Various_artists-blue_note_revisited_span3
September 2004

Various Artists
Blue Note Revisited
Blue Note Records

Jazz record-company marketing departments smell death. Panicked by the spectacle of their core fan base dying, they scramble to snag the much-coveted 18 to 34 demo. Ergo, these suits recruit a raft of hip-hop and electronica producers to infuse youthful vigor into the dusty grooves that, ironically, form the foundation of many of said producers' own tracks. Consider it karmic/financial payback. The artists on Blue Note Revisited "reinterpret, reconstruct, and recontextualize" 13 gems from Blue Note's vaunted vaults. All the reconstructionists assembled here (from the hip-hop, house and broken-beat genres) respect the label's legacy, but they don't want to seem too reverent.

There are no disasters on Revisited; nor are there any revelations. Unsurprisingly, the hip-hop knob-twiddlers fare best. Madlib reinvigorates Bobbi Humphrey's already vibrant "Young Warrior"; J Dilla puts a lush psych-soul gloss on Brother Jack McDuff's "Oblighetto"; and DJ Cam lends a menacing undertow of head-nodding funk beats and a lethally cool bass line to Donald Byrd's sluggish strut "The Emperor." Japanese nu-jazz maestros Kyoto Jazz Massive turns Eddie Henderson's "Kudu" into a blaxploitation funk meets broken-beat rhythm orgy.

Revisited's oddest moment occurs in house-music innovator Herbert's transformation of Michel Petrucciani's take on "Caravan" into a Rube Goldberg machine of odd ratcheting gear sounds, weird piano chord progressions and tonalities, and muted techno pulsations. Despite these highlights, there's a certain conservative, coffeetable-ish aura to many of this disc's tracks. A little more iconoclasm would've been nice.

Originally published in September 2004
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