Joint (July) Album Of The Month (With Seasick Steve)
(5 / 5)
One of my personal absolute favourite releases of 2020 of any genre – Bahama Soul Club drop their sizzling fifth album “Bohemia After Dawn”.
It should be filed under nu-jazz/Latin jazz apparently, but for me, you should look under “perfect summer soundtrack”, “sheer class”, “very clever production values” and after a four year effort to make this gem, “ an obvious labour of love”.
Samples from blues legend John Lee Hooker and icon Billie Holiday, plus 1940s/50s gospel, r&b and rock and roll star Sister Wynona Carr, add star value.
They also call on new “local” singers and a few vocalists who have worked with BSC on previous releases. We are also treated to a brace of re-mixes of cuts on the album too.
A German soul outfit who work out of their Portugal studio. Oliver Belz formed The Bahama Soul Club in 2005, under the name of The Juju Orchestra, blending soul, jazz, funk, blues, bossanova, Afro and Caribbean influences in their music.
In 2008, the band’s name changed to Bahama Soul Club and their first album under the new name, “Rhythm Is What Makes Jazz Jazz” was released, featuring Isabelle Antena from Nouvelle Vague and Pat Appleton from DePhazz.
The second Bahama Soul Club album dropped in 2010, “Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky” with guest singers including Xantoné Blacq from Amy Winehouse’s band, John Turrell, Kojato and Pat Appleton. It became the band’s biggest success.
Third album, “The Cuban Tapes” saw the light of day in 2013 – full of Cuban rhythms and tropical flavours, featuring guest vocals from Danay Suarez, Arema Arega and Telmary Diaz from the contemporary Cuban scene. Plus a sample from Bessie Smith, and guest spots from Spanky Wilson and Ruthie Foster. A three year wait for album number four, 2016’s “Havana ’58″.
So, album number five: Well worth the wait…A dozen tasty cuts on “Bohemia After Dawn”, including Billie Holiday’s classic track “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, given a fresh lease of life, featuring Lady Day’s fabulously dusky vocal herself. One of the best tracks of 2020 so far…
Billie’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” was penned by Everett Robbins and Porter Grainger. Bessie Smith recorded it in the 1920s, Jimmy “The Spoon” Witherspoon in the 1940s and Billie Holiday made it her own in 1949.
The groove soaked Billie Holiday reworking reminded me of the wonderful UK outfit Down To The Bone, and the John Lee Hoooker track here, “Never Roam No More”, to the similar idea of revitalising old blues vocal samples, on two superb volumes of albums titled “Electro Blues” in 2013 and 2014, from Brighton label Freshly Squeezed Music.
Sister Wynona Carr is sampled here on the track “Tears Run Down”. Josephine Nightingale delivers excellent vocals on “Mercy Me” and Taly Minkov-Louzeiro sings on “Troubles All Be Gone”.
“Castelejo” is a tribute to Victor Hugo and features artists local to the studio in Portugal, accordionist Rui Correia and singers Cutty Wren and Hedvig Larsson Cuban artist Arema Arega shines bright on “Mango” and “Alma sola”.
Two re-mixes are included: The UK’s Smoove does his thing with “Never Roam No More” and “Mango” gets the Club des Belugas remix treatment.
Oliver Belz and Andre Neundorf are the key guys behind the album, with a little help from their talented musician friends. It’s a heady cast and an inspired choice.
Josephine Nightingale penned the lyrics to “Mercy Me” and “Castelejo”. Arema Arega wrote the words for “Mango” and “Alma Sola”. Taly Minkov-Louzero was the lyricist for “Troubles All Be Gone” and Larrson and Wren contributed to the words on “Castelejo”. Oliver Belz produced the set.
There’s no weak tracks here and it has frequently been on repeat at my house ever since the album arrived from the PR people in Italy. Part of my survival kit for lockdown!
In German: Tolle Arbeit. In Portuguese: Grande Trabalho. In Italian: Ottimo Lavoro. In my mother tongue: Great job!
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’