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Jaga Jazzist - What We Must CD (album) cover


Jaga Jazzist


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.76 | 62 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars O my God! Here I thought I would just kill a little bit of time by trying these guys out, and ended up being mezmerised! What amazing music! I haven't heard this kind of originality in Jazz-Rock since Bela Fleck. What really strikes me about this album is that the music is very psychedelic, yet undeniably Jazz. I think the modern take on Jazz-Rock these days has bifrucated into many different opinions on what 'Nu-Jazz' should be. All I can say is that Jaga Jazzist seems to have come the closest to the 'definitive' modern-day Jazz-Rock Fusion music, at least in my opinion. Everything we expect from good prog is there; the funky, odd meters, the songs that explore completely new territory, the epics, the sound effects, the ability to evoke emotion from the listener.

This is a much more guitar-heavy album than I thought it would be, but it also has alot of keyboard work in there that makes WHAT WE MUST much more than just another Jazz record.It is clearly progressive. The way the saxophone seems to have that dreamy, etherial majesty to it on the track 'Stardust Hotel', and the manner in which the drums seem to take control of the other instruments in a march against genre cliche is truly inspiring. The flute work on 'For All You Happy People' is particularly tasty, and very cool and groovy, very much in the fashion of some of the best Jazz ballads in history. No vocals, except for the harmonies featured here and there, but this band doesn't really need 'em. The quality is there in the musicianship itself; a singer would only clutter up an otherwise beautifuly balanced listening experience. My favorite song on the track is the forementioned 'For All You Happy People', because not only does the flute playing bring a tear to one's eye, the acoustic guitar playing features later in the track's span truly finds its way deep into my heart and pulls at the strings relentlessly. A truly beautiful tune.

By the time I came upon the track 'Oslo Skyline' it was clear to me that this band (this album, at least) was very different from alot of other Jazz artists, in that the rock aspects of the tunes are so prominent that the music leans more toward a Post-Rock direction more than a few times. Is this a bad thing? Not at all, but that may mean that if someone is wanting a truly all-Jazz sound to the actual instrumentation, they may want to look elsewhere. This is truly Jazz in that it's between the notes and unexpected, but the spontaneity may come at a price for some. Personally, I think it's some of the most brilliant work in the genre. This is only one man's opinion, however, so other Jazz-Rock/Fusion fans should give this album a try. I am certainly glad that I did, and it will undoubtedly lead me towards the rest of the band's repetoire, which I hear is much more traditional in sound. Will I enjoy those albums as much as I have loved this effort? Well, we will have to wait and see.

As of this writing, I am thoroughly impressed by Jaga Jazzist, and think they are pioneers in the Jazz- Rock sub-genre. They are the Steely Dan of their time, pushing the envelope and producing truly magical music as a result of their fearless and experimental attitudes. So, with enough traditional Jazz elements to intrigue the Miles fans yet plenty of modern progressive twists to keep listeners like myself happy, WHAT WE MUST is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of all-time.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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