Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Jazzanova - Of All The Things

Jazzanova have been delighting the nu-jazz crowds for well over a decade but it's only now that the Berlin collective have found time to release their second proper album, Of All The Things.

Unusually for a collective composed mainly of DJs, the song reigns joyous and supreme over this particular album. The heavy beats they're renowned for are given less prominence, making way instead for a raft of soulful singers including Ben Westbeech, Ursula Rucker, Bembe Segue and Joe Dukie of Fat Freddy's Drop.

That's not to say Jazzanova's beatsmith hat has been completely thrown out the window though. Such strong vocal talent is perfectly complimented by instrumentation that draws on many different influences.

Opening track, 'Look What You're Doing to Me', has a distinct Santana feel whilst 'Lie' is a light, breezy number, somewhat reminiscent of 'Eleanor Rigby'. 'Little Bird' immediately follows, a heartfelt encounter that benefits from some restrained and intelligent production on the piano that does just enough to let Jose James' voice dominate and make your skin tingle.

Jazzanova also prove themselves dab hands at hip-hop with 'So Far from Home'. Phonte Coleman's empathetic rapping over uplifting beats sits comfortably amongst the rest of the album and is in stark contrast to his sung contribution in the opening ditty.

A lot of credit must go to the running order of the album, which is expertly arranged, constantly piquing interest and leading the listener further in. Furthermore, this smooth 'journey' subtly proves the collective's talent at mixing together many different influences, instruments and rhythms to produce something incredibly cohesive.

Of All The Things is a welcome respite from today's doom and gloom, injecting hopeful smiles into downtrodden and weary faces. Definitely one to keep close to the stereo over the next twelve months.


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