Wednesday, May 28, 2008

YESTERDAY'S NEW QUINTET: Yesterday's Universe

Yesterday's New Quintet - Yesterday's Universe
The latest installment in Madlib’s Beat Konducta series was a little disappointing, but the latest record from his jazz-hop fusion side project is one of the finest recordings yet from the exceptionally prolific producer. Yesterday’s New Quintet is a jazz combo comprised of five musicians who are all actually Otis Jackson Jr. a/k/a Madlib a/k/a DJ Rels a/k/a Quasimoto etc. Each of the five members has released an EP of one of their side-projects, and while those EPs are enjoyable, they each lean towards tedium after a while. This record, however, is an eclectic compilation of music made by a diverse group of musicians and ensembles who all just so happen to be the same guy, huddled in a basement somewhere with some instruments, turntables, and samplers.

Allegedly, there are some contributions from other people here, but the record sleeve dispenses with any personnel listings to keep the ostensible intact. Not that you would have gone scrambling for credits anyway; nowhere on this album will you hear a display of Earth-shaking chops. This is all about an endless, hazy groove that captures the FEEL of the jazz records Madlib must have grown up listening to, without recreating their technical aspects. As a spiritual cousin to post-bop and fusion, rather than a genuine entry into either genre, this album filters an out-of-order jazz encyclopedia (with funny doodles in the margins) through Madlib’s glassy-eyed enthusiasm for listening to as may records as he can get his hands on.

Like most Madlib projects, this sounds like it was tossed off in one weekend, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Nothing is over-tweaked or scrutinized. It’s loose, instinctual and free. Kind of like all my favorite jazz records.

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