British artist Bruno Major considers himself a jazz musician at heart. “I learnt how songs work through learning the American Songbook. Cole Porter, Jimmy Van Heusen, Chet Baker and Ella Fitzgerald and later on Randy Newman and Rufus Wainright. Those are my heroes,” explains Major.
His latest offering, “Easily” is the 4th release of his current 12-month project, and is reflective of his penchant for nonchalant, jazz-inflected chord progressions — blended with bursts of modernity. Written on a hazy August afternoon with singer-songwriter Emily Elbert, and an assist from Phairo on production, the track showcases the London-based artist’s talent for crafting classic, minimal and melody-focused compositions.
With soulful vox and universally relatable lyrics such as ‘Just because it won’t come easily, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,‘ Major’s music is certainly easy on the ears. Listen below.
And now for a group you may not know — a Parisian act called Caravan Palace who caught our attention with their modern-day big band sound. Lauded as an exhilarating electro-gypsy-jazz group by NPR and tagged under “ragtime EDM” by Flood Magazine, the band has received critical acclaim in France for their swinging, early-20th-century Left Bank bohemian sensibilities.
Fronted by vocalist Zoé Colotis and founding members Hugues Payen (violin), Charles Delaporte (upright bass) and Arnaud Vial (guitar) alongside Antoine Toustou (trombone, machines), Caravan Palace cites influences as diverse as Cab Calloway and Daft Punk. Their cheekily-titled third album <|°_°|> was released on Le Plan Recordings this October.
Following a stint at Coachella last year, Caravan Palace will be returning to the US in spring 2016. Listen to “Russian” from the latest LP below — c’est magnifique!
Australian instrumental act The Cactus Channel has announced a two-track recording with soul crooner Chet Faker. As formidable fans of both Faker as well as contemporary jazz, this is basically a collab made in heaven for CCP. The two tracks, “Kill The Doubt” and “Sleeping Alone” are purportedly two years in the making, and are available now on vinyl and digital via HopeStreet and Downtown Records. The ten-piece band’s horns and organic instrumentation pair well with Chet Faker’s vocals — who’s typically accompanied by a more electronic backing — and equates to a refreshing hybrid of classic soul and funk. Hear both tracks below.
Get acquainted with Re/ly, a new unsigned contemporary jazz duo out of Providence, Rhode Island. Made up of Bryn Bliska (keys, vocals and production), and Jamie Fried (drums and percussion), their music is a combination of classic jazz and electro-soul that seems perfectly suited for this time of year. On their debut album Bilateral released earlier this month, they “blur the boundary between groove and instability and explore what it sounds like for two musicians to rely on one another.”
Favorites from the LP include “Unravel,” featuring Bryn’s warm jazz-styled vocals which reach full swing when the keys kick in around 1:50, and the all-instrumental track, “You Go To My Head.” Based on the sophistication of their work thus far, this is only the beginning of Re/ly’s career and we look forward to hearing more as the duo continue to cultivate their singular sound.
If you’re into contemporary jazz, you should be familiar with BADBADNOTGOOD. For the uninitiated, BBNG (the title is a misnomer) are a Toronto trio that make inspired instrumental music, fused with jazz and electronic elements. Made up of Chester Hansen (bass), Alexander Sowinski (percussion and samples), and Matthew Tavares (keyboard), all of the members are classically trained musicians who met in college and bonded over a mutual love of hip hop, as reflected in their music. In their relatively short career they’ve collaborated or enjoyed the support of numerous renowned artists, including James Blake, Frank Ocean, Bonobo, and Tyler, The Creator.
For a sampling of their work, stream the percussive “Can’t Leave The Night,” off their third studio album III, released May 2014 via Innovative Leisure (Classixx, Rhye). Also check out their fantastically dark and dramatic reinterpretation of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” below.
DC locals will have the chance to see BBNG work their jazz alchemy at U Street Music Hall this Friday, December 5. Tickets are still available, so get on it.
In honor of the CMJ Music Marathon happening in New York this week, we thought now would be a good time to highlight the Leeds-based group and featured CMJ artist, Adult Jazz. Four years in the making, the British quartet released their complex debut, Gist Is this August. Showcasing a uniquely variegated sound with influences of chamber pop, prog rock, and of course jazz, lead singer Harry Burgess has said that the album explores weighty subjects such as the challenges of communication, empathy, morality, and the search for meaning.
Stream the stirring track “Am Gone,” and if you’re in the NYC area, get jazzed for their CMJ performances below (full schedule here).