Ditch your Spotify playlist and take a trip to the independent record store Honest Jon’s in Ladbroke Grove instead. The shop also has its own label, run with the help of Blur frontman Damon Albarn. This perhaps isn’t the best place if you’re looking for the latest One Direction album, instead specialising in a whole range of underground music from jazz to blues to soul and more - all on vinyl and CD (remember those?). Honest Jon’s have picked out the five most popular records of the moment, and don't say we didn't tell you they were eclectic:
Maki Asakawa (Honest Jon’s)
Maki Asakawa was a Japanese jazz and blues singer most popular in the 1970s. This record also has notes from Alan Cumming and photographs from Hitoshi Jin Tamura.
Jon’s says: ‘Deep-indigo, dead-of-night enka, folk and blues, inhaling Billie Holiday and Nina Simone down to the bone.’
Carsten Meinert Kvartet, To You (Frederiksberg)
Danish jazz from 1968, this record is remastered from the tapes, with original artwork by Clovis Gauguin (great-grandson of Paul). Tracks include a moving ballad for Martin Luther King.
Jon’s says: ‘The raw sense of music as a healing force, tearing through the cosmos — but with its own intensely compelling voice, on the line from Copenhagen, to you.’
Tommy McCook, Sidewalk Killer (Earth Sound)
Tommy McCook was a Jamaican saxophonist and founding member of The Skatalites. This vinyl features two instrumental versions of the deadly Baron’s rhythm.
Jon’s says: ‘Musical sounds to make you swing and sway.’
Mary Afi Usuah, Ekpenyong Abasi (Voodoo Funk)
This is a record of funkdafied Black Jazz from 1975. Mari Affiong Usuah was from southeastern Nigeria, fronting a band led by Daniel ‘Satch’ Asuquo from the Atomic 8. It doesn’t get more chilled out than this. The record includes notes by Uchenna from Comb & Razor, who recalls of his first listen: ‘Gob, smacked. Mind, blown.’
Jon’s says: ‘The Afrofunk cuts are especially killer — with James Brown just percolating through by the end — but it’s a stunning, magnificent album, through and through.’
Chekhov’s Band, Eastern European Klezmer Music, 1908-1913 (Renair)
In Anton Chekhov’s last play The Cherry Orchard, the character Gayev hears off-stage ‘our famous Jewish orchestra…four violins, a flue and a double bass.’ This was a few years before these Gramophone Company recordings in Odessa, and at the time klezmer music was moving out of the Jewish celebratory sphere and into more secular settings – like this record.
Jon’s says: ‘Tangy, precious, exuberant, life-affirming music, high and low, mostly for dancing, featuring virtuosi like violinist Jascha Gegner and clarinettist Titunshnayder, presented with excellent notes.’
Text by Prudence Wade