No matter its style or source, I love to hear a collection of top-tier players, singers and producers organize themselves around a style they love, a style they have chosen to pay tribute to; when it isn't about them, but the contributions, the participation. When they give themselves over to the music as a devotional act.
On Sounds of Crenshaw Vol. 1, Terrace Martin has assembled an A-list of West Coast vibe aficionados: Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington are both here (the two made contributions to Martin's Grammy-nominated double-LP Velvet Portraits), and the rolling collective also includes Chachi, Rose Gold, Trevor Lawrence Jr., Brandon Owens, Marlon Williams and a host of others.
Crenshaw is a deeply funky jazz record with a sensibility that incorporates the best of this L.A. neighbourhood's long fascination with hip-hop and R&B. It captures the full breadth of the region's rich musical history, looking both back and ahead. Highlights include "Intentions," which features a lush vocal from Chachi and sweet Prince samples, but it's the low-end synth line that makes this one a standout. More than any other track, this one's written for cruising Crenshaw Blvd. with the top down.
Robert Glasper serves up the lovely Black Radio-esque "Funny How Time Flies," and there's plenty of elegant jazz on offer, too: "Mama D/Leimert Park" is Miles Davis cool, while "Wake Up" will be at the top of Sunday-morning playlists for years to come. It's achingly beautiful.
This is, at the very least, the record of the summer. For some, it might just be the record of 2017. (Ropeadope)