– THE CHARM OFFENSIVE –
Leeds-based “All-star Hip-Hop Big Band” (as they call themselves) Abstract Orchestra are developing quite a nice line for themselves in interpreting the works of pioneering electro-jazz producers.
In 2017, the collective released the album Dilla – a tribute to Detroit’s finest – followed swiftly by last year’s Madvillain Vol 1 – an interpretation of works by Madlib and MF DOOM.
This year, Madvillain Vol 2 is released but its final track, Air is actually a cover/remix of a track by Ann Arbour musician Dabrye with DOOM on vocals.
Let’s get one thing straight. I am a fan of the original here. But, as is absolutely Dabrye’s right (given what he named the song), his version of Air is, well, a bit airy. It kinda floats along on a chilled-out wave.
Abstract Orchestra bring the drama.
The added brass over the main hook makes the whole track feel all the more Bond-theme-esque while having the backing performed by an actual band (which, by the way, has chops playing with the likes of Jamiroquai, Corinne Bailey Rae, Mark Ronson, Martha Reeves, John Legend & the Roots, Roots Manuva and Amy Winehouse) makes the sound fatter, deeper and more aggressive.
The extra layer is band leader Rob Mitchell’s sax solo which is as evasive and enticing as any Russian double agent.
It all makes for a hip-hop / jazz / electronic fusion the likes of which are really gaining traction at the moment.
“Jazz has been troubled for a while, people aren’t so interested in the ‘old’ styles” says Mitchell. “In the UK however, there are, and has been for some time, people making clear statements on what jazz is to them. People like Soweto Kinch and Nubya Garcia are making jazz that is exciting, memorable and valid today.
“I’m trying to make a clear statement that Dilla, Madlib and DOOM (and lots others of course) are jazz and, even greater than this, their work is art.
Madvillain Vol. 2 is out now through Leeds Jazz/Soul label ATA Records.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
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– SV –