Just before Covid-19 locked down San Francisco, I had stumbled into Noise Records in the Outer Richmond. Sara, the owner’s mom (and one of the sweetest ladies on the planet), was playing this amazing jazz record. I thought it was a Dexter Gordon or Horace Silver session. The musicianship was phenomenal. The sophisticated structure of the compositions were full of catchy melodies. The recording quality was high. This had to be a Blue Note or Prestige title.
However, turned out it was a record by a group of young jazz men from the Bay Area. The leader of the quintet is the pianist Nick Culp and features Sara’s son, Daniel Brown (owner of Noise), on saxophone. All the compositions are by Culp and the record was released in 2017 on his very own Oakland-based label Gutbucket Records. The cover photo, just as striking as the music it houses, is from the butterfly collection of and serves a beautiful ode to Culp’s late father. The featured genus of buttefly are termed “blues” – capturing also one of the jazz styles played on the record.
Besides being a fresh record, we’re extra happy its a local record. Like other noteworthy, contemporary jazz LPs being made around the world, this too keeps the genre alive by contributing a new vocabulary to its language. It does not merely regurgitate a bluesy hard bop style but rather make a new record within the sub genre. It’s not Dexter or Horace, it’s Nick Culp. For all you listening to Kamasi, Yussef Kamal, Greg Foat, Muriel Grossmann, and the like, we recommend adding Culp to that roster. Serious jazz is also being played right under our noses. Peep the opening track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6XmttyoJWY First batch has sold out but more should be available in shop when doors reopen.
The Postpartum label continues to serve up those tasty beats. They kicked off 2020 by releasing both new and old material. All of which remains in line with the golden-era, boom-bap style they’re known for. The old material they re-issued on LP draws from their German roster of producers. Mr. Käfer and DJ Obsolete were the first two artists on the label (PPTLP-1 and PPTLP-2). However, the label put out their first LPs in a limited run of 150 copies on colored vinyl. Here, they are reproduced on black vinyl and issued in the same quantity. We hope PostPartum continues this trend since the early output is must-have and the first runs fetch cheddar on the secondary market.
The same goes for the 10 inch by AK420’s Rua Augusta (PPT10-), which dropped in 2017 on colored vinyl and this year on black. This has to be the shop favorite of the batch. This year, AK420 also released a second 10 inch called Loungin’. Pressed on slick marble green vinyl. Sure to be another future staple in PP’s catalogue. For their other new LP releases, the label reached across the pond to South America, adding two Peruvian beat-makers to their family. Skillz Flav’! and Ill’ J aka Mad Kid. Both bring a slightly different but equally dope sound to the label. Drum heavy and vocal sample laden, these are perfect beats for trading bars around the cypher. Give a listen on PP’s Bandcamp: https://postpartum.bandcamp.com/ For more on the releases we’ve carried in the past: https://originalsvinyl.com/postpartum-hiphop-drop/
108’s Mission Infinite Live HipHop
Moving from Germany back here to the Bay, we’d like to highlight the truly special issue of one of our dopest and rarest HipHop albums. 108’s Mission Infinite came out in 1996 on a CD only run of 200 copies. Not sure how anyone got their hands on this thing in ’96; we’ve been collecting the genre for over 20 years and have never laid eyes on it. Fortunately, this rare San Jose rap gem is available once again on LP, cassette, and CD from a small European label NBN Archives. To describe this album: it’s Bay-all-the-way. Live instrumentation with smooth, laid-back lyrics provided by Encore and Grand the Visitor (from Homeless Derilex). No show-boating, no battle-raps, no trying-too-hard; here, these two are kicking lyrics for the sake of kicking lyrics. Reminds us of riding around town in an old homie’s Cadillac while heads spit over old funk instrumentals. Peep it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsyduHPZImA&list=OLAK5uy_mBWO-L8n0NCWZvopBRJtF2toc4OvKBe9U
One of the pleasures of owning a record shop is getting a visit from musicians. Being Jazz heads, it’s extra special to get a visit from a talent like Idris Ackamoor. Tenor man and founding member of The Pyramids. Even more special when the legend comes bearing a bag of back stock from his hefty catalogue.
The Pyramids formed in Ohio in the early 70s under the tutelage of Cecil Taylor. After touring Africa and expanding their sound, the group settled in San Francisco. Around this time, they released three LPs on their own private label, Pyramid Records. Lalibela, King of Kings, and Birth/Speed/Merging. Must haves for anyone into Art Ensemble of Chicago, Don Cherry, and the like. Afrocentric, contemplative, avant-garde Jazz.
The Pyramids split in 1977 and for the next 30 years Idris spearheaded another Jazz outfit called the Cultural Odyssey but he reformed the Pyramids in 2010. Three albums soon followed: Otherworldly, We Be All Africans, and An Angel Fell. The last two released by the label Strut in the U.K. Here The Pyramids find themselves among the prestigious company of artists like the Ethiopian Jazz man Mulatu Astatke and Lloyd Miller (who merged traditional Middle Eastern instruments with American Jazz).
While we were familiar with The Pyramids’ early LPs (having pulled original copies from storage units or garages), the Strut releases had, unfortunately, slipped under our noses. Dropping the needle on An Angel Fell, we were blown away. It is an exceptional record. And totally in line with the contemporary Jazz sound we enjoy: like Kamasi Washington or Greg Foat. Well-recorded and funky with spiritual messages that concern the state of our planet. Hear it for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcEj4A_3H2A.
We first heard about the pianist Greg Foat while at a friend’s listening party a few years back. We thought he was playing a cut from Miles’ “Elevator to the Gallows” but we were pleasantly surprised when he corrected us. It was a new jazz record by a new artist from the U.K. Naturally, we delved into researching more about Foat and his work and soon discovered we were late to the game. Foat had already established a hearty catalogue of jazz in all its forms – the first, Dark Is the Sun.
The first print was long gone, fetching high sums on the secondary market, but had gone through a few represses. Timmion Records in Finland remastered and cut these second runs in Finland. A label known mostly for Soul records but also for the quality fidelity of their vinyl. Here Foat beautifully blends the harpsichord with floating electronic sounds. His subsequent release, Girl and Robot with Flowers, is that reminiscent of Miles’ Gallows, although the b-side drifts into a more electronic mix of jazz and hip-hip similar to the sounds on Dark.
Between his early work of 2011/12 and the two albums he put out this past year, Foat scored a number of albums. These were collaborations with other artists like Warren Hampshire and lean more in the direction of ambient, library, and classical. His 2019 LPs, The Mage and The Dreaming Jewels, are jazz all the way and both equally excellent. The first is Foat’s venture into a more spiritual sound. He captures the slow builds and vocal harmonies found on 70’s labels like Strata East or Tribe. The second, the release we’re featuring here, is straight raw jazz-funk in its most hard hitting form.
Foat plays the fender rhodes on the entire record. It also features the incredible drumming of Malcolm Catto. If you don’t know his work, it’s worth checking out as well. Every track on this album is fire. Great for listening at home or playing out. A must for those who love all those 70s jazz-funk records the hiphop producers sampled back-in-the-day. Give the album a fill listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nuc0Tvnb8R0&list=OLAK5uy_l4iVqU1xM-nqlED4jHKRuFkAdXMLeB3og First batch sold out before hitting the bins. Don’t let the second pass you by!
There is a lot of throwback music coming out these days. New records that capture an old sound so well they actually seem like they were made in the genre’s heyday. For example, the rock group Drab Majesty emulates that 80s synth-pop style. Kaleta & the Super Yamba Band have fooled customers into thinking we’re playing Fela Kuti. In the hip-hop world, cats like Kluas Layers mirror the beats of the 93 Golden Age with boom bap drums and echoing horns.
One of the most abundant genres to experience this new birth is Soul. Sweet Soul, in particular, which is a favorite in our shop. There are so many new labels and artists who have studied that sound and boiled it down to its concentrate for their albums. Smooth all the way through. The new Durand Jones & the Indications 45 is a prime example of this laid back neo soul groove. Perfect for cruising around town, late night deejay sets, or that mix tape you’ve been planning for that special someone.
If you zoom in on the hype sticker, you’ll find it mentions genres like Psychedelia, Funk, Tropicalia, Jazz, and Alternative when describing this release. Everything the Mr. Bongo label typically covers in its rich catalog. What it doesn’t advertise, however, is that this is a new band and new record. Not a re-issue or something mined from a lost tape but new kids interpreting the old grooves in their own unique style. You could throw out a number of adjectives to try and pin this record down but it really defies any one sort of genre. Let’s put it this way: if you like groovy world music, you’ll like this too. If you like Khruangbin or the Bay Area’s own Sitka Sun, you’ll like this too.
Actually, the jacket nor the sleeve says much of anything about who these guys are. But if you check out the Mr. Bongo website (https://us.mrbongo.com/collections/kit-sebastian) you’ll read the duo fronting the group have an intriguing background. Kit Martin lives and plays between London and France and the Turkish born Merve Erdem studied film in Rome, now lives between the U.S. and U.K., and is also a visual artist.
Our first batch of these sold out before they even hit the bins – no joke. The second batch just arrived and is now available in shop. We have a feeling these won’t last very long either.
It’s truly an exciting time for music on vinyl. So much stuff is being released it’s hard to keep track of it all. Of particular interest in our shop are the things that are being unearthed from back in the day. Old artists whose work, for one reason or another, was never properly released. Maybe because they were too regional, maybe they were too ahead of the curve, or maybe behind it.
In the case of Chicago’s Four M company, recently issued by Family Groove Records, their 1979 6 track E.P. was recorded in a legitimate studio but never released. The group, which formed in high school, may have been a bit early for the Boogie wave. Generally considered as soul music from 1980 -1985. The cuts on this range from the dance floor shakers to slow groove burners, with nice synths and harmonies. Check the SoundCloud teaser here: https://soundcloud.com/family-groove-records/the-four-m-company Limited to 500 copies world-wide, of which we have a few. Once these are gone, they’re gone for good.
Germany’s Dezi-Belle Records has been putting out quality instrumental HipHop since 2015. They follow a Do-It-Yourself approach since they record, master, cut, and distribute all their releases. Yes, they cut each and every release themselves in real-time from virgin wax. That’s why each of their LPs is limited to 100 copies (50 for each 45). You got to have a whole lot of respect and passion for the art form to do it like that!
This latest batch contains five titles, mostly of a chill, lo-fi leaning sounds. Peep their BandCamp for audio snippets: https://dezi-belle.bandcamp.com/music. The Raw Suppliers is a comp that features up-and-coming beat makers. A good tool to sound the depths of the ever-changing European hiphop scene.
Back-stock copies of Galt MacDermot’s Ripped Open by Metal Explosions 45 just landed in the shop. Out-of-print since 2001, this has to be one of the funkiest things Galt ever composed. And the man’s catalogue is mostly funky tunes. This cut features Idris Muhammad on drums and was sampled by the Artifacts for their classic HipHop single C’mon Wit Da Get Down.
United Artist first released this track in 1970 as part of an LP comprised as what could be called “alternative” takes to the Hair Soundtrack. Egon and company printed the track on 45 in 2001 as they dug through Galt’s archives. Around the same time, they unearthed new material (Up from the Basement Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and reprinted two of his most collectible records Shapes of Rhythm and Woman Is Sweeter. Both laced with classic rap samples.
Belgian beatmaker FloFilz has been a shop favorite ever since Melting Pot Music put out his first solo project in 2014. 5 years and several releases later, the producer is still making some of the illest beats around. Lush, jazzy, late-night, golden era throw back stuff. For example, check out his remix of Afu-Ra’s Whirlwind Thru Cities. Blasphemous as it is to say, his might just be better than Primo’s.
The aesthetic of each of Flo’s releases on Melting Pot is enhanced by the cover photography of Robert Winter. Saturated black and whites of the European urban landscape – beautiful tile geometries, subway tracks, and overpasses. All first presses include a booklet with more of Winter’s photos. Unfortunately, the second issues of “Cenario” and “Metronome” don’t have the books but the beats hit just the same. Makes us want to watch Europe go by from a train window with Flo in our ears.