437

IsWhat?!: Not to be Defined...

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Improvisation is so much a part of what we do. To mix it up with the scratch artists and the DJs is as complex a form of improvisation as is playing with other instruments.
Hyena Records, the newest baby of producer extraordinaire Joel Dorn, is quite obviously one of the most eclectic labels in music. Reissues of Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Thelonious Monk catalog grab your attention at first, but any label that features records by both Bobby Darin and James "Blood Ulmer in the same catalogue is clearly open to a variety of possibilities. This same kind of free-range eclecticism within the label carries over to the eclecticism inherent to one of its latest signings, IsWhat?!

IsWhat?!—no, we're not asking a question, and it's not an Abbott and Costello routine either. IsWhat?! is rather—a mantra that speaks to the group's refusal to be pinned down to any particular genre or style, and to create music that is for "the people but which does not simply pander to what people are comfortable in hearing. IsWhat?! in fact, is an amalgamation of influences and music-making techniques that reflects the different cultural and musical backgrounds its three members bring to the fore. Consistent with the whole ethos, the first record for the label is called You Figure it Out.

Now while there are some clear foundations in both jazz and hip-hop, and while "jazz hip-hop is clearly the tag some will attempt to apply, this is by no means "jazz hip-hop e.g. Russell Gunn or Roy Hargrove. When your bassist comes from a punk background and your emcee is a free jazz nut who is as likely to check out an Ayler record as a Sugar Hill Gang side, it stands to reason this wouldn't be a predictable sort of "fusion. And irrespective of trying to define its sound, the band itself is a unique confluence of "sounds , featuring saxophonist/flutist Jack Walker, bassist Matt Anderson, and the wild card that throws off any possibility of this being just like your grandfather's jazz- emcee and human drum machine Napoleon Maddox.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Randy Weston: Music of The Earth Interview Randy Weston: Music of The Earth
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Nicole Johänntgen: Henry And The Free Bird Interview Nicole Johänntgen: Henry And The Free Bird
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Aaron Parks: Rising To The Challenge Interview Aaron Parks: Rising To The Challenge
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: June 21, 2017
Read Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle Interview Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 19, 2017
Read Miles Mosley Gets Down! Interview Miles Mosley Gets Down!
by Andrea Murgia
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Erik Friedlander: A Little Cello?" Interview Erik Friedlander: A Little Cello?
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Fred Anderson: On the Run" Interview Fred Anderson: On the Run
by Lazaro Vega
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Bill Cunliffe: A Day In the Life" Interview Bill Cunliffe: A Day In the Life
by Tish Oney
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Joe La Barbera: Experiencing Bill Evans" Interview Joe La Barbera: Experiencing Bill Evans
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: May 17, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.