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Jon Hassell - Dressing For Pleasure (with Bluescreen ) CD (album) cover


Jon Hassell


Jazz Rock/Fusion

1.50 | 4 ratings

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Easy Money
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars In the early 80s Jon Hassel made a name for himself by releasing recordings that mixed his odd Kiranic influenced trumpet melodies with ancient earthy poly-rhythms on the ghatan and congas. Although there was nothing trendy or shallow about Hassell's music, it came at the right time to ride a wave of world beat enthusiasm from the newly moneyed yuppie class who were also digging King Sunny Ade, Black Uhuru and Eno-Byrne's Bush of Ghosts album. In fact Hassell found himself playing a few of his unique solos on Eno and Byrne's highly acclaimed Talking Heads album, Remain in Light. Fast forward to 1994 and trip-hop and acid jazz are all the rage when who should appear with his first recording in four years? Since I found this CD in a DJ shop I was sure this was Hassell's shot at the new hip-hop flavored jazz that was dominating both the DJ/electronica and jazz scenes at the time.

Hassell's mix of upbeat hip-hop rhythms, courtesy of drummer extraordinaire Brain, and samples and sounds from all over the world is successful in places, but ends up being neither a great trip-hop album nor a great world beat oddity as sometimes the two elements seem to work against each other. The best looped hip- hop tunes succeed when the riffs have that extra punch and immediacy that really drive the point home. You can never go wrong looping anything by the early 70s James Brown, those riffs have an immediate impact and urgency that can't be ignored and insist on some sort of bodily or mental involvement. Jon, despite his brainy and complex arrangements forgot to supply the minimalist melodic snippets that make this sort of thing take off, instead we get sounds from Africa, India or Jon's stack of polysynths that concentrate too much on building exotic textures but forget that great music in any genre is still melody and rhythm first, then texture.

Despite the aforementioned criticisms, sometimes this CD does deliver some fresh and original acid jazz from outside the prevailing trends of the time. Kolo X features saxophonist Kenny Garret with Hassell for some nice be-bop flavored unisons against an irresistible rhythm. Buzzword matches a compressed distorted guitar riff that recalls Phil Manzenera, with Hassell's Miles type screams on the trumpet and some harsh buzzing sounds that recalls those old annoying electronic mosquito zappers. This one really rocks and is a lot more fun than most of the others.

This isn't a bad CD, but it lacks the perfect arrangements and direct punch that was a part of the best trip-hop music from this era.

Easy Money | 2/5 |


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