The resurgence of jazz in recent years is beginning to find broader appeal, if not quite mainstream and is doing so through combination with other genres and influences and with that approach it ushers in exciting new possibilities for music.
I suppose jazz always was about fusion and experimentation. Pushing boundaries led it to be a dispersed and varied house of music to explore in its own right. The limelight has moved away over the decades, however, its influence is felt down the ages as much as its brother in arms ‘the blues’, particularly when you explore the more ‘challenging’ genres – I’m thinking Radiohead’s experimentation and the complexities found in IDM (as it has become known… not sure what I make of it as a term).
There is something intoxicating about this record. The laid back hip-hop beats and jazz sensibilities match perfectly with Yussef Dayes live drumming to create a musical landscape that is at once familiar and comfortable yet fresh and rewarding to the closer listen. It is a record you can sling on the deck during dinner or late night drinks with friends as much as listen intently with headphones and both are distinct but equally pleasurable experiences.
If you take the time to listen specifically to Dayes’ drums as if they are the central figure about which all the rest of the production revolves, you get a subtly but significantly different experience – especially on the more jazz focussed or instrumental tracks such as Kyiv or Lift Off. This duality to the record makes for a rich listening experience.
There are one or two more explicitly radio-friendly tracks on here that make for great playlist fodder in particular Nightrider, The Real and Last 100 which clearly take after 2010’s hip hop trends but with a bit of sophistication. Comforting familiarity is found elsewhere with Tidal Wave which could be a Bonobo or Maribou State track if it used a female vocalist like Szjerdene, Erika Badu or Holly Walker. Festival has more than a slight feel of recent-era Radiohead to it through the vocal layering and looping atop the synth-driven layered atmosphere.
The musical dexterity and talent on show on instrumental track Lift Off (featuring Rocco Palladino – son of Pino) is something to lose yourself in. Other tracks bridge the gap between instrumental and full songs blending the vocals in as their own instrument, as on I Did It For You, or otherwise accenting the recording, as on Julie Mangoes.
What Kinda Music is an apt title as how one defines the record could define your experience. Is it a jazz record with a modern hip hop production aimed at arenas or is it a high-production hip hop record with a jazz backline for precise creative expression? The answer is both and neither.
Enigmatic, chilled and rewarding. This record was a surprise to me as I found myself delighting in the intersection of two genres that I am not as familiar with (as other genres). It is a record which holds a potential universal appeal across age groups, genre cultures and all types of music fan. There are pop tracks for the casual listeners and there are intricacies and technical displays for the more discerning. Your little sister or daughter is going to enjoy the pop-like tracks mentioned above, while your old man will revel in the musicianship on the instrumental numbers.
It is utterly asinine in a music review to say “you have to hear this to understand it” as that is true of any record. One can’t adequately describe any music in words (though I try). However, to give you some clue, if you’re looking for an alternative to either blues or chill-wave for your late-night whisky and records sessions (or equivalent) look no further. This is the comfiest and most enjoyable seat in the house right now and suitable for all ages whether appearing cool to kids or not wanting to scare off your parents. How a record can be simultaneously Brixton and Ronnie Scotts beats me but I love it and hope there is more to come in the future.
Highlights: Lift Off, Last 100, Tidal Wave