Aug 30, 2012
Is “Stretch Music” is the new Next Big Thing in Jazz, and perhaps music in general? I had discussions about the music released recently by Robert Glasper and Christian Scott with several writers covering the Detroit International Jazz Festival earlier this month, and they all felt that a number of jazz musicians are whipping up a tasty brew of modern jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop and downtempo chill music that defies categorization.
Part of this trend is the use of jazz musicians by Soul/R&B singers to create deeper and more detailed music. One such musician, Jeremiah Abiah – who goes professionally by his last name only – has a new CD, Life As A Ballad, which features vocals that call to mind the likes of Luther Vandross, Maxwell or D’Angelo, but is created a band of musicians with deep roots in the world of jazz.
An experienced singer-songwriter-arranger, Abiah wisely surrounded himself with top jazz-based talent like keyboardist Robert Glasper, guitarist Marvin Sewell (long-time player for Cassandra Wilson), in-demand drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., and bassist Keith Witty. The resulting music sets off the stunning mult-octave range of Abiah’s singing to great, and often moving, effect.
I spoke with Abiah just as Life As A Ballad was released digitally, and he was preparing for live performances to celebrate the physical CD release. The Release Party will take place at Le Poisson Rouge in New York on Monday, October 15 and reunite the recording band onstage. Click here to listen to our conversation, featuring musical selections such as:
Abiah – “Doves” from Life As A Ballad. One of Abiah’s great strengths as a musician is rearranging other artists’ tunes. As a result, Prince’s “When Doves Cry” becomes almost unrecognizable under this innovative restructuring.
Robert Glasper Experience – “Ah Yeah (Radio Edit)” from Black Radio. Glasper has played with Abiah for years, and had become friendly with him before he learned that the two were in fact cousins. Vocals on the track come from guests Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michele.
Abiah – “Goodbye” from Life As A Ballad. A thrillingly high key sets this song in motion, which was written by Abiah with Dianne Reeves in mind.
Abiah – “Foolish Heart” Life As A Ballad. Abiah described this track as "the most personal song on the record" and features a guitar solo by Marvin Sewell in which he slides his guitar with a glass bottle to great effect.