As I have been compiling my ‘best of 2012′ list, it has occurred to me that I failed to do something last year I really wanted: ‘quickie music reviews’. So starting with some initial 2013 releases I will try to publish a music review a week that is a ‘quick look’ with a summary impression. And to be honest, this album was good enough to inspire me to start again!
Artist: The Kandinsky Effect
Founded in Paris in 2007, The Kandinsky Effect is a post-modern jazz trio, searching for new ways to work within the jazz idiom by blending the borders of jazz, rock, electronica, hip-hop and experimental sounds. The group is comprised of young players who have playing experience in many styles of music and bring these experiences to the table.
General Impressions: I am a big fan of trios in improvised music, whether jazz or fusion or rock; there is an element of necessary space and contribution there that requires risk and communication at the highest levels. Most trios in jazz tend to be piano-bass-drums, which is fine but I love seeing something different. The Kandinsky Effect is a saxophone, bass and drums trio featuring Warren Walker on saxophone and electronics, Gaël Petrina on bass and electronics and Caleb Dolister on drums and laptop.
The music on this album is clearly jazz, but dismissing it as JUST jazz does it a disservice. There are strong and clear elements of electronica, dubstep, hip-hop, pop, rock and more at play throughout. From the opening lines of ‘Johnny Utah we have processed and heavily echoed sax over chordal bass and a shuffle-swing drum pattern. After the intro the music becomes more heavily atmospheric before heading into an improvised section followed by a heavy beat shuffle-stop sequence and eventually getting into a driving solo section with the sax doubled with a distorted electronic synth sax.
The pattern repeats itself throughout the album – shifting sections with varying amounts of electronics and acoustic focus, plenty of improvisation and inventive melodic and harmonic elements. The musicianship and communication throughout are stellar, there are free elements without being too far ‘out’, and the trio keeps the modern elements at the forefront without sacrificing the jazz foundation. And to me that is one of the most attractive things – because these young musicians grew up with so many genres integrated, it all occurs naturally without feeling that they are creating a ‘fusion’ of anything.
‘Quick Hit’ Song: “Walking…” starting with a walking bass line that quickly takes on a stutter-step funk pattern, this song brings together all of the great elements heard throughout – heavy use of the bass for harmonic counterpoint to the sax, electronics doubling the acoustic instruments, and shifts between jazzy, rock-oriented, funk, and electronic elements. During the solo things get pretty trippy with the synth-doubled infectious bass and spacy doubled sax line dancing on top of hard-driving drum patterns. “Left Over Shoes” and “M.C.” are also favorites.
Would I recommend?: Absolutely! This is a great start to a new year of awesome music!
Suggested audience: If you like jazz trios but are looking for something new and different from the standard piano trio, this is definitely worth a try. If you love different styles such as electronics, jazz, rock and hip-hop beats melded together in a fresh way, check this one out!
Here is the video of the trio performing “M.C.”: