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Transmissions From Total Refreshment Centre
Various Artists Denzil Bell , February 23rd, 2023 09:13

A crossing of genres creates a thrilling fusion for Denzil Bell

The Blue Note label became a jazz institution after releasing classics by Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock. It has continued to be a major force in jazz’s development in more recent years, bringing us artists as talented and as diverse as Norah Jones and Robert Glasper. In the early 2000s, the label got hip-hop producer Madlib in to create a remix project using samples from the back catalogue, and more recently the Blue Note Reimagined releases have seen the young stars of today’s jazz world reinterpreting some of the imprint’s classic tunes. So the stakes are high here, as the artists of the London-based Total Refreshment Centre collective mark their first release for the eighty-year-old label. How will the new sounds measure up to the expectations listeners may have for a new release on such a storied imprint?

Including Soccer96, Byron Wallen, Jake Long, Matters Unknown, Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange, Neue Grafik, and Resavoir, the music collective put together a refreshing fusion of horns, keys and drums that is like velvet to the ears. On the album, you’ll hear genres such as jazz, hip-hop, soul, funk and drill combined, putting together an incredible gumbo of sounds that connects avant-garde jazz to the more modern sonics of contemporary London. It’s this connection between the old and new that forms the main thread running through the tape.

Songs that standout include the intro, ‘Visions’, where Kieron Boothe raps his hat off over shrilling trumpets, the track ‘Eloquence’ where Miryam Solomon’s soulful voice is like a tub of smooth cocoa-butter and the outro, ‘Plight’, which perfectly wraps up the album with a beautiful and funky bow.

Maybe jazz was once seen as a sound for the old by much of London’s youth, but with the likes of Steamdown, Ezra Collective and Total Refreshment Centre coming through, the youth are bringing it back in a major way. Mixing the old with the new. Mixing afrobeats, jazz, drill and soul all into one entity. People forget that, with the originators like Louis Armstrong, it was all about freedom and expression with the sound. So what the jazz youth are doing in this era is actually keeping in-line with the origins of the genre.

It’ll be interesting to see where the likes of Total Refreshment Centre take it. But hopefully the sky is not the limit for these talented musicians – hopefully they can take it to the moon and back.