12/14/11

Fantastic Freedom Concept : Janelle Monáe - Metropolis & The ArchAndroid


Janelle was born Janelle Monáe Robinson in Kansas City, where she spent her early life. Janelle moved from Kansas City to New York to study drama at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

In 2006, Janelle signed to Bad Boy . The label's chief role was in facilitating her exposure on a much broader scale rather than developing the artist and her music, because "She was already moving, she already had her records - she had a self-contained movement.  



Combs and Big Boi wanted to take their time and build her profile organically and allow the music to grow rather than put out "A hot single which everyone jumps on, and then they fade because it's just something of the moment."
    

In 2007, Janelle released her first solo work, titled Metropolis. It was originally conceived as a concept album in four parts, or "suites", which were to be released through her website and mp3 download sites. After the release of the first part of the series, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) in mid-2007, these plans were altered following her signing with Sean "Diddy" Combs's label, Bad Boy Records, later in the year.



The label gave an official and physical release to the first "suite" in August 2008, which was retitled Metropolis: The Chase Suite (Special Edition) and included two new tracks. The EP was generally well-received by critics, garnering Janelle a 2009 Grammy nomination in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance for her single "Many Moons", festival appearances and opening slots for the indie pop band Of Montreal. Janelle also toured as the opening act for band No Doubt on their summer 2009 tour.





Janelle Monáe told MTV about her concept for her new album and also discussed her alter-ego named Cindi Mayweather, she said:

Cindi is an android and I love speaking about the android because they are the new “other”. People are afraid of the other and I believe we’re going to live in a world with androids because of technology and the way it advances. The first album she was running because she had fallen in love with a human and she was being disassembled for that."


 
In a November 2009 interview, Janelle revealed the title and concept behind her album, The ArchAndroid. The album was released on 18 May 2010. The second and third suites of Metropolis are combined into this full-length release, in which Janelle's alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather — also the protagonist of Metropolis: The Chase Suite — becomes a messianic figure to the android community of Metropolis. Janelle noted that she plans to shoot a video for each song on The ArchAndroid and create both a movie and graphic novel based on the album.



The Metropolis concept series draws inspiration from a wide range of musical, cinematic and other sources, ranging from Alfred Hitchcock to Debussy to Philip K. Dick. However, the series puts Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis, which Janelle referred to as "the godfather of science-fiction movies," in special regard. 

Aside from sharing a name, they also share visual styles (the cover for The ArchAndroid is inspired by the iconic poster for Metropolis), conceptual themes and political goals, using expressionistic future scenarios to examine and explode contemporary ideas of prejudice and class.


Both also include a performing female android, though to very different effect. Where Metropolis android Maria is the evil, havoc-sowing double of the messianic figure to the city's strictly segregated working class, Janelle's messianic android muse Cindi Mayweather represents an interpretation of androids as that segregated minority, which Janelle Monáe describes as "... the Other. 

And I feel like all of us, whether in the majority or the minority, felt like the Other at some point."
Janelle received the Vanguard Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers at the Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in 2010. Her success is also due to her raw talent as a vocalist.

She inhabits each style with natural grace, nailing the subtleties of rapped verses and tight harmonies as well as she can belt out a climax or deliver a punky growl.
In an interview, Janelle stated that she plans to release two albums in 2012. In the same interview, she said that she plans to tour with some "big names" and "a big band" in 2012. 



While the tour is not yet announced, Janelle Monáe did say that she will perform at Staples Center for three nights in a row. In another interview with Forbes, she also said that she plans to release an ArchAndroid inspired film.

11/26/11

Powerful Jazzy/Funky Soul : Ledisi

 
Ledisi Anibade Young is an American recording 
artist, singer-songwriter, record producer, CEO and actress. Her first name means “to bring forth” or “to come here” in Yoruba (ethnic groups in West Africa). Ledisi is known for her jazz influenced vocals.




In 1995, Ledisi formed the group known as Anibade. After unsuccessfully trying to get the group signed to a major label, she formed LeSun Records with Sundra Manning. Along with her group Anibade, Ledisi released an album entitled Take Time. The album gained major airplay from local radio stations.


In 2000, Ledisi released her first album, Soulsinger: The Revival. Ledisi and her group toured in 2001, performing various shows. 

In 2002, Ledisi released her second album, Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue, which was also released independently. 

The album featured the singles "Feeling Orange but Sometimes Blue", "Autumn Leaves" & "Sugar/Brown Sugar".



The album won her an award for "Outstanding Jazz Album" at the California
Music Awards. 
During her five year hiatus, Ledisi made appearances on soundtracks.

In 2007, she signed with Verve and released "Blues in the Night" which featured on the tribute album, We All Love Ella: Celebrating the First Lady of Song.





In 2007, Ledisi signed a major record deal with Verve Forecast and released her third album entitled Lost & Found, which sold almost 217,000 copies and earned her two Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist.


video

In 2009, Ledisi released her fourth album, Ledisi explained the album's title reflected its musical diversity: "The title 'Turn Me Loose' is basically me saying : 'I don't wanna be boxed in! Let me be myself as a performer and singer, because I do EVERYTHING! Not just one particular style!'.


Ledisi toured with R&B/soul singer Kem on his North American INTIMACY Tour.


Ledisi's sixth studio album,  Pieces of Me, was released on June 14, 2011. Ledisi has performed at the White House 3 times at the behest of President and First Lady Obama.





Special appearance on : Trombone Shorty – For True 

11/3/11

Collective Acid-Jazz : Live Tropical Fish - The Day Is Too Short To Be Selfish



Live Tropical Fish comprise of Fabrizio ‘Doc Bix’ Poli, Antonio ‘Lurpak’ Fernè and Salvatore ‘Salvo’ Pignanelli. They originate from the northern Italian city of Bologna where they were formed in 1992 out of their love for black music and a desire to experiment working in and amongst many different styles and sounds.

Their first album titled Shape Your Life  featured the saxophonist and leader of the Groove Collective, Jay Rodriguez and their music has since appeared on countless world-wide acid-jazz, funk and soul compilations.
                  
 



In 2003, after a period of inactivity, the band reformed with several new members and has recently completed work on their sophomore project: The Day Is Too Short To Be Selfish :) Released on LTF Records on 1st April, 2010, it’s a 12 track journey that was recorded between Bologna, New York and London, expressing a love for all things Afro, Latin, Funk, Jazz and R&B.

Every track on the album tells a story and reflects the different personalities of the composers and their musical background. A number of special guests from the world of contemporary soul music feature and include: Omar, Deborah Jordan, Laurnea, Alison Crockett, Nick Rolfe, April Hill and Maya Azucena.


The full line-up of musicians appearing on the album include Doc Bix (percussion), Lurpak (bass) Salvo (guitar) and other accomplished musicians such as Pino De Fazio (piano and keyboards), Mirco Zagnoli (drums), Adriano Pancaldi (saxophone and horns arangements), Federico Tassani (trombone) Fabio Morgera, a trumpet player well known as a member of the Groove Collective, Stefano Serafini, trumpet player with Mario Biondi and Daniele Giardina, trumpet player with Fiorello’s Orchestra.

 
The band has many years experience of playing live both in Italy and abroad and have opened for concerts by Earth, Wind and Fire in 1998 in Switzerland, for Chuck Berry and Willy DeVille at the Pistoia Blues festival in 2005, and have performed at the Blue Note Club in Milan in the same year.

Live Tropical Fish have been the resident band during 2009 at the highly popular “Bravo Caffe” in Bologna, one of the leading clubs for live music. Here they’ve performed monthly with a number of different international and national guests who also feature on the new album .



11/2/11

Delightful Soul Rarity : Sandra Nkaké - A New Shore - Mansaadi

 

The main reason for opening my iTunes account was...for her, Sandra Nkaké, impossible to find…You know in the other ways & couldn't wait. So that was my 1st purchase, 3 years ago…


Sandra Nkaké is stunning from the first notes, she gives you an uppercut :) You are breathless the first time you listen to her and see this young woman, specially thanks to her incredible voice and her fire temperament on stage.. From a French-Cameroonian culture, she's totally comfortable with both French and English & mix Jazz, Soul and R&B. Her diversity goes beyond language, she is also adroit in handling diverse styles.



One second, the Jazz or the Funk influences are evident, and then the Opera and European folk elements surface, and without hesitation, all of that may be chucked aside as Sandra Nkaké employs the sounds and languages of West Africa, with talent and incomparable imagination!
And you should have some to assure the 1st part of Al Jarreau's show, alone on stage, using a simple machine recording live the rhythmic and her melodies.

As an evidence, her resumption of Georges Brassens song ' La Mauvaise Réputation' on her 1st album MANSAADI (little mother) dedicate to her mother, who died before having seen her daughter on scene. Her mother used to listened to BB King while she was pregnant. Years later, when Sandra was carrying her own child, she heard BB King and inexplicably was emotionally overwhelmed and started crying.



Her debut at 35, in today's youth-oriented music industry, is a delightful rarity. What Sandra Nkaké has...is taste. She is gimmick-free, in that she doesn't rely too much on just one technique. Murmuring voice, throat deployed shouts, whisper words : her universe as a singer, performer and actress seems to be endless. Association of generosity, sensuality and talent, Sandra is a musical UFO!



Soul diva, of-the-wall rocker and song-writer : she slams, protests and invents a universe which she does not have cease to reinvent, to explore, as to recall us that 'the life is a gift'.
It's your turn to discover this prodigious artist, you can't compare her to anybody… Sandra is Unique!

An useful link: A Tribute To Gil Scott Heron - A Place For You

http://www.enmemetemps.com/aplaceforyou/

 

11/1/11

Harmonic Hip-Hop : Tumi And The Volume - Reality Check - Pick A Dream

In honor of all South African singers, I pick up this group to commemorate 1990, the official end of apartheid and my daughter birth "Léa".

With a sound shaped by urban South Africa and honed during incandescent live performances, the Johannesburg quartet Tumi And The Volume have quickly forged an identity as rising stars of new African music.




They have released three albums in six years, yet Pick A Dream feels like their first proper studio album. Following At The Bassline, recorded in concert, and TATV, which also had a ‘live’ feel, they have developed a precise sleek sound, pulling in a wide range of atmospheres. 
With this new offering, the group have really opened up their music to embrace the world.

                

Styling themselves as headless men, their quest for identity takes them into hypnotic waves of strings and percussion ("La Tête Savante"), where butterflies gently break bad news ("Through The Sunroof"), things are tough, frustrations many, and life spools along as in a film ("Moving Picture Frames") and where rebellion meshes with hope ("Play Nice").

It’s Hip Hop – as on killer track "Asinamali" and the explosive "Reality Check" – with added dimensions.

There’s a South African flavor throughout, especially on "Limpopo", but the message is universal and delivered in stunning poetic force by master MC Tumi Molekane.


The album contains a few surprises too with Danyel Waro guesting on vocals and kayamb.

This new project extends beyond music - they asked Hippolyte, a young French artist living in La Réunion, to supply the artwork. The result is a great album cover and a little graphic story inside the booklet which tells a mythological tale about the group’s beginnings. 



It’s a beautiful piece of work, and one which you can’t download.

With Pick A Dream, TATV take their place as the most powerful African voices for the new generation. Turn up the volume!

10/23/11

Voice Exploration : Camille - Ilo Veyou

Camille, records her first album, ' Le Sac des filles ', while she's still student. Yep, another French... Good singer!  :)



After some collaborations on various albums, such those of Magic Malik, Gérard Manset or Jean-Louis Murat, she records her second opus, praised musical UFO by the criticism: ' Le Fil '. The awards rain and the public is conquered. She multiplies scenes and proposes during each of her performances some real shows, decorated with surprises - duet with artists in universes eclectic as Saïan Supa Crew. French major figure of the new  scene, Camille mixes the kinds and throws back the standardization, with an asserted objective: ' fight against the envy to overcoming '.

Camille appears to the cinema. In 2001, she represents in 'Les Morsures de l'aube', the first movie of Antoine de Caunes, where she embodies a singer, and then, in 2007, she attacks a quite different register by lending her voice to the cartoon movie 'Ratatouille', Camille returns with a new entitled album ' Music Hole ' in April, 2008.



After a bracket with the short-lived group ' Les Françoises ', that she forms the time of the 'Printemps de Bourges' 2010 with Jeanne Cherhal, Emily Loizeau, Olivia Ruiz, Rosemary de Moriarty and Big Sophie, she's back with this fourth album, ' Ilo Veyou '.


Recorded during her pregnancy and in some churches…great acoustic, it spreads admirably exaggerated love songs. With healthy and organic ingredients, her material music reveals attractive textures and a transcendence's taste , which verges on happiness.



10/17/11

Awesome Acoustic : Lala Joy - Winter Garden / Jardin D'Hiver - Il Y A



With a soft name Lala Joy's, this young singer Author / interpreter is at present in full recording of his first solo album: Il Y A.
She takes back, in a sacred willow, in an acoustic version of Jessie J's tube- Do It Like A Dude.




Then, enchains with her version of Henri Salvador's tube - Winter garden/Jardin D'Hiver.Click on the title 4 listen :)
And, again, her soft voice rocks us from the first seconds. A resumption in guitar voice to look some more of depth to this multi-piece broadcasted a few years ago, which finds here a second life.




An attractive moment with a singular artist who should make very quickly, speaks seriously, about her …

10/15/11

Funk, Jazz, Rock or Soul : Charles Pasi - Better With Butter - Uncaged



This dreamer observes as much the past as the present to better build and understand the future.          


Charles Pasi is a French-Italian and if he grew in Paris, he spent many of his summers across the Atlantic to listen to Miles Davis, Otis Redding, Ray Charles or Bob Dylan.



Down from his 27 years, he speaks to us about a time that some less than thirty years should better known. When he begins the music at the age of 17, Charles doesn't choose an electric guitar but a harmonica.

Against the advice of all, he follows his idea and takes singing & instrument lessons. Having joined a Gospel group, then having studied music in Italy, he picks up several springboards and prizes, skims the jam-sessions and, having ended finalist of International Memphis Blues Festival in 2006, begin an international tour ( United States, Canada, Russia, Hungary, Benelux, Italy, Spain) with his first album, Mainly Blue.




If his first opus was tinged with Blues, his successor Uncaged, is unclassifiable.

Charles often delivers dark texts on melodies with diverse colors. Passionate and enthusiastic, the arrangements are a mixture of influences Blues, Funk, Jazz, Rock or Soul, following the example of Wild it up, title frank as an uppercut in tones Red Hot Chili Peppers or Fume Against the Hatches...



A happy marriage to discover with Better With Butter, generosity in the rough which will make you sway hips as well as on a James Brown and will tempt you to see again all Bertolucci or Ferreri.

The singer distills with talent his wide influences and invites in the passage the legendary Archie Shepp's saxophone for two titles!





The phrasing clashing of the saxophone mixed with the captivating voice of Charles Pasi not betrays a second that half a century separates both men. Once upon a time Charles Pasi, delivers with Uncaged a poignant testimony of what can be the music of yesterday handed back with current tastes and skillfully mixed by a current passionate person. Charles Pasi is a young talent to followed closely.





Archie Shepp


- Pioneer of the free Jazz, the saxophonist evolved towards a music merging the constituents of the Jazz since his origins,Superstar of the saxophone Jazz,Archie Shepp (born in 1937) is, since his debuts, a free musician!

An Alive JAZZ legend ;)

10/11/11

Crossover Jazz : Terez Montcalm - Love - Voodoo

 

An unforgettable voice, an unique way to treat the rhythms and the words. Terez is an atypical jazz artist, she has an incredibly disproportionate voice, which transcends and kidnaps you from the first measures with this hoarse stamp which moved sometimes in incredible howling. We often compare her with Janis Joplin, Edith Piaf and Ella Fitzgerald, all combined in a single person.




And nevertheless, she remains unique and original. She begins really young to play guitar with her brother, they were listening to any kind of music from Jimi Hendrix to Billie Holiday passing by Zappa, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, who remains at this day one of her favorite artists. 
 


At the end of the 80s, she's in Alberta  where she collaborates with a local theater. During this stay, she shares the stage with The Cowboy Junkies and Robert Charlebois. On returning to Quebec, she gives a series of shows and brings out her first album Risk, in 1994. She makes the promotion with hundred of shows in Quebec, in France, in Belgium and in Switzerland.

Her second album, Speaks not so hardly, goes out in 1997, followed by another big tour through Quebec. Her third recording, Térez Montcalm, goes out in 2002. After few months on the road, she decides to have a break to get fresh ideas. She spends some years to deepen her learning of the bass and to polish up her writing.






Voodoo, her most ambitious album, is the result of this introspection.
On this album, Térez Montcalm offers three original compositions of her own invention, several great classics of the jazz and also songs of Eurythmics, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix and Claude Nougaro. She restores life in these well known melodies by filling them with colors and with her particular jazzy accents. For this album, she teams up with legendary Michel Cusson, composer and musician of extraordinary jazz.





Don't buy this album...Don't go to her concert you will become addicted. Now you are aware...She is outstanding!

10/9/11

Acoustic Guitar : Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams





The story of the surfing champion reconverted  to songwriter … Sober  acoustic guitar, a languishing stalk of voice, a velvet rhythmic, ever simplistic simple melodies, Johnson seems to have been inspired by some warm sand to draw the inspiration of his ballads.






'Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart', sings Johnson, laying out the mission statement for In Between Dreams in its opener “Better Together”. 
  
It tends to focus on relationships.This could be a good or a bad thing as far as you’re concerned, but it has never really been the substance that matters with Jack Johnson—as the cliché goes, it’s all in the delivery.





First single 'Sitting, Waiting, Wishing' is Johnson’s most well-realized song and it contains plenty of the subtle chord changes and even subtler wordplay that made that song great. 

Highlights are 'Better Together', the tune is infectious and his voice is dreamy, 'Banana Pancakes', because it's such a cute concept and such a rainy summer day anthem, and 'Never Know' my favorite on the whole album.

 


The guitar sounds so amazing, it blows me away every single time. I cannot get tired of this song.

It is a wonderful album with music that is mellow, fun, romantic and in general, just enjoyable. What I like best about his music is that it can be all of those things without being sappy, boring or repetitive.
It is great music to listen to and relax while doing whatever :)




Jack Johnson I think is one of the rare artists that seem to be able to really paint a picture in your mind. And I mean a clear vivid image. It just puts you in such a happy and relaxed mood. My favorite time to listen to it… at the beach.

Enjoy the Ride!

Steve Jobs : Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish !





          Steve Jobs

          1955-2011

10/6/11

Flawless Neo-Soul : Jill Scott - Who Is Jill Scott? / The Light of The Sun



Neo-Soul vocalist Jill Scott known as a spoken-word artist, does everything in her own way. Jazzyfatnastess move over because here she comes! You can add her to the growing list of this movement which blends old school R&B, Jazz and Hip-Hop into an infectious mix…This time, I will talk about 2 of my favorite albums.

1- Who Is Jill Scott?

This impressive debut album guarantees that no one will be asking "Who is Jill Scott?" for much longer. A classic mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop, spoken word, and bluesy melodies makes of this record, the best in its genre. 
On the whole is just a beautiful and emotional experience of love. Everything that is in this album is sung exotically from the heart. Crammed with love and desire, Scott expresses her deepest, inner-most feelings in remarkable honestly and astonishing professionalism. Jill, where have you been?



Comparisons to Erykah Badu and D'Angelo, while accurate, fail to convey the power of Scott's expressive voice which can sound sensual or deeply spiritual on one track and have an innocent childish quality on another.

This Philly native's sometimes poetic lyrics are refreshingly honest and unique. Although much of the album is concerned with love, she brings to the listener that urban female perspective that is just now receiving airplay again after a long hiatus.

The album opens with "Jilltro," which is a fantastic intro to open such an accomplished album. She introduces herself with haunting vocals and echoing beats, before moving into "Do You Remember?" which is a classy and seductive slow-jam ballad. 

This is a vivid and soothing song that sets the standard for the rest of the album, as Jill's thick vocals slide over the heavenly beats. "Exclusively" follows this up, and is a humorous insight into Jill's personality and how in love she is with her man.



The song only lasts for little over two minutes, but is an album highlight for sure. You don't hear many female artists singing with such honesty like this, so prepare to be stunned. & on & on… Just allow yourself to listen to the rest… Although I love every single song on this album, if I had to pick my favorite, I would choose 'He Loves Me'. It's simply amazing, and describes exactly how I'd like to be in a relationship ;)... I know I'm dreaming!



Artists like Scott are redefining soul music for a new generation and proving that one doesn't need a crew of backup dancers, a flashy image or vulgar lyrics to entertain.

2- The Light Of The Sun

With this one, it sounds like Jill Scott is having fun making music again. It's recalling an era when tempos were slower and voices less Auto-Tuney. It's a welcome flashback. She has divorced, been left by her subsequent partner and had a baby, all of which have left their mark on this pained but triumphant record. 






Having long preached resilience and self-empowerment, she's now practicing them, turning bruising experiences into uplifting sung-spoken pieces about being down but never out. Musically, she dips into Jazz, Hip-Hop, Funk and Soul, satisfyingly adapting each to her elegant vocals.

She and rapper Eve are fierce together on 'Shame'; contrastingly, a supple, 90-style R&B duet with Anthony Hamilton, 'So in Love' is simply sweet. Slipping and sliding around the fluttering beat on the sparing 'Quick', she vents her distress: "I thought you were special/I feel it in my stomach, I can't seem to move on." 



Sonically, the most adventurous thing here is the long, spaced-out 'Le Boom Vent Suite', but it's Scott's warm womanliness over the whole album that makes it a must-hear!

RULE!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS JILL!

For The Show... She's Great!


Same For the sound :) Special dedicate for Mum...


10/5/11

Infectious Electro-Jazz : Mr Scruff - Ninja Tuna


Mr Scruff makes such a good sound that his record company even authorizes him to draw badly big whales in the shape of balloons on its cover album. 

More seriously, Mr Scruff built up to himself a graphic and special personal sound who made of him one of the members most respected by the label Ninja Tune.

And that makes everything crushes ten years ago when his first record 'Keep It Unreal' became cult after his release only with the piece 'Get A Move On'. 




7 years later with 'Trouser Jazz', and after some mixed compilations where he shares his rather funky influences, he's back with a real album Ninja Tuna. 
A record which will help him to unstick to the easy-listening label, because he tested every piece in club and validated their efficiency.



It's true that the groove is omnipresent in Andy Carthy's titles, to begin with 'Test The Sound' which acquaints with your speakers and verifies if they are authorized to allow to pass big beats , jazzy melodies and hip-hop flows .

OK let's go there, our mister 'Potatoes' invites Alice Russell on 'Music Takes Me Up' who teleports us in a piano bar where everybody would pay with spirit its piña colada's round.

You'll always distinguish a point of humor in these pieces which would even force a grin to inspector Derrick: no effort at all for speaking of the already classic and cheerful 'Donkey Ride', and let us discover the house pumpin of 'Get On Down', and then the R' n B dynamic of 'Hold One' and the very soulful 'This Way' well served by the pleasant voice of Pete Simpson.





'Hairy Bumpercress' is an old fashion jazz ballad and 'Whiplash' offers its lesson of dive in corals sometimes sharpened, sometimes comfortable with its aquatic bass line. 

Always there to trap us in a conceited trap, Roots Manuva makes an appearance on 'Nice Up The Function' which combines dubstep spirit and discreet trumpets, directly followed by the annoying man 'Bang The Floor' where Mr Scruff has fun with Danny Breaks sending us some heavy groove.



 


The carnivals 'Kalimba' &'StockportCarnival' give the occasion to brass instruments to show themselves under the sun of Rio. 
  
Who wanna mess around and test the sound?

9/23/11

Smooth Jazz: Tok Tok Tok - 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

 

With that in mind, I'm at a loss to explain how Tok Tok Tok's album 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover is so enjoyable. It's got all the classic earmarks of the smooth jazz movement - simple stripped-down arrangements built around upright bass and saxophone behind a soulful female vocalist with the occasional bit of percussion thrown in to round out the mix. And the track listing doesn't exactly inspire confidence that we're in for an exciting time. 



Amongst the artists whose back catalogues are mined for this all-covers album are Paul Simon, Burt Bacharach, and Gilbert O'Sullivan. On paper, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover looks like little more than a trite album of elevator music that no self-respecting music lover would ever want to sit through from start to finish.

It doesn't take more than a moment or two of actually listening to the album, though, to realize how misleading those simple summaries are. Consider the title track, for one. Olaf Casimir's and Morten Klein handle acoustic bass and tenor sax duties masterfully sliding between slow-burning, soulful verses and the bouncy pop of the choruses to really bring the song to life.



Klien also doubles on percussion, creating all the drum sounds vocally with a beat-box precision that any college a capella group would kill for. Give a listen to the their take to The Beatles' Day Tripper, that translates that familiar guitar riff to a bouncy, playful bass line. 
Jump over to the band's take on Stevie Wonder's I Wish, which creates a neo-soul wall of sound with just that single bass with over-dubbed saxophones, backed by those vocal drums. They capture the somber melancholy of the traditional spiritual tune Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child the joyous energy of Ray Charle's Hallelujah, I Love Her So, adding in a Fender Rhodes piano to the arrangements of those sounds to round out the sound.




Tok Tok Tok definitely do some great work with songs that already have a jazzy element to them, but it's even more impressive to see how well they reach further afield for their songs. Take their interpretation of AC/DC's The Jack for example. 
Stripped down to a slow walking bass line and swingin' sax riff, it’s the kind of song you'd expect to hear at two in the morning in a smoky, dimly lit jazz club that Bon Scott and Angus Young would never set foot in. And the above mentioned Gilbert O'Sullivan? Tok Tok Tok take the weepy schlock-pop of his Along Again (Naturally), gussy it up with some syncopated tropical island jazz rhythms, and turn it into a sweet little melancholy escapist fantasy. 


They even manage to take cheeky vaudevillian pop the Beatles' songlet Her Majesty and work it into a sultry little jazz ditty.
The jazzy instrumentation on 50 Way to Leave Your Lover lends a great deal of appeal to the album (despite how easy it may be to incorrectly classify the sound as "smooth jazz"), but the lion's share of the album's charm comes from singer Tokunbo Akinro's voice. Her deep, breathy voice captures the same sultry sensuality that made singers like Nina Simone, Sade, Lena Horne, and Billy Holiday so memorable. 

And her pipes are just as good at putting a playful spin on the words as they are at bringing the inherent sensuality of the lyrics.



While the easy label for 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover is "jazz," the album has an eclectic, quirky nature that makes it difficult to truly nail down. There are enough rock and pop songs to be found amongst the source material that listeners who aren't normally fans of jazz will find something to hook them in. 
It's far from the most energetic, bombastic album out there, opting most of the time for a low-key, subdued charm, but that just helps it to stand out from all the heavy handed, big name albums out there today. No matter what you may think of the original version of the songs presented here, Tok Tok Tok's interpretations are well worth a listen.