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From the Inside Out

Requiems, Remodels & Remembrances

By Published: March 28, 2013
"Writing the arrangements for this album was a cool challenge," Goldwasser continues. "I didn't have to try to make non-dance music into dance music as on our previous albums because the original Thriller is so danceable already. I needed to find ways to make each song groove in a different way from the original version. I didn't want any of the arrangements to be obvious in that regard."

Goldwasser arranged and produced sessions in Brooklyn (NY), Tel Aviv (Israel), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Birmingham (UK) and Kingston (Jamaica), and pulled together a genuine village, to complete this tribute. Thrillah centers around the ESA touring band—Goldwasser, keyboardist Elena Canlas, bassist Yossi Fine (David Bowie, Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
, Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan
Stanley Jordan
b.1959
guitar, electric
) and drummer Joe Tomino (Dub Trio, Matisyahu). Other musicians who climbed onboard include satellite All-Stars Victor Axelrod (Antibalas, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings), guitarist Shelton Garner Jr., trombonist Buford O'Sullivan and drummer/percussionist Ivan Katz; percussionist Andy Farag (Umphrey's McGee
Umphrey's McGee

band/orchestra
); and the horn section from Israel's most famous hip-hop funk band, Hadag Nachash. Vocalists Michael Rosen 4tet (from Black Uhuru), Luciano and all of Steel Pulse return from Lonely Hearts, Mojo Morgan returns from Radiodread, and Hawaii's reggae export The Green harmonize on "Baby Be Mine."

The best way to dive into Thrillah might be to start with the last two songs: "Dub It," a dub mix of its remade "Beat It," and "Close to Midnight," a cavernous and booming dub of its title track through which horns, guitars, percussion and melodica wash in and out of echo like Vincent Price's ghost.

Properly slowed down and re-spaced, the bass line to the iconic title track "Thriller" transforms into a perfect reggae fulcrum. Vocalists Mikey General and Spragga Benz confidently romp through Jackson's famous vocal and transform Price's horror rap into reggae toasting. Mojo Morgan and Steel Pulse languidly flow through "The Girl Is Mine," Jackson's duet with Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
b.1942
composer/conductor
.

"The Lady in My Life" and "Billie Jean" are Goldwasser's two most striking rearrangements. He drops most of the accompanying instrumentation and frees vocalist Christopher Martin to delightedly slowdance with "The Lady" dressed in only bass, drums and melodica, which floats like a butterfly trailing behind his vocal. A churning, slightly grungy bass line drives "Billie Jean" to a completely different, more confrontational yet still danceable destination.

Hey, why not Metal Machine Music next?

Cover Art

NEXT Collective

Cover Art

Concord Jazz

2013

Cover Art heralds the NEXT Collective: Seven musicians—Logan Richardson (flute and alto saxophone), Walter Smith III
Walter Smith III
Walter Smith III
b.1980
sax, tenor
(bass clarinet and tenor saxophone), Matthew Stevens
Matthew Stevens
Matthew Stevens
b.1982
guitar
(guitar), Gerald Clayton (piano and Fender Rhodes), Kris Bowers
Kris Bowers
Kris Bowers

piano
(Fender Rhodes), Ben Williams (bass) and Jamire Williams (drums) —whose debut quite capably bears up under the heavy "young lions of jazz" mantle. Bassist Williams won the prestigious 2009 Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
International Jazz Competition; drummer Williams has extensively recorded with trumpeter Christian Scott
Christian Scott
Christian Scott
b.1983
trumpet
, who guests on several Cover tunes, and he appeared with Stevens on Scott's 2012 landmark Christian aTunde Adjuah (Concord Jazz).

Like Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
carved out his bebop breakout "Koko" from the chords of the orchestral dance tune "Cherokee," NEXT Collective presents a debut completely assembled from the pop(ular) music of their rock, rap, RnB, hip-hop and pop contemporaries, and even though there's not one "jazz tune" on it, Cover Art is most certainly, and most pleasingly, jazz. It opens with two horns playing simultaneously (another great jazz tradition) atop a rolling snare drum, welcoming the piano that lays down the melody to "Twice" (Little Dragon). The saxophones seem to seek out and connect to the drummer until Stevens' melodic guitar lines tie the entire tune together.

Many tunes powerfully drive into straight-ahead jazz, but other covers steer down slightly different paths. "Africa" (D'Angelo) refocuses the skeletal original's digital funk around its softly downward keyboard spiral to createa smooth and mellow jazz piece. Drummer Williams rocks "Come Smoke My Herb" (Meshell Ndegeocello) hard and mighty, his emphatic tumult pushing the saxophonists higher and higher. Adorned in gentle flute and acoustic piano, "Refractions in the Plastic Pulse" (Stereolab) sounds more organic than plastic as it grows from and then floats above the rhythm section's fertile bed, and "Oceans" (Pearl Jam) and "Perth" (Bon Iver) are remodeled into harmonic moods that float through suspended time.


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