Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jon Batiste/Chad Smith/Bill Laswell: The Process

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Certain albums just radiate a lot more groove than others, and with its hoodoo rhythms, souped-up dub textures and “When the Levee Breaks”-style drum surges, The Process is, at times, that rare brand of jazz that can double as club music.

Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith provides a lot of the direction here, his thudding tom-toms popping with electric urgency while retaining a deep-bottomed texture, like something crackling through the lower regions of a swamp. “Drop Away” reveals the plan for the build, as it were: Overlay some guest vocals-courtesy of Tunde Adebimpe, in this case-atop that percussive foundation and have Jon Batiste’s smoky organ tones let in some electric-Miles funk while Bill Laswell’s bass churns in four- and five-note patterns beneath it all.

There’s R&B here, too, and something like “Timeline” comes off as a late-night, post-gig Slim Harpo vamp, but with more throb. Some of the songs-“Haunted”-are too freighted with that loose jam-band attitude, but even there we’re talking some arresting aural wallpaper, with wah-wah blasts and Ginger Baker polyrhythms and an abiding sense of some guys just getting flat-out locked-in together. “Black Arc” could double as part of an updated soundtrack to those 1970s Christopher Lee vampire pictures, with some garage-band organ spliced in for the requisite kitsch. A grower, and a very handy set for those moments when you want to work on the club moves you’re never going to bust out.

Originally Published