We welcome summer with a light and floating mixtape unfolding at a relatively steady pace. Nothing too sharp or banging. Rather a warm mix of ambient, soul, jazz and funk that will take you on a pleasant sonic stroll.
From classics by Annette Peacock, Miles Davis and Idris Muhammad to new releases by Loscil, Nils Frahm and Sofie Birch, we'll be covering a couple of decades. This selection also features a soulful reinterpretation of Jefferson Airplane’s 'Somebody to Love' and an eerie experimental track by Herbie Hancock.
Imagined setting: you haven't drawn in a while. Maybe you're not good at it, but you feel like grabbing a sheet of paper and stimulating your imagination for a bit.
We open with a subtle song by ambient composer Loscil. ‘Century’ is taken from The Sails, Pt.2, a follow-up compilation to The Sails, Pt.1 (March 2022 mixtape). Featuring twinkling arrangements and glowing synth notes, it unfurls in the most delicate ways and gently hovers around without ever really taking off.
Unhurried and meditative, ‘Right Right Right’ is the first single from Nils Frahm’s upcoming album Music For Animals. With a playtime over 3 hours, the pianist’s expansive new album is a celebration of tone, timbre and texture. It is devoid of piano and promises to offer an unusually immersive experience. September can’t come some enough!
Improvisation has played an important role throughout Laurence Pike’s musical career. The practice of the Australian drummer and electronic musician lies in experimenting with sounds that range from ambient to spiritual jazz, post-rock and electronica, leading to inventive, rhythmic and abstract compositions. Isola (Italian for island) is the result of a collaboration with long-time friend Cameron Deyell. The dramatic and compelling album represents the geographical isolation of their home in Australia and reflects on its remoteness.
Byrd's (May 2022 / Oct 2020 mixtapes) transitional sessions from 1969 to 1971 are some of the trumpeter's most intriguing works. Regarded as a response to Miles Davis' iconic 1969 Bitches Brew, his 1970 album Electric Byrd is an exploratory set of jazz fusion based on improvisation and experimentation. It was recorded during one of his highest creative peaks and deserves a full listen. With intricate arrangements, exotic percussions and cosmic sound effects, the slow-evolving 'Xibaba' starts as an airy Brazilian tune and morphs into a free-form effects extravaganza before discretely slipping out of focus.
This is a light and sweet ditty by American jazz tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris (Jan 2021 mixtape), taken from his album Cool Sax, Warm Heart. A choir beautifully complements his sax. Both gradually push each other to reach higher ground.
Annette Peacock was an Avant-garde American vocalist, pianist and composer who befriended Robert Moog and was probably one of the first to own one of his famed synthesizers. Blending blues, jazz and electronic music, her visionary 1972 debut album I’m The One is characterized by an extensive treatment of her voice. With a rolling blues groove, ‘Pony’ showcases her distinct phrasing and lyrics.
With Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett on the keyboard, John McLaughlin on the funky guitar, Michael Henderson on the bass and Miles Davis blowing the horn like no one else, this song captures the entire freewheeling sense of change and exploration that the most famous jazz musician in the world embraced back in the early 70s. We're talking of a time when he instigated fundamental paradigm shifts in music and changed the direction of jazz.
Throughout his career, Herbie Hancock (Jan 2023 mixtape) never stopped pushing the boundaries of music and technology. While touring in Japan in 1974, he used the sample-and-hold feature of an ARP 2600 synthesizer to experiment with sound, and created a rhythmic structure for his electric keyboard. The result was ‘Nobu’, a cosmic, forward-thinking track that was released a couple of months later on his album Dedication.
From Fats Domino to Sam Cook, Curtis Mayfield, Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, Grover Washington, Jr., Hank Crawford, Donald Byrd, Georges Benson and Sonny Stitt, Idris Muhammad collaborated with the biggest names of jazz and soul. In 1976, the New Orlean ubiquitous drummer recorded a legendary album that opened with a soul-funk cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’.
Soul singer Barbara Massey and jazz guitarist Ernie Calabria paired up in 1971 to record Prelude To..., a superb soul-jazz outing that featured their own take on Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love.’ And what a take! They seamlessly turned the Summer of Love anthem into a steamy funky jam. With its groovy bass line and meandering pace, this slow burner kicks hard.
Art Farmer is an accomplished American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player who, despite being overshadowed by the great jazz trumpeters of his generation (Davis, Morgan, Brown), stood out as a true original in his way. In 1972, he recorded Gentle Eyes in Austria, an album relatively mellow compared to his other ones. With its great Rhodes intro, smooth horns and first-class orchestration, ‘Soulsides’ attests to the musician’s inventive playing, melodic subtlety and emotional depth.
At the beginning of the 60s, Italian composer Nino Nardini slowly entered the back-then developing world of Music Library. Amongst his many commercial and library LPs was an album he made for the Peer library. It features the refreshing ‘Tropicola’ and is one of today’s most sought-after library records.
We end with warm feelings, rich textures and spacey vibes on Sofie Birch’s latest album Holotropica. The Danish composer continues to delve into serene soundscapes with a release inspired by meditation processes and her pregnancy. Featuring the hypnotizing flute of Astrid Fabrin, 'Surface Pan' sounds like the perfect soundtrack to a psychedelic animated movie.