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Jacob Collier: Putting the Scope in Kaleidoscope

The jazz wunderkind is back with a new set of collaborations that explore a lighter touch.

Door Alexis Renaudat | Video van de dag | 22 juli 2019

What does World music sound like when filtered through Jacob Collier’s harmonic kaleidoscope? His prismatic vision – piling arrangements on top of each like a glass pyramid – already earned him a Grammy in 2017, for You and I, from his debut album. Then, Djesse came along, like a tornado of styles, a jazz-world fusion where the London-based multi-instrumentalist extended his conceptual and technical dominion to even vaster musical landscapes. So vast, that apparently it’s only the first in a series of 4. If any proof was still needed that Collier is a musical genius in the highest sense, Djesse Vol. 2 is in the pudding, so to speak.

The scope is still extremely wide, thanks to Jacob’s ability to fit any sort of instrument into a song: bag pipes, slap bass and acoustic guitars are all a part of the opening track Sky Above. But that same scope is also widened through featured artists: Pino Palladino and Lianne La Havas on the romantic soul-trance of Feel, Steve Vai and his unmistakable shredding on top of the polyrythmic funk of Do You Feel Love, and even Chris Thile and his mandolin, threading the needle on the tender I Heard You Singing.

The latter song is actually a fair representation of the artistic direction on the second volume of Djesse: there are more references to the Anglo-Saxon tradition, thanks to bagpipes, mandolin and harps galore. Collier also seems to have taken a step back from his jazz influences: his practice of negative harmony through a capella parts certainly highlighted his vocal abilities, but apart from tracks such as Moon River his signature technique is used sparingly. That certainly contributes to making the music more relatable and more intimate. If Djesse Vol. 2 doesn’t necessarily break any ground from a theoretical perspective, the production value is on point and it also signals Collier’s emotional growth. As a musician, he certainly has nothing to prove, however his evocative power as an artist has improved leaps and bounds compared to previous records. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz


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