DJ Shadow The late 1980s and early ’90s saw the dawn of a new day as sampling was at a high point with hip-hop’s golden era. Following in the footsteps of Double Dee & Steinski, Prince Paul, and the Dust Brothers, DJ SHADOW would push the boundaries of sampling with his early Mo’ Wax releases. His first full-length album, Endtroducing…, further shined a light on the art form, as the album exploded through popular culture and put the reluctant star in the spotlight.
David Axelrod Producer/composer DAVID AXELROD landed a dream job at Capitol Records in 1964, immediately working with jazz legend Cannonball Adderley and lifting soul singer Lou Rawls to great heights.
Leon Sylvers III Gifted songwriter, bassist, and producer LEON SYLVERS III led his siblings’ group THE SYLVERS from their teenaged harmony-tinged sweet-soul beginnings to mainstream disco heights. Then, in the late-’70s and early ’80s, he helped usher in the new wave of synthesizer-driven R&B, writing and producing hits for everyone from Shalamar to Gladys Knight and the Pips.
After splitting with his crew in Japan, DJ KRUSH embarked on a journey with British label Mo’ Wax that found the turntablist/producer using hip-hop’s breakbeat foundation while pioneering a new genre of abstract instrumentals.
CYNTHIA ROBINSON was a single mother when she joined Sly and the Family Stone as a trumpeter and vocalist in 1966. As one of the band’s most prominent figures, she became lovers with Sly, giving birth to their daughter, Sylvyette “Phunne” Stone, in 1976. Years later, as Robinson carried the torch with the Family Stone into the next century, Phunne would have the chance to join her mother onstage as a vocalist.
Australian plunderers the Avalanches release their first record in sixteen years; adventures of a reggae messenger with Danny Holloway.
Head an hour east of Los Angeles and you’ll find yourself in the Inland Empire of San Bernardino/Riverside, where a thriving Latinx DIY music and art scene is on display to a melting pot community and audience. It is out of this grassroots local scene that Quitapenas developed their unique rhythm and following. At the heart of the group is a tropical Afro-Latin combo, brewed under the warm California sun with a certain liberation in their sound as summed up in the meaning of their name: Quita (remove) Penas (worries). With this carefree openness the crew has honed a distinct and hypnotic take on the influential guitarra/tambora roots of golden-age soukous, chicha, compa, and champeta.
As Quitapenas prepares to release two new tracks in collaboration with Brooklyn-based label, Names You Can Trust, drummer Eduardo Valencia and guitarist Daniel Gomez rundown a selection of influential records that helped define the Quitapenas sound, as well as expand upon the beginnings of the scene that is now taking shape in the Inland Empire.
Abelardo Carbono “Muevela”
“The music I make is Afro-Latin music,” Abelardo Carbono explained to us when Eduardo met him under the statue of Joe Arroyo in Barranquilla, Colombia, in August of 2016. Carbono pioneered a unique style that blended rhythmic psychedelic guitar riffs with Afro-Colombian rhythms. He is hands down own of the most influential artists to our “mas tropical” sound. His compositions guided us to create our own interpretation of what tropical music is.
Cumbia Siglo XX “Naga Pedale”
Cumbia Siglo XX reinterpreted a Haitian folk tune entitled “Naga Pedale” that was then released on the influential Colombian label Machuca. This was Afro-Indigenous music from an ensemble that explored different rhythms from the Colombian diaspora, truly diverse. The introduction to the tune was unlike any other we’ve heard, a reflection of a typical style from Colombia that includes a call and response singing throughout the track. It also solidified our approach to treat each instrumentation and sound as a drum. “Play it like a drum!” is a constant suggestion in our rehearsals. Here you can hear various instruments, including bass guitar, treated as such.
N’goma Jazz “Mi Cantando Para Ti”
N’Goma Jazz blew us away with this tune. The track starts and the language sits somewhere between Portuguese and Spanish (our mother tongue). Often we heard African music in French or indigenous languages, but in this case it was funky, sweet poly-rhythms in a language we could understand. Music from Angola was a big influence on how to make our music appeal to an audience. Components that we found made the Angolan music known as Semba attractive: there were catchy melodies, room for improvisation, a rhythmic beat that made people move, and often a political or social statement that made the songs even more important.
Antonio Dos Santos “Djal Bai Si Camin”
This album is one that we’ve been exploring more and more. Music from Cape Verde known as Funana and Coladeira is being heard for the first time now to a much larger, global audience. We mostly really dug into ’70s and ’80s tracks that began to feature electric pianos and organs. You begin to hear more effects in guitars and vocals and it starts to create a more modern psychedelic-funk-disco feel. This track is our favorite from the compilation Space Echo and is a pretty good reflection of the style of music.
Calixto Ochoa y Los Papaupas “Lumbalu”
Calixto Ochoa played some of the funkiest accordion in Colombia. In “Lumbalu,” he gives his respect to San Basilio de Palenque, one of the first free African slave settlements of the Americas. In 2013, our drummer Eduardo Valencia took a solo trip to experience San Basilio de Palenque during its annual drum festival. The Lumbalu is the name of the nine-day mourning process and funeral processions for a deceased community member. Calixto references the Palenque culture with a line that says “en San Basilio el que muere, se despide con tambor” meaning “in San Basilio the deceased are departed with drums.”
These global selections were paramount to Quitapenas creating their own niche in San Bernardino/Riverside. Where there has always been a local scene of musician and bands in that area, there was never much of an outlet for a new breed of musicians to push the afro-diasporan aspect that lays at the heart the Latinx sound. As drummer Velencia points out, when they “began booking [their] own shows and throwing DIY house parties in Riverside,” the immediacy of social networking brought them in contact with LA-based Buyepongo who embraced the group’s refreshing take on the music. From that moment, the band was able to start playing in collaboration with other outfits in LA to a wider audience. After they recorded their own “super, low-budget” demo, the band connected with another LA-based afro-pop band called Fool’s Gold. They played a gig together and immediately made plans to record a single on the White Iris label that was run by Fool’s Gold guitarist Lewis Pesacov. That single turned out to be “Mas Tropical,” a newly coined term by the Quitapenas members that incorporated, for them, a wider, global understanding of the tropical music landscape. Since then, that term has been a call-to-arms for the group and other bands in the scene, shedding unappropriate genre cliches like “world music” or not-quite defining terms like “cumbia.” Although “cumbia is a huge influence,” to the group, the scope of what Quitapenas is playing and recording needed to have a wider definition—and thus “mastropical” was born.
Now, the group is poised for another entry into their discography with their new release on Names You Can Trust. It drops worldwide March 31st on digital/streaming and vinyl formats. Hear the A-Side now, Ya Veran, and enter to win a copy of the vinyl edition made in tandem with visual artist Deladoso. Wax Poetics readers can enter by emailing contest[AT]waxpoetics[DOT]com with the subject line “Ya Veran.”
Quitapenas is currently preparing for their debut at the world-renown Coachella festival. They’ll be performing two shows on consecutive weekends April 15th and 22nd, sharing the bill with dozens of global artists and talent in their own backyard of their own Inland Empire.
This weekend sees the 20th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s second and final album Life After Death. Released posthumously on Bad Boy Records on March 25, 1997, just sixteen days after the drive-by shooting that led to his tragic death on March 9 that year. The double album features truly classic hip-hop joints such as “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” as well as guest appearances from Jay Z, Lil’ Kim, Mase, R. Kelly, and more.
To mark Life After Death’s anniversary, our buddy DJ Matman dug deep and expertly crafted this fine mixtape featuring album tracks, alternate versions and remixes, and original sample material from the likes of Zapp, Screaming’ jay Hawkins, Al Green, and Barbara Mason, amongst others.
Listen up and pour some out for Biggie!
Artwork by Leon Nockolds
01. Bobby Caldwell – My Flame
02. The Notorious B.I.G. – Sky’s The Limit
03. Screamin’ jay Hawkins – I Put A Spell On You
04. The Notorious B.I.G. – Kick In The Door
05. Al Green – The Letter
06. The Notorious B.I.G. – Long Kiss Goodnight
07. Public Enemy – Shut ‘Em Down (Pete Rock Remix) Matman Intro Edit
08. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ten Crack Commandments
09. Les McCann – Vallarta
10. Barbara Mason – Another Man
11. The Notorious B.I.G. – Another
12. Liquid Liquid – Cavern
13. The Notorious B.I.G. – Nasty Boy (Bad Boy Remix) Matman Aca In Edit
14. The Notorious B.I.G. – Nasty Boy
15. Rene & Angela – I Love You More
16. The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Jay-Z – I Love The Dough
17. Zapp – More Bounce To The Ounce (Matman Intro Edit)
18. The Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back To Cali
19. Herb Alpert – Rise
20. Doug E. Fresh And M. C. Ricky D (aka Slick Rick) – La-Di-Da-Di
21. The Notorious B.I.G. – Hypnotize
22. Andreas Vollenweider – Belladonna
23. The Notorious B.I.G. – I Got A Story To Tell
24. Schoolly D – P.S.K.-What Does It Mean?
25. The Notorious B.I.G. – B.I.G. Interlude
26. Richard Evans – Close To You
27. Al Green – I’m Glad Your Mine
28. Biz Markie – Biz Is Goin’ Off
27. The Notorious B.I.G. – What’s Beef?
28. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out
29. The Notorious B.I.G. – Mo Money Mo Problems Matman Aca Out Edit
30. Asha Puthli – Space Talk
31. The Notorious B.I.G. – The World Is Filled…
32. Diana Ross – Missing You
33. The Notorious B.I.G. – Miss U
34. The Notorious B.I.G. – Notorious Thugs
35. Billy Preston – I Wonder Why
36. The Notorious B.I.G. – Nobody Til Somebody (Enuff Demo Mix)
37. The Notorious B.I.G. – You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)
38. Al Green – For The Good Times
39. The Notorious B.I.G. – My Downfall
40. The Notorious B.I.G. – #! *@ You Tonight
41. The Notorious B.I.G. – Last Days (OG Havoc Demo Mix)
42. The Whispers – Hey, Who Really Cares
43. The Notorious B.I.G. – N%$%*s Bleed
44. The Notorious B.I.G. – Playa Hater (acapella)
45. The Delfonics – Hey Love
DJ and record shop owner Jean-Claude Thompson has come along way since spinning house, hip-hop and techno at raves up and down the London-encircling M25 motorway during the late ’80s. As one half of genre-blending production duo the Amalgamation of Soundz he performed at Glastonbury and hosted a residency at famed nightclub Fabric. Since the duo parted ways a few years into the new millennium, he’s gone on to well-deserved recognition as one of the world’s foremost rare vinyl specialists.
Jean-Claude’s reputation among London’s music connoisseurs was cemented during his stint as manager of the Jazz Lounge; the tiny yet hugely significant top floor of iconic ’90s Soho record store and musical hub Release The Groove. Painstakingly arranging a small selection of titles and joining musical dots with scant regard for genre, Jean-Claude deliberately placed jazz alongside tech-house; folk alongside hip-hop. To the musical adventurer looking for inspiration, the Jazz Lounge became a mecca. It’s no coincidence that regulars included dance music avant-gardists such as Pete Heller, LTJ Bukem, Kenny Dope and Tom Middleton.
In 2003, Jean-Claude struck out on his own and founded IF Music, a specialist store and website emblazoned with its founder’s alluring catchphrase: “you need this!” Despite tumultuous times for independent shops over the next decade or so, IF Music’s trusted status among serious collectors ensured its survival. In fact, after a seven-year absence, Jean-Claude recently moved the store back to his spiritual home of Soho, right opposite the site once occupied by Black Market Records. The mention of this raises a smile from the man himself and he interrupts as I’m about to ask the obvious question: “Serendipity? For sure…”
Born in Hampstead, London, to an Italian mother and Latino father from the Caribbean, Jean-Claude began absorbing a phenomenally diverse mix of cultures from an early age.
“My late mother was extremely cultured and really passionate about all forms of music,” he says. “My father was a photo/journalist and music nut, consequentially he did all sorts of photoshoots including album covers. From the age of six, I chose and bought my own records, I was obsessed with music and dance; anything touched by jazz would always get my attention. The first album to really make an impact on me was Jimmy Smith’s The Cat, released in 1964. I was born in ’62 so one of the earliest images implanted into my conscious and subconscious is that album, and it was played a lot at home! That cover, that huge sound!”
Perhaps more than any other country barring America (and for socio-political reasons too numerous to mention here), Britain in the ’80s boasted its own particular melting pot of music and fashion, so a young Jean-Claude found it easy to reconcile his love of jazz with explorations into electronic music as the rave scene began to explode.
“Leading up to and including the Summer of Love ‘89, it was an amazing time for me as a DJ,” Jean-Claude says. “Parties seven nights a week starting on a Saturday with Troll at the Soundshaft (which I was lucky enough to have played a few times), Monday’s Spectrum/Land of Oz and then non-stop all the way through to the weekend where you might end up doing three gigs in one night, with the last one finishing sometime the following afternoon. Now remember: ecstasy had only landed a couple of years earlier so playing to such a receptive and loved-up crowd was brilliant for the DJs. Especially those of us who did not partake. Everything we played worked, people were open to every sound we threw at them. Tempo did not matter; it all depended on you, the DJ, your imagination and how good technically you were at mixing. There was nothing more poetic than to watch Paul ‘Trouble’ Anderson on a pair of deck or Carl Cox on 3 turntables. It’s never been about any one genre for us, it’s always been about an artist or track having it. I think with us it’s about the battle against mediocrity ’cause we have such shitty weather all the time.”
For Jean-Claude, the “battle against mediocrity” has become the habit of a lifetime; to this day it informs the way he runs IF Music and probably explains the shop’s success.
“Though jazz is the base reference for what we stock,” he says, “and because of that everything and anything goes; New and old music: house, soul, post/dub-step, hip-hop, disco/boogie, reggae, broken, psych et al. It just needs to feel true, honest and not seeming to be contrived or safe. To compliment the records, the cultural ideal of the shop and for a touch of diversification, we also sell vintage bits including sunglasses, books/magazines, art, prints, toys and various oddities. Space and layout are very important to us; unlike a lot of record shops, there is room to swing a very large cat in here. We have had some incredible in-stores with bands playing un-plugged which is definitely something to behold.”
Compiling the first volume of his Journey into Deep Jazz album series on BBE in 2014, Jean-Claude returned full circle to the sounds that first enchanted him as a six-year-old. A second volume has just been released on the label, arguably delving even deeper than the first and showing a particular penchant for long, slowly evolving compositions, some over twelve minutes in length. Asked what “deep jazz” means to him, his answer is characteristically uncompromising:
“It’s all about relevance for me,” he answers. “The questions are: has it dated and does it still do it? If the composition or album is rare, obscure but sounds derivative of the period, then generally it gets discarded. Hopefully you are then left with music that inspires the youngsters as well the older farts. None of this is just about ‘deep jazz,’ it has to be about deep meaningful music, looking beyond the outer reaches of the mainstream and perceptions of what is.
“As Miles said, ‘Jazz is a feeling.’ It’s that extra bit of dirt, grit, rawness, beauty: the deepest of pain, the strongest of loves, the quest not to be bland or run of the mill, the political and the spiritual of course. Mind you: spiritual music by its very definition is deep, but deep music does not have to be spiritual.”
Without any further ado, here are Jean-Claude’s Five Essential Deep Jazz Records (in his own words):
From Sweden via Turkey, it’s got to be Maffy Falay “Jazz I Sverige ’72,” recorded for Swedish national radio on Caprice Records out of Stockholm.
Turkey’s rich musical heritage stems from the region’s close relationship with their classic folk music. With supreme Kurdish/Turkish musicians: trumpeter Maffy Falay, drummer/ percussionists Okay and Akay Temiz, violinist Salih Baysal team up with Sweden’s Sevda it’s the perfect marriage of East meets West.
Japanese jazz does not get much deeper than when the master of the shakuhachi (bamboo flute) Hozan Yomamoto steps into the arena with “Silver World” on Philips (’69). This is just one of his must-have albums and it co-stars: the faultless pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, Gary Peacock on bass, and Hiroshi Murakami on drums. Old and new Japan in perfect harmony.
For something contemporary and as yet unreleased at the time of this interview: Collocutor’s second album entitled The Search (On the Corner Records, 2017). The beautifully talented Tamar Osborne and her band have been causing serious waves in the large pond that is U.K. jazz.
As Mulatu Astatke puts it, “I like Collocutor a lot, they have the feeling.” If it’s good enough for the great Mulatu, methinks it’s good enough for mere mortals like us.
Dropping sometime in 2017: the Cuban All-Stars “Cuban Jam Session” on Zanja 607 Records—possibly the best jazz album to have come out of Havana in fifty years!
Finally, included on my latest compilation it’s got to be Giorgio Gaslini’s Free Actions III Movement. Be careful not to crick your neck, the beat on this is insane! Milan born Giorgio Gaslini (1929-2014) is famed as one of Italy’s leading free-jazz musicians and composers, as well as being responsible for quite a few “Gialli” soundtracks. Pure filth is the only way one can describe Movimento III: from the moment the break kicks in with the upright bass, through to that electric piano drop, the twisted percussion panned almost to one side, to the interplay of the saxes. Seriously dope!
I’m no musicologist and certainly no journalist, but trust me when I say: if you like your music deep… you need these!
Both volumes of Jean-Claude’s Journey into Deep Jazz are available from BBE Music.
Find Jean-Claude’s IF Music store on the second floor at 12 D’Arblay Street, London, or online here.
We are offering five lucky readers the chance to win a digital copy of the album, as well as the "Baby Don't Go/You" single on 7-inch
Earlier this month, the legendary U.K. label BBE (Barely Breaking Even) released the long-awaited full-length LP collaboration of London producer and DJ Chris Read and Chicago rapper/vocalist Pugs Atomz: Colo(u)rs of the World. We are big fans of the album and agree with BBE’s summation below:
Colo(u)rs of the World bridges the gap between traditional boom-bap sonics and future soul, utilizing obscure jazz fragments to create dazzling sonic mosaics; smooth, sumptuous and soulful throughout. Pugs’ dextrous flow switches seamlessly between classic rap styles and more abstract, OutKast-esque vocal acrobatics. An unmistakably contemporary LP made in the image of progressive, life-affirming ’90s hip-hop and containing a unique blend of U.K./U.S. influences, Colo(u)rs of the World is almost as nostalgic as it is original.
We have teamed up with BBE to offer FIVE lucky readers each a prize of the full digital album and the “Baby Don’t Go” b/w “You” single on 7-inch vinyl. Please email us at contest[at]waxpoetics[dot]com with the subject line COLO(U)RS OF THE WORLD CONTEST.
Peace & Rhythm released several of our favorite records of the past few years, including a co-operative LP with Puerto Rico’s punk-salsa trailblazers Orquesta El Macabeo (El Entierroshowcases salsa and Afro-funk crowd-pleasers by the group) and the narcodélica nod of the mysterious Los Terrificos project, whose album Vaya P’al Sur/Go South pushes all the right buttons with a trippy blend of chicha, Afrobeat, house, dub, surf, spaghetti Western, and dark lounge.
The label, based in the wilds of Northeastern America, has three new full-length releases hitting the shops at once. Miracles & Criminals, a deluxe double-LP set of tropical Americana by C.A.M.P.O.S. (ex-Chicha Libre), has been described as “a unique travelogue blend of chicha, Kraftwerk, late ’60s L.A.-inspired psych pop, Ethio, lo-fi experiments, Morricone and more… outsider art from a warm & breezy place.”
Another co-op album with Orquesta El Macabeo (La Maldición del Timbal) joins the latest from M.A.K.U. Soundsystem, a vigorous and exciting live act who have condensed their powerful psych-palenque-Afro-soukous sounds into The Mix, a EP of tunes that shows off the broad range of M.A.K.U.’s styles.