Tennerz: Nathan Haines feat. Verna Francis – Earth Is The Place (Atjazz Remix) (Foliage Records)
Like almost everything, there is recycling and recycling. As a matter of fact, I never had problems with this as long as it’s intelligent. This as opposed to the countless mediocre attempts around with the sole will to make some noise if not some money…
‘Earth Is The Place’ most definitely belongs to the first category. Besides, how could it ever be different? This ith a quick look at the forces responsible for this most likely speakin’ for itself! Beginning with Atjazz in charge of the remixing work whose typical blends turn everything into the next generation grooves. And how about New Zealand native producer/vocalist/saxophonist Nathan Haines? A man who made himself quite a reputation while jammin’ along with countless luminaries in the West London Broken Beat scene. From Kaidi Tatham to Mark De Clive-Lowe. Not to mention Phil Asher who produced the original version of ‘Earth Is The Place’ back in 2001. With Verna Francis givin’ it her distinctive vocal approach.
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– Quite surprising we haven’t hard that much of Verna Francis after the release of ‘Earth Is The Place’. A gem that saw her sharing the duties with saxophonist Nathan Haines with production work courtesy of Phil Asher. And it’s definitely not because she was so to say limited. As she’s shown as to how she had more than one string to her bow. From singing to dancing. But also acting, eventually playing Miss Sherman for 2 years in a West End production. British website Allstars interestingly presenting her as “a House a or Broken Beat cousin of Whitney Houston or Chaka Khan”.
The first traces one could find of Verna Francis bring us back to 1996. Teamin’ up with the transient Tzant on ‘Hot & Wet (Believe It)’. Then nothing until 2001 and the release of ‘Earth Is The Place’ on defunct label Chillifunk Records. She then followed with a couple of singles by the likes of ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Look’ in 2004. This before releasing what would be her first and only album – ‘Down To Earth’ – the year after. Her last release to date being the vintage Soul ‘Because Of You’ produced by Ian Levine and Clive Scott back in 2014 on Broadwood.
– The eldest son of Jazz bassist Kevin Haines, Nathan was born into a very musical home on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. Along with guitarist brother Joel, the pair alongside their father were playing major international Jazz Festivals in the country by the mid 80’s.
Nathan left for studies in New York in 1991 which immersed him in the worlds of Jazz, Hip-Hop and Latin vibes. All of which were to become a big part in the bands he went on to later form, and influence the records he would make.
In 1993, Gilles Peterson spotted Nathan playing at Auckland’s legendary Cause Celebre nightclub. He soon after suggested the then MD of Polygram in New Zealand to sign him. 1994 seeing the release of the ground breaking ‘Shift Left’ album – his first as a solo artist – which blended live rhythms with analog synthesisers, strings, vocals, and turntable scratching. This album won New Zealand Jazz Record of the Year. Its UK release on the Verve label eventually seeing him movin’ to London.
Buy 1997 Nathan and Drum & Bass producer A-Sides (Jason Cambridge) joined forces. Together, the formed formed Sci-clone. An experimental cross-over production duo which made jazz inflected dance music for successful independent labels such as Metalheadz and Reinforced. Meanwhile gaining an international reputation for unique, beautifully crafted drum and bass that was musical as well as hard hitting on the dancefloor.
Through the late 90’s Nathan eventually teamed up with West London based DJ/producer Phil Asher. The twosome delivering 2 albums – ‘Sound Travels’ and ‘Squire For Hire’ – for Chillifunk. Then how not to think of Nathan‘s collaboration with Mike Patto of the Reel People fame which resulted in countless jewels?
Such a versatility most likely allowed Haines to work along from countless luminaries around the globe. From Marlena Shaw to Rich Medina. But also 4Hero and Mark De Clive-Lowe to name a few. Not to mention Jamiroquai or Blaze on the memorable ‘Wonderful Place’.
Haines is currently recording his 11th solo album in his Auckland hometown, due for release in 2018. [More info…]
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