Strawberry Guy Signs with Melodic Records and Alex Bone wins Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize

— News —

Strawberry Guy, whose lo-fi pop masterpiece Without Youhas racked up millions of views across streaming platforms, this week inked a deal with the Manchester-based independent label Melodic Records. The singer and songwriter, who originates from Liverpool, joins a roster currently including W. H. Lungand Working Men’s Club, amongst others. We’re thrilled to see that the deal was done over the Picturehouse piano, which has been something of a good luck charm since its arrival. We’re itching to hear what’s next from Strawberry Guy, but recommend checking out Without You in the meantime.

Alex Bone wins Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize

Former Chetham’s School of Music pupil and BBC Young Musician Jazz award winner Alex Bone has been announced as this year’s recipient of the Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize. The young saxophonist follows in the footsteps of vibes player Jonny Mansfield, who having received the award in 2018, has just released his debut Elftet album with Edition records. The win will see Bone also release music with Edition next year.

As Bone details in a recent D’Addario woodwinds short film, he hails from a musical household, with both parents musicians and his father, a saxophonist. He won the inaugural BBC Young Musician Jazz Award at the age of seventeen and now leads the fusion outfit Said Skeleton. We eagerly await future work from this rising jazz artist.

The Repeat Listen: Nev Cottee – The River’s Edge

Tasting notes: Bill Fay – Bill Fay, Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra – Nancy & Lee Again, Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà Vu, Israel Nash – Israel Nash’s Silver Season

Nev Cottee sets his fourth studio album upon the bank of a mythical river; a serene, perhaps fey environment, from which tales can begin, time can pass slowly, and nature can impress its significance upon the album’s central themes. That’s not to say that River’s Edge, released today on London’s WONDERFULSOUND, is restricted to that sole location: for undisclosed towns, roads and even the Hollywood hills, make literal or metaphorical appearances throughout the album’s ten tracks. Instead, the River’s Edgeis more of a mood or sensibility — as the lyric fromRosesreads: ‘A River’s Edge, where feeling flows.’

Should ‘feeling flows’ call to mind the lucid, graceful production of The Beach Boys’ Feel Flows, then you’re some way to imagining the aesthetic of Cottee’s beautiful new LP. Throw in the mid-tempo, piano-based arrangements of Bill Fay’s eponymous debut, the Americana of CSNY’s Déjà Vu and you’ll have a technicolour image of the production Mason Neely (Wilco/Edwyn Collins) and Nev Cottee have hear crafted.

River’s Edgeeases into existence, with piano, upright bass and a field recording of traffic on a road introducing Nightingale. The dark lullaby takes the listener from the busy roadside into a dream realm, a cool, calm nighttime in anticipation of spring’s arrival. Roses is equally gentle, with its suspended chords and Scott Walker-esque melody. The track takes the form of an intimate duet with the vocalist simply credited as Veronica, who Cottee first encountered in Madrid. Their complementary tones, coupled with the clarity and immediacy of how they’ve been recorded, make the song a delight to study.

By contrast, following track Hello Strangeris the album’s most emphatic rock cut, with warbling mellotron strings, and transcendent guitar work from The Verve’s Nick McCabe— a ray of cosmic folk-rock that bypasses the ear to connect directly with the ajna. I’m Still Here benefits from Chris Hillman’s astonishing pedal steel work, and similarly North American beauty pours through the rich yet subtle arrangement of Local Hero, complete with pedal steel, banjo, luscious strings and mandolin.

Cottee avoids the indulgent centre piece, opting for a pair of brisk turnaround tracks to close side A and open side B. The title track is a simple folk song about the river itself, sung honestly with upright piano as the only accompaniment. Hollywood Signon the other hand is a mysterious little ditty, with upright bass and fingerstyle acoustic guitar underpinning Cottee’s shrewd wordplay, in which the Hollywood sign is the mark of fame on the demeanor of the star. The LP culminates with the sparsely decorated and intimate You Can Help Meand Scattered Leaves– the presentation of each showing the confidence Cottee has found with the presentation of his songs. Cottee’s use of piano, variety of production and conviction as a vocalist and writer make River’s Edge a breezy and beautiful listen. Four albums in and he is yet to misstep.

New Sounds and Visuals

The renowned jazz pianist Chick Corea releases his new album, Antidote, recorded with his new ensemble The Spanish Heart Band, today. Musicians hailing from Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and the United States contribute to the new work, which sees Corea exploring the Spanish, Latin and Flamenco musical traditions, fusing those elements with his distinctive take on jazz piano playing. Stream the vibrant My Spanish Heart below.

Having contributed to the inaugural Tradition Disc release, Sounds Almighty, veteran trombone player Vin Gordon returns to the label helmed by Nat Birchall andAl Breadwinner for African Shores. The first track from his forthcoming nine-track LP was released this week and hears Vin leading on some gorgeous, three-part horn harmonies, atop Breadwinner’s authentic dub reggae production. Check out the track below and pre-order the LP on Bandcamp.

Pianist and keys player Rebecca Nash is soon to release an album recorded with Atlas on Whirlwind Recordings, and this week, premiered its title track, Peaceful King. A reflective and subtle piece of fusion jazz, it contains a fine solos from bandleader Nash and bassist Chris Mapp and culminates in a spacey keyboard coda. Check it out below.

With Equiknoxx, Yaadcore and Swing Ting collabs under her belt, vocalist Shanique Marie returns with a tasty roots reggae cut entitled Our Sitten. Premiered by Reggaeville, its wonderfully candid video sees Marie heading to the market for produce, hangin’ with her peers and enjoying the good life. Check it out below.

Chicago-raised singer, songwriter and poet Jamila Woods released a music video for BALDWIN, the penultimate track from her critically-acclaimed sophomore album, LEGACY! LEGACY! earlier this week. While the track is named after James Baldwin (the celebrated writer born during the Harlem Renaissance, who went on to write powerfully about racial strife and class divisions through his essays and plays,) its video focuses on education in Chicago. The Vincent Martell-directed visual sees Chicago youths attending a seemingly abandoned school (one of 50 closed in Chicago under Rahm Emanuel’s mayorship, Woods highlights in a statement) and engaging in a magical curriculum. It culminates with the young people who feature in the video addressing their concerns about education and hopes for it in the future.

Norweigan three-piece Orions Belte return with a new EP today. Slim contains three groovy instrumental cuts, building upon the diverse music base they laid on debut LP Mint. Note the smooth slide guitar, funky backbeat and range of percussion on opening Cherchez La Ghost – a lowkey scorcher!

Finally, Liam Gallagher always knows how to instil some Manchester pride. His new video for The River features plenty of Manchester scenery, including shots of the Etihad Stadium, Back Piccadilly, the Gorton stretch of Hyde Road, but most notably, Akse’s fantastic mural currently covering the doors to the Roadhouse. The Manchester-based Graffiti Artist has been spraypainting since 1992, the year after Noel and Liam formed Oasis, and does a sterling job of his latest assignment. We’re of course chuffed that there’s a sneaky peak of a Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club poster in the video too!