You can hear Mark de Clive-Lowe reconnecting with his jazz roots, while maintaining the connections he has made with hip hop, dance and funk over the last decade. It’s great to hear him playing some acoustic piano again also. All of this music was composed by Mark, or by combinations of him and the musicians involved in the live recordings. It includes instrumental grooves – some ethnic influenced, some funk or jazz influenced – along with some soulful vocals from Nia Andrews and rap courtesy of Thee Kidicarus.
He’s reeled in some great players for this release; the Eubanks brothers on trumpet and trombone, Miguel Attwood/Ferguson on viola, great young drummer Nate Smith, Tivon Pennicott reeds, Tim Lefebre or Ben Shepherd on bass and others. There is a lot of colour and variety in the album, he’s definitely taken his creativity to another level. Nothing sounds cerebral, there’s an organic and attractive quality to the music with different combinations of horns, keys, vocals and electronic sounds, all underpinned by Smith’s excellent drumming. The instrumental solos are relatively short, but woven seamlessly into imaginative arrangements and grooves.
Standout tracks for me include The Mission, which sets up a hypnotic and exotic mood for the whole album, the Brazilian/capoeira ethnicity of Nova Roda, The Processional for its latter day Miles-ian trippyness, Sketch For Miguel for its relaxed lyrical feel, and Sun Up Sun Down for the vocals of Pharrell collaborator Thee Kidicarus. Mark describes that track as, “My idea of dance floor jazz from some other planet.” It’s great to hear his McCoy Tyner and Herbie Handcock keyboard roots surfacing again – I’ve been waiting for that! Produced by Mark who sampled and re-mixed the musicians live in-performance, it was recorded mostly at The Bunker Studio in New York, by former-Aucklander Aaron Nevezie, and also at Stagg Street Studio in LA, by Jimmy Fahey. Mixed by Ty Macklin and mastered by Pete Maher for Mark’s own Mashibeats label, in conjunction with Ropeadope Records.