Ace of Cups Release Long Awaited Debut LP

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The Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco was awash with psychedelic rock bands during the late sixties, but none were quite like Ace of Cups. An all-female outfit who wrote their own material, opened for Jimi Hendrix and The Band, and performed for television alongside Jefferson Airplane – they had everything a band might’ve required to be offered a record deal during that era. However, they were never signed, the fire that burned during their early days began to dwindle and when members of the group began having children, they felt the time was right to disband.

Live recordings and session demos were released in 2003 and though brilliant, they didn’t quench their followers’ thirst for a bona fide studio album. Thankfully, behind renewed interest in the group and their history, the band have recorded a long awaited debut.

Their new album features Taj Mahal, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead amongst others. It’s jam packed with musical ideas, everything from bluegrass-infused folk-rock to harmony-drenched ballads and bluesy psychedelia. It is wonderful to know that the band have finally ticked the studio record off their checklist and we recommend checking out their story below.

Xhosa Cole Wins Jazz Final of BBC Young Musician 2018

Our congratulations go out to Birmingham-based saxophonist Xhosa Cole this week, after he won the jazz final of the BBC Young Musician 2018 on Sunday. The competition was tough, with contestant Reuben Goldmark performing a set consisting entirely of original music and electric bassist Seth Tackaberry demonstrating some impressive dexterity on his instrument, but Xhosa won the judges over with a moving take on two well-loved standards: I Cover the Waterfront by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman, plus John Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice. His was a mature and elegant performance that you can revisit here. The competition saw plenty of familiar faces involved: Gwilym Simcock of The Impossible Gentlemen and Asaf Sirkis (who played at Band on the Wall with Tim Garland in 2016), on piano and drums respectively. Pianist Zoe Rahman, who led a recent Jazz Directors Series residency and tour, was on the judging panel, as was vocalist Zara McFarlane, who praised Xhosa’s tone as well as his ‘cool style and presence’.

The Repeat Listen: Nori – Bruised Blood

Tasting Notes: Anthony Branker & Word Play – The Forward (Towards Equality), Doug Carn – Revelation, Charenee Wade – Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson, Clive Zanda – Calypso Jazz Inventions, Nat Adderley – Calling Out Loud

With their sophomore LP, Austin-based jazz outfit Nori deliver a heartfelt response to the issues that have alarmed U.S. society in recent years. In referencing the Daniel Hamm statement that Steve Reich used for his 1960 tape loop composition, Come Out, with the album’s title, they create a relatable metaphor for their nation’s suffering, while indicating that issues pertinent during the fifties and sixties, (such as the police brutality that Hamm addressed), remain relevant today.

Fronted by vocalist Akina Adderley, whose grandfather and grand uncle were active musicians during the civil rights movement (Nat Adderley and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley,) the group are uniquely poised to address the socio-political topics that inform the tone and lyrical content of the album. Songs like Wildfire, a delicate yet grooving soul-jazz arrangement, liken wrongdoers to arsonists, setting light to the future facing the younger generations. Songs are often delivered from the maternal perspective, Adderley singing “what a world that I gave to you” on string-laden ballad Crash and Burn, but also from more ambiguous perspectives, as on Sell My Soul, where Adderley appears to sing on the behalf of disenfranchised individuals from many walks of life.

Musically, Bruised Blood is a rich, unassuming and beautifully arranged collection. Its energetic passages tap into the type of busy rhythms heard on Clive Zanda’s Calypso Jazz Inventions, while softer passages build upon expansive keyboard arpeggios and natural, effectual chamber ensemble arrangements. The Star-Spangled Banner is an outlier however: Adderley drawing lyrics from an unofficial fifth verse to the U.S. national anthem, devised during the American civil war, and delivering them over cacophonous free jazz improvisation.

An album like Bruised Blood is unlikely to bring about widespread change, when such complex issues face us. But a belief that art can be a vehicle for healing and a means by which we can better process the problems we face, is one that anyone can get behind. The album is categorically a positive contribution in a difficult contemporary landscape.

New Sounds

Joe Armon-Jones of Ezra Collective released two dub versions of tracks from his solo debut recently. Breaking with dub tradition, a vocal was introduced to Mollison Dub alongside the customary, reverb, delay and EQ, but Asheber’s dub poetry and soulful verses proved to be a perfect fit for the reimagining of the track.

Night Beats released a new single this week, following a limited edition 7” pressing to coincide with Black Friday. One Thing is the second track from their forthcoming album and their collaboration with Dan Auerbach is an audible influence, its blues-rock riffs and Southern U.S. groove showing a development in the Night Beats sound.

Nubiyan Twist released a beautiful new single last week, which brings West African rhythms into a soft, soul-jazz arrangement, complete with revitalising vocals from Nick Richards and Nubiya Brandon. Tell it to me slowly is the first track lifted from their forthcoming LP on Strut records, which will be released in February 2019.

New Visuals

Swedish psych band Flowers Must Die have released a new video for their track, Hey, Shut Up, which is soon to lead off an album of remixes. Although the track is ‘a homage to Bo Diddley’s “Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut” from 1964’, the video taps into its acid rock angle, with colourful projection laid over black and white footage.

Finally, if you dig the regions where hip-hop and sci-fi intertwine, then check out the new Talos visual for his beat, Talos Enters. The animation, created by Neirin Best, is laden with pop culture and dystopian societal references, plus it appears to be kicking off a series, so now’s the perfect time to dive in.