In these almost unprecedented times for UK jazz, two of its foremost protagonists – Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, have joined forces to make ‘What Kinda music’ which is out today via Blue Note / Caroline Records, apparently having crossed paths firstly as children before hooking up around the time of Misch’s 2018 debut album Geography.
They bring all their combined talents to bear on What Kinda Music, with Misch’s smooth but vibrant take on modern soul/R&B, while drummer Dayes flexes his chops as the record at times sounds like Idris Muhammad has dragged his jazz-funk/soul into 2020, picking elements of hip-hop and electronica off the shelves as he goes, nodding towards the likes of Thundercat and Flying Lotus as he does so.
At it’s best, it’s a brilliant album – Nightrider, this murky glimpse into the sordid night featuring Freddie Gibbs is both atmospheric and funky, the arrangement – shivers of guitar chords and slithers of strings and vocal harmony peek through Dayes intricate but on point drumming, until Gibbs steals the show with his rhymes (and his personality). Similarly, Sensational is exactly that, a brilliant psych-funk instrumental workout full of cloudy wah-wah guitars and attitude.
Elsewhere the pair bring it to the table with some inventive but attractive wonky funk-pop; shades of Prince purvey through Last 100, while both ‘I did it for you’ (where the drumming is frankly incredible) and ’Tidal Wave’ are decorated by warmth and killer chorus’. It’s only when things are left to meander too long or don’t quite have the glitter of some of the others that the interest wanes.
Thankfully, these moments are brief, so you can get on your front foot, and if the fantastic musicianship and sparkling Misch production doesn’t get you, the funk and the melodies will.