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Jazz meets house, techno and the 70s funk of Miles in this brilliant studio project. DJ Sharel has worked with Femi Kuti and Frederic Galliano, and previously released some 12” singles in France (he lives in Grenoble) before being signed to this far-sighted Brooklyn label. On this self-titled disc, his first full-length recording, Sharel layers keyboards, percussion and samples to concoct a bracing mix that elevates the DJ’s art to a new plane.
The three “Tribute” tracks here pay homage to Miles Davis’ seminal 1972 album On The Corner, which wove a wild tapestry of fusion, funk and electronics to change the face of music. Sharel could have taken the easy way out and used samples of Davis’ recording to flesh these tracks out, but instead he opted to recreate the original vibe with electronic instruments and no samples. Sure enough, the shadow of the Dark Magus looms approvingly over the results. Guest guitarist Laurent does an especially fine job of conjuring the funk on track 5 over Sharel’s synthetic dance beats.
The remainder of the tracks blend vinyl samples and electronica in phenomenal ways. While there are plenty of upbeat moments, Sharel doesn’t feel obliged to beat listeners over the head with a 2x4 on every track as some DJs insist on doing. He even leaves the skips and pops of the well-worn LPs intact to add to the hypnotically surreal impression. “Conte d’automne” is the soundtrack to a bittersweet dream, flits of soft flute over looped percussion and remote piano tinkles. “Hounza” is somewhat reminiscent of some of Jah Wobble’s efforts, while “Piano d’hiver” is driven by a beat that almost, not quite, recalls Horace Silver’s quintet. And so it goes, with something different emerging at every turn. Aspiring DJs would do well to study what Sharel has done to inject jazz and the unexpected into dance technology, and listeners who appreciate new music assemblages will surely find much enjoyment in this disc.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.