Gilles Peterson’s shows on 6 music have always been a great way to discover old soul, jazz, funk and disco gems, and at the same time stay current on new hip hop, house and electronica. I’ve been listening to a fair bit of jazz lately, keen to learn more about the genre I probably (and maybe criminally) check for the least, and keen to discover modern acts as much as dig deep through the classics. The last modern act to blow my head off was probably Portico Quartet, who I saw play an amazing gig at the Manchester School of Music.
GP had a lot of good things to say about Jarrod Lawson on last Saturday’s show, and I could see why after just a few bars of ‘Gotta Keep’ – which has become my favourite track on Lawson’s self-titled debut LP. I’d been playing the album all week – his amazing voice and fantastic keys weaving together to create really hope-filled music, and then heard that Jarrod Lawson and his band were playing in Manchester at Band on the Wall as part of a short UK leg of the tour.
I don’t often stay with an album all the way through from start to finish, but this LP, amazingly Lawson’s first – grabs you from the beginning. The opening track ‘Music and it’s Magical Ways’ features Lawson’s voice introducing his band, The Good People, welcoming you along as he sets out to ‘change the world one song time’. This is a big statement, but the beautiful harmonies, conscious lyrics and brilliant musicianship weave together to make a kind of hammock for your mind, for your soul. Many have put Lawson’s music alongside the work of two artists he claims as key influences – Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, and I agree, he certainly brings the same kind of healing and emotional intelligence. Many of the tracks, especially ‘He’s There’ and my personal favourite ‘Gotta Keep’, are prettyup-front in worshipping God, but not in a preachy, heavy way, such is the humility and encouragement in the lyrics and the abundant life in the music. Even people of no faith are talking about the vitality that resonates through this music, it’s that good.
Lawson‘s keys, backing band and vocalists were amazing enough, but having Farnell Newton blow the horn at the BotW gig was a massive bonus. That man can PLAY – no wonder he’s the go-to trumpet player for Jill Scott and Bootsy Collins. He’s a really friendly bloke as well – one of the bonuses at hearing an act play at a venue with such an open ethos (they were really kind in letting me take photos with a ‘proper’ camera without any kind of press pass – for the first 3 songs anyway!) is that you get to interact – Jarrod, Farnell and the rest of the band were really happy to talk with people before and after the show, and even went on to my friend Tolu’s jam session around the corner in Stevenson Square. I left just before all The Good People joined in the jam – gutted to have missed it but the video is pretty special! Sidenote – check Tolu’s outfit Pieces of a Man – they’re local, and top, so if you check for Manchester neo-soul, jazz and funk music, keep tabs on where they are next by giving them a follow
It was a bit of a shame that my favourite track of the album wasn’t on the set list, but they made up for it when, after a little coaxing from a man in the crowd, Lawson duetted with one of his backing singers for a cover of Hathaway’s ‘I love you more than you ever know’, which brought even more feeling to the night, and was pretty special for me, as Hathaway’s classic Live album has got me through a few soul-dip moments recently! A great night showcasing a great album. Listen out for more of this man and his Good People!
Here’s the first Local mix. Recorded on-the-fly at Local HQ, fellow resident Diesler brings the first 30mins, reflecting the jazz/funk/beats side of things, and I take over for the second 30 with a house-ier sound. We’ll be getting together each month to give you a taste of what we spin down at our sessions at Cord (1st Thursday of every month! Plug plug!)
We’ll be joining the dots between jazz, soul, hip-hop, funk, house and beyond – paying homage to dusty classics as well as the future sounds they inspired.
We hope you enjoy, and look forward to seeing you all down at our next one!
So…2012 is off to a good start. Putting on a new session with man Diesler at Cord, a great venue in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Manchester. We’ll be at the musical helm every 1st Thursday of the month, weaving between soul, funk, latin, disco, hip hop, house and all sorts in-between.
Expect sounds to warm your souls and wash away early-week blues!
Good people, music with feeling – this is us adding our own square on the warm fabric that makes Manchester great.
So Obama just won the race! There was a real atmosphere of excitement during the run-up to the result. Vision championed over biography. Obviously tonight is historic – the first black President, but he could still be a new face in the office breaking old promises. Let’s hope that once in place he follows through on the hype and heads a real movement for change. Enjoy the new world! I’m off to enjoy my bed.
Ok, I realise this is happening today but on the off chance that someone is actually reading this, and more outrageously, reading this today, I (Purpose B in case you missed the connection) will be joining the Roots Before Branches crew for a soul/funk/disco/rare groove/deep house fueled social session at The Salutation, Higher Chatham Street Manchester. Providing the soundtrack will be:
Kelvin Brown (Electric Chair/Eyes Down)
Andrea Ahimie (Trout)
Dave Walker (Electriks/Nish Nash Nosh)
Danny Webb (El Diablos)
Francis Wooff (That Amazing Thing!)
Neil Smallridge (On A Plate/Sankeys)
Mike O’ Mara (Development)
Agent J (Groovement Unity Radio)
Adam H (Stay Free)
Residents: Diesler (Freestyle/Tru Thoughts), Chris Roots & Tom S
In the likely event that you’re reading this after the fact, I’ll mention the upcoming Roots Before Branches 4th Birthday, which is happening at The Roadhouse, 22 November, featuring tough new funk act Six Toys. Follow the jump to hear their massive cover of Prodigy’s Voodoo People, available on 7″ from all decent record emporiums. Also, residents Diesler, Tom S and Chris Roots will be on support duties. Don’t miss this one.
Roots Before Branches grew out of the red draped basement at Mancheter’s infamous Dry Bar in May 2004. It’s always been about the music being quality controlled, refined but fun, underground but appealing, playing the old school with the new school. Resident DJs Chris Coughlan and Tom S unearth dusty 7s and 12s with new tunes to maintain the night’s ethos of a respect for both retro ‘roots’ sounds and fresh new ‘branches’ music. Monthly parties focus on both obscure and recognisable sounds, for the trainspotters and dancers alike. RBB uprooted from the basement and settled into The Attic in 2006 with Diesler (Freestyle/Tru Thoughts) joining the resident roster. Carefully selected guests who are equally passionate about ‘good’ music join the party each month.
Previous guests include Irfan (Rainy City), Mark De Clive-Lowe, Greg Wilson, Simon Haggis (Strut), DJ Lubi, Dom Servini (Wah Wah 45s), Simbad (Marathon Men), Dr Rubberfunk, The Idjut Boys, Mad Mats (Raw Fusion), Treva Whateva (Ninja Tune) and Sam Hardaker (Zero 7). RBB continues to push the uncomprimising cuts with the accessible to deliver unique, forward thinking parties of funk, soul, boogie, disco, jazz, latin, brazilian, hip hop and deep house sounds.