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Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
She’d recorded albums and won a following in France, but it was last year’s Voyage, her debut for the German ACT label, that put Korean-born singer Youn Sun Nah on the wider European map. Here she travels once again with her distinguished Nordic labelmates, guitarist Ulf Wakenius and bassist Lars Daniellson, who’ve proved ideal musical company. They reach the Middle East with a breathtaking piece of scat virtuosity called ‘Breakfast In Baghdad’. But Nah can also be beguiling when accompanied only by the quiet and gentle sounds of her own kalimba, as on ‘My Favourite Things’ and, much more successfully, on the stunning title track.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
You might not think of chamber music as ‘for the masses,’ as the PR blurb has it, but then, the brilliant bassist’s reference point is the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, the community orchestra that she joined as a five-year-old violin prodigy. Her Heads Up debut Esperanza traversed many genres, but this one brings classical sounds to the mix, with a string trio including supreme session cellist David Eggar, weaving music of rich complexity. Spalding’s vocal flights can seem too indulgent, though she’s helped out on two numbers by the ever-fascinating Gretchen Parlato and on one by a weary-sounding Milton Nascimento. But still, a fresh, inspiring album.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
With a large element of theatre, Kinch alternates raps and instrumental numbers, and the theme is the modern slavery of debt: ‘Today’s fetters are mostly invisible,’ he says. Guest vocalist Jason MacDougall is effective on ‘Help’, Eska Mtungwazi sings superbly on ‘Escape’, but it is Kinch who brilliantly leads a whole cast of speakers in ‘Paris Heights’, satirising the brutality of debt collection. But the other musicians are great too, Femi Temowo on guitar chording like a keyboard when he’s not soloing, and multi-reed player Shabaka Hutchings adding an arresting bass clarinet solo on ‘Trade’. In ‘On The Treadmill’ the mournful horn ensemble echoes early Ellington.