Having spent the past decade optimistically watching jazz creep out of the sidelines and into the mainstream, I felt slightly defensive last summer when an album arrived in my inbox from a new record label called Jazz is Dead.
All consternation died away however when I realised who was behind the project.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and producer Adrian Younge, a self-described student of classic soul, had gathered some of the most interesting heritage names in jazz to record brand-new material under their steer.
JID001 is a compilation featuring original recordings from accomplished artists who have, to some extent, flown under the commercial radar, but whose records are cherished and referenced often by musicians, DJs and collectors alike. The sampler gave a glimpse of the full-length albums to come from each featured artist.
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JID002 came next – vibraphonist Roy Ayers’s first studio album in 18 years. Anyone familiar with Ayers will recognise the 81-year-old’s typical breezy summery musical character, and it’s given a shakedown here by Younge’s soulful production.
JID003 and JID004 followed, with Brazilian jazz funk fusion acts Marcos Valle and Azymuth respectively, followed by a release I was particularly excited about, a new record from Doug Carn – best known as a pianist and organist, and for his cult 1970s albums Infant Eyes and Adam’s Apple. Carn’s JID005 is dark and funky, full of his trademark juicy Hammond organ sound that fills up every space between the sax, trumpet and Younge’s Fender Rhodes piano.