When The Expansions self released their first single in 2013, the laid-back jazz funk of Lavender, it quickly gained strong support from soul and rare-groove aficionados including Kenny Dope, Dom Servini, Patrick Forge and Andy Smith. A run of shows followed and before long, when someone was asking if there was a soul-jazz band around to play with, “The Expansions” was the answer.
Although this popularity meant a hiatus in releasing music, the band have been constantly busy, playing around Europe with legendary British-Ghanaian soul singer, Andrew Ashong the exceptional, upcoming talent Connie Constance and recording album tracks for Gizelle Smith.
There has also been a breakout project from drummer Jonny Drop – the album Sub Plot gained massive support and love from BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne. While keys-man Dave Koor has been busy playing shows with Gilles Peterson favourite Hector Plimmer, Shaun Escoffery, and Ego Ella May, improvising with Yussef Dayes (Yussef Kamaal) and Nubya Garcia, releasing music as Deoke and collaborating with label-mate Scrimshire on their Modified Man exploration.
But always, The Expansions has remained a central focus and the true home of these four jazz and soul lovers, with occasional trips out to the country to form ideas and practice new music for the eventual album.
Ivory Mountain is the final single before the complete album, Murmuration, is released on 9th March.
Murmuration, recorded over three days at Big Noise in Southend, is constructed of single takes, with minimal overdubs, as the band attempt to capture the feeling and energy they create live. The one real exception to the rule is this particular epic, which enlisted two great South London string players to bring a new texture to the sound.
Evoking moments of 4Hero, there is a lightness of groove in the first half of this soulful exploration. But at the halfway point, all restraint is let go as the live string section joins the four quarters of the band for three glorious, joyful minutes of soulful disco. Evoking sounds of Quincy Jones, George Benson and Johnny Hammond, all the way through to a beautifully cacophonous finale.
On this single the original is combined with a stems edit by label co-founder Scrimshire, who brings out the strings and disco to powerful effect.
You can hear the influences of Idris Muhammad, Grover Washington, even parallels with South London peers Yussef Kamaal and Ruby Rushton. But The Expansions have tirelessly worked to create a sound of their own and are very proud, along with label Albert’s Favourites, to finally share it.
“A stunning astral journey into soulful sonics.” Stamp The Wax
“More greatness added to the South London jazz funk gene pool.” The Showfa
“So happy the Expansions are back with new material, and this track doesn’t disappoint! A laid-back, funky, effortless groove with Dave Koor’s signature keyboard stylings tying it all together. Can’t wait to hear more. “ Anne Franknstein, Jazz FM
“Ivory Mountain is a synth journey reminiscent of Weather report or a Azymuth experience big!” Jay Scarlett, BR Puls Sounds supreme Munich
“Perfect example of how contemporary jazz funk should sound !!!!” Aurelio, RINSE FRANCE
“Love it. Very reminiscent of Yussef Kamaal” Tim Aldous, 1 BTN
“Both versions are killer. Band name from Lonnie Liston Smith? Certainly sounds that way.” Ennio Styles, Stylin’ 3RRR-FM/Worldwide FM/Heard and Felt
“Extremely relaxed and tight at the same tight, just as this kind o music is at it ́s best” Dj Bunuel Radio Helsinki, YLE1
“What an amazing stuff! Proper jazz funk disco.” Dj Rocca, Www.djrocca.com, Italy
“Good groove!” Toshio Matsuura, WW TOKYO on Worldwide FM / TOKYO MOON on InterFM897
“This is grand” Lubacov, Lovemonk / Soleado, Spain
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“Can’t wait to hear the full Murmuration album!” Glyn Phillips, WorldBeatUK / Brum Radio / WorldMusic.com / UKVibe United Kingdom
“Anyone that’s expanded their mind in the past with some jazz funk, this 12” is exactly what we’ve been waiting for as ‘Ivory Mountain’ links the 70s US to the modern day UK.
There’s no half pipes down this mountain side and the B-side is even better as label co-boss Scrimshire adds a right funkin’ edit as it heaven could possibly be like this.
If you’ve enjoyed the other goodies released by the group [and the label’s other artists; especially Modified Man, Jonny Drop and the ever trendy Hector Plimmer], there’s an album due next month called ‘Murmuration’.
In the meantime, I’m murmrating on the Edit. Love it.” Gerry Hectic
“I can hear lot’s of influences on this exceptional track,we cannot wait to hear the album it’s going to be a killer !!!!” Aja Ketch A Vibe
“Expansive, dextrous and melodic. An amalgamation of all that is good from the past, present and future. Love this!” Rich Chocolate Scandinaviansoul.com / Soulvation Radio Show floradio.co.uk United Kingdom
“Wonderful” Ket Shah, Mucho Soul / Solar Radio / Soho Radio
“Outstanding..hi tension! Can’t wait for the LP!” Johnny Cush @ShoreditchRadio @DWATW
“Dope!!!” Pimpernel Jones
“Lovely stuff, as ever.” Aly Gillani, First Word Records
“This is excellent 4.5 of 5” Asian Hawk
“Lustrous beauty, I absolutely love this.” DJ Kappa, Brighton
“Very nice – tight instruments. and im a massive sucker for strings – lovely groove.” Avi, Radar United Kingdom
“Sounding great!” Chris Read BBE Music
“Absolutely massive. FULL support.” Oliver Brunetti MIMS/Colectivo Futuro
“Rhythmically complex whilst still carrying the groove. Good stuff.” Mikey Jarrell Hifi Club, leeds
“A real uplifting beauty.” m.path.iq
“Cool stuff , perfect for PLANETA JAZZ radioshow, gonna play it this next saturday Radio Oxigenio 102.6 Fm” Tiago Santos, Radio Oxigenio, Portugal
“I’m curious and looking forward to the album from THE EXPANSIONS, “Cannonball” is a beautiful tune. 10/10 and full support!” Dr. Best, Radio Z, Germany
“This is awesome. Beautiful piece of real music , real jazz, soulful music the way i love it.” Alex Attias, Visions Recordings
“Absolutely stunning tune !!! Will definately play !!!” Markus Milz, Further In Fusion
“SMOOOOOOOOVE…… can’t wait to hear the full release. 10/10.” Mike Stukes Mystic Vybes WHCR 90.3 FM
“Wonderful track and I can’t wait to hear the LP” Simon Harrison, Basic Soul
“Seriously strong stuff, different level!” Body Moves
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Huey Morgan, BBC Radio 6 Music
Olivier Cavaller, Rinse France
Markus Milz, Further In Fusion