Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 2017 Vol 4 - It's A Mixed-Up, Jazzed-Up, Funked-Up World!

All right now, time to get those toes tapping and booties shaking, international style.

Jumping back and forth between the states, Europe, Cuba, and Africa, between Jazz, Soul, Funk, Folk, Afro-Pop, and Malian Blues, this mix celebrates those artists all around the world who help us get our bodies moving as much as they touch our souls.

Here's my 2017 take on our mixed-up, jazzed-up, funked-up world.

About The Artists/Songs:

1. Bamako - Songhoy Blues: I'm just going to lay it out there. With most of hip-hop presently mired in the muddy, moody, downtempo beat production trends that now dominate the genre, if you wanted to truly get funky in 2017, you had to look to the Africa.  And no African band brought the funk better in 2017 than Songhoy Blues on their sophomore effort Resistance. This song, named after the town in which this young, protest-minded Malian Blues outfit met and formed before having to flee after the imposition of Sharia law, is one of the album's best.

2. Desire - Kamasi Washington: We're going to hit three more tracks from Kamasi Washington's amazing Harmony Of Difference EP on this mix, the first two presenting two more of the album's five  main melodies before we put it altogether to wrap things up.  This song, the album's opener, is the chillest on the EP.

3. Fari Mandola - Amadou & Miriam: Another Malian Blues act and one of the most inspiring husband and wife teams to be found anywhere on the globe, this now legendary handicapped couple - who used to run the music program at Mali's Institute for the Blind before having to flee their native country just like Songhoy Blues and Tinariwen - can still rock an awesome Afro-Pop groove, as demonstrated here in this cut from their 2017 release La Confusion.

4. Ghost Of You - Curtis Harding: For those Big Little Lies soundtrack / Michael Kiwanuka fans, this track from Michigan-born soulster Harding's second album Face Your Fear, which was produced by Danger Mouse just like Kiwanuka's Love And Hate, is going to be right up your alley!

5. Power Of 3 - Ibibio Sound Machine: A multi-national act based in London sporting members born on three different continents, Ibibio Sound Machine is all about merging classic West African Funk with contemporary Electro-pop and Dance Rock trends. This is the first of two tracks from their second album Uyai we'll be profiling here.

6. Young Lion - Miles Mosley: One of the best and most forward-thinking upright bassists in the jazz/hip-hop arena today, Mosley (another member of the notorious West Coast Get Down jazz ensemble that also includes the likes of Thundercat and Kamasi Washington) is known for his broadly eclectic range of styles.  This tune, from his latest solo release in conjunction with the West Coast Get Down, UPRISING, finds him going full-on, old school funk.

7.  Assawt - Tinariwen: There were a number of tracks I loved from this itinerant band of desert nomad's latest Elwan, (like the super moody collaboration with Mark Lanegan, Nannuflay), but in the end, this light, agile number fit best with this mix. 

8. Theme From Life & Livin' It - Sinkane: Sinkane (aka Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab) is a London-born, Sudan and Ohio-raised multi-instrumentalist with an amazing list of industry collaborators, including, but not limited to, his association with the Atomic Bomb Band, a Nigerian funk outfit dedicated to the music of William Onyeabor which also lists the likes of Afro-Funk lovers David Byrne, the Beastie Boys' Money Mark, Blood Orange's Dev Hines, Jamie Lidell, Amadou & Miriam, Pharaoh Sanders, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor and Blur's Damon Albarn amongst its members. And given Sinkane's globe-trotting collaborative nature, it should come as no surprise that TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe lends a vocal assist here on the title track to Sinkane's latest Life & Livin' It.

9. Fayinkounko - Orchestra Baobab: Touching base and chilling out here with one of the most significant African acts of the 1970s, whose surviving members remain active today.  This track is taken from the Senegalese legends' 2017 release Tribute to Ndiagou Niang.

10. Dabari - Songhoy Blues: Another fantastic rocker from Resistance.  Love the guttural, Finding Nemo-ish backing vocals that kick in towards the end of this track.

11. Perspective - Kamasi Washington: The fourth and most uptempo number from Harmony Of Difference

12. Away  - Ibeyi: This is not the first time we've profiled this pair of French-Cuban sisters who consistently deliver some of the best and most distinctive vocal harmonies out there today. Away, from second release Ash, shows them continuing in the spare, minimalist vein of their self-titled debut, to equally winning effect.

13. Freedom Highway - Rhiannon Giddens: Coming back stateside and getting a little folky here for a rousing cover of the Staples Singers' 1965 classic, which also serves as the title track to country-folk star and Carolina Chocolate Drop's front-women Giddens' excellent, multiple-award-winning second solo release.

14. Trance Dance - Ibibio Sound Machine: Here's one more from Ibibio Sound Machine's Uyai.

15. Deadweight - Sinkane: And one more from Sinkane's Life & Livin' It.

16. Matter Of Time - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: And now, before we bring it all together with Kamasi's Truth, a moment of silence for the recently departed force-of-nature Sharon Jones, one of the greatest live performers I've ever had the chance to witness.  I was going to go with Sail On, my favorite track from Soul Of A Woman, her 2017 posthumous release with the Dap Kings, but it now looks like Nancy is going to claim Sail On for her 2017 Favorites mix, so I decided to give Sharon a little more exposure and go with Matter Of Time here.  

17.  Truth - Kamasi Washington: As I said before, this is the song where all those component melodies we've already heard from Harmony Of Difference come together in one of the best tracks of the 2017, every bit the equal of Kamasi's strongest efforts from his 2015 debut The Epic

No comments: