There are quite a few cities in the world that have an important musical legacy, and in many cases, the city's musical history might be one of the first things people associate with it. Take New Orleans. Commonly known as the birthplace of jazz, it's hard to imagine New Orleans without conjuring up brass bands, jazz clubs and juke joints. San Francisco-based pianist Clifford Lamb
explores New Orleans' musical and cultural aspects with Blues & Hues New Orleans
by offering musical mashups exploring the Crescent City's legacy.
A mashup is certainly nothing new in music. This is, of course, where an artist takes elements from existing works and synthesizes them into a unique original composition. Musicians have done this to a greater or lesser degree for years in genres such as hip hop and experimental music. However, mashups have also been a growing part of jazz as well. Artists such as Robert Glasper
have utilized mashups successfully in their music.
Lamb, who has been a musician since his childhood, began working with mashups on his 2019 recording Blues & Hues
(Weber Works). Although he originally studied classical music, he developed an interest in jazz as a teenager and continued his studies at Boston's Berklee College of Music. During his professional career, he's played with some of the top names in jazz, including Kevin Eubanks
, John Patitucci
, and Tommy Campbell
. By working with mashups, he uses his experience and compositional skills to explore new possibilities in jazz.
With Blues & Hues New Orleans
, he takes the mashup concept to a new level. As Lamb describes it, he wants to use the mashups "to embrace the elements of an individual city," and it's not just limited to the uplifting parts of the city's history. He wants listeners to experience each city in its entirety.
New Orleans is the first stop on his musical road trip, which seems appropriate. Lamb is joined here by Herlin Riley
on drums, Gregg Bissonette
on drums, Roland Guerin
on bass, Rhonda Smith
on bass, Nicholas Payton
on trumpet, Donald Harrison
on alto saxophone, and Justin Klunk
on alto saxophone. The album was recorded in New Orleans, and the musicians definitely capture the city's spirit. Whether it's thoughtful melodic pieces like "Unrequited Love" or more funky grooves such as "Mardi Gras," there's an unmistakable New Orleans vibe throughout.
The album, however, wouldn't have the same feel without the mashups. Lamb takes his own songs and fuses them with music by composers such as Charles Mingus
, McCoy Tyner
, Terrence Blanchard
, and Max Steiner. The result is something other than a collection of Lamb originals with a few references thrown in. This is true integration of musical compositions, a musical gumbo celebrating New Orleans from its earliest days to the present. Blues & Hues New Orleans
offers more than just an album of good jazz music. It celebrates the power of community and also gives the audience something to think about. Listening to the album will, Lamb hopes, "give people a chance to reflect on their own lives" and by doing so it will give them the chance to not only appreciate the music, but also experience what the music truly has to offer.
Curtain Time; Clench; Voodoo With Hoodoo; Mardi Gras; Unrequited Love; Blues & Hues New Orleans; Final Curtain