Tuesday, May 28, 2013

jazzmatazz volume 1

Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) took rap to the next level with this experimental fusion of hip-hop and jazz.  Keith Edward Elam was originally known as MC Keithy E; but changed his moniker to Guru before joining Gang Starr in 1987.  Gang Starr contributed to the soundtrack of 'Mo Better Blues' and that is where Guru first worked with Branford Marsalis.  While hip-hop had utilized jazz samples for years, Guru saw that there could be an actual collaboration between rappers and jazz musicians.  He relates in the liner notes:    "It had to be done right.  My main concern was to maintain my street credibility and to represent the hardcore rap crowd because they've got me to where I am now."

'Jazzmatazz Volume 1' was produced by Guru and recorded at D&D Studios in New York and EMI Music Studios in London.  The sessions included Roy Ayers on vibraslap and vibraphone; Courtney Pine on flute, and alto & soprano saxophone; Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, keyboards, electric piano; Ronny Jordan and Zachary Breaux on guitar; Big Shug on additional vocals; Guru on arrangements, vocals, production, mixing, and concept development; Gary Barnacle on flute and saxophone; Donald Byrd on piano and trumpet; Simon "The Funky Ginger" Law on keyboards; Branford Marsalis on saxophone; DJ Jazzy Nice and DJ Jimmy Jay on scratches; Lil' Dap on live drums; MC Solaar, Carleen Anderson, D.C. Lee, N'Dea Davenport on vocals; with Black Jack, Mickey "Mus Mus", and The Cutthroats providing additional vocals.  

Guru would record a basic rhythm track with a title and have the jazz musicians solo over it.  He wrote the lyrics in the studio while they played.  Guru calls the process "a spiritual thing.  It was so easy, as if it was meant to be...Doing the tracks with the older guys was like a doin' a track with my father:  They accepted me and I accepted them."

'Jazzmatazz Volume 1' went to number ninety-four on the US album chart, fifty-eight in the UK, and number fifteen on the US hip-hop/R&B chart.  Guru would record three more installments on the 'Jazzmatazz' concept before his death in 2010.  He looked back:    "The first were experimental.  They were focused but not as intense as this because coming out of my work with Gangstarr I had never really worked with live musicians and vocalists so the first one was definitely experimental and that’s why I called it an experimental fusion of hip hop and jazz." 


'Trust Me' (with N'Dea Davenport on vocals)
contains samples of "Funky President" by James Brown, "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss & "Big Beat" by Billy Squier

'Loungin'' (with Donald Byrd on trumpet and piano)

'No Time to Play' (with Ronny Jordan on guitar and D. C. Lee & Big Shug on vocals)
contains samples of "Satin Soul" by Love Unlimited Orchestra & "Mosadi (Woman)" by The Crusaders.

"Le Bien, Le Mal" (with MC Solaar) 

'Jazzmatazz Volume 1'
full album:

Introduction 00:00
Loungin' 01:20 
When You're Near 06:00 
Transit Ride 10:03 
No Time To Play 14:00 
Down The Backstreets 18:56 
Respectful Dedications 23:44 
Take A Look (At Yourself) 24:38 
Trust Me 28:37 
Slicker Than Most 33:05 
Le Bien, Le Mal 35:43 
Sights In The City 39:05 

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