By Carlos Lima-Lopez
Canadian Jazz/Hip-Hop/Electronic trio BadBadNotGood is the stuff where you walk into a smoky New York Jazz Bar in the late hours. You’re on a date, and there’s an awesome Jazz trio playing that and no doubt, you’re going to make the effort to watch. However, instead of wearing tuxedos, they are leather jacket, slim-fit wearing, SB dunk rocking cats, that are grooving with an “In a Silent Way” atmosphere and a sort of hardcore hip-hop/punk rock intensity.
I’ve been a fan of these guys since 2012, and upon discovering them through Theneedledrop, let’s say I have not been able to shake them off. I love their intensity, their musicianship, and their no-holds-barred jams. It’s exciting and refreshing to hear a group of young college kids with an appreciation for Miles Davis and John Coltrane while not preaching a purist gospel, jamming to their renditions of Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane and Odd Future.
I was so in love with their second album, “II”, that album became the soundtrack for my vacation in Guatemala two years back. I just loved the idea of hearing their music and saying to myself “Oh shit, I can do this”.
This album, containing all originals (they are known to occasionally include covers in their albums), is much tighter than their previous efforts, but I love it for that reason. I love hearing these cats regaling in their art and simply having fun. This is about as close to getting that smoky feeling in a jazz club. It’s pure gray and white all around.
“Can’t Leave The Night” is undoubtedly one of my favorites, and it feels like a night time record. I can imagine walking in the late night, keeping to my thoughts, walking aimlessly in the city (which I like to do when listening to music). I also really feel “Confessions” which has this tight saxophone riff playing throughout; it definitely feels at home being Coltrane-inspired. “Eyes Closed” is such major shift in emotions; it starts with a dissonant guitar and slowly ascends to something heavier. Alexander Sowinski is such a beast on the drums; he’s sure to become an influential drummer. Then there’s “Differently, Still”, which is the traditional Jazz number, and it’s nice to see these guys set the mood.
My favorite, however, is “Kaleidoscope”. It’s such a damn banger, it’s not even funny. Let me tell you…hearing Chester Hansen jam on bass is a treat; his solo is out of this world and he also keeps it tight and rhythmic at the same. His chemistry with Alexander is also evident, and just hearing these two go off…. I mean, damn!!! Also, Matthew Tavares must be acknowledged for providing some funky keys throughout the album as well.
I remember hearing an interview with Alex and someone asked him about John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”. His immediate response was that it was old, it sounded like crap, and musicians need to learn write new songs as opposed to covering the same thing over and over again. Of course, this sentiment really pissed me off. I loved “Giant Steps”, so what right did Alex have to simply disregard something I hold dear? It took some to realize the real meaning behind his message.
This is 2014, and music should be continually evolving, as it is currently is. The idea of having fifty or so 90’s inspired hip-hop albums a year will seem boring and completely uninspiring to me. That’s no way for progression. I guess that’s what Alex’s statement is on Jazz. Why else do albums like Herbie Hancock’s “Sextant”, Medeski Martin and Wood’s“Uninvisible”, and Miles Davis’s “On The Corner” exist? Duly noted.