JAZZANOVA: Of All The Things (Label: Verve)

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JAZZANOVA: Of All The Things

Jazzanova are a six man Berlin music collective whose reputation rests largely on their remix work for a diverse roster of artists that includes Masters At Work, Lenny Kravitz, Common and Azymuth. Championed by people like Gilles Peterson, they’ve been in such demand that there’s been little time for their own work… till now. Here they present what is essentially their first album with a full, live band line up. They’ve taken the time to create an organic music, as opposed to the largely-electronically generated/sampled sounds that we’ve come to expect of them. That said, the soundscape is as diverse and varied as anything they’ve worked on previously with the mood effortlessly switching from rap to dance and from Northern soul to 60s psychedelia. There’s Latin, jazz and balladry too, though, soul-wise, the big pull has to be Leon Ware guesting on the outfit’s take on his classic ‘Rockin’ You Eternally’. Sadly it doesn’t quite work. Despite the added presence of Dwele and some 4 Hero-style flourishes it lacks clarity. Much better is the Paul Randolph-vocalised ‘Let Me Show Ya’. Profiting from a big orchestral arrangement, it’s a great, true modern soul piece, though my guess is that it’s a touch too complex for the “retro modern” brigade. There’s more soul – Northern in this instance – in ‘I Can See’ – but it’s Northern in the way modern musos (who weren’t there in the day) perceive it to be. It’s one of those Duffy/Winehouse things and despite a valiant vocal from Ben Westbeech and some Four Tops’ inspired “whoo-whoo-whoos”, I still prefer the real thing. Elsewhere the two Latin cuts – ‘Lucky Girl’ and ‘Gafiera’ (featuring Azymuth, no less) -are both pleasing as is the clever ballad that is ‘Dial A Cliché’. Credit-crunch permitting, Jazzanova hope to take these songs (and the band) on the road this summer – catch them at a festival near you.
(BB) 3/5