Musica Macondo Launch Record Label with Yelfris Valdés’ Debut Album
Digital platform Música Macondo have announced the first release on their newly founded record label: the debut full length album by London-based trumpeter, Yelfris Valdés. For The Onesfeatures contributions from Moroccan Guembri master Simo Lagnawi and Senegalese singer Modou Toure, alongside the Cuban musician’s core sextet. It was recorded at London’s Fish Market Studios and is realised with funding support from Arts Council England.
Música Macondo founder Tim Garcia, who also presents a show on Jazz FM, explains that the label don’t wish to be confined by genre, and aim, ‘to work with artists that seek to push the music forward into new realms.’ Garcia states, ‘it’s always been a dream of mine to release the sounds we believe in at Música Macondo, I guess our ambitions are the same with the label as with the platform: we just want to share what we believe to be good quality, long-lasting music, whether that’s through a label, radio, events or even just playing records out. That has always been the main goal.’
Touching upon his relationship with Yelfris and decision to work together, Garcia explains: ‘I’ve know about Yelfris for a while and have always been mesmerized by his playing and tone. In my opinion he’s one of the best trumpeters out there. I went along to a show where he was playing some of this music as a preview and I had my mind completely blown — his manipulation of his horn, mixed with his influences as a Santero, collaborations with musicians from all over the world all underpinned by his love of electronica – it all just struck me as really forward thinking music.’
Garcia invited Valdés onto his Jazz FM show in 2018, during the campaign for his EP release, and explains that the pair bonded over a mutual love of Cuban rhythms. ‘It’s a real honour to work with a musician of his calibre and especially on our first release,’Garcia confirms, ‘I couldn’t be happier to work with him, we both have a mutual understanding and are on the same wave, I’m really excited to share this music with the world.’
Pre-order the record and stream its second track here.
The Repeat Listen: Vin Gordon – African Shores
Tasting notes: Rico – Man From Wareika, Nat Birchall – Sounds Almighty, Augustus Pablo – King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown
Kingston-born trombone player Vin Gordon is one of those lesser-known musicians who has almost certainly contributed to one of you favourite reggae albums, without you necessarily having known it. His horn can be heard on Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey, Augustus Pablo’s King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown, and Culture’s Two Sevens Clash, to name but three irrefutable classics. While the veteran musician has been playing professionally for over fifty years, his opportunities as a leader have been limited, making the release of his African ShoresLP on Nat Birchall and Al Breadwinner’s Tradition Disc imprint most welcome.
The nine-track album begins with its title tune: an almost bluesy, deceptively quick rhythm, upon which Gordon uses his slide just as a blues guitarist might use theirs: achieving emotive glides between notes and a cultured vibrato on the notes he sustains, playing perfectly into Al Breadwinner’s hands when he notches up the feedback on his Roland echo unit.
Breadwinner’s drums on the track carry the groove along nicely — his sticks dancing on the hi-hat and his woody rimshots darting through the mix without dominating the rhythm. The Gold Coast Dubthat follows is engineer Breadwinner’s reprise of the title cut. While his expert dub touches appear subtly on non-dub cuts, he cuts loose in these instances, with long delay tails, more sudden and dramatic changes to the arrangement, and heavy use of reverb and EQ to change the size and shape of the sonic environment.
Styler Man hears the horn section is full, unified force for the first time. Its sprightly one drop rhythm and chords stabs on the second and fourth beat of each phrase give the track a strong propulsion, striding confidently toward ska territory. Spill Over is the deep cut DJs will never tire of: it’s funky clav thickening the musical broth and upfront hand percussion giving the track and shimmer and swagger. Gordon’s fast runs on Gusum Peck prove he hasn’t lost a step in all his years of playing, while Shucumooku hears the other horn players tackling the trickier phrasing, leaving space for a more relaxed solo from Gordon. While Birchall contributes often to this record, across many instruments, he keeps himself in the background, allowing Gordon’s playing to shine. His only solo is an eight-bar interjection during Shucumooku, but even that comes after Gordon has already played his. Even so, its a tasty and lyrical piece of work from Birchall, whose use of space and relationship with the rhythm is that of a musician who has clearly been immersed in reggae music for much of his musical life.
As it stands, seeing the names Gordon, Breadwinner and Birchall on a contemporary reggae record is an instant marker of quality. Breadwinner’s all analogue Bakery Studio — paired with his mastery at the board and accomplishment on several instruments — ensures authenticity, while the band’s compositions and studio performances are always of a high standard. Tradition Disc’s second LP release is as strong as its first, and continues the lay the ground works for a label that could become one of reggae music’s internationally-recognised greats.
New Sounds and Visuals
Having plays some keyboards on the last Mouse Outfit record, Ashley Henryc ontinues to collaborate with the outfit’s associates, enlisting MC Sparkz as a feature vocalist on his new track, Between the Lines. The tune is a beautiful and uplifting piece of jazz-inflected hip-hop, with trumpet lines from Keyon Harrold and a warm groove laid down by Henry and his studio band. The former Jazz Directors Series residency participant releases his major label debut, Beautiful Vinyl Hunter, in September, and we recommend his music to fans of Loyle Carner, Mouse Outfit and Children of Zeus. Check out the new track and video below.
Greyscale nature footage proves to be the ideal accompaniment for Hania Rani’s delicate and dynamic solo piano composition, Sun. The videography and concept are the work of Bartek Warzecha, while editing and colour correction were handled by Marlena Jablonska. Check out the video below and stream Rani’s new album Esja here.
Fans of the audio-visual work above can comfortably transition straight into this new work on the Real World record label. The peaceful composition of violin player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and pianist Thomas Bartlett is set to black and white footage of falling rain, the focus drifting and sharpening along with the dynamics of the audio. Check it out below.
Mortimer’s new cut Lightning is a soft and soulful piece of roots reggae, with the surprise inclusion of pedal steel guitar slotting right into a composition about love and compassion.
Dub Phizix & Strategy’s new cut Calm addresses the palpable vitriol surrounding current affairs and social issues, with Strategy and Chunky amongst the many showing the wounds of conflict in its accompanying video. It’s a hard-hitting piece of drum ‘n’ bass that calls for a calm head and level perspective in these trying times.
Saul Williams explores the psychedelic regions of dub poetry on his new track, Encrypted & Vulnerable, which features contributions from trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. Its accompanying video sees the artists and their peers congregating on a hillside laid to wild grasses and plants, styled in unique, textured outfits by Autumn Randolph. Williams’ words, richly descriptive and open to interpretation, appear to reference our role within and relationship to cyber-realms – a dizzying, abstract work garnering comparisons to the expression of Sun Ra in the comments section.