So I'm in Tower Records a coupla weeks ago on a "Music Tuesday", when new releases are scheduled to hit the racks. I'm in the world section browsing thru the latest Fela Kuti remasters and all of a sudden my ears perk up to Shirley Horn's "Return to Paradise". However, the version I'm hearing, ensconced in an Afrocuban groove, is distinctly NOT the lush orchestral version I've owned for the last 10 years from her Grammy winning "Here's to Life" CD. Just as I get to the information counter to inquiry what on earth I'm being treated to, Ella Fitzgerald croons in over buddha bar cocktail lounge beats...
I demand of the clerk, "Dude? What IS this?!"
He sheepishly grins, letting me in on the secret. "Just came in today man...check it out." He hands me an orange covered billfold style CD featuring a DJ's turntable deck with phonograph listening horns attached. 2 KEWL! One look at the jazzcats (mostly divas) being remixed and the DJs doing the remixing and this CD is marked for instant purchase. I thank the clerk and offer a silent prayer to the forces that be that led me to the store on this fine day.
The connection between jazz and contemporary dance music has always been a strong and natural one. From its earliest days, jazz had people dancing, and in recent years, countless dance floors have vibrated to the voices of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Astrud Gilberto, & Ella Fitzgerald over powerful house beats. American composer John Philip Sousa back in the day observed, "Jazz will endure as long as people hear it through their feet instead of their brains." AMEN brother! The artists represented in the Verve catalog are some of the most important in jazz history and their influence surfaces in genres as wide ranging as pop, hip-hop, r&b, and country. Many modern day producers and DJs pillage record stores for rare Verve vinyl from which they draw samples and inspiration. Keeping the legacy in focus while moving forward, the good folks at Verve opened their vaults to today's top producers and DJs, many of whom we play quite often here at ET. Twelve remixers, through their individual creative visions have seamlessly integrated a contemporary context for these songs while maintaining the deepest respect for the original landmark recordings.
For you techno (electronica) fans who may not necessarily listen to old school jazz, give this a whirl. (And may I also recommend the sister CD "Verve//Unmixed" which contains all the original recordings) And for you jazz fans who don't necessarily have time for all things techno, give this a spin. Neither of you will be disappointed.