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Albums and Singles of the Year 2017


2017 saw relatively few new Soul albums of real quality, however there were some real gems. Leela James possess one of the best voices in contemporary Soul and her ‘Did it for Love’ is our Soul album of the year. Tom Glide made his best album by far with ‘Divas got soul’ featuring many great singers. R.C and the Grits made a great Jazzy Soul album with tough grooves. Moonchild did not disappoint with ‘Voyager’ and Izzi Dunn made the great album we all knew she was capable of. Josh Milan made his debut solo album and a wonderful 2CD set of Jazzy Soulful and House grooves it is. Kennedy Administration arrived and conquered with a really strong album. 2017 was the year of the Rebirth of Soul with really strong Retro Soul albums from Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sugaray Rayford, Don Bryant, Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm plus this month, Syleena Johnson and Sharon Jones.

It was great year for Jazz music, with many outstanding albums being recorded and released and real competition to make the Top 10 of the year. Top spot goes to Nicholas Payton with his wonderful ‘Afro Caribbean Mix Tape’ Double CD. This album is one that you keep going back to and it keeps giving on each play. What hits you are the Rhythms which are compulsive. The compositions are varied and strong, the playing is also great, in places reminding us of Miles and Herbie in their heyday, and using famous artists like Miles. Dizzy, Max Roach etc voices helps illustrate a story, a really magical hypnotic album.

Master drummer Trevor Lawrence Jr also hit home hard with his wonderful ‘Relationships’ set. Accompanied by Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, Rose Gold, Johnny Britt and many others this is another really strong album, with ‘Bring to the party’ the best up tempo jazz-Funk dancer I’ve heard in many years. Chantae Cann made her second album and ‘Sol Empowered’ is if anything even better than her debut. ‘The Light’ is truly uplifting and amazing, and one of the best tracks of the year. Jazzmeia Horn arrived on the scene with a bang, and is a future star in the making. Her album ‘A Social Call’ is a selection of standards and great songs but done in her way. The version of ‘People Make the world go round’ with a spoken word intro blew us away and was another track of the year. You can hear a very interesting interview on mixcloud-soulbrothersounds.

Latin music legend Eddie Palmieri returned at the age of  80 and after a 10 year absence to record one of his best ever albums ‘Sabiduria’ imparting his wisdom and Latin rhythms to magical effect. Terrace Martin and The Pollyseeds made a great Jazz album with Funk and Soul elements ‘The Sound of Crenshaw Volume one’ that kept us grooving, he really has his own sound. Christian Scott made three albums in 2017, the third part of the trilogy celebrating 100 years of jazz music ‘The Emancipation Procrastination’ is the most accessible album he has made and a real delight.

Trumpeter Maurice Brown’s ‘The Mood’ was another really strong album throughout , Up to date jazz-Funk and containing possibly the track of the year ‘Destination Hope’ featuring Chris Turner on vocals. Nate Smith made a lovely album ‘Kinfolk’ a mellow but thoughtful album featuring some vocal cuts from Gretchen Parlato and Amma Whatt. Ruby Rushton from Peckham also released three albums in 2017. The best ‘Two For Joy’ was actually recorded four years ago but only now available to us all. These are hard hitting Jazz grooves, the 15 minute epic ‘Room with a View’ is a killer ! There were also good albums from Tony Alllen, Dayme Arocena, Azymuth, Carmen Lundy, Sabrina Malherios, Chip Wickham and many others. There were some good Smooth Jazz albums, Rick Braun ‘Around The Horn’ being the best, but Norman Brown, Brian Simpson, Boney James and Najee didn’t disappoint.

Soul on the Real side volumes 6 & 7 were the best Compilations, and Expansion served us Soul Festival and the ever reliable Soul Togetherness 2017. BBE gave us a couple of gems in Best of Disco Spectrum and Kev Beadle’s Private Collection Vol 3. Ace also delivered with Mainstream Modern Soul vol 2 and ‘Nothing But a Houseparty’.

Compilations Of The Year 2017

There were fewer reissues and comps this year. The Voices Of East Harlem two Leroy Hutson produced albums were the outstanding Soul reissues of the year. Hutson himself had a great Anthology, Retta Young and Susan Phillips New Jersey albums were also outstanding. there were also a lot of good 2cd anthologies from Archie Bell, Melba Moore, BT Express, Norman Connors, Donald Byrd, Harvey Mason, Tom Browne and many more.

There were some great singles in 2017 including many on the Soul Brother (Almeta Latimore, Maureen Bailey, Harlem River Drive, Bobby Sheen and Rita Wright) Expansion (Aristocrats, Keni Burke, Ronn Matlock, Spyder Turner) labels, plus a few gems from Ace (check the Shirley Brown) plus from Soul Junction and the new Izipho Soul labels.

Singles of The Year 2017

There were many great Reissue Albums on Vinyl including several on our own label and Expansion plus some great Spiritual Jazz originally from the Strata East label. Vinyl seems to have a great momentum behind it at the moment, watch out for more in 2018.