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Moors and Christians

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Album Review

James Hardway's most ambitious project yet, Moors + Christians is a rich, evocative, mostly played (not programmed) album that ably displays the producer's studio-hopping of the previous year or so, from Havana to Kingston to London. Ploughing fertile stylistic ground that verges on tight Cuban son, Afro-beat, and lounge jazz, these tracks feature performances from all three cities, as though Hardway assembled a photograph album of snapshots he'd taken on a trip to the West Indies. So "Movin On" features upright bassist Miles Danso and drummer Danny Crosby latching onto a groove previously recorded in Havana by percussionist Octavio Rodriguez (plus many others), with a truly Jamaican ragga scat over the top by vocalist Lisa Dainjah. The music comes together very naturally, and doesn't sound forced — it just sounds like a superb night out at a club on London's West End like Ronnie Scott's, where urban club culture meets traditional cultures (and digital meets analog) on an increasingly regular basis. The lush Afro-Cuban number "Wari Wah" is a great opener, with rich, luscious organ and vibes anchoring a quick-paced vocal reminiscent of Afro-soul brother number one, Fela Kuti. Drum'n'bass fans looking for more breakbeat fusion will find no direct evidence of sampling, just an album of evocative tracks whose only faults are they occasionally don't measure up to the innovative idea that brought them into being.

Biography

Born: London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Drum'n'bass fusionary James Hardway works most often with cool jazz textures, though he is largely immune to the purist poses of many jungle producers. Known before the mid-'90s under his birth name David Harrow (and reportedly related to Al Capone), Hardway has worked with an impressive cast of British producers, from Genesis P-Orridge to Adrian Sherwood and Jah Wobble to Andrew Weatherall. During the early '80s, Hardway lived in Germany and acted in films before getting into the Berlin music scene....
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Moors and Christians, James Hardway
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