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Gilles Peterson/Lionel Loueke: HH Reimagined (Edition)

A review of the guitarist's collaboration with the DJ

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Gilles Peterson/Lionel Loueke: HH Reimagined (Edition)
The cover of HH Reimagined by Gilles Peterson/Lionel Loueke

Lionel Loueke’s original HH went far enough—keeping in mind that “far enough” depends greatly on the direction(s). Loueke, bless him, found a few new directions for his tribute to mentor and employer Herbie Hancock, interlacing melody-as-percussion guitar with his also-trademark murmurs/exclamations in no particular tongue. And who needs a tongue, this gestalt seems to signal, along with who needs melody in the old-fashioned (Western canon) manner. James Brown taught us that everything in his big band was in fact a drum; the guitarist simply flipped the macrocosm inside out to find the rhythm within.

Along comes DJ Gilles Peterson—French-born, British-steeped, ancient enough to have cut his teeth on an actual London pirate station (Invicta)—to glitch, warp, and blenderize. This he does with aplomb, although don’t expect anything to sound like the first record. Don’t expect it to sound like much of anything else either. Thought “Watermelon Man” was weird to begin with, with its 16-bar blues? Hancock’s own Head Hunters rebranding, with Bill Summers’ beer bottle standing in for the pygmy hindewhu, still exists in a different solar system from this take, where the current duo between them never met a note they couldn’t bend, nor a beat they couldn’t distort, and confoundedly enough recontextualize human breath into proudly artificial batter better than Kraftwerk’s example circa “Tour de France.”

“Tell Me a Bedtime Story” blends railroad bangs, plugged-in swamps, synth birdsongs à la Wendy Carlos’ Sonic Seasonings, and a gradual bidding-goodbye to the industrial (the trains) for the organic, allowing that it’s all created, all summoned, from and through electricity. We’re in the jungle (groove), baby. And we’re gonna live.

Learn more about HH Reimagined on Amazon.

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