So psyched to finally get my hands on this wax. Been waiting for months now to hear the tracks I hadn’t heard previously. This one is gonna have a constant presence in the rotation for many months to come!
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The Rhythmagic Orchestra began life back in 2006 as an idea for a recording session cooked up by producer Ben Lamdin, of Nostalgia 77 fame, and DJ Hugo Mendez (Sofrito). The two friends, who share a love of Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Latin and tropical sounds, wanted to see whether they could capture some of the excitement of their favourite records in 21st century London.
Armed with a clutch of dusty vinyl and a bottle of fine rum, they began to compile the shortlist of tracks for the session. Arranger Jonny Spall (a member of Benâ€™s Nostalgia 77 Octet) was commissioned to produce charts for the session and the studio was booked for a frenzied clash of musical cultures.
The band comprised a young crop of Londonâ€™s finest jazz musicians and a team of Cuban percussionists. Comprising members of the Nostalgia 77 Octet, the Alex Wilson Band, Jazz Jamaica, the Heliocentrics and Ska Cubano, together the players combine years of experience with innumerable jazz and Latin greats, and had the chops to lay down a session that would have made the dancers at the Palladium ballroom proud.
Paying tribute to the giants of Afro-Cuban jazz like Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo and Machito, the Orchestraâ€™s first 12â€³ release (on then nascent Impossible Ark) saw the band work their magic on jazz dance classics and lay down some timeless grooves that caused a stir on dancefloors from Tokyo to Toronto.
Fast forward three more years and Ben and Hugo were approached by a new Japanese label, enthusiastic about funding more recordings and producing a finished Rhythmagic Orchestra LP. The old charts were dusted off and more commissioned, and the musicians and studio were booked. Two more busy days brought great new music but on completion the mysterious Japanese backer was nowhere to be found and the boys were left holding the jazz baby and footing the billâ€¦.
So it is that another year has elapsed between the last recording and the projectâ€™s release. In the meantime, Lamdinâ€™s Impossible Ark imprint has gone from strength to strength (with highly lauded releases from Sara Mitra, Jeb Loy Nichols and Skeletons) becoming the natural home for The Rhythmagic Orchestra LP. The finished album contains new material from the group, sitting proudly next to covers from the Jazz and Latin canon of the â€˜50s. Combining traditional arrangements with Cuban bata drums and a fresh outlook on the Latin-Jazz sound, all cooked up in 21st century London, the album continues a great musical tradition and adds its own flavour to the melting pot of Jazz and non-western music.