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Of All the Things

Jazzanova

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Album Review

Could it be? Is it really possible that one of the most innovative collectives in modern music could stoop to making a throwback soul record? (Perhaps they should have recruited Joss Stone as a guest vocalist.) Sarcasm aside, it's obvious that a soul record from a group like Jazzanova is quite a different proposition from the usual retro rot. So confident in their middle age that they feel no need to innovate (at least, purely for its own sake), the Berliner sextet ends up delivering one of the best soul albums of the era (or any other). True, the influences may be easy to spot — Philly soul here, Motown there, plenty of '70s progressive jazz with taut strings or breezy woodwinds — but with arrangements as accomplished as these are, and productions that crackle as gloriously as these do, the group can rest comfortably with their theft, genius as it is. Each track has a vocal feature, which might disappoint a few dance fans, but as with the first Jazzanova production LP (In Between), listeners won't spend long wishing they could hear instrumentals of these songs. The caressing vocalist Paul Randolph is responsible for a large share of the highlights, while Jazzanova must be proudest for snaring the smooth soul maverick Leon Ware to appear on a cover of his own "Rockin' You Eternally," with backing vocals from fellow Detroiter Dwele. (Still, Phonte from Little Brother is responsible for the record's greatest feat — delivering a fine soul vocal on the opener "Look What You're Doin' to Me," then rapping just as well for "So Far from Home.") It's to be expected that Jazzanova would turn in excellent productions with every track, but what's most impressive about Of All the Things is the work that Jazzanova haven't made their forté in the past — songwriting, arrangements, and the pairing of each vocalist with a song that works perfectly for them. (Credit for much of the songwriting and arranging for horn or strings goes to Stefan Leisering.) Whereas in the past, Jazzanova's preeminence was obvious on the surface, Of All the Things displays their subtle powers for music-making.

Biography

Formed: 1995 in Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Berlin's Jazzanova collective formed in 1995, after DJing with one another at a club called Delicious Doughnuts. Alexander Barck, Claas Brieler, Roskow Kretschmann, Stefan Leisering, Axel Reinemer, and Jürgen von Knoblauch shared a common goal of blending their collected inspirations together to create a new, sophisticated...
Full Bio
Of All the Things, Jazzanova
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  • $17.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Electronic, Dance, House, Bop
  • Released: 01 January 2008

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