“A rock musician plays 3 chords in front of 1000 people. A jazz musician plays 1000 chords in front of 3 people”. Or so the old adage goes.
For this reason, many (myself included) can find both rock and jazz music infuriating at times. The rock musician can be far too concerned about how their hair looks to worry about originality whilst the jazz musician is too busy playing the 100th variation of the same chord meanwhile slowly disappearing further and further up their own rectum.
Whilst most hip-hop artists will acknowledge that a lot of the genre was spawned from sampling old jazz records, very few jazz artists have attempted reversing this trend. This is where BADBADNOTGOOD come in. 'BBNG2' is their second self-released full length LP and their fourth release overall. Their free debut, 'BBNG', consisted mainly of covers of well-known hip-hop beats, most notably Gang Starr’s 'Mass Appeal', Ol' Dirty Bastard’s 'Brooklyn Zoo' and Slum Village’s 'Fall In Love'. And, my personal favourite, the nerdtacular 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time' medley. It’s an interesting idea that has that maddening “why didn’t I think of that?” quality constantly surrounding it.
On 'BBNG2', they broaden their net, reeling in schools of tasty morsels from James Blake ('Limit To Your Love' & 'CMYK') through Odd Future ('Bastard/Lemonade') to Kanye West ('Flashing Lights'). There is even a My Bloody Valentine ('You Made Me Realize') cover in there, although this does feel slightly separated from the rest of the release.
'UWM' and 'Earl', the two best tracks on here, show two different sides of the band; the reinterpretations and the original compositions. 'Earl' starts ominously enough with deep, electronic bass drum rumbles. It quickly bursts in with an infectious beat and a swooning distorted electric piano. By the time that saxophone hits, you’ve already agreed to sell your ears to this album for the next 61 minutes.
'UWM' is the best original track on here, but that is more a testament to itself than denigration to the others. As the piano and bass plough chromatically, the drums prove themselves to be full of muscle, pounding out some seriously heavy rhythms. The same can be said of 'DMZ', before we arrive at 'Flashing Lights', a contender alongside 'Earl' for best cover. It has the best improvisation with some glorious musicianship from every member come the halfway mark. But unlike most jazz, it doesn’t sound like they are sitting back, looking collected. It sounds like they are having a lot of fun. And this means that I have a lot of fun.
Posted: Wed 11 April 2012