Hidden Beach Recordings presents: Unwrapped Vol. 1

 

Is music a serious thing? Ok, we all know it's a long way to be a professional musician. It needs many hours and long studies to reach this final level of perfection, which impressed the audience. On the other side music is entertaining and shall be fun. If you send a musician into a studio for recording with a prepared arrangement written in notes, it might be professional. But is this music vivid? So the best is a meeting of professional musicians and let's them jam together? 

DJ/Producer Tony Joseph and Musician/Producer Darryl Ross are the producer of "Unwrapped Vol.1". Tony Joseph has produced music for a number of hip-hopís first icons including Salt-N-Pepa, Kid & Play and Dana Dane. Darryl Ross is an accomplished producer, musician, songwriter, arranger and vocalist. Artists he worked with are Michael Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Barry White and Digital Underground. The idea behind this project is not only to combine elements of hip-hop and smooth jazz, but to let play together artists of both genres.

Joseph says, "I want people to enjoy the soloists, not just the track. I want them to enjoy the work these musicians have done. Itís like theyíre singing with their instruments to these tracks. I want people to enjoy the blend of the two." And Ross adds, "We want this to evolve into a situation where we ultimately have a new form of jazz hip hop; a hybrid where itís not dependent on already covered hip hop songs but original songs done in this format."

Nowadays smooth jazz artists like to use rhythm elements of hip-hop, but the result is always smooth jazz. This album is different. Smooth jazz isn't the dominant factor, hip-hop has "equal rights" to entertain the audience. The not to be underestimated progress of this album is the detachement of restrictments of the old format. 

 Crush On You bases on the interpolation of "Rain Dance", a song Jeff Lorber has written and played on his album "Water Sign", when he still was a jazz fusion artist. Patrice Rushen on piano and vibes and Paul Jackson jr. on guitar develop a firework of excellent tones melting with the vocals of Thyais Ross, Darryl Ross and Tony Joseph. A fantastic contemporary answer to the early fusion jazz tune. Patrice Rushen was lambasted by jazz critics for switching from jazz to more financially rewarding R&B with her album "Anything But Ordinary". Fans of smooth jazz can only profit by this freedom of movement.

Ms. Jackson is a tune taken from the hip-hop album "Stankonia" of the group Outkast. The rap part was replaced by instruments. Mabvutu Carpenter has the right raw voice to present the melody. Kat Dyson plays the wah-wah guitar overjoyedly.

Loungin' (Who Do You Love) bases on the tune "Who Do You Love" from the album "Present Tense" of the faboulous Lenny Write. Attentive readers of my reviews will remember my review about  "The Lenny White Collection". Good stuff is timeless. Rinato Nito, the pianist of this tune, is a name to remind. 

The Light contains an interpolation of "Open Your Eyes" written and sung by Bobby Caldwell. Louis van Taylor on sax, Paul Jackson jr.'s guitar and Terry "The Player" Stanton's voice are strokes of luck for this project. Only the passages between the several tunes are somehow breaking.

Mike Philips is the new star on Hidden Beach Records. This exeptionel saxophonist is to hear on One More Chance, a rendition of "Stay With Me" written and sung by the DeBarge brothers. "The hip-hop community has sampled its share of material from the DeBarge catalog", states MusicHound' s The Essential Album Guide.

So Fresh So Clean sounds very familiar to my ears. This tune was written by A. Benjamin and A. Patton, the Atlanta-based production team Organized Noize. They have also produced "Stankonia" of the group Outkast and this tune is taken from this album. The track reminds me of the album of the GAP band. Don't know why.

I Get Around is a cover of "Computer Love" taken from Roger Troutman's album  "The New Zapp IV U". After Lea Randolph's short "Round And Round, Round And Go" Louis van Taylor 's sax and Paul Jackson jr.'s (distortion !) guitar take the round. Funky and deep urban.

Forget About Dre is featuring Karen Briggs' violin and Gerald Spikes on sax. Violin in this genre is seldom. Karen Briggs was also a featured violinist on Chris Ho's "Picasso Blue". She also played on albums of Kenny Logan, Dianna Ross and Yanni. Karen has a classical bowing, unusual is her ability of jazzy improvisation on this instrument. 

What's It Gonna Be turns the previous rap tune to a smooth experience thanks to Richard's "88 fingers" Turner Jr. 's piano skills and Johnny Britt's atmospheric mute trumpet.

Bonita Applebum is an interpolation of "Daylight" written by R. Ayers, W. Allen and E. Birdsong and "Memory Band" written by Charles Stepney. "Daylight" was written for the group Ramp in 1977. The second sample "Memory Band" was from the selftitled debut album of the group Rotary Connection (1967). These samples were used by the group A Tribe Called Quest on their debut album "People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm" (1990). This cover of "Bonita Applebum" has an excellent instrumental highlight: The outstanding Tim "The Swede" Walvaars on Harmonica (a mixture of Stevie Wonder and Toots Thieleman). Also impressing is the scating vocoderized voice of Mike Philips.

You Got Me is a cover of the jazz-rap album "Things Fall Apart" of the group The Roots (1999). Karen Briggs and Mike Philips give this tune its special magic character.

Danger (Been So Long) is something for percussion (Munyogo) and Flamenco guitar (Marcos Salz) fans. This track is a cover of Mystikal's rap album "Let's Get Ready" (2000). Thanks for not using the original lyrics.

Such a collection album without a cover of the notorious rapper Eminem is not imaginable. Eminem sung Stan on his album "Marshall Mathers LP" (2000). Without his explicit lyrics this tune sounds very comfortable.

Unfortunately this album is still strictly on the word-of-mouth tip. Friends of hip-hop music are encouraged by this album to explore jazz music, the jazz part makes the album attractive for fans of smooth jazz. Both worlds are waiting for Vol. II, me included. 

© HBH

 
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