and then builds something new. I think of the creative process like that. It’s like composting: bringing lots of different elements together so something new comes out of the blend.” 

After such a long hiatus from recording, Kaufman is thrilled about the release of the Lunar Octet’s ConvergenceIt shows the longevity of our friendships and music all intertwined,” he said. “And music really is an expression of our connections to each other. What we’re doing reflects years and years of building trust and relationships.” He added, “I’m always open to new possibilities. That’s what’s great about the Lunar Octet. Over and over again, one of us has come up with an idea that has musical integrity and quality that is inspiring and that we are excited about. That’s what makes our music so interesting and varied. And we always support each other to bring those kinds of tunes out. The openness of sharing is an important part of the band. All of the many different musical qualities that we all bring to the table help form a nice balance.

Listen to CONVERGENCE by Lunar Octet below…

SOURCE: DLMedia Music