Blue Note Re:imagined sequel offers more modern jazz updates
Legendary jazz label Blue Note Records stays hip in 2022, presenting a second collection of updated label classics from another group of young jazz musicians in England.
Featuring sixteen fresh British groups, it's a generous selection of modern jazz covers of songs from the Blue Note catalog ranging from the great Thelonious Monk to the label's new star Norah Jones.
The first Blue Note Re:imagined collection in 2020 included many of England's most notable names like Blue Lab Beats, Shabaka Hutchings, Ezra Collective and Nubya Garcia. Apart from a few outliers, the album flowed from funky hip-hop to lazy electronic beats supporting the improvisational reworkings.
Blue Note Re:imagined II brings more diversity in styles and also brings attention to emerging stars in the UK's still-expanding jazz community.
The collection includes pop funk duo Franc Moody turning Donald Byrd's classic "Cristo Redentor" into a spaghetti western theme that transforms into a downtempo disco.
Sons of Kemet's tuba phenomenon Theon Cross blows a heavy psychedelic mood into "Epistrophy" by Thelonious Monk, accentuated by distorted electric guitar.
Inspired by more modern Blue Note recordings, Binker Golding lends his freewheeling tenor saxophone to Joe Lovano's 1992 composition "Fort Worth."
On Cassandra Wilson's 1995 song "Harvest Moon," Maya Delilah sings with a light, breathy vocal delivery that polishes the rootsy original to a modern pop shine.
Two more Donald Byrd jazz fusion songs find favor among these musicians. Swindle match orchestral disco arrangements with funk beats on "Miss Kane" from 1973, and the saxophone playing Venna & Marco Bernardis ride a neo-smooth groove through 1972's "Where Are We Going?"
Ahmed directs an energetic septet through the song's twists and turns, also giving space for Tim Garland's exotic bass clarinet solo.
The British-Bahraini Ahmed calls herself the "high priestess of psychedelic Arabic jazz", and her unique modern global perspective is a terrific match for the progressive post-bop world music of Corea.
Saxophonist and singer Parthenope makes her recording debut on Blue Note Re:imagined II with her refurbished reading of Norah Jones' break out hit "Don't Know Why." At 20 years old, Parthenope Wald-Harding was born the year this song was released.
She grew up a promising classical violinist but found a passion for saxophone and singing jazz from early heroes Michael Brecker and Chet Baker.
Parthenope stays mostly faithful to Jones' original coffee shop vibe but adds her generational perspective with a more introverted vocal reading and sharp, concise saxophone solos. You could say this is a coffee shop with free wi-fi, charging stations and great music.
The future of jazz continues to shine brightly from England, and Blue Note Re:imagined II keeps these young artists connected to great American jazz. It's a connection that continues to challenge and inspire musicians and fans alike on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.
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