OCTOBER 2017 ISSUE

A sneaky peek of just some of what is in the October 2017 issue – OUT NOW!

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Eric Benét

Like many an indie label soulman before him, Eric Benét realizes the value of taking his musical message far beyond the confines of the immediate US market. He’s just returned from South Korea, for example – despite the threat of imminent nuclear devastation of that nation by its northern neighbour.
“Hah! I made sure to wear my red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat,” he jokes when I broach the subject of the current political tension over that way. “Nah man, I’ve been going over there for some time now and I think the people of South Korea basically concluded some time ago that this is like a regular thing with Kim Jong-un and his dad before him: they make these threats, throw these tantrums and then they go away for a bit. Admittedly, this time there are two grown babies in the playpen threatening each other, so that makes it a bit more scary. For me, it was as wonderful and comfortable an experience as ever.”

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Courtney Pine

Reputation brings expectation. Especially when the incumbent is as established and well respected as saxophonist Courtney Pine. Black Notes From The Deep, his new album, is noteworthy for the presence of a fine quartet comprising pianist Robert Mitchell, double bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Rod Youngs. But the real story is the appearance of vocalist Omar on several tracks. One might have thought the music would be electric fusion, but for the most part it is an acoustic, broodily down-tempo affair, in which strong melody and clarity of arrangement dominate.
“On paper it should be a jazz-funk, Incognito-style album,” Pine tells me in a busy north London café. “But it’s not, because that’s not where our minds were at… ”

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Will Downing

In a year when the flow of strong new soul releases has been reduced to a relative trickle, it’s a happy coincidence to run into two of the best, most enduring soulmen with new albums on the same label at the same time. Will Downing’s appropriately named Soul Survivor and Calvin Richardson’s All Or Nothing are not only amongst the artists’ best work, but each is unashamedly aimed at the soul fan who once put these guys on the music map and, in many cases, are still around looking for more of the same. Sure, there’s new blood and creative input on both sets – Will’s features contributions from Avery Sunshine, Maysa, Najee and Phil Perry, while Calvin’s is a joint production with legend Willie Clayton – yet what you get on both is what they’ve always done, and maintained to as high a level as you’d hoped.
Will sounds especially upbeat on the subject of his enthusiasm for music making just now:
“I try to put my best foot forward always, man, ‘cause you never know when your last one will be… ”

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Son Of Sam

“Ah man, I wish!”
Tom Caruana is talking about the time Son of Sam supported KRS-One. I thought they had played as the Blastmaster’s back-up band. It turns out they were the warm-up act. It’s an easy mistake to make. You could easily imagine SOS adapting tracks like Criminal Minded or My Philosophy. For now though, they’re playing their own music, albeit with the assist of a host of rap talent. Spanning the ‘90s to this decade, the Kent-based outfit have assembled an enviable guest list for debut album, Cinder Hill. Sadat X, J-Live, Prince Po and El Da Sensei all appear alongside newer underground stars Guilty Simpson, Fat Ray and Quelle Chris.
“It was pretty easy getting in touch with them,” says producer-pianist-percussionist Tom. “The more features I got, the easier it became… ”

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