In his eight years in London, Sunlight Square’s producer Claudio Passavanti has caused quite a stir in the city. In 2004, he hand-picked his favourite musicians and began rehearsing a set that two years later became Urban Session, the band’s debut album. Support from Gilles Peterson, Craig Charles, Joey Negro and Louie Vega followed, and their album launch live show at Jazz Cafe was a sellout.
Stateside dancers will already be familiar with some of the cuts featured on this follow up album, released on November 5th: the Franke Estevez & George Mena remix of Mongo Santamaria’s ‘O Mi Shango’ was on regular rotation for NYC’s big hitting soulful DJs. Other well-chosen and wonderfully executed covers include Marlena Shaw’s ‘California Soul’ and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ ‘Nowhere To Run’. Vanessa Freeman’s vocals on the latter are superb.
Immediately noticeable when listening to Britannia Shing-A-Ling for the first time is the depth of the band’s sound. Twenty-five musicians feature on this record, and after six months of meticulous orchestration, it was performed at once, with no editing, and only strings being later overdubbed. The video above give a taste of this studio magic, captured here on the most passionate long player I’ve previewed this year.