Thursday, June 19, 2014

Heathrow To Kansai: The Class Of '94


The year 1994 seemed to be a very transitional year in my life. Didn't return to Columbia College. I was 23 and had to finally face the reality that holding on to my job at McDonald's, where I'd been since my senior year high school, wasn't gonna suffice. Found a higher paying job that paved the way for me to finally get my own apartment and officially join the rat race. This new job came with strenuous hours and even more strenuous work duties that often left me mentally and physically drained resulting in me having little to no time for a social life. Beforehand, I was the nightlife king. All I had for my refuge was my love for music but at this point, music was also going through a transition.

The house music scene that I was pretty devoted to for more than ten years was in disarray thanks in part to stagnation, new zoning laws and tourism. The airwaves were pretty much dominated by new jack swing and the pop side of r&b aimed at the young urban streets with sounds built more around beats first and instrumentation, if any, second. Live bands simply didn't exist. Any of my favorite soul or jazz funk artists from the 70's & 80's classic periods, who were lucky enough to be still recording, found themselves clambering for spots in the crowded field of adult contemporary and smooth jazz. Not to say I didn't like any of it, (well I wasn't a fan of new jack swing much at all lol) but I felt something was being lost in the music. It had become watered down. I was hearing it but not feeling it. What's a soul music lover to do?


A few years earlier upon still buying new dance singles on a regular basis, I stumbled upon the music of two bands from the UK that seemed to be oh so inspired by the soul, jazz and funk I grew up on, Brand New Heavies (whom I first bought thanks to Lil Louis dropping "Dream Come True" in his set at Coconuts) and Jamiroquai. I clung to those two bands with all my might hoping for more from them and often wondered if or when they were coming with sophomore albums. Furthermore, being that they were both from overseas, I often wondered were there more artists out there like them.

Enter Gramaphone Record store and the newly formed acid jazz section. I was unclear what acid jazz was initially but if those two bands were filed there, I wanted know who they were filed next to. Perusing I go. DAMN these albums are expensive lol. All imports from the UK and Japan of artists I'd never seen or heard before. The album covers are speaking to me but how do I decide on who to try?

Enter a magazine called Straight No Chaser. This mag was the holy grail of all good things soulful, funky and jazzy in music. This mag became my bible. It seriously opened me up to a whole new world. Artists, dj's, producers, record labels and soulful culture from all around the globe, from the UK street soul and funk jazz movement ie Incognito, Young Disciples, James Taylor Quartet, Outside, Drizabone etc all the way to the movement in Japan ie Monday Michiru, Mondo Grosso, United Future Organization, Kyoto Jazz Massive etc. I was blown away. I felt this movement was tailored just for me. Music that was progressively nostalgic, drawing heavily from the era that shaped my palate but with a freshness making it timeless. Had me hooked, line and sinker lol. My mission was to buy every release I could find, especially those on the Talkin' Loud, Acid Jazz, Dorado, Idyllic, Lollop or 99 Record labels. Took my paycheck every week LMAO.

The downfall, in a sense, was the community of others who felt this music as I did, in Chicago, was a small one. There weren't many outlets in the manner of nightlife that fed this music and movement so I'm thankful to DJs like G-Most, Daniel Givens, Jesse de la Pena, Tone B. Nimble and a handful of others who took the movement to places like the Elbo Room, Lava Lounge, Liquid Kitty and the early days of Red Dog. This era grew me up musically. Through it, I learned so much more about black music history especially jazz. It's crazy how it took the oversea market to introduce to me to the music of labels like Black Jazz, Strata East, Tribe etc. I learned more about Blue Note and just American jazz and funk as a whole. And if it had not been for this era and Gramaphone filing The Roots "Organix", Guru's "Jazzmatazz" and Digable Planets in the acid jazz section, I would have never given hip hop my ear. This led me to the jazzy boom bap side of hip hop. This era would also serve as the precursor to what would become the neo-soul (side eye) era.

*I should note that there were a few labels, artists and college radio stations like WCLK in ATL, Groove Collective, The Solsonics, Ubiquity & Giant Steps who held the movement down in the states.

This year, many classic albums from this era turn 20* and I felt it my duty to create this special podcast episode as a tribute to those albums and this era that shaped me fully into the music lover that I am today. Check out the collage of 20 of my favorites released in 1994 and give this episode your ear. I think the music is as fresh today as it was when I first heard it but then again, I have super fond memories attached to it. I hope you don't mind my reminiscing LOL.
(*Outside "Almost In" & Izit "The Whole Affair" were released in '93 but stateside in '94)

Also, this podcast exist and is made possible because of loyal listeners like yourself. To help it continue, if you are able and willing, please send a donation of any amount to soundrotation@yahoo.com on https://www.paypal.com/


01. Weather Storm / Massive Attack
02. Morning Loving / Carleen Anderson
03. Searching / Nobukazu Takemura ft. Dee C Lee
04. Friendly Pressure / Jhelisa
05. Things Will Be Sweeter / Dee C Lee
06. Life So Free / The Federation
07. Magic Wand Of Love / United Future Organization
08. Daybreak / Brand New Heavies
09. Izit Everywhere Pt. 2 / Izit
10. Brightest Star / Drizabone
11. Invisible Man / Mondo Grosso
12. Lucky Fellow / McKoy
13. Interlude - Little Boy / Omar
14. All In Your Mind / Swing Out Sister
15. When You Call My Name / Jessica Lauren
16. Stillness In Time (vinyl version) / Jamiroquai

17. 144 Brooklyn Palace Mansions / Outside
18. What Is Jazz / Monday Michiru
19. Somewhere Not Here / Bahia Sunsets (Kyoto Jazz Massive)
20. Idyllic / Spiritual Vibes

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mark de Clive-Lowe presents Church

Keyboard wizard, producer Mark de Clive-Lowe is back with blowing our minds once again with his new full length inspired by his highly successful L.A. and NYC club night "Church" and like the event, the album finds him doing what he does best; blending cosmic jazz and electric dance grooves through a mix of live instrumentation and electronics creating some of the most soulful and progressive tunes of the 21st Century. And no "Church" experience is complete without a stellar cast of guest singers and musicians including emcee John Robinson, Miguel Atwood Ferguson, Jamire Williams, theeKIDICARUS, first lady Nia Andrews and many more. This album will surely land on my Best Of 2014 list. COP IT NOW!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sorceress "Dose"

After being blown away by their 2012 debut album "Chequered Thoughts", I have eagerly anticipated a follow up from the unit, once known as Funkommunity. At last, they're back with that follow up under a new name and boasting a deeper sound. Now called Sorceress, the New Zealand based group led by producer Isaac Aesili and singer Rachel Fraser, continue to cast spells and work their music magic with "Dose", their new album that will surely having you overdosing on it all summer. With their style of electrosoul intact, Sorceress take it deeper and more energetic with grooves a bit more melodic and tight. Danceable at times, fun and free flowing throughout. I highly recommend you take a "dose" of this goodness.


Daniel Crawford "The Awakening"

In the fall of  2012, Daniel Crawford got us to swallow the "Red Pill". Reeling from that high, a year later, we felt the "Side Effects". Now, we are prepared for "The Awakening". On this highly anticipated sophomore album, Daniel offers up his most cohesive project to date and that's saying a lot given that his previous releases were stellar. On The Awakening, he draw heavily from jazz, soul and fusion of yester years, like using a rear view mirror. to guide his travels ahead bringing forth a modern classic with hints of ancestral rhythms throughout. Including the much buzzed about single "Home" that features Cleveland P. Jones on vocals, his tribute to the late, great George Duke and appearances from Vikter Duplaix, Amp Fiddler and flautist Monet, this album will definitely land top 10 on my Best Of 2014 list. Did I mention his killer covers of Prince and Fela Kuti? Yeah Daniel did NOT play around. Check it out below and cop NOW!


Friday, May 2, 2014

NEW ARTIST ALERT: James Tillman "Shangri La"


Ever so often an artist seemingly comes out of the woodwork and just blow my mind, and in 2014 that artist name is James Tillman. The D.C native dropped his debut ep this week and my ONLY gripe is that with only four songs, it leaves me wanting more. Built on his love of music and listening to his parents collection that consisted of everything from Joni Mitchell to Afrika Bambataa, his debut ep "Shangri La" is a glorious blend of jazzy soul with a hint of folk with a vocal delivery and tones that flows a like a river. Word on the street is he's working on a full length so get this slice of beauty below and prepare. It's the best four dollars you will ever spend in your life.COP IT NOW!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Zo!: We Are On The Move (Black Coffee Remix) / A Choice of Weapons

Detroit native multi instrumentalist, producer and The Foreign Exchange member Zo! has been riding high since the release of his last album "ManMade", which landed on many Best Albums of 2013 list including ours. Continuing to make the album do what it do, Zo! and +FE label just released some special hotness, a remix to the latest single "We Are On the Move". (You should remember the latest video with him Eric Roberson, Zo and Darien Alexander on some Whispers ish). The remix come courtesy of the king of the South African house movement Black Coffee who adds the right amount of mellow and percussion making it a melodic jazzy affair. And as an added bonus is the non album groover "Choice Of Weapons" featuring SOUNDROTATION fav Nicholas Ryan Gant and Carmen Rodgers. Pure greatness. Check em below and then head on over to itunes to cop.

   Zo! - We Are On The Move (Black Coffee Remix) / A Choice of Weapons by +FE Music

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mar: Form EP

After turning it up a notch with the house oriented single "Man x Woman", Amsterdam based singer, musician Mar is slowing it down a bit and bringing it back to "Form" on this new two track ep. Starting with "A Simple Go" co-produced by his longtime collaborator Full Crate, mellowing out the groove while Mar spell out the (not so) simplicity of couple being where they wanna be. Then the Malin Genie produced "Ode To Her" takes us on a scenic ride down a long road while Mar express his admiration and seemingly infatuation with this heavenly being. And it's available as a free download. Get it below.

   Mar - Form - EP by BDMNR