Reviews

Various Artists
Blue Note Re:Imagined

(Decca/Blue Note)

8/10

The proliferation of high-calibre young jazz musicians in the UK has been one of the unforeseen joys of the last five years, and now the entire generation has received the ultimate establishment endorsement. This is their lap of honour. The iconic Blue Note label (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman), which celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2019, has granted the new breed full access to raid their peerless archive and compile an album of reworked new versions of classics of their choosing.

Aficionados will relish the chance to indulge in Nubya Garcia unleashing her husky tenor sax all over Joe Henderson’s ‘A Shade of Jade’, Melt Yourself Down’s more frantic take on Henderson’s ‘Caribbean Fire Dance’, Shabaka Hutchings tapping into the mellow, percussive glory of Bobby Hutcherson’s ‘Prints Tie’ or Ezra Collective slowly building Wayne Shorter’s classic ‘Footprints’ into a cool frenzy, Joe Armon-Jones’ keys lapping at the crispness of Femi Koleoso’s drum rhythms.

The vocal cuts rise to the bait too, with Jorja Smith’s take on St. Germain’s ‘Rose Rouge’ casting light on an overlooked, more recent chapter of the Blue Note catalogue, while Nottingham’s Yazmin Lacey delivers a knockout rendition of Dodo Greene’s ‘I’ll Never Stop Loving You’ in the finest smoky club tradition. Perhaps most exciting of all, though, is the platform the album allows for the next wave of artists, with Steam Down offering a thrillingly contemporary take on Shorter’s ‘Etcetera’, complete with girl group harmonies and sharp Josh Davis drum breaks.

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