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Shades of Blue - Madlib Invades Blue Note by Madlib

Otis Jackson Jr. (aka "Madlib") has concocted an intoxicating mix of classic Blue Note material and truly put his own stamp on it. Just like the title suggests, Madlib has definitely invaded Blue Note! Making his start as the MC in the hip-hop trio, Lootpack, Madlib has decided to take on the music he has grown up with. Being the nephew of esteemed jazz virtuoso, Jon Faddis, Madlib has been around jazz and heard jazz all his life. Now he gets to make his own statement with the music.

Taking various samples from Julian Benedikt's film, Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz, Madlib constructs an album that sounds like you are listening to a jazz radio program that features prominent Blue Note artists talking about the history of Blue Note records. Intertwined throughout are quasi-commercials by the likes of Lou Donaldson among others giving the listener positive feedback about Madlib's project.

Although most of the album consists of revamped classic tunes twisted into a much more contemporary vibe, Madlib manages to include one original composition entitled Funky Blue Note, which encompasses what he calls "his favorite era of Blue Note Records - the 60's and 70's." Madlib certainly chooses great tunes to work with on this album such as Ronnie Foster's Mystic Brew, Donald Byrd's Stepping Into Tomorrow, Bobby Hutcherson's Montara, Wayne Shorter's Footprints, Herbie Hancock's Dolphin Dance, and Horace Silver's Peace, and Song For My Father.

What makes Madlib different and unique is that you won't hear the original tune, with merely different drum beats behind it. You will hear his interpretation of that song, whether that be through different instrumentation, or seamlessly weaving two great tunes together as he has done with Peace/Dolphin Dance. This album is definitely worth having in your jazz collection because of his new twists on old classics.

Highpoints about this album are numerous. To hear old jazz giants such as Horace Silver, Lou Donaldson, and Freddie Hubbard speak with tremendous pride about Blue Note is great. This album is multi-accessible in many ways. First of all, it's great to own to see the new direction in which jazz samplers are heading. Secondly, it's terrific for parties. If you're friends are tired of you putting on predictable Herbie Hancock CDs at every party, throw in some Madlib and it's sure to get things movin' and groovin' with ease. Also, if you have a long road trip ahead, Madlib provides perfect driving music. There's never a dull moment on this album. Personally, I can't wait to see what he has in store for his next jazz project.

Last Word: If you're a cat that digs stuff like Gang Starr's Jazz Thing or the Digible Planets or even A Tribe Called Quest, this is your duty to check out the new direction in hip-hop jazz. With a tag team like Blue Note and Madlib, the vibes are endless. One could easily say that Madlib is a jazz messenger that is making footprints as he is stepping into tomorrow. ...And that's my Blue Note remix (it's not as easy as it seems, huh?)

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Madlib
  • CD Title: Shades of Blue - Madlib Invades Blue Note
  • Genre: Acid Jazz
  • Year Released: 2003
  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Rating: Four Stars
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