Thursday, 12 February 2009

Venue Connection - Madrid Boogie

Now, this is different, and if you are an ardent believer that variety is the spice of life and you like your flavours spicy and tangy then Spain 's vibrant Venueconnection will be a CD you should take an interest in. This is, in fact, their second album and intelligently fuses jazz, funk, soul all with a flourish of Spanish, Cuban and Indian flavours. This approach is not unique, and you will remember XantonĂ© Blacq's recent album which was one I praised very highly. The album is one that you can put on and leave on, to be honest. The different musical textures and tempos add light and shade and keep the old grey matter constantly interested in what is going on. Like I said, this is intelligent music. Some may not equate flamenco, Hindu or Afro-Cuban music with soul BUT each nation should have it's own identity and Venueconnection prove – not that they need to – that they can not only compete with the American and British Big Boys but can mark out their own territory to boot. For the former, let us examine “Madrid Boogie”. It is very much on an Impromp2 tip featuring the superb Karl Frierson (fellow labelmate) but the lyrics are a celebration of Europe and its culture. Why the hell not? So many people are putting each other down, let's have some positivity! None better than this. The groove is also an addictive one.
“Stay At Home” is a classy vocal cut by Angeles Dorrio and stands out; the slight garage type beat ups the game and the horns blast in atop the Latin groove. It is later in the track that my juices got going when it chills down, hits a jazzy laid back tempo and the approach is very much in the vein of Eryka Badu's “Orange Moon”, though I would say these vocals were better on this album. “Stand Up” is a real winner! An excellent, soulful groove with nice synths and blinding sax playing. Having worked with Steve Cole in the past, you know we ain't gonna have anything other than class here! Although terribly short, “Bring Back The Funk” is very good and the sax and slap bass really has a New York flavour, the organ a la Magic Disco Machine is also a nice touch. If only this were longer! “Walkin' Your Dream” reminds me of an Isabelle Antena cut to start off with, but lopes into a more funky UK sounding cut – think Bah Samba or 4Hero with a flamenco twist! The “MMM Song” features some excellent warbling guitar and a deep rumbling bassline. The acoustic guitar adds a nice jazzy touch too. The female scat is very, very nice too! The beat changes throughout and gives us plenty of texture! Tasty indeed! A cut that you may need to soak in is the superb, albeit brief, Hindu flavour of “Oriental Glamour”. Imagine what Hiroshima is to jazz, but with an Indian twist. This is very sexy and chilled. Please don't overlook this one, or indeed the entire album. Its different and in an age where acts are rolling off the Fordist production line. I like different!

Barry Towler