RosaWay – Stranger (Infinity Gritty/Ropeadope Records)

Stéphane Avellaneda will be familiar to many readers.  I remember first seeing him as the new drummer behind Ana Popovic some years ago now.  My thoughts then were that he was a rock drummer and that he was LOUD too!.  After a couple of shows though, it became apparent that Stéphane could also play subtle accompaniments too, and was a man always ready to experiment a little with the sound.  Of course, within the confines of the Ana Popovic Band, it was the lady in charge who dictated the shots.  Fair enough, it’s her band and her songs.  Fast forward to 2019, and with Ana Popovic now ripping it up a storm Stateside for much of the year with her band, Stéphane has taken the opportunity to team up with French vocalist/flautist Rachel Ombredane to make an intriguing debut disc via Kickstarter donations.  The result is a duo named RosaWay and an excellent Jazz/Synthpop EP named ‘Stranger’

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Rosedale – Wide Awake (DixieFrog)

The last French rock band to catch my ears was Shakin’ Street in the late 70’s.  It’s been a while then, but here are Rosedale to get me musically excited by a band from Francaise once again.  A band also led by a fiery young lady on vocals it should be noted. Their second disc ‘Wide Awake’ is just out, and its excellence makes me hope that the band will be coming Bonn’s way next year.

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Marion & Sobo Band – Esprit Manouche

“Music is known to make you feel a little bit better” sings Marion Lenfant-Preus on ‘Till a quarter to three’. That is certainly true of the Marion & Sobo Band with their new release ‘Esprit Manouche,  recorded right here in Bonn. This is very definitely a Band affair, featuring timeless songs impeccably sung, played by talented musicians and painstakingly produced. Don’t worry about dipping your toes in the perhaps uncharted musical waters of Gypsy Jazz – you will certainly be glad you got your feet wet after hearing Esprit Manouche (Gypsy Spirit)!

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Layla Zoe – Gemini

As you can see above, the new CD by Layla Zoe has a stunning cover (shot by Jacques Clérin). Having heard whats on the two silver discs inside, I can safely say that the contents are equally stunning. If there’s any justice, then ‘Gemini’ (released on October 5), should put Layla up there with the very best Blues/Rock vocalists of this, or any other Age, for that matter.  Gemini, the sign of the twins, is fittingly a double pack.  One disc acoustic, and one very much electric (we’re into Led Zeppelin territory here at times). Whilst it is very much Layla’s album,  Bonn guitarist Jan Laacks shines too on here, and this disc was also produced right here in Bonn.

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Jin Jim – Weisse Schatten (ACT 9677-2)

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In 2013 a new young band entered Bonn’s Jazz Tube competition. In the following year, the Jin Jim quartet triumphed over a field of nearly 200 entrants to win the „Future Sounds“ competition at the Leverkusener Jazztage festival. At the Baltic Jazz Festival in 2017 Jin Jim received standing ovations and a contract from the the ACT Jazz label, who are Committed to promoting new bands with great potential. The result is ‘Weisse Schatten‘.

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Mike Andersen – Devil is Back (Cable Car CCR 0311-50)

Mike Andersen made his musical entrance in 2002 with a disc entitled ‘My Love for the Blues’.  In the succeeding fifteen years his love for the Blues has been matched by a love for Soulful vocals too.  It’s made expectations at Andersen’s live shows problematic at times perhaps, but with his new release ‘Devil is Back’  and a great duet with Joss Stone, Andersen should find acceptance on a much wider audience level.

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Change My Game -Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado (RUF 1240)

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This is a CD I fed into my player with some trepidation.  Thorbjørn Risager’s previous studio release ‘Too Many Roads’  was my favourite release of 2014.  It was a special moment indeed to be present at Bonn Harmonie and see the band receive a prestigious PdSK Award  for the disc, but of course it can only have racked up the expectations for it’s successor.      The following live release (again shot at Bonn Harmonie) suggested that either the band were taking their time getting a strong new set together – or they were out of ideas.  I’m very pleased (and relieved) to say it was very definitely a case of the former.  ‘Change my Game’  could indeed even rightfully be called ‘Up my Game’ as TR and his very capable band of Black Tornados deliver everything we loved about ‘Too Many Roads’ and a whole lot more besides.

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