Published May 27, 2016Robert Glasper isn't the first to attempt a remix or "re-imagining" of the oeuvre of Miles Davis ¾ Bill Laswell's 1998 Panthalassa project earns that distinction — yet Everything's Beautiful, which features an impressive array of guest artists reconstructing new tracks from Davis samples, as well as a couple of choice covers, is the most accessible of any such previous projects.
That's not a knock. Glasper has proven the most commercially successful of the new breed of jazz heads, fusing a hip-hop and soul-flavoured jazz-fusion that never sacrifices artistic integrity. Everything's Beautiful continues in that exceptional spirit. The meditative, Laura Mvula-led "Silence is The Way" and Erykah Badu's bossa nova-flavoured cover of "Maiysha (So Long)" are laid back cuts that avoid the soporific thanks to lushly sublime production, most notably on the latter, where Badu's ethereal coo is married to Davis's cool trumpet over seven rapturous minutes.
"You've gotta cool it a little bit, you've gotta let it carry you," Davis reminds us on one of the studio dialogues that are liberally sampled throughout the album, imbuing it with an attitude that distinguishes it from Glasper's more sedate Black Radio offerings. This works particularly well on the ultra bouncy remix of "Milestones," featuring Georgia Anne Muldrow — the most playful cut on the set — and the tough funk kiss-off of "I'm Leaving You," on which Ledisi channels the unrepentant fierceness of one-time Davis paramour Betty Davis over a furious groove taken from the Jack Johnson sessions.
Equally notable are the hip-hop influenced tracks. The effervescent "Violets" (with Phonte) flips an outtake from Kind Of Blue, while Illa J fronts the poignant "They Can't Hold Me Down." Glasper doesn't appear on or produce every track here, either: the DJ Spinna-produced, all-instrumental closer "Right On Brotha," featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica and Miles playing Nefertiti over a seductive dance-floor beat, is a track that'll be treasured by both newcomers and the jazz faithful alike. Everything's Beautiful, indeed. (Columbia/Legacy)