Do you remember where you were when Jazzmatazz Volume 1 dropped? I remember how completely blown away I was as a senior in college hearing this at my radio station and realizing that one of my favorite rappers already had done a project like this. Teaming up up with Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers, Ronnie Jordan, Lonnie Liston Smith, and more, the record gave us a sound that would be forever etched in the minds and ears of listeners as next level. While sampling jazz was not totally new (think Stetsasonic, LL), it was Guru’s vision to not just sample, but make a record with full blow collaborations with these icons. It would not just combine these jazz giants with his own smooth as butter voice, but also add in, at the time, impressive young jazz guns like Brandford Marsalis, Courtney Pine, Zachary Breaux, and Gary Barnacle as well as R & B staples such as N’Dea Davenport, DC Lee, and Carleen Anderson. This crew would flow freely like water down a stream, creating magic on each and every track. From the first drop of “Loungin’ ” that featured the great Donald Byrd to the last on side two featuring Courtney Pine, this was a musical subway ride you could take again and again. This project opened the door for many to follow in years to come.
My father and grandfather would take me and my whole posse and sit us down in front of these speakers and make us listen to jazz.
This new, deluxe, multi-album set is the first time being presented in this form. Featuring three Lps, a glossy booklet with photos from photographer Thierry Le Goues, the record sounds just as fresh as it did 25 years ago. The records included are the original Lp, plus an instrumentals records, as well as a final record full of B-sides and rare remixes. This record was way ahead of it’s time a quarter of a century ago, but now seems commonplace with bands like The Roots, Mos Def, Wu Tang Clan, and more all using jazz cats in live settings or on their records. Guru was a true visionary, and all these years later, it is still impressive to listen to it. The fact that they have put together the instrumentals and bonus tracks is something everyone can discover and enjoy. Although Guru may have left us way to soon, we still have this solo masterpiece that solidified him as one of the best to ever do it. Jazzmattaz: an experimental fusion of hip hop and jazz is indeed musical cultural expression based on reality. Not more evident and relevant today as it was when it first dropped.
Pre-order the deluxe box set, available now from Urban Legends.