VARIOUS: Droppin’ Science (Label: Blue Note, EMI)

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VARIOUS: Droppin' Science

It’s my contention that since the onset of sampling, no single label has had its back catalogue plundered more than Blue Note. The reason is simple. The jazz giant has a mighty vault of serious sounds on which the beats, rhythms, hooks, nuances and inflexions matched perfectly the flavours and atmospheres which new generations of musicians – in all kinds of genres – were trying to create. Over the years there’s been any number of compilations of classic Blue Note tunes which have been re-worked by the hip-hop generation and ‘Droppin’ Science’ is the latest. It boasts a very concise 10 tracks – most of which could be categorized as “soul-jazz” – that delicious, almost indefinable genre which dominated US jazz lounges in the second half of the ’60s. Alto sax man Lou Donaldson was one of the form’s leading lights and he tops and tails the set with covers of the Isleys’ ‘It’s Your Thing’ and Johnnie Taylor’s ‘Who’s Makin’ Love’. Both are characteristically and paradoxically tight yet lazy. There are more of the same flavours on Grant Green’s ‘Down Here On The Ground’ and Brother Jack McDuff’s almost genre-defining ‘Oblighetto’. The Mizells-produced ‘Think Twice’ from Donald Byrd and the light flute of Jeremy Steig’s ‘Howling For Baby’ offer a counterpoint to the soul-jazz while Joe Williams proves his blues shouter credentials with a take on ‘Get Out Of My Life Woman’. The oddity here is David McCallum’s ‘The Edge’ from his ’66 LP ‘Music – A Bit More Of Me’. Interestingly (thankfully, some might say) this track doesn’t actually feature the Man From UNCLE – it’s a full-on David Axelrod instrumental – which we’re told has been sampled by Dr. Dre. The sleeve notes give a full run down of who’s snaffled what – and for some, that’s the point of the album. I’d prefer to see this as a rather superior Blue Note sampler.
(BB) 4/5