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Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Hush CD (album) cover


Jaga Jazzist


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.96 | 72 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Here's a really appealing and smooth piece of jazztronica, carefully split into tunes with enough sense to end when they've cycled through their variations. Jazz has scared this reviewer away before, in two notable ways: 1) theme/improv/theme maybe bread and butter to some but if you're like me and prefer more tightly composed music, you might find it a shame that so many jazz tunes adhere to the rule, and 2) some fusion-style songs don't have the decency to end, instead extending towards the virtuoso noodle horizon. Jaga Jazzist neatly avoid both of these pitfalls with a sensitive, ensembled approach to writing - when there is a solo, it doesn't steal centre stage for minutes on end because, as the pace is kept mostly subdued, there's no need for any of the musicians to give a masterclass in improv performance because it simply wouldn't fit; each instrument's role counterpoints another and all slot in directly, to the song's progression and benefit. This is also why the album has such a relaxing corona to it even though there's so much going on at once.

The more modern elements that Jaga introduce bestow "A Livingroom Hush" with a general chance at pleasing the ears of a casual listener (and in this case, the casual listener is me because I haven't the taste for jazz!) - drum patterns usually associated with drum and bass or trip-hop often surface in this selection of songs and there's a definite "looping" feel throughout. This magic underlines the anachronistic inclusion of double-bass, tuned percussion and clarinet parts and I find that charming. The (often acidic) jazz elements still provide the basis for each song and you'll find that the role of the keyboards, along with the smooth, often clustery and augmented chord progressions work in a way that would never be acceptable for straightforward pop music. I have often wondered if the music would be further improved by wordless backing vocals - and you can catch me la-la-la-ing along to the memorable melodies in places - but perhaps this desire comes from my love of zeuhl and might not be in the band's best interest...

You may worry that, being so immediately accessible, you may grow out of Jaga Jazzist's music after a few spins, but do remember that these songs are complex and thoughtful beneath their catchy surfaces. You'll initially come to love their superficial sound, and once you've delved deeper you'll appreciate the band for their subtleties. Do try to acquire a Jazzist album just to bring yourself up to speed with this impressive new jazz approach - hopefully it'll be much more enduring than any simple acid jazz effort.

laplace | 4/5 |


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