WARNING: the following review may rile jazz purists. This compilation consists of some jazz classics from the vast Verve catalog remixed by some electronically oriented upstarts of different nationalities. For the benefit of older listeners, "remix" in this case to where some wise-guy takes a track by another artist and re-makes/re-models/re-interprets it by adding (or subtracting) and (de-) emphasizing beats, samples and new instrumentation. Sacre bleu
, what sacrilege! Well, yes and no. True, jazz is a very "live" art form, but there have been some notable exceptions: the Rosemary Clooney Blue Rose
album recorded with the Duke Ellington orchestra - the singer and musicians were not in the studio at the same time; John Rapson composed a wonderful album of music (Water & Blood
) around/based on the solo drum improvisations of Billy Higgins; the legendary Jazz at Massey Hall
(Parker, Gillespie, Powell, Mingus & Roach) album’s bass parts were re-dubbed by Mingus after the fact.
This album is quite naturally a mixed bag - some things work better than others. To be sure, there are some gems here: Tricky puts Billie Holiday’s "Strange Fruit" in a scary new suit, laying her vocal over some spooky, slithering, slow-motion funk and apocalyptic sampled horns. King Britt’s manipulation of Tony Scott’s Indo-jazz fusion piece "Hare Krishna" is eerily, quietly dazzling with its give and take/call and response of sitar, clarinet and dance beats, and Nina Simone’s "See Line Woman" becomes an West African-tinged mantra from the hills of North Carolina: energized, mesmeric and with a core of wise-woman serenity. UFO’s remix of Sarah Vaughan’s "Summertime" isn’t so successful, coming off as a collision of oil and water. A few tracks are a bit too electro-beat-heavy for my taste, but hey, that's just me. (I'm "old" & still like The Beatles & Duke E.) Old-school types will probably be moved to write their Congress-person to cry for some sort of "legislation" to cut down on this sort of thing, but those interested in the possibilities of reinterpreting-via-electronic-media and seekers-of-groove will find much to, uh, groove on here.