Here is the selection of The Wicked Sound favourite / best reissues, historical releases, and lost albums of 2021:
01. Sun Ra Lanquidity (Definitive Edition) [Strut]
Strut presents the definitive edition of Sun Ra’s classic Lanquidity album from 1978 with a brand new 4LP box set and 2CD editions, featuring the widely distributed version of the album alongside alternative mixes by Bob Blank originally released in limited quantities for a 1978 Arkestra gig at Georgia Tech. Both versions of the album are cut loud at 45 rpm over 2LPs each. Recorded overnight at Bob Bank’s Blank Tapes on 17th July 1978 after the Arkestra had appeared on Saturday Night Live, the album is unique in the Ra catalog. There were horn charts but most tracks came out of improvised jams. Sun Ra just did his thing.” Comprising five effortlessly fluid pieces, the album eases in with Lanquidity. The loping groove of That’s How I Feel, features the reflective trumpet lines of Eddie Gale with solos by John Gilmore and Marshall Allen.
02. Lee Morgan Live at the Lighthouse [Capitol Records Blue Note Records]
Lee Morgan Live at the Lighthouse is an expansive collection that presents for the very first time all 12 sets of music the legendary trumpeter’s quintet with saxophonist Bennie Maupin, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Jymie Merritt, and drummer Mickey Roker recorded during their historic engagement at The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California from July 10-12, 1970. Originally released 50 years ago in 1971 as a 2-LP set, and later expanded to a 3-CD set in 1996, this definitive edition of Morgan’s only live album produced by Zev Feldman and David Weiss is available as an 8-CD set and a limited-edition 12-LP all-analog 180g vinyl set that encompasses 33 performances including more than 4 hours of previously unreleased music that lets the listener relive the experience of being in the club for every exhilarating moment.
03. Emmanuel Abdul-Rahim Ft. The Times At Hand Orchestra Harlem [Acid Jazz]
Emmanuel Abdul-Rahim aka Juan Amalbert is an internationally renowned musician, master percussionist and composer. He had led the in-demand Latin Jazz Quintet who recorded for Prestige and United Artists in the early 60s, including Caribé which featured Eric Dolphy. In 1966 he appeared with John Coltrane’s group at the performances that produced the album Live At The Village Vanguard Again. He recorded this mix of latin & spiritual jazz in his adopted home of Denmark in 1988. Sought after for the African influenced Kalahari Suite Harlem is actually 8 tracks of brilliance that sees the veteran performer lead a local band through their paces. A perfect example of America meets Europe.
04. Roots Roots [Frederiksberg Records]
Frederiksberg Records released the first-ever reissue of the self-titled debut of 1970s South African jazz ensemble Roots. Blending jazz and funk with signature South African motifs, Roots was led by the master saxophonist and living repository of the story of jazz in South Africa, Barney Rachabane. Rachabane was part of the influential 1950s Dorkay House scene among the likes of South African jazz notables Dudu Pukwana and Gideon Nxumalo and later appeared on Chris McGregor’s iconic Jazz/The African Sound LP in 1963. In 1975, Racahbane teamed up with trumpeter Dennis Mpale and fellow saxophonist Duke Makasi to lead an ensemble named Roots. The reedmen were accompanied by a formidable young rhythm section comprised of Sipho Gumede on bass, Jabu Nkosi on keys and Peter Morake on drums. Navigating the poles of popular township soul and avant garde Afro-jazz that characterized the South African music landscape at the time, Roots emerged with a crossover sound that would later open the door for the jazz fusion experiments of Pacific Express and Spirits Rejoice in the late-70s. The 2020 reissue of Roots pays homage to the recently retired veteran of South African jazz and contributes to the growing interest in and documentation of the story of South African jazz.
05. Henryk Debich & Orchestra of the Polish Radio and TV City (1978) [GAD Records]
In the mid-1970s, the Orchestra of the Polish Radio and TV under the baton of Henryk Debich was truly second to none. Unfortunately, only a small portion of its works has become known to a larger audience. Now the time has come to restore their due splendor, and to do so we’ll start with their records from 1978. Despite its twenty-five years of existence, the Orchestra of the Polish Radio and TV in Łódź managed to rediscover itself and with every year produced even more modern and more interesting sounds, which fit perfectly into the glass-and-steel Poland, reaching high into the sky. The Orchestra recorded disco tracks based on pulsating drum rhythms, exploited funk-like styles along with some more elaborate forms, almost cinematic in character. City showcases an extensive range of accomplishments of Henryk Debich’s orchestra recorded in 1978, and launches our longer wandering through each year in the vast archives of the Orchestra.
06. Agustin Pereyra Lucena Quartet La Rana [Far Out Recordings]
Argentinian guitarist Agustín Pereyra Lucena’s 1980 album La Rana, features Agustín’s stunning takes on compositions by Ivan Lins, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Agustín’s friend and musical hero Baden Powell. In addition to these, and a number of Agustín’s own compositions including the fifteen-minute masterpiece Encuentro De Sombras, the album’s title track is an idiosyncratic version of Joao Donato’s A Rã (Eng: The Frog/ Esp: La Rana) from his 1973 album Quem É Quem. La Rana is filled not only with Agustín’s fabled guitar playing, but also the warmth, humility and sincerity of a man seizing a joyful moment in life through music.
07. Roy Brooks Understanding [Reel To Reel]
Understanding, a blazing 1970 concert recording featuring the Detroit-born master percussionist Roy Brooks leading a gifted quintet through its spirited paces at Baltimore’s Famous Ballroom. Comprising more than two hours of expansive performances averaging 20 minutes in length, the potent date was recorded by Left Bank Jazz Society and stars trumpeter Woody Shaw, tenor saxophonist Carlos Garnett, pianist Harold Mabern, and bassist Cecil McBee. Projected at a fever pitch, the music operates on the cusp between the ‘60s quintet innovations of Miles Davis (whose “The Theme” closes the gig) and the free-form explorations of John Coltrane and his acolytes.
08. The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble Le-Le [Jazz Room]
Recorded in the 1980's Le-Le by The Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble is a unique one off Spiritual Soul-Jazz outing with Avant Garde touches and more than a hint of Afro-Cuban Orientalism. An adventurous jazz outfit that has been playing around Philadelphia since its formation in 1979. The Ensemble was founded by Warren Oree, an acoustic bassist, producer and composer who continues to lead the band. Eclectic and far from predictable, on this album the Ensemble has embraced a variety of acoustic and electric jazz styles combining them with African and Middle Eastern influences and mixed together with the New Thing have managed to make a timeless underground classic.
09. Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band Tezeta [Awesome Tapes From Africa]
From their genesis as members of the Venus club in-house band in the early 70s, The Walias were at the forefront of the musical revolution during an era where modern instruments and foreign styles superseded the traditional fare to become the staple sound of Ethiopia. No one would argue that The Walias were the trailblazing powerhouse of modern Ethiopian music. They were the first to release full instrumental albums, considered to be commercially unviable at the time. They opened their own recording studio, with band members Melake Gebre and Mahmoud Aman doubling as technical buffs during sessions. They were also the first independent band to tour abroad. In short, they were the pioneers every band tried to emulate; some more successfully than others. Tilahun Gessesse, Getachew Kassa, Muluken Melese, Mahmoud Ahmed and Mulatu Astatke were major early collaborators while the band also gave opportunities to up-and-coming vocalists that would dominate the music scene for decades to come. This Tezeta album is one of those that have been impossible to find for nearly three decades. Sourced by Awesome Tapes From Africa and expertly remastered, its unique and funky renditions of standards and popular songs of the day are so quintessentially Walias, flavorful and evocative. Hailu Mergia's melodic organ, unashamedly front and center in every track, makes even the complex pieces accessible.
10. Archie Shepp Live in Paris (1974) [Transversales Disques]
Transversales Disques presents Archie Shepp – Live In Paris (1974), a never released before ORTF recording performed live at Studio 104, Maison de la Radio (Paris), remastered from the original tapes. Live In Paris (1974) Lost ORTF Recordings sees jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp and his band playing live in the studio for Radio France. This is the first-ever release of these recordings. Shepp is joined by drummer Noël McGhie, double bassist Bob Reid, percussionist Pablo Kino and pianist Siegfried Kessler.
11. Eboni Band Eboni Band [We Are Busy Bodies]
Motown meets West Africa on Eboni Band's self-titled 1980 debut album featuring Motown session musicians and Fred Wesley with production and arrangements from Motown legends Art Stewart and Greg Middleton. 41 years since its original release, Eboni Band's self-titled album receives its first-ever re-release by Canadian label We Are Busy Bodies on June 18. Reinventing itself as a record for the ages, a tour-de-force of cross continental soul and funk, it features session musicians from Motown and Ivory Coast's Eboni Records alongside Fred Wesley (James Brown/Parlimanent). It was produced by Art Stewart (producer of Marvin Gaye's Got To Give It Up and Rick James’ breakthrough album, Come Get It!), and arranged by Greg Middleton. Incorporating the horns and hum of Detroit and Motown with vocals, harmonies and traditions of West Africa (djembe, kora). Group of musicians flew from the Ivory Coast to Los Angeles to 'get down' and record with a sensational group of Motown musicians including James Brown’s bandleader Fred Wesley, Nolan Smith (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder), Ernie Fields, Jr (Rick James, Marvin Gaye), and Quentin Dennard (Aretha Franklin, BB King). The musicians comprised of the four musical groups signed to the Ivory Coast-based Eboni Records were Mamadou Doumbia, Gun Morgan, Amadou Doukoure, Abdoulaye Soumare, Lamine Konte & Fode Drame). The album was later mastered at Motown's Hitsville Studios.
12. Fitz Gore & The Talismen Fitz Gore & The Talismen [perfecttoyrecords]
When it comes to the -rarest of the rare- german Jazz albums, Fitz Gore & The Talismen is in the TOP 5 for sure. Gore, born and raised in Jamaica, came to Europe in the early 1950s. He was completely self-taught on the tenor saxophone and his admiration for the music of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins is more than obvious. In the 1960s he traveled to various cities in Europe with the aim to play with fellow Jazz musicians. Those years surely helped him to shape his unique spiritual ideas in music. Back in Germany in 1975, he formed his own group named The Talismen and recorded his first album Soundnitia from which Song for my Father and Mariella' Amor are taken. The following year he released Soundmagnificat and in 1980 his final album, Soundmusication. Two years before, in 1978, he spent time in Tenerife where he recorded his arguably finest composition, simply titled Gisela (Lion Rock). It came out on 45 rpm single housed in an extremely cool picture sleeve and today it is without question one of the rarest and most sought after german Jazz 45s. All three albums as well as the 45 were released on his own, private label GorBra Records which he ran together with his wife Gisela.
13. Tata Vasquez & His Orchestra Ecstasy [Jazzroom Records]
Super obscure New York Latin Jazz was superbly produced by Eddie Drennon of the massive Disco hit of the early 1970's Let's do the Latin Hustle. Drennon was also a well-known arranger and producer on the underground Latin Circuit and produced this way out, leftfield and very different to the typical Salsa style release current at that time. Suite Guaracha was picked up on by the London Ibiza crew in the 90's and the Ursula 1000 & Gamm Nu-Jazz crew in the 2000's, played all over the alternative club circuit but has still managed to stay under the radar since then. Very different from the usual late 70's Fania outings which might be a clue as to it's somewhat unique sound stylings - funky, gritty, raw, fat jazzy and spooky backing vocals.
14. Pastor T L Barrett I Shall Wear A Crown [Numero Group]
A Civil Rights activist who marched alongside Jesse Jackson, preacher for Earth Wind & Fire, Stax recording artist, “Family Feud” contestant, Stephen Curry soundtracker, high school drop out, and Kanye samplee, Pastor T. L. Barrett stuffed a dozen lives into one. His signature 1971 spiritual soul jam “Like A Ship” has transcended its humble South Side Chicago beginnings, rediscovered by Leon Bridges and Beck and described by Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood as The most euphoric celebratory music that makes you want to jump around the house and explode with joy. This box is the definitive statement on Barrett’s two decades of recordings, 49 tracks spread across five LPs
15. J Dilla Welcome 2 Detroit - The 20th Anniversary Edition[BBE]
From samba and BBE Music announces a special 20th Anniversary edition of one of the most important records in the label’s history: J Dilla’s Welcome 2 Detroit, presented in a deluxe 7” vinyl box set boasting instrumentals, two brand new interpretations by Azymuth and Muro, a stash of previously unreleased alternative mixes and studio outtakes pressed over 12 discs, plus a book revealing the album’s hidden story, told by those who were there. First issued by BBE Music on Monday 26th of February 2001, Welcome 2 Detroit was James Dewitt Yancey aka Jay Dee’s first solo outing and the debut appearance of his new ‘J Dilla’ moniker (bestowed on him by none other than Busta Rhymes). The album also inaugurated the producer-led Beat Generation album series, which would later spawn classic LPs by DJ Jazzy Jeff, Pete Rock, DJ Spinna, Marley Marl, all of whom had been inspired to reach for new creative heights by hearing Dilla’s magnum opus.
16. The Poets of Rhytm Discern/Define [Daptone Records]
The first vinyl reissue of The Poets of Rhythm's galactic, funky masterpiece, Discern / Define. The Poets of Rhythm was a German funk band from Munich, founded in the early 90's by Jan Weissenfeldt and Boris Geiger. In the early 1990s, they perfected the sounds and rhythms of '60s and '70s American funk, under the influence of under the sway of early Kool & the Gang, The Meters, and of course, late '60s James Brown. As pioneers in the burgeoning modern funk scene of the '90s The Poets of Rhythm created new standards, transcending the parameters lesser groups were defined by. With Discern / Define the Poets took their brand of classic funk to the next level by blending elements of rock, psychedelia, afro-beat, jazz and heavy, heavy drums to create a wholly original brand of transcendent, funky soul.
17. Khan Jamal’s Infinity [Jazz Room Records]
Everything Vibe’s Maestro Khan Jamal’s Infinity features a Stellar line up, a drums and percussion-rich sextet that features altoist Byard Lancaster and a Philadelphia-based rhythm section, Clifton Burton on harmonica and the legendary free drummer Sunny Murray. Khan Jamal contributed four of the five songs, while pianist Bernard Sammul brought in a cooking The Angry Young Man. The music stands up to and can be compared to anything released on the great Jazz labels and just like a Classic Blue Note, Prestige, Verve or Impulse release this is an absolute Stand Out Session. For the London, Tokyo and all points West End crowd the Worldwide Sound is The Known Unknown which has been featured on several underground compilations back in the Acid Jazz Heydays of the 1990's, but the whole album is a complete undiscovered gem. Self released in 1984 and long out of print, original copies fetch $1000 and upwards, so Jazz Room Records are proud and pleased to bring this Spiritual Soul Jazz gem out to a wider audience.
18. Hasaan Ibn Ali Metaphysics [Omnivore Records]
In 1964, drummer/composer Max Roach convinced Atlantic Records to record him with producer Nusuhi Ertegun at the helm. Sessions were held in December of 1964 and the resulting album, The Max Roach Trio Featuring The Legendary Hasaanwas released three months later, and until now it was the only released album of Hasaan Ibn Ali. Atlantic invited Ali to record again 1965, this time his own album, with Ibn Ali on piano, Odean Pope on tenor saxophone, Art Davis on bassist, and Kalil Madi on drums. Unfortunately before mixing sessions could turn the recorded material into a releasable album, Ali had become incarcerated on a narcotics possession. Atlantic shelved the album. Thirteen years later that tape went up in flames in an Atlantic Records warehouse in Long Branch, New Jersey. For years a rumor circulated, that a copy of the sessions had been made, but attempts to locate it never turned up a source… until now.
19. Jackson Conti (Madlib & Ivan Mamao Conti) Sujinho [Madlib Invazion]
Sujinho is a Latin jazz collaboration album between Otis Jackson Jr., an American hip hop producer and MC known as Madlib, and Ivan Mamao Conti, drummer for the Brazilian funk band Azymuth. This album features Brazilian samba music and Latin Jazz, one of Madlib's interests (he had covered Azymuth's Papa on Yesterdays New Quintet's Angles Without Edges in 2001.) The collaborative project had started in 2002 as part of the documentary Brasilintime!
20. Salah Ragab and The Cairo Jazz Band Egyptian Jazz [Strut Records]
In 1968, while he was also the leader of the Military Music Departments in Heliopolis, Salah Ragab formed the first jazz big band in Egypt, The Cairo Jazz Band. Some of the best musicians in Egypt of that time were members – Zaki Osman (trumpet), Saied Salama (tenor sax), Khamis El-Kholy (piano) and Ala Mostafa (piano). These recordings present Salah Ragab and The Cairo Jazz Band’s definitive work, recorded in Heliopolis Egypt between 1968 and 1973. Western jazz musicians have been fascinated with the world of Islam for many years, for religious, spiritual, musical and sociological reasons. It was therefore inevitable that musicians of the Arabian North African area would play a part in the interaction of these two musical cultures.