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Jon Batiste/Chad Smith/Bill Laswell: The Process

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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