A socially conscious groove for the politically minded revolutionaries.
Brent Black / www.bop-N-jazz.com
I have to admit that I thought long and hard about writing on this particular release. There are in fact numerous positive aspects in regard to this recording. The music as a separate entity is first rate. Producer, percussionist and aspiring pop culture educator Kentyah is the real deal but this is also where the release begins to hit some bumps in the road. Trying to find a musical happy place between political activism and music that is currently relateable to today's audience can be a daunting task. The same effort can also quickly define you as a one trick pony with a p.o.v. that plays to an incredibly limited audience. Such may be the case with Evolutionary Minded. The stated attempt is to further the legacy of Gil Scott-Heron and I am not sure just how successful the attempt has been, time will tell.
Is this jazz? Jazz is an umbrella term perhaps better replaced with improvisational music. Given the massive hip-hop / rap influence that permeates this record then one can not question that the improvisational criteria is met and for the most part should exceed reasonable expectations. The mix of talent here is certainly ridiculous with Chuck D, M1, Mike Clark, Martin Luther and Gregory Porter. The addition of spoken word from Bobby Seale is out of place, dated and outside of a few hardcore racially motivated radicals this track speaks to a very narrow group of potential listeners. I have no problem with political revolutionaries, I personally consider the Black Panthers closer to that of domestic terrorists but that is a column for another day.
While Gil Scott Heron's legacy is still intact, some more original rather than dated samples and old school grooves could have made the release fresh, dynamic and capture a far wider audience than the gray haired remnants of days gone by. Evolutionary Minded hits hard and takes no prisoners, I respect that. In a discussion with an artist they confided to me that they were under the impression that a favorable review from a writer meant the writer had some sort of personal connection to the release i.e. it would be in their ipod etc...Not true.
What is true that on occasion to give an honest perspective and allow the reader to discover new music for them self you need to write for the audience the artist may be going after. I believe I have outlined the audience this release would appeal to and for them this is money. Evolutionary Minded is so far outside my cultural wheelhouse that perhaps a lack of understanding not necessarily lack of appreciation keeps me from going any higher than 3 Stars.
Tracks: Offering; All We Got; Voice Of The People; Liberation Psychology; Opponent; Winter In America; It's A Time Warp; Go Ahead On Bobby; Young Blood; Recurring Cycles; Losin' Our Minds; Headhunters; Occupy Planet Earth; Uncle Sam Full Of Lucifer; (Re)evolution; Unknown Varietables Ahead; Tradition; Song Of The Wind.
Personnel: M1: MC; Brian Jackson: Keys/Flute/Vocals/Drums; Kentayh Fraser: Programming/Percussion; Martin Luther: Vocals; Chuck D: MC; Mike Clark: Drums; Stic Man: MC; Airto:Percussion; Bill Summers: Percussion; Stanton Moore: Drums; Blackbyrd McKnight: Guitar; Juma Sultan: Percussion; Gregory Porter: Vocals; D. Booker: Vocals; Krishna Booker: Beatbox; Daniel Alzamora Dickin: Guitar; Paul Jackson: Bass; One Drop Scott: Programming; Bobby Seale: Spoken Word; Abiodun Oyewolfe: Spoken Word; Killah Priest: MC; Wise Intelligent: MC; Jerry Stucker: Bass/Guitar; Cuban Symphony Orchestra: String.