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A live-in-the-studio jam feel, deep Prestige-style grooves and some of the nastiest Hammond sounds yet on a Funkstamatics release. Those are the ingredients of "The Reverend". Titled after keyboard player Rob Schepens’ long-standing nickname, the track captures the loose-yet-tight feel of The Funkstamatics’ live shows.
Band member Tim says: “With this track we really returned to our early days, over ten years ago, when we were called Euro Cinema. No overdubs, no effects, just four guys jamming in the studio, inspired by the Blue Note/Prestige hammond funk we all love. We’ve been playing the tune live recently and it’s quickly becoming a highlight of the shows. It’s just so much fun to play and I guess that rubs off on the audience!”
"The Reverend" follows up on "Happy Acorn" as the second in a series of digital-only singles the band plans on releasing in the coming months in anticipation of their fourth album, which will be a musical journey from New York in the 60s to Minneapolis in the 80s and back!

Hot on the heels of new single "Express 76", acclaimed UK funk band Crowd Company return with another taste from their forthcoming third album in the form of "Lowdown", a sassy slice of sister funk that once again features Ryan Zodis &Eric Bloom, the sax & trumpet virtuosos from USA funk band Lettuce.
"Lowdown" is released digitally on November 29th via Vintage League Music and anticipates the band's new album that will see the light of day on CD, LP & Digital on January 31st 2020. Both the single and the album were recorded in Millers Falls, USA at the studio of Alan Evans (Soulive / Ae3) who also produced the record. 
We're not quite sure what Crowd Company have been eating lately but we wouldn't be surprised if it was some high-energy spinach cause they are on a roll and have never sounded better! If first singles "Express 76" and "Lowdown" are any indication of what is to come, we're ready to bet the next album will firmly cement the band's standing as a force to be reckoned with in the global funk scene!

Italian cult combo Calibro 35 release Today “Stan Lee” the first single taken from “MOMENTUM”, the highly anticipated 7th studio album that will hit the streets next  January 24th 2020 on Record Kicks. “Stan Lee” available on all digital outlets and on limited edition 45 vinyl, sees the collaboration with American rapper and producer ILLA J. Former member of super group
Slum Village, Illa J is the younger brother of the late legendary hip hop producer and rapper J Dilla and on his solo carrier he has released 4 studio albums for labels such as Delicious Vinyl, Stones Throw, Bastard Jazz and Jakarta Records.

“After years of only instrumental records”, says Tommaso Colliva “facing ourselves with someone who actually “says things” was not easy, but at the same time it was an incentive to look beyond everything we’ve done before [.] ILLA J is a great musician. He has a way of doing rap that has strong roots in the past, in the golden age of the entire genres even if done in a totally contemporary way. After all, the first "subtitle" of Calibro was
"Italian Golden Age Soundtracks".

Active since 2008 Milan based combo Calibro 35 enjoys a worldwide reputation as one of the coolest independent band around. During their ten years career, they have been sampled by Dr. Dre on his Compton album, Jay-Z Love Child & Damon Albarn, they shared stages worldwide with the likes of Roy Ayers, Muse, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Jones,
Thundercat and as unique musicians they've collaborated with, amongst others PJ Harvey, Mike Patton, John Parish, Stewart Copeland and Nic Cester (The Jet). Described by Rolling Stone magazine's as "the most fascinating, retro-maniac and genuine thing, that happened to Italy in the last years", Calibro 35 now count on a number of aficionados worldwide which includes VIP's fans such as Dj Food (Ninja Tune), Mr Scruff and Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin' Criminals) among others.

The Jazz Defenders produce music that is a modern soul-jazz slant on classic bebop and hard bop, effortlessly channeling the spirit of the golden Blue Note era of jazz. The band's debut album "Scheming" is released on Haggis Records, the label started by UK funk band The Haggis Horns. Jazz has always been a massive part of what The Haggis Horns are about so this marriage was the perfect fit. 
The Jazz Defenders were founded by George Cooper, one of the UK's most formidable jazz pianists, who at only 31 years of age has already amassed a comprehensive repertoire of working partnerships including Hans Zimmer, Nigel Kennedy, U2 and The Haggis Horns. In 2015 George set about choosing some of the finest musicians the UK has to offer to form a group that have since wowed audiences with their superb musicianship and virtuosity.
For their debut album, The Jazz Defenders offer an original set of tunes written by Cooper and each member of the ensemble. Filled with as much playfulness and humor as it is of skilled mastery and musical prowess, "Scheming" is a delight for the ears. From the first to last track it's evident The Jazz Defenders thoroughly enjoyed making this album. There's a connective thread of irony throughout "Scheming", proving jazz doesn't have to take itself too seriously to be of the highest quality.

“blur” is the first track taken from ephemerals fourth album “the third eye”, which explores boundaries both sonically and lyrically. Like“blur”, the album is a challenging but ultimately uplifting listen which uses recording techniques to explore the duality of sexuality with masculine and feminine sounds being panned to different sides to give each side of the brain a different effect.
“blur” talks of songwriter Hillman’s experiences as a teenager trying to visualize her body through blurred eyes in the mirror to see herself as she wanted to be. Hillman takes influence from the yoga instruction to look soft over your hands which has the effect of softening your mind to observe and not judge through the blurring of the hand which in turn led her back to childhood and the way she tried to view herself then.
Delivered with the emotion that is ever present in Wolfgang’s voice the song sets the tone for the album. When recording the song Wolf pictured himself in a psychic hall of mirrors with his personality and all the different aspects of who he really is on show. The combination of songwriter Hillman Mondegreen and singer Wolfgang Valbrun has proved to be extremely successful both artistically and commercially, and this single is set to prove so once again.

The Eminent Stars were founded by saxophonist Ben Mendes and drummer Toon Oomen, who share a common love for the great music of cities like New Orleans in the 1960s and 70s: Dr. John, Freddie King, The Meters, to name a few. Just mix up some soul, rhythm & blues, funk and blues and there you have a record that consists of authentic elements: live recorded, danceable, intriguing, vibrant and fresh! 
"Bumpin' On" is the band's second album and was recorded live in a small boutique-studio in the heart of Amsterdam. Tons of vintage equipment and instruments were brought just to capture the authentic sounds & vibes of the new songs. The location added so much atmosphere that you can truly hear the nightlife of Amsterdam percolating throughout the songs. The setting was a great inspiration for Bruce Jamesto write some truly beautiful melodies and lyrics.
From uptempo floor-filler "Bar Shift", to the moody cinematic flavored "Let's Get Together", feel-good rhythm n blues number "Just One Taste" or organ-dominated instrumental "Mrs Phillips", there's something for every soul fan. With its authentic, handmade sound of an era long gone, "Bumpin' On" shows the amazing ability of The Eminent Stars to write songs, create amazing grooves and give the listeners a real sonic treat!

South-coast based multi-instrumentalist and producer Flevans has had a prolific year, with his full band playing across the country regularly and his 6th studio album scheduled for release in 2020.
And the first offering from that album is a real pop gem! Teaming up once again with soul songstress Laura Vane the pair offer a little nod to Chaka Khan for the bouncing and groove infused pop bubble of "Mr Right". Prince-style harmonies weave between spoken word sections and a sensational top line from Ms. Vane, as Flevans plies his playful and funky production style expertly as always. Electro influences and dancefloor synths line up alongside horns and slap bass to create a jam that everyone can’t help but bump to. Adding more bounce to the ounce the single also includes a brand new, killer instrumental track "Speculate" - Flevans goes back to basics, mixing up gritty percussion, drums loops and vocal samples over a four to floor groove - guaranteed dance-floor heat! If you're already salivating best to prepare a bib, this is just the entree!

20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Rita Ray

1- How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

?? Sorry, but I didn’t understand the question :/ 

2- Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

I am in a really good place right now. I enjoy writing music and singing my own tunes. This is what I have dreamt of for a long time.

3- Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

I will pick my own song: “Disco Stu”. I didn’t have this one song in my album that would make it complete. So – I was messing around in my hometown and suddenly got this main riff stuck in my head. I had these sarcastic and cynical lyrics in my mind and I was singing and playing it, but didn’t have a title so I asked my sister:” what does it sound like?”. She immediately answered: “Disco Stu!”. Because she was watching The Simpsons and I guess the song had kind of a “disco vibe” to it. It is also the most up-tempo one in my album and was definitely favourite one to make. 

4- Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

Definitely The Beatles. Their songwriting skills were just impeccable. Also, I would have to name Aretha Franklin. She was the singer in my life that I have envied for a long time.

5- Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

At one point, I was listening a lot of  “Gentle Giant”. They were an English progressive rock band active in 70s and 80s. I guess, it is not very “my style”. 

6- What are you most proud of?

I am proud of being an estonian. 

7- In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

No. I have never been a fame-searching artist. And as a female singer, it sickens me how our society is pushing those who are most of the time wearing basically nothing. As an artist, I would like to be respected for my music and not for my looks. 

8- What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

I played one wedding and they wanted me to sing and play “Kalinka”. I was really sceptical but few moments later the whole crowd was on the dancefloor.

9- What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

Respect. This is the most important thing. As long as there is respect for other musicians in the band, it is working. Secondly, it needs to be fun. Can’t take everything seriously. 

10- If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

I would’ve loved to play on some Motown’s recording. Just to see how they got the sound and how the recording sessions were etc. 

11- How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

I don’t get tired of music. It is what I do on most of my days. There is always something to do and the work never ends. But personal responsibilities like house chores is a good way to unload. 

12- In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?

Yes, definitely. And I also think since everyone has a chance to make a record these days, there is a lot of let’s say “interesting” music out there. I am not saying that I wish things could be like in the “old days” where labels signed artists and you had to be special and work hard, but a lot of good music came out back then. Can’t deny that.

13- Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band? 

Not always. Success is also very subjective. But I have to admit, I feel happiest when I go on stage and sing my heart out. 

14- DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

I am not a DJ myself so I don’t know how much work they put into their careers. 

15- To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

It was definitely in “Sõru Jazz 2018” festival. I did a tribute to Etta James’s 80th birthday. For the last song “I’d Rather Go Blind”, estonian best jazz musicians gathered on stage as a surprise to do the song together. Kadri Voorand and Liina Saar sang backvocals for me. This was a gig I will never forget. 

16- How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

Of course I get nervous sometimes. Especially before some really big performance. But I breathe slowly and deeply and think happy thoughts. Nothing more special than that. 

17- When did you last write something?

It was in the summer the day before the last recording session. I had booked a studio, but didn’t have the last two songs. So I had to fill the void in my album and wrote those last two. But I am taking a break right now. Although, after releasing my album, I will definitely start to work on a new one.

18- Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Nope, not that I remember. Mama didn’t raise a quitter haha! 

19- What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instruments during recording?

We did everything in my album with live instruments. Horns, strings, original Hammond organ, original Wurlitzer etc. I think that is already saying how I feel about the topic. 

20- Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

It is a good way to look back and think stuff through. Was fun to answer!

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Rita Ray, the young Estonian soul singer and songwriter, just released ‘Disco Stu’, her third single. Latest addition to Funk Embassy Records - Rita is destined to find her place next to the likes of Dojo Cuts, The Dip and Hannah Williams. Previous singles included a mid-60’s R&B reminiscent heart melter ‘Fool For Loving You’ and ‘Lover Man’ - a piano-led ballad that’s surely influenced by Amy Winehouse.

’Disco Stu’ sees Rita Ray flip the switch and reveal her upbeat and cheerful side. Although the artists blue-eyed Soul sensibilities are well present, the listener is treated to a disco thump that makes the feet tap. The crisp production includes a percussion and string section that tips the hat to the works of Alice Russell and Quantic.

Now available on Bandcamp and Spotify, this single whets the fans’ appetite for ‘Old Love Will Rust’, Rita Ray’s upcoming debut album. After being positively surprised by the high praises received for ‘Fool For Loving You’ and ‘Lover Man’, Rita Ray expects this one to show her fans another side of her compositions. ‘’Disco Stu’ makes the album a whole’ Rita reveals.

Check out ‘Disco Stu’ here!

"Rides Again" is Shawn Lee’s first vocal and songwriter album and is a very personal journey into the world of soul-inspired country music. 2019 arrived and the American born and London based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger and filmmaker decided that the time was now. Recorded and arranged very quickly in stolen hours from other recording and touring commitments. The songs came together intuitively and organically.
“This is a very reflective and personal album. I am looking back to my childhood in Wichita/Kansas and thinking about where I’m at the present moment and the idea of an unwritten future. I could have only made this album at this point of my life”, Shawn Lee says. Recorded in London at Shawn Lee’s studio by long time engineer Pierre Duplan, it features Shawn playing all most all of the instrumentals with haunting pedal steel by Joe Harvey-Whyte, Carwyn Ellis (The Pretenders, Edwyn Collins) on keyboards in two songs plus Andy Ross on saxophone and Everton Nelson on violin on one song. Definitely: Shawn Lee is ‘still on the line’.

Who is Leon Dinero? From whence did he come? The soulful singer dropped his first single this past June, tearing up a ska version of Lee Fields & Sugarman 3's classic "Lover Like Me". Backed by The Frightnrs, and with Victor Axelrod in the producer's chair Leon returns with "If You Ask Me", a gorgeous piece of wax that draws inspiration from the deep vaults of Jamaican Rocksteady.

Originally penned for The Frightnrs' debut long player but never tracked as such, this version showcases Dinero's timeless vocal delivery - his voice etched with honey-dipped imperfections that call to mind the classic vocals of Alton Ellis and Hopeton Lewis. Gracing the flip-side is"Bandits", a lyrical takedown of the continuing gentrification of New York City that rides the A-Side's instrumental in pure Jamaican DJ style. Vocal duties for this stellar side are brought to you by Screechy Dan, who's often described as the glue that holds the NYC reggae community together.

Beyond his classic tunes like"Pose Off" and "Big Bills", Screechy has nurtured generations of young artists, sound systems and selectors, forging deep ties that bind Jamaica to New York and veteran artists to the new school. Victor Axelrod expertly handles the production by employing the rhythmic powerhouse that is The Frightnrs to help mine the sweetness of rock steady for the A-side whilst tempering it with the drum and bass toughness of classic rub-a-dub for the flip.

German funk superstars The Mighty Mocambos are back! 4 years since their latest album “Showdown“, the Hamburg groove machine announce new full-length "2066" landing in stores on October 18th on LP via Mocambo Recordsand on CD & Digital via Légère Recordings. 
In anticipation of the new full-length and their premiere tour through France, UK and Germany, Hamburg’s deep funk legends drop a first taste of the album with single “Preaching To The Choir”, an infectious and witty instrumental sermon straight from the church of electric funk.
The single is accompanied by a videoclip directed by Roeler that sees our heroes zulu walking their way through urban landscapes, hoola-hooping, skateboarding, twirling umbrellas and taking over a church while in their crisp, white uniforms and a series of decorative headpieces.

Hannah Williams, the British soul hurricane who sensationally became part of Jay-Z's chart-topping 4:44 album, is primed and ready for her own national and international breakthrough.

Williams turned heads worldwide when the hip-hop superstar sampled her heart-stopping vocals on 'Late Nights & Heartbreak' for the title track, ‘4.44’ on his 2017 album. Now Hannah and her exemplary, Bristol-based band the Affirmations deliver a definitive career statement with the drop-dead soulful new album 50 Foot Woman which will be released October 18th on the Milan based imprint Record Kicks.  

The album captures all of the visceral power of the band's increasingly legendary live performances. Shades of classic Soul and Psychedelic Funk blend uniquely with modern-day flavours on a record destined to set the soul agenda for 2019 and far beyond. “I've never been as proud of anything in my entire career” says Hannah.

Born in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, Williams' father was a musically gifted minister, and her mother let her join the church choir at the age of six. Hannah could read music before she could properly read words, and when she discovered soul by listening with her mum to Motown and Bill Withers,
there was no turning back.

After a 2012 debut with her previous band the Tastemakers, it was 2016's Late Nights & Heartbreak that announced the arrival of Hannah Williams and the Affirmations. But little did she know that Jay-Z was listening.
One day, at herthen-day job running the music department at the University of Winchester, he sent her a text.
Once she'd established that it wasn't a wind-up, and summoned the courage to call him back, she learned that JayZ's producer, No I.D., had played him Hannah's track to inspire his response to Beyoncé's Lemonade,
on which she sang of his infidelities.

Williams was as in the dark about how 'Late Nights & Heartbreak' would be used until 4:44 dropped. But the substantial sample of her voice opened doors she never dreamed of. “It was an incredible catalyst,” she says, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going 'Is this from the '60s? Is she dead?'”

What followed was a year of the band's widest-ever touring including an invitation to perform at Central Park Summer Stage NY, Toronto Jazz Festival and Brooklyn Bowl NY and expanded audiences in continental Europe where she and the Affirmations had already made a mark. Then came the burning determination to make the record of their lives. The captivating 50 Foot Woman is that album, produced by Shawn Lee, a respected presence on the funk/soul scene whose credits include Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey and Alicia Keys. Lee has released five solo albums as Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra on San Francisco label Ubiquity Records and is also one half of the cool melodic pop duo Young Gun Silver Fox.

Now the world will hear what the cognoscenti have known for a while: that Hannah Williams is the real deal, and sings from her very soul. “I feel like my performance comes from my solar plexus,” she says. “The emotional side of it is so intrinsic; I can't take it away from what I do".

September 20th marks the release of "I'm a good woman", the vibrant new single from the fine purveyors of energetic soul and funk music The Soul Immigrants, featuring special guest vocalist Ria Currie (Speedometer, Snowboy, Craig Charles Fantasy Funk Band), a hefty slice of lively retro soul.
The single includes guests from the UK funk & soul scene such as Mark Ashfield (The Get Up) on Hammond organ, Ian Bailey (The Boom Yeh) on saxes and Dave Boraston (Stone Foundation) on trumpet. Kat Sandel on background vocals. This is the sole cover version (originally recorded by Barbara Lynn) on the forthcoming new album "Back From The Brink" which will be released mid Nov 2019 on an exclusive limited-edition Vinyl only release. 
Hailing from South London, The Soul Immigrants have been quietly turning out vinyl 45’s for their own label Dry Rooti Records. Their new exclusive Vinyl only release on Laterilize Records, will feature special guests such as Jamaican artist Freddie Notes.