Origine du Groupe : U.K
Style : Drum & Bass , Downtempo , Electro-Jazz
Sortie : 2008
Featuring on various 12"s and compilations from well respected labels, including Hospital and Innerground, Utah Jazz has tended to target quality and substance rather than focusing on the quantity of output or capitalising on popular trends. Releasing his debut artist album, "It's A Jazz Thing", on Bryan G's V-Recordings offshoot Liquid V, Utah Jazz has cemented his position as one of highest calibre producers that would currently be categorized under the ever-broadening umbrella of liquid funk. Whilst several highly credible drum and bass albums have been released in recent months, to a greater extent than has been accomplished so far this year, Utah Jazz has achieved a balance between conveying a cohesive theme and displaying an uncompromising attitude towards diversity and character. The consequence is a collection of complementary tracks that are likely to be on rotation at home or in the car for longer than is usual for drum and bass.
Whilst other influences are apparent, the core of the 12 full tracks and 3 interludes that comprise It's A Jazz Thing is highly reminiscent the raw original sound of disco. Setting the tone, "Feeling Inside" begins the album with spoken word snippets and layered vocal samples, the powerful tight breaks highlighting the fact that not all modern soulful drum and bass is necessarily "liquid". Raising the energy levels with a full vocal, intensifying build up and a drop that releases a catchy hook, the album's second track "Back in Time" has been popular with DJs whilst receiving significant airplay on BBC 1Xtra. Following on, "Mesmerize" is the album's first subtle roller and the deep jazz sound it encompasses is found again later in the likes of the reggae tinged "Riddim Track".
"Piano Interlude" is one of three interludes that divide up what is a well-structured album. Whilst they do a job, they are perhaps generic and typical of a dnb producer working at a lower bpm. Additionally, there are tracks on the album that, whilst not distracting from the overall quality, are not executed as effectively as others. Unfortunately the final track, "Acoustic Jam", sounds less atmospheric and slightly immature when compared to many of the others. Leaving the end of the album isolated to a degree, it was also slightly disappointing that the collaboration with Atlantic Connection, "River Track", was not more arresting considering the strength and originality of Atlantic Connection's recent releases.
The deep, soulful and more euphoric aspects of early house are also smoothly captured. "Runaway", a previous single, features a familiar sounding warm 80s soul style vocal and the stripped down "The Message" is reminiscent of original New York or Chicago house. In contrast, the pitched up "head in the clouds" sample gives "Cloud 9" a uniquely UK feel. In leaving the vocal quite exposed alongside an understated bassline Utah Jazz avoids creating what could have been a more disposable peak time single whilst guaranteeing an instant reaction from fans of old skool hardcore.
It is, however, in the recreation of the sound of funk and original disco that gives "It's a Jazz Thing" its character. "The Only One" encapsulates the album's mood more than any other track and will probably be recognised as classic in years to come. An ideal summer anthem with each element, including an uplifting vocal, complementing the other perfectly, this is a sultry yet emotive 6 minutes evocative of idealisations of Detroit or New Orleans. With characteristically effective percussion, the more relaxed "La Cinta" continues this theme and is as fitting for Sunday mornings at home as it is in the car or as the soundtrack to evening at a beachside bar. "Funkless Life", produced alongside Soulmatic, is slightly sweeter and is comparable to several tracks that have been released on V since Marky and his counterparts exploded on to the scene in 2001.
With "It's a Jazz Thing" Utah Jazz has provided enough soulful energy to please summer ravers and enough depth and diversity to please more dedicated dnb fans. It is the intrinsic underground nature of drum and bass that often results in the potential of a particular style not being fully explored or perfected due to producers consistently seeking originality or aiming to balance a recent period of one style's dominance by taking the music in the opposite direction. What Utah Jazz has proven is that, although this album may not appear as original as those in recent years by Commix, Matrix and Futurebound or others, sometimes using a particular sound in a slightly different format, or crafting songs so that a style's potential is fully realised, can be just as innovative as more obvious attempts to create something fresh.
Most importantly however, and a rarity in drum and bass, he has produced a textured and themed album that is more that a collection of 12"s. The execution of the ideas behind the album, its influences, and overall quality, provide it with the potential to be a critical success outside of drum and bass. As vinyl sales fall it is vital to gain support from people who have diverse tastes and do most of their listening at home, from the people who bought Timeless and New Forms. Utah Jazz has the product right, the marketing and PR may be more difficult.
1. Feeling Inside 5:38
2. Back In Time 5:14
3. Mesmerize 5:56
4. Piano Interlude 1:05
5. The Message 6:39
6. Cloud Nine 5:41
7. Funkless Life ft. Soulmatic 6:39
8. Atmosphere Interlude 1:12
9. The Only One 5:59
10. Riddim Track 5:54
11. La Cinta 5:00
12. Sultry Interlude 1:12
13. Runaway 7:01
14. River Theme ft. Atlantic Connection 5:54
15. Acoustic Jam 4:29