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Jazzanova (Germany): In Between [Deluxe]

Album Reviews:

Entertainment Weekly (8/2/02, p.74) - "...The set veers between cosmic soul-jazz and intricate drumscapes, salted with uplifting raps/vocals..." - Rating: B+

CMJ (7/1/02, p.11) - "...IN BETWEEN is a beautifully crafted collection of songs dominated by jazz and electronica, yet is also influenced greatly by Afro-funky beats, remarkable vocals and a mastery of the xylophone..."

JazzTimes (7-8/02, p.107) - "...A stylistically inclusive electronica-jazz amalgam...combining artfully layered rhythms with performances by guest vocalists and instrumentalists from all over the world..."

Vibe (7/02, p.136) - 3 discs out of 5 - "...Elegant electronica that traverses cutting-edge house music, knotty jazz fusion, and soft-focus R&B without breaking a sweat..."

Album Notes

Though Jazzanova's underground credibility and respect among fellow artists never wavered during the late '90s, the German six-piece waited a long time to release a proper full-length (reportedly, it required five years of recording). In Between certainly proves the wait was worth it; the collective has not only a Teutonic efficiency for creating complex, precise, detailed beat tracks -- recalling the earthier side of house, hip-hop, and jazz fusion -- but also the wisdom to focus away from music that sounds like it came out of a laboratory. On the surface, "No Use" is just another smooth acid jazz number with a sensuous female vocal and a depth-plumbing bassline; in the hands of Jazzanova, though, it's transformed into a work of real beauty, an impeccable production with countless touches embellishing the percussion in a way that few acts have been able to do (Nuyorican Soul and 4hero are really the only others in the same league). "The One-Tet," a rap track, features a pair of battling drum breaks and glorious stuttered effects over the awed rapping of Capitol A (unsurprisingly, the production overwhelms the vocal). Beside providing the house and acid jazz equivalent of Kruder & Dorfmeister's sublime deconstructions of dub and hip-hop, the Jazzanova revolution focuses squarely on the drum. Piano, Rhodes keyboards, and acoustic guitar are mostly untouched, along with the songwriting and structure; the percussion and programming, however, are forward-thinking to the point of incomprehension. The only problem here is the length: as usually befalls an ambitious dance record (to say nothing of one that was years in the making), In Between is easily twice as long as it should be. (One hint: program out tracks seven through 13, but leave in nine and 11.) ~ John Bush


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