When Adrian Younge is talking about Jazz, he’s using the compound »freedom music«. For Jazz isn’t just free improvisation. Jazz is inextricably linked to the history of Black freedom movements. As the music of the uprooted, Jazz can adapt to new contexts and create autonomous constellations. Given this degree of plasticity, it’s no given that its genre conventions will remain in place. Younge himself has produced songs by the Wu-Tang Clan and Kendrick Lamar. Ali Shaheed Muhammad is a founding member of the legendary Hip-Hop crew A Tribe Called Quest. And the by now sadly deceased Tony Allen was a grandsire of Afrobeat. From this plethora of influences, the 18th entry in label Jazz Is Dead’s catalogue distills an intoxicating essence of »freedom music«. It is rich in flavors: psychedelic guitar licks, funky organs, Nigerian polyrhythms. Yet, these aromas accentuate the album’s jazzy character. Its taste profile is so intense that individual songs tend to come across like riffs on the same pattern. At the same time, the ensemble avoids some pitfalls a lot of »super groups« stumble into. Tony Allen may be notorious for being able to play the kit like an Octopus. Here, however, his beats ground the ensemble’s interplay with deliberate restraint. The mix accentuates the egality of all instruments. Perhaps, freedom can only be experienced in conjunction with one another. In any case, »JID018« is a demonstration of sovereignty.
Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison, Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad
Jazz Is Dead