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Cubik and Origami

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Album Review

Some people mistake being jazzy for actually being jazz, but they're two different things. Joni Mitchell, Anita Baker, Sade, De La Soul, Julia Fordham, and A Tribe Called Quest are all jazzy — they have jazz influences, but they aren't jazz. Trumpeter Miles Davis, on the other hand, was the essence of jazz; even when he became influenced by Jimi Hendrix and James Brown and alienated jazz purists by using a lot of electric instruments, Davis maintained a jazz improviser's mentality. Of course, actual jazz isn't necessarily better than music that is merely jazzy — a lot of worthwhile recordings are merely jazzy, and this self-titled CD by the duo Cubik & Origami is a good example. Anyone who tells you that Cubik & Origami's work is "jazz for the dancefloor" or something like that is delusional; nothing on this 58-minute disc is actually jazz. But Cubik & Origami do provide electronica with jazz (and hip-hop) overtones, and they are enjoyably good at it. Electronica, of course, is a broad, far-reaching term; electronica is everything from techno to trance to jungle/drum'n'bass to ambient, and this mostly instrumental CD favors the chillout/downtempo side of things. Cubik & Origami are funky in a relaxed, reserved, hypnotic way, and using jazz overtones makes perfect sense for them. Their use of keyboards sometimes hints at Lonnie Liston Smith; also, there is some guitar playing that suggests the late Grant Green. Cubik & Origami are never improvisational the way Smith was improvisational with his Cosmic Echoes or the way that Green was improvisational on his Blue Note dates of the '60s and early '70s, but they certainly know how to use those jazz influences to enrich their heavily produced material. And while this disc is a bit inconsistent, Cubik & Origami are interesting more often than not and have made a noteworthy contribution to the chillout/downtempo school of electronica.

Cubik and Origami, Cubik and Origami
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