REVIEW: IV by BADBADNOTGOOD – On The Upbeat

Following the release of acclaimed jazz act BADBADNOTGOOD‘s fifth album, On The Upbeat‘s Lee Cinnamond has taken a look at the record. 

BBNG have master crafted a buffet of sound.”

This has already been a monumental year for Contemporary Jazz, a label for what seems like an unlimited pool of experimentation into musicology always answering with a colourful retort ‘Is Jazz now a truly global collaboration’ after all Trad. Jazz was and still is considered America’s music and yet we cannot ignore the momentum at which globally, Jazz continues to proliferate in style and variety.

BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) release IV (Innovative Leisure, 2016), their most diverse album to date. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, BBNG made up of Mathew Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass, Leland Whitty on saxophone, and Alexander Sowinski on drums, seem to have created a cultured cooking pot full of chilled creativity on their latest LP. Once again the band bring their love and appreciation for a wide range of genres and styles such as hip hop, R’n’B and Synthpop and slamming it into the raw virtuosity of well crafted Jazz. BBNG have master crafted a buffet of sound.

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BADBADNOTGOOD & Sam Herring preforming the BBNG reinterpretation of the             Future Islands song “Seasons (Waiting on You)” in L.A last November. Credit:  Drew Gurian/Red Bull Sound Select

Kicking of the groove to album opener “And That, Too” it was apparent that this album was a celebration of styles as the album’s introduction gradually built up layer upon layer of electronic sounds played by Tavares, creating a dynamic backdrop for whitty’s piercing saxophone as it weaves in and out of the theme. From the first note traditional and contemporary are very much at harmony like never before.

“Time Moves Slow” is the soulful first single with featured singer Sam Herring, from Synthpop act Future Islands, adding melancholy to deep thought provoking lyrics. For the first time on the album, and not the last, Tavares adds very 70’s Moog style organ sounds that much like, adding a varnish finish to a brand new table, immediately creates the illusion of tradition. The keys compliment a warm drum beat and a constant bass line full of groove. The full arrangement is perfect for this introspective track is as calming as it is catchy.

The title track “IV” is a brilliant representation of the full album, bringing together the various flavours of the LP into a dynamic masterpiece. Sweeping saxophone and intricate drumming immediately drive the track exploding into the tracks main theme. Almost as quick the track fades into an ambient slow rhythm that creates a contrast for the instrumentation and genuinely makes it fun to listen to. The track is a roller coaster that really thrills and continues to excite as it’s speed and style sleekly keeps you on foot tapping toes.

“The track itself almost sounds like a recreation of Kendrick Lamar, though in my opinion, not impressive.”

Last year Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Dawg Entertainment, 2016) had as a Hip-Hop album with Jazz arrangements building the very core of the the album. The album was critically acclaimed and very successful. It is surprising, then that BBNG, with a  previous workings with Jazz/ Hip-Hop crossover that the only track on the album that pays tributes to BBNG’s roots is “Hyssop of Love” that features the rapping of Mick James. While the track itself is deftly produced, like the rest of the album, it feels somewhat out of place with the context of the other albums tracks. The track itself almost sounds like a recreation of Kendrick Lemar, though in my opinion, not impressive. The track feels like the weak link in what overall is an impressive Contemporary Jazz album.

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