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Adrian Younge/Ali Shaheed Muhammad

Jazz Is Dead 001

Jazz Is Dead 001

UPC: 686162825998

Format: LP

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An outgrowth of their like-named events at Los Angeles' Lodge Room, the Jazz Is Dead series from Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad begins with this all-originals showcase for some of the inspirational African-American and Brazilian artists with whom the musician/producers have recorded at the former's neighboring studio. Back in 1989, Muhammad's A Tribe Called Quest debuted with a single ("Description of a Fool") sampling a Roy Ayers Ubiquity classic ("Running Away"), so it's appropriate that this set leads with an Ayers collaboration, the slinking "Hey Lover." The saxophone of Gary Bartz, another unforgettable Tribe source ("Butter" was churned with "Gentle Smiles"), glides and flutters through the whirlwind "Distant Mode," the next number. In those songs and what follows, Younge and Muhammad ably modify their signature sound, rooted in late-'60s and early-'70s modes, to suit and spotlight their guests, all of whom released foundational works during the same period. The inextricably linked Azymuth and Marcos Valle are separately featured on consecutive tracks that play to their strengths, though "Apocalíptico" grooves a little harder and nastier than usual for the trio, while "Nao Saia Da Praça" is as delightful as anything off Valle's 2020 album Cinzento. Another sequence toward the middle involves keyboardists heard respectively on acoustic piano, electric piano, and organ, Gil Scott-Heron partner Brian Jackson (presumably also on flute), bossa nova innovator Joao Donato, and soul-jazz leader Doug Carn (whose presence is the biggest surprise). Younge and Muhammad end with a meta title song that, with its group vocal, sounds like it could be the resuscitation of an abandoned Ayers project. Even if Jazz Is Dead ended here, the concept would be a triumph. ~ Andy Kellman