With a bit of hesitation, the jazz fan dips his/her little toe into the surging river of electronica and dance music. Sure, jazz in its early incarnations as dance music encouraged our fathers (maybe grandfathers) to hit the floor. Since the bebop revolution however, dancing has only maintained itself within the jazzer’s heart, as the listening evolution made legs atrophy.
The trouble with the intersection of jazz and club music is the beats. Club music requires a steady pulse, while the odd measure and changing time signatures of modern jazz has kept many in their seats. Zero dB aka producers Neil Combstock (aka Frank de Jojo) and Chris Vogado (aka The Vogado Project) ply their craft with loyalties to the house and dance electronica crowd, but add just enough jazz accents to interest the jazz-minded.
Don’t get me wrong, Reconstruction is a brokebeat, house, electronica dance record. Comstock and Vogado aren’t shy when applying incessant beats, the kind that drove many of us to seek out Art Blakey, Max Roach, and Sunny Murray. Many of the tracks are merely vehicles for relentless pounding. Other remixes, though, are attractive reconstructions worth attention. Unlike the recent work of Spring Hill Jack, Zero dB hasn’t rejected the formal structures of dance beats, but they do cast their nets wide to vary their sources of music.
The highlight of this disc is without a doubt the remix of Sun Ra’s “Satellites Are Spinning” with June Tyson’s vocal invocation, “...calling planet earth, calling planet earth..” The remix is driven by an acoustic bass line (not a programed machine) and enough of Sun Ra’s space-age electric piano to make it sound authentic. While Vogado and Combstock have reworked the track into a dance track, it maintains the Arkestra sound.
Other tracks that rely on acoustic instrumentation for color also work very well. The remix of Mitar Subotic’s “Samba do Gringo Paulista” takes the Brazilian Suba’s percussive heavy track from a carnival acoustic beginning into a dance floor drum machine ending. The seamless flow, complete with vocals, updates the South American movement in dance and jazz.
In other places the producers touch on the muted trumpet and chilled saxophone while remixing the Peace Orchestra’s “Henry” and reordering the carnival drumming of Grupo Batuque into a crazy sprint of a track.
Reconstruction lacks serious jazz credibility but it is definitely more than mindless ‘shut up and dance’ music. Then again maybe Zero dB is telling us to just shut up and dance.
Personnel: Chris Vogado - Producer; Neil Combstock - Producer.