Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

213

Mina Agossi: E-Z Pass to Brooklyn

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
Recorded in October 2001, Mina Agossi’s E-Z Pass to Brooklyn has already been making the rounds in the Francophone world for some time, where at least one reviewer has lauded the effort as “incroyable” and even goes on to say, “Chaque morceau est une surprise.” Another reviewer favourably chimes in, “jamais vous n’avez entendu quelque chose comme E-Z Pass to Brooklyn.”

“Incredible.” “Each song is a surprise.” “You’ve never heard anything like E-Z Pass to Brooklyn.” Bold statements, all of these. But Agossi herself is bold, feisty. Along with bassist Alexandre Hièle and drummer Bertrand Perrin, she subjects Ellington’s “Caravan” to an abrasive, exotic, Moroccan treatment; twists Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’” into a hushed, spoken, hip-hop number; and even takes on Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” amid versions of her own compositions, such as “Cyber Reality” and “Eat It” (not a Weird Al Yankovic cover, tempting as that might be to imagine). I suppose, however, that these small selections of critical commentary could be read with a literal mind, presenting us with a much more equivocal meaning, one that might come closer to a proper appraisal of Agossi’s first credited solo album (her fourth overall).

A truism: boldness does not good art make; nor is it synonymous with beauty. Chris Ofili’s portrait of the Madonna in elephant dung may radically recast subject matter more closely associated with Giotto, but that doesn’t mean I would prefer to hang Ofili’s work on my wall at home. In a musical parallel, we have Agossi’s assemblage of styles, none of which—or the many, many combinations thereof—ever rises above the boisterous and confrontational, or aspires to the various manifestations of beauty found in Ella, Lady Day, Dianne Reeves, or Dianna Krall. As if anticipating that "female jazz vocal" might be too confining a category for Agossi, one German website suggested comparisons with Björk. While this does work in spots, it still isn’t quite accurate. Agossi lacks the Icelandic diva’s vocal dynamics and artistic flair; and, furthermore, for all her love of fusion and experimentation, Björk never eschews the indie pop appeal that first brought her notoriety. Little of that same kind of appeal is to be found here.

None of this is intended to argue that Agossi should be written off. Far from it. It’s possible that her next outing will see her better suited to the material, both original and appropriated, and vice versa. In this way the boldness might become less of a gimmick and more of a real, thoughtful accent to the music. For all its artistic bravado, E-Z Pass to Brooklyn is so passionate as to be melodramatic, so enthusiastic as to be wearisome, so ambitious as to be amateurish.


Track Listing: Caravan (4:15); Mabo (5:45); Explore (5:19); Cyber Reality (3:48); 2000 Bells (2:59); Ain't Misbehavin' (3:02); Zaboum (4:19); Euphoria (5:02); Butterflies (2:53); Uruk (4:54); Eat It (3:23); Machine Gun (5:29)

Personnel: Mina Agossi (vocals); Alexandre Hi

Title: E-Z Pass to Brooklyn | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Celebrating William Parker at 65 CD/LP/Track Review Celebrating William Parker at 65
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Eternal Life CD/LP/Track Review Eternal Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: December 14, 2017
Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Storyteller" CD/LP/Track Review Storyteller
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 9, 2017
Read "Gold" CD/LP/Track Review Gold
by Jim Olin
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "Insufficient Funs" CD/LP/Track Review Insufficient Funs
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Chicago II" CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!