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Various Artists: Droppin’ Science: Greatest Samples From the Blue Note Lab

If you can’t beat them, join in and make money off them like they’ve made cash off you. That’s got to be the theory behind Droppin’ Science. Find the grooviest oft-borrowed masters like trumpeter Donald Byrd, organist Lonnie Smith and other Blue Note legends and get some payback from those who rip, rig and sample. Go one better and make it known throughout the CD’s liner notes just what and who did the stealing from Blue Note’s funky ’60s and ’70s.

First thing you find is that A Tribe Called Quest has the most swipes during the cool course of DS: Four exactly, starting with smooth soul-bop alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson’s percolating version of “It’s Your Thing” and ending (on this volume) with Smith’s shaken-and-stirred thumpity “Steering Wheel.” The CD acts as a great groove-digging collection, one that leaps grandly through the oddball hoops of David Axelrod’s “The Edge” of 1968, which Dr. Dre would come to use, as well as Grant Green’s alluringly lurid strings and flyaway funk of “Down Here on the Ground” from 1970, which Madonna would borrow two decades later. Taking back that which is familiar now and reconnecting it through its past makes Jack McDuff’s moaning ethereal drama of “Oblighetto” and slick space cadet operas from Donald Byrd and Ronnie Laws seem all the more modern.

Originally Published