Various Artists: Blue Note Re:imagined

Chris May BY

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The idea—honouring Blue Note's legacy while mapping out a possible future—promises much. The actuality is a curate's egg. The sixteen artists each interpreting a classic Blue Note-associated tune are not, as the label's American publicity has it, among the London scene's "most exciting young talents." A few are, but not many. The sixteen are instead an unevenly matched assortment of instrumentalists, knob twiddlers, singers and spoken-word artists.

The musicians worth hearing are headed by Ezra Collective, with Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," Emma-Jean Thackray, with Shorter's "Speak No Evil (Night Dreamer)," Shabaka Hutchings, with Bobby Hutcherson's "Prints Tie" and Nubya Garcia, with her formative influence, Joe Henderson's "A Shade Of Jade." But overall, Blue Note Re:imagined is a tailgating exercise akin to Columbia's woeful 1999 Miles Davis "tribute," Panthalassa: The Remixes. That is to say, modish but inconsequential.

One American label which has pacted with London musicians to good effect is Impulse!, which has since 2018 released four paradigm-shifting albums by three of Shabaka Hutchings' groups: Sons Of Kemet, Shabaka & The Ancestors and The Comet Is Coming. Relative newcomer Ropeadope is showing promise, too, with one album from Yazz Ahmed already out and a dancefloor-friendly set from violinist Johanna Burnheart due later in October 2020. Blue Note will have to do better than this. Fortunately, on historical and recent form, it almost certainly will.

Track Listing

Rose Rouge; Footprints; Watermelon Man (Under The Sun); Wind Parade; Illusion (Silly Apparition); Galaxy; Search For Peace; A Shade Of Jade; Etcetera; Montara; I’ll Never Stop Loving You; Armageddon; Maiden Voyage; Prints Tie; Caribbean Fire Dance (Lewisham Drop); Speak No Evil (Night Dreamer).


Additional Instrumentation

Jorja Smith; Ezra Collective; Poppy Ajudha; Jordan Rakei; Skinny Pelembe; Alfa Mist; Ishmael Ensemble; Nubya Garcia; Steam Down w Afronaut Zu; Blue Lab Beats; Yazmin Lacey;Fieh: Mr Jukes; Shabaka Hutchings; Melt Yourself Down; Emma-Jean Thackray.

Album information

Title: Blue Note Re:imagined | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

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