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Various - Essence of Especial
Especial Records is the label operated by Japanese broken beat/nujazz  superstars Kyoto Jazz Massive that serves as an outlet for side projects of the group's members as well as their contemporaries.  Because the label's output is distributed primarily on vinyl, releases are not only difficult to come by but often expensive, which makes this collection so welcomed.  Essence of Especial presents eleven of the label's previous glories for the first time on CD.

Sleep Walker kicks off the set with "River of Love," one of the most requested tunes of the last year or so.  Bembe Segue's vocals are on point as always on this righteous, meditative tune.  Another massive tune from 2006 that is featured here is Masa Collective's cover of the Pharoah Sanders classic "Love Is Everywhere," complete with Masato Nakamura's faithful replication of Sanders' lyrical playing style. 

Cuts four through six comprise the most dancefloor-friendly portion of the disc, starting with "Like Thunder," a slick house jam where Ernesto's lovesick vocals meet the rolling beats of DJ Kawasaki. Mark de Clive Lowe, who seems to be popping up everywhere these days, comes through, ably assisted by Lady Alma, on a slice of future boogie titled "Twilight," while an understated mix of the Markus Enochson's previously issued "You'll Shine" is included as well. 

Kyoto Jazz Massive leader Hajime Yoshizawa is well-represented with "Endless Bow" and "I Am With You," but perhaps shines brightest on "Rise Me Up," which he recorded with the Soil and Pimp Session's manic drummer Naoto Midorikawa and bassist Yasushi Yoneki under the pseudonym Bossa Free.  This is a serious jazz dance cut with superb piano playing that demands repeated listening.  DJ Mitsu remix of Bakura's "Thinking About You" closes the proceedings in excellent fashion, capping off an album that should be scooped up immediately by all serious nujazz fans.   

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