Madlib follows ‘High Jazz’ with the eighth installment of the ‘Medicine Show’ series, a unique mix of the multiple facets of jazz music entitled ‘Advanced Jazz’. Even by his own exacting standards, Madlib has been busy this year.
While his recorded output always spans an impressive range of styles, he habitually returns to recurrent themes, like familar harbours in a vast musical ocean … and jazz is one such anchor point. ‘High Jazz’ shows a marked and significant development in Madlib’s craft, encapsulating every element of jazz within an 80-minute opus.
And so what better way to follow such an epic undertaking than with a companion-piece drawn from the thousands – literally - of jazz albums that inspired Madlib’s first forays into the genre? ‘Advanced Jazz’, is, as the title hints, a step (or three, or four) deeper than the Steve Kuhn and Weldon Irvine albums that he first enjoyed as he began developing the Yesterdays New Quintet project on 2001’s ‘Angles Without Edges’. Some of the music here – at least, to the uninitiated ear – might not seem to be “jazz” at all. But be in no doubt, this is a jazz mix through and through, as exhilarating a ride as ‘Brain Wreck Show’ or ‘Flight To Brazil’.
It is a celebration of this great American music, and while it focuses on the past 40 years, it clearly heralds every innovation, domestic and international, of this century-old form.