Saturday, June 10, 2006

There can be Only one

I didn't know beans about rapper Beans but I know William Parker and Hamid Drake are about as good as it gets if you're building an avant-garde jazz crew and I'm always on the lookout for that perfect melding of jazz and hip-hop. So I snapped up the new CD "Only" from Thirsty Ear, featuring the three in a trio, after I read about it recently.

As hip-hop, it probably isn't standout. But I think it's pretty good experimental jazz and at least as interesting as other attempts to marry jazz and hip-hop I like, such as Soweto Kinch's "Conversations with the Unseen" and the Iswhat?! CD "You Figure It Out..." If the jazz is front and center on Kinch's disk and prominent with Iswhat?!, "Only" is more of a balance.

My one reservation is that the obvious hip-hop sections and the obvious jazz sections are quite discrete. They may be married, but they don't sleep in the same bed, kind of like couples on old TV shows. Where they are well mixed, they remind me of the jazz and electronica alchemy in stuff like Nils Petter Molvaer's "Khmer" and Bugge Wesseltoft's "New Conception of Jazz." The hip-hop kind of gets lost. On the other hand, I'd probably buy this just to hear Parker and Drake excel, and they do, in yet another context.

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