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Nothing Stays the Same

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Album Review

One look at the personnel and you just might do a double take: all-star avant-garde jazzers William Parker, David S. Ware, and Matthew Shipp, among others, meet Keef Destefano in a spin of genres that is likely to leave you spinning. Destefano (aka DJ Wally) has made a career of mixing things up with a hip-hop glaze. This one is no different, except that he tackles head-on a style of playing that in large part has resisted commercial appeal. Whether fans of the esoteric Parker, Ware, and Shipp will follow them down this road or abandon them, or whether a new audience will be attracted, is unclear — but you can't fault them for trying. The results are eerily danceable, with some of the virtuosic playing that might be expected filtered through Destefano's warped vision. You may never have thought that these kinds of players would make it into the dancehall, but they show that they have the chops to expand their visions without sacrificing their essential concepts. While some might charge "sellout" and purists might cry "foul," the music stands on its own terms as a creative thrust tempered by a pop sensibility. It could attract a new, young audience, hopefully one that might be tempted to explore the discographies of these artistic giants. There is much more here than the fusion disasters of the 1970s warranted (just hear Shipp's acrobatics on "Shipp Solo (Interlude)"), though the traps for the unwary cannot be ignored.


Born: New York, NY

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A member of New York's Liquid Sky family, DJ Wally began taking trip-hop into new directions with three EPs recorded for his own label, Sams Jointz. The tracks contained an astounding variety of sounds, encompassing ambient, funk, jungle, plus a solid exercise in '70s nostalgia -- a reworking of Simon & Garfunkel's classic "Feelin' Groovy." Mo'Wax founder James Lavelle liked what he heard, and licensed one track for his 1996 trip-hop compilation, Headz II, a roll call for all the best artists in...
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Nothing Stays the Same, DJ Wally
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