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Ambient/jazz jungle producer Jamie Odell was near the top of the hype list for 1997, his Jimpster project upped by the likes of Mixmaster Morris and Coldcut. However, as jungle's avant-garde veered into techstep territory and "ambient" and "jazz" switched from drum'n'bass adjectives to unsavory invectives, Jimpster's appeal switched from the dancefloor to the armchair, gaining popularity instead (like Squarepusher and Cujo's Amon Tobin) among electronica audiences. His string of EPs, released through his own Freerange label, found a welcome audience in those repelled by techstep's murky, bleating hoovers but who craved something a little more sophisticated than the rolling, housey breaks and pad washes characteristic of most dancefloor ambient and jazz drum'n'bass. His debut full-length, Martian Arts, was a compilation of those Freerange singles, and was released by the New York-based Instinct label in mid-1997.
Like Squarepusher and Cujo, Odell takes his jazz influence in not always obvious directions, with results often pleasantly recalling '70s fusion acts such as Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, and Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis without stooping to excessive sampling. Odell draws from live session tapes recorded in his studio. A student of jazz and contemporary composition when he began cutting records, Odell was also one of many musicians in his family: his mother was a jazz singer on the London circuit and his father was the drummer for jazz/funk fusion combo Shakatak. Jimpster's proper debut LP, Messages from the Hub, was released on Kudos in 1999 and the eclectic compilation Scrambled was issued a year later.
2002 saw the release of Jimpster's second studio album, Domestic Science. Once again not confined by musical boundaries, the album saw him deftly move from '80s-influenced jazz funk to trippy deep house. That same year his focus turned to starting the improvised jazz and electronic outfit the Bays, a group that would never rehearse or release any music commercially as part of their "Performance Is the Product" ethos. It wouldn't be until 2006 that Odell returned to his Jimpster guise, releasing his impeccably crafted third album, Amour, which delved deeper into the housier side of things.
Focusing on his label and DJ'ing commitments, Odell's output slowed to a handful of singles over the next few years and he returned in 2013 with his fourth full-length, Porchlight & Rockingchairs. Once again featuring his now trademark sound of smooth, jazz-inflected deep house, the album moved skillfully from dancefloor-led numbers to laid-back, armchair-friendly listening. Following a handful of remix EPs, Jimpster delivered the English Rose EP on Freerange in 2015, while the following year he teamed up with Japanese producer Kuniyuki on the Kalima's Dance EP. By 2017, with his label being in existence for some 20 years and his remix credits reaching into triple figures, Odell returned with his fifth full-length release, Silent Stars. ~ Sean Cooper & Rich Wilson
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