Dem Juju Poets: bringing life, and a few DJ tricks, to Afrofunk
Dem Juju Poets, aka David Hanke, is a breath of fresh air for anyone who likes the idea of retro-sounding Afrofunk but finds that most modern takes are too bland to remember. The German DJ has been making solid Afropunk-inspired cuts since 2008, and his new album, with a lively flow that actually makes you wanna get up and dance, will further establish his name worldwide. The debut LP will be released April 21st via Matasuna Records.
From the Bandcamp bio:
“What initially started as idea for a DJ-duo project quickly turned into a new production outlet for German producer David Hanke. He is well known for his Northern Jazz, Funk and Afrofunk productions under various monikers ever since his first release back in 2008. The most recognized surely is his Renegades Of Jazz-alias.
After starting to fully embrace the Afrofunk vibe with his 2016-released Renegades Of Jazz album ‘Moyo Wangu’ as well as two Dem Juju Poets singles in the same year it’s now about time to release ‘Liberated Thoughts’ – the longplay debut for Dem Juju Poets which is scheduled for April 2017.
Having spent an influential part of his childhood in Arusha, Tanzania and engrained the music of East Africa, his sound combines these influences with modern, more club-orientated electronic Afrofunk productions which defines the core sound of Dem Juju Poets.
With ‘Liberated Thoughts’ Hanke refines his Afrofunk vision for 2017 informed by his experience as a DJ in venues all over Europe which naturally led to a more floor functional production approach.”
Yazz Ahmed: British jazz meets the Persian Gulf
Bahrain-born, UK-based multi-instrumentalist Yazz Ahmed, like Kamasi Washington in the United States, is reintroducing a new generation to modern jazz. Ahmed has worked with These New Puritans and Radiohead (she plays flugelhorn throughout ‘The King of Limbs’), and in her solo music, she combines her British and Arabic roots through jazz and electronic experimentation. Even if you’re not familiar or terribly interested in jazz, Ahmed’s music deserves your attention, and she’ll most likely make you second guess your thoughts on jazz.
From Ahmed’s Bandcamp bio:
“[Yazz Ahmed’s] new album ‘La Saboteuse’ [out May 12, 2017] is a deep exploration of both her British and Bahraini roots. Ably assisted by musicians including Lewis Wright on vibraphone, MOBO-winning new jazz kingpin Shabaka Hutchings on bass clarinet and Naadia Sherriff on Fender Rhodes keyboard, it’s composed of undulating rhythms, Middle Eastern melody and Yazz’s sonorous trumpet lines. The record sounds like the passage of a desert caravan, bathed in moonlight. The theme of ‘La Saboteuse’ is the sense of self-doubt that Yazz feels when she is creating, personified in a female saboteur, an anti-muse that spurs her into action.
‘La Saboteuse’ will be released in four chapters incrementally, unraveling the story, before the full version is available. Each chapter has its own cover, with beautiful illustrations by Bristol artist Sophie Bass.”
One of my favorite artists of any genre is Chet Baker, the late jazz trumpeter who had one of the most unique (and beautiful) singing styles. He was one of the most recognizable musicians of West Coast cool jazz, and his life was full of enough charisma and drug addiction that he helped make jazz itself cooler for a wider audience (he was often known as the James Dean of jazz, and for good reason).
The following video is Let’s Get Lost, a two hour documentary about the life of Chet Baker. The movies goes back and forth between Chet’s early years as a raw talent and his last years as a struggling drug addict (Chet died in 1988 from falling out of his hotel room in Amsterdam. He was 58 years old).
Let’s Get Lost is a fascinating documentary that is worth two hours of your time, regardless of how much you know about Baker or of jazz music in general.
I highly recommend Chet Baker’s music, especially Chet Baker Sings.