Guru's "Jazzmatazz" Re-imagined
Blue Lab Beats headlined two sold out shows at the Jazz Cafe in Camden with their re-presentation of the late Guru's "Jazzmatazz" collaborative albums. In this interview in Blues and Soul magazine, from May 2009, Guru said:
"When I first came up with the Jazzmatazz concept - I was noticing how a lot of cats were digging in the crates and sampling jazz breaks to make hip hop records", he explains, "But, while I thought that was cool, I wanted to take it to the next level and actually create a new genre, by getting the actual dudes we were sampling into the studio to jam over hip hop beats with some of the top vocalists of the time. You know, the whole thing was experimental, but I knew it was an idea that would spawn some historic music. So, though everyone at first was like, "Where does it fit in?", I was like, "It doesn't NEED to fit in! It fits in with ITSELF!". And that's how it became a leader, in terms of influencing other things. Because, as it evolved, I was able to add elements of R&B, soul, funk, reggae, rap - all on to the original base of hip hop and jazz".
Blue Lab Beats, a duo formed by NK-OK and MR DM have been building up quite the reputation for themselves, first as writers and producers and now performers in their own right. They were joined at the weekend by a range of musicians, singers and rappers to re-interpret Guru's vision of a music genre that was a ground-breaking fusion of jazz and hip-hop. It is less surprising to hear such a melange of music that typically emerges from urban melting pots in contemporary music, but Blue Lab Beats do it effortlessly and with a respectful reference to the history of both Jazz and Hip-Hop. An acknowledgement that these were musical forms that were intended at times as agents of social and political change is evident in the samples used in certain tracks. The packed crowd certainly enjoyed the grooves and beats generated by the duo, which was then energized further as the special guests played their part in the show.
They were introduced on stage by Kwame Kwaten, who told me prior to the show that Blue Lab Beats had worked hard to re-present "Jazzmatazz" in a celebratory light but adding their own flavour. Perhaps Guru would have been proud to see his legacy- London's new Jazz warriors are showing that they don't need to fit in- they fit in with themselves and are now making real waves.
Blue Lab Beats were joined by Jaz Karis, vocals; Kinkai, vocals; Seun Alayande, vocals; Tymusic Chijioke vocals; Eshu Akinnibi Sax; Dylan Jones, trumpet.
Check out this film by Jon E Price, documenting Blue Lab Beats and the resurgence of Jazz on the London music scene:
On Friday Night I went to take photographs of Trumpet player, Sheila Maurice Grey and her one-off Quartet assembled for the Friday Tonic sessions at the central Bar in the Royal Festival Hall, as part of the Southbank musical program. The band featured Keyboard player Sarah Tandy, who was recently named as one of the 40 musicians to watch in the Guardian, bassist Kai Rio and drummer Patrick Boyle.
Sheila leads the afro-jazz group Kokoroko and also plays with Nerija.