Vels trio, Celestial Greens, Rhythm Section International ***

You have to wait until the end for the title track and its handsome main melody from this happily grooving synth trio, a futuristic veneer to the lounge jazz sound giving a certain slickness. It may be the strongest melody but this highly confident …

Published: 30 Oct 2021. Updated: 34 days.

You have to wait until the end for the title track and its handsome main melody from this happily grooving synth trio, a futuristic veneer to the lounge jazz sound giving a certain slickness. It may be the strongest melody but this highly confident trio know to mine even more. But ignore tracks 3 and 10 which are just interludes and total less than a minute taken together (track 7 is also over before it's begun). As an album for this and also because the tunes are so digestible and poppy it may seem a little skimpy. And yet there are surprises and the thumping almost 1980s feel to 'Quick Zeus' lights things up. A firm impression is that Celestial Greens is an update on 70s and 80s jazz-rock fusion steered via the agile beat of bass guitarist Cameron Dawson. Think Bob James a bit with touches of Chick Corea folded in. The up-for-it Jack Stephenson-Oliver on keys has fun but maybe needs to woodshed more to move beyond the lick and his tendency to cruise inside the groove to fully embrace an improvisational journey. I didn't come away from the record blown away by any solo passages. Drummer Dougal Taylor isn't subtle but stamps his personality on the record a good deal. 'The Winter Games' stretches out a bit more and on 'Pop Stuff' that Yussef Dayes-like weighty groove from Taylor is very listenable and the record certainly puts Vels trio on the map. Stephen Graham

Tags: Albums and EPs

Listening heading into the weekend: Eddie Gale's Black Rhythm Happening remixed by Makaya McCraven hits the spot

Most remixes leave us cold. But not when Makaya McCraven's about. Getting the funky McCraven treatment is Eddie Gale's 'Black Rhythm Happening' and while certainly less rugged or charged with the period energy of the late-1960s it works well on a …

Published: 29 Oct 2021. Updated: 35 days.

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Most remixes leave us cold. But not when Makaya McCraven's about. Getting the funky McCraven treatment is Eddie Gale's 'Black Rhythm Happening' and while certainly less rugged or charged with the period energy of the late-1960s it works well on a skippy, clubby, jazz lounge basis which is what it's supposed to given the whole thing comes over as social music. Back in the summer we also enjoyed the flute and guitar-flavoured groove on 'Frank's Tune' (aka 'De’Jeff’s Tune') another pre-release single from Deciphering the Message. The Chicago drummer and producer's remix album digs deep into the greatest treasures of recorded jazz, in other words, the Blue Note vaults, with among others his take on such classics as 'A Slice Of The Top' from the Hank Mobley album of the same name, 'Sunset' from Kenny Dorham album Whistle Stop, 'When Your Lover Has Gone' from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers album A Night in Tunisia and 'Wail Bait' from The Memorial Album by Clifford Brown. Eddie Gale, the erstwhile Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor trumpeter, died in July last year aged 78. In the early-1960s Gale got to know Sun Ra and he toured and recorded with Ra’s Arkestra throughout the 60s and 70s. And again staying with the avant-garde he appeared on the classic Cecil Taylor album Unit Structures. His own albums included Ghetto Music in 1968 and Black Rhythm Happening, the title track which gets the McCraven treatment here the following year. Deciphering The Message is out on 19 November. Makaya McCraven photo: Blue Note