Sounds of Crenshaw / EMPIRE
What a supergroup! Dinner Party is the name of the band-project and the name of this 7-track mini-album/EP featuring Terrace Martin, Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper and 9th Wonder.
That’s almost too much talent to pack into one studio on any given day – and this mini-album was made last year, worked on over a while, whenever schedules could align and finally it’s out in this world.
Glasper (keyboards), Martin (anything that makes a noise that’s not tied down), Washington (saxophones) and Wonder (production/beats) are all wizards; all are working in the spaces between soul, funk, jazz and hip-hop and so perhaps the biggest problem this slight project could have is the expectations we might bring to it.
There isn’t a lot here – lyrically – beyond the timely Freeze Tag; a Black Lives Matter anthem that is like a rewrite of Marvin Gaye’s classic protest pieces via something almost approaching a Jackson 5 vibe. It’s a future-classic. A gem. Not least because it’s so easy to just fall under the spell of musically; it almost suggests a low-key lyric because the singing is so sweet, it tricks you, lures you in then the bluntness hits you. Good.
But Sleepless Nights, the opener, is really a bit of sub-par R’n’B, at least vocally, the same can be said for Love You Bad. And the closer, LUV U features Glasper’s overused and silly vocoder antics.
But none of that really matters.
Because if you stick with this you’ll hear the sonic perfection of R’n’B groove pieces that seem to exist in a bubble of now even though they were clearly build from the parts of 90s/00s acid-jazz and neo-soul. That’s fitting given the relationships in this group go back to the early 1990s.
First Responders and The Mighty Tree are like a calm, chilled and cool version of Branford Marsalis’ Buckshot LeFonque.
I like this. A lot. And I can feel it growing on me as I listen to it.
This has an effortlessness to it that’s so hard to fudge. These mega-talents had a great time making this. And when they wanted to they sure had something to say as well. Maybe the better move would have been to hold out for a full-lengther, but in these troubled and troubling times we can just be thankful for this warm, welcome distraction.
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