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Jazz - Released October 8, 2021 | XL Recordings

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BADBADNOTGOOD embodies the essence of jazz, taking influences from whatever makes sense to them to make music that’s not limited by genre or boundaries. Or at least that was the case in the last decade when collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Ghostface Killah made them exemplars of the fashionable idea of crossing jazz and hip hop creative streams. But no one can stay on the edge forever and innovations are inevitably surpassed by others. And so, this instrumental trio has, a decade into their career, made a straight-ahead jazz rock fusion album that honors their influences like Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as a star parade of living musicians they consider to be their touchstones. Chief among those paragons still breathing is Brazilian composer/singer/arranger Arthur Verocai, whose 1972 self-titled funk-jazz-samba debut has become a great lost album, much sought after by vinyl collectors and motivational for younger musicians especially in terms of its arrangements. Here Verocai has arranged a 12-piece string section on several tracks including the ELO-like "City of Mirrors." He also lends lush strings to "Besides April," its short, very delicate palette cleanser, "Beside April (Reprise)" and Talk Memory's most fully realized track, the '60s flavored "Love Proceeding," which opens with a trembling synth before stretching out into an easygoing pop vibe highlighted by a long and apropos solo by saxophonist Leland Whitty. Recorded by Nic Jodoin and Travis Pavur, the sound of Talk Memory is spacious if slightly compressed. Another inspiration, whom they honor on the track "Unfolding (Momentum 73)," is Philadelphia zither player Laraaji who's most famous for his Brian Eno-produced album Ambient 3: Day of Radiance. And there's drummer Karriem Riggins on "Beside April" whose ambidextrous career of switching back and forth between jazz players like Diana Krall and rappers like Common fits perfectly with BBNG's shifting identity. Tracks here are all short other than the deliberately distorted opener, "Signal From the Noise," which feels like a sonic manifesto of sorts (though its gist is cloudy). And while the liner notes speak of an "aural odyssey" and a "psychedelic narrative," this once revolutionary group has here become oddly conventional, with Whitty, bassist/pianist Chester Hansen and drummer Alexander Sowinski treading the well-worn path of synth-assisted jazz fusion. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Electronic - Released July 28, 2017 | Late Night Tales

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 19, 2015 | Lex Records

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IV

Alternative & Indie - Released July 8, 2016 | Innovative Leisure

On their fourth proper album (not counting Sour Soul, their full-length collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah), Canadian jazz group BadBadNotGood expand their sound, welcoming several guest artists as well as introducing new musical influences and instruments. It's their first release to include saxophonist and longtime associate Leland Whitty as an official member of the band, joining drummer Alex Sowinski, bassist Chester Hansen, and keyboard player Matthew Tavares. The album incorporates more electronics, drum machines, and production tricks into the group's sound than previous efforts, echoing various shades of library music and Krautrock. There's a greater dynamic range, moving from relaxed lounge-ready grooves to more aggressive percussion attacks. Sowinski is an incredibly agile drummer, deftly carrying the rhythm while adding sophisticated details that seem like natural impulses to someone who's grown up listening to breakbeats chopped up by hip-hop producers. He goes beyond the call of duty, never seeming like he's merely keeping a beat for the other musicians. Yet he doesn't overpower them either. Every musician works together and forms a complex yet naturally flowing whole. Of the songs that feature guests, "Time Moves Slow" with Future Islands crooner Samuel T. Herring is the clear standout. BBNG remixed the Baltimore-based synth pop group's signature tune "Seasons (Waiting on You)," and this calmly paced yet devastating breakup ballad seems like its logical sequel. Colin Stetson adds his superhuman baritone sax rumbling to "Confessions, Pt. 2" over the band's Brubeck-nodding tricky time signatures. It gets abrasive and intense, as Stetson's mind-blowing performances typically do, and he seems to get into a trance. At six minutes, the piece is one of the album's longest, but Stetson can go on for much longer and get even more otherworldly, so it seems like he's harnessing his energy a bit here, possibly in the interest of not stealing the show. "Lavender" features producer Kaytranada, and starts off with an RJD2-ish synth-led groove before making a brief detour into bouncy disco funk. IV's title track showcases BBNG at their most exhilarating, beginning with a blindingly fast yet tight rhythm, switching through faster and slower movements, and ending with an extended sax solo. Chicago MC Mick Jenkins rhymes over "Hyssop of Love," continuing to highlight the group's beatmaking abilities. Another sad but pretty soul ballad appears near the end of the album, as fellow Toronto resident Charlotte Day Wilson yearns atop the strings and flutes of "In Your Eyes." Classy cocktail jazz number "Cashmere" ends the album, also with elegant strings. It's easy to see why BBNG are the type of jazz group that appeals to people who normally don't care for jazz. They're music lovers, first and foremost, and they're directly in tune with what's happening in the music world. They blend numerous influences and don't conform to any traditions. More than anything, their music is exuberant and immensely enjoyable. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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III

Alternative & Indie - Released May 6, 2014 | Innovative Leisure

Toronto-based jazz trio BadBadNotGood's third album is their first on the Innovative Leisure label and also the first full-length to feature all their own compositions. The Canadians first made waves early in the 2010s while posting videos of them playing jazz covers of hip-hop tracks by the likes of Odd Future and MF Doom. They maintained this ethos into their first two records, BBNG and BBNG2, by covering the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Kanye West as well as My Bloody Valentine and Feist. III captures the raw energy, togetherness, and musicianship of a live concert, at points drifting off at a tangent and then rejoining to climactic chord structures and beautiful jazz melodies. One thing that is very clear is that Matthew Tavares (keyboards, synths), Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) are all fantastic musicians and rightly sought-after, being cherry-picked by the likes of Frank Ocean to be his backing band. The groove here is tight and so many intricate details unravel over the nine tracks, fluidly drifting in among each other with some wonderful solo jazz freakouts, while each member takes his turn. The album kicks off with "Triangle," perhaps the most traditionally jazz-sounding number on the album, flowing into "Can't Leave the Night," which is different but still creates a coherent opening to the album and is a precursor of how things will pan out, gelling genres such as hip-hop, jazz, and electronica effortlessly. "Can't Leave the Night" has the feel of a mid-'90s dance groove from DJ Shadow's Endtroducing... era before a sub-friendly climactic ending built up of arpeggiated synths and straight drum rhythms. Saxophonist and frequent collaborator Leland Whitty features on the track "Confessions," which is a smoky jazz number a little bit reminiscent of the early Bonobo records. "Kaleidoscope" is possibly the best track on the record, especially the latter part for its bass freakout and the way in which the group twists toward the blissful, beautiful jazz brass section and whistle-inducing melody line. "Since You Asked Kindly" could be the strangest inclusion here, as it's almost a different style altogether. As a whole, this is a great inclusion to an already impressive catalog and it's good to see a full-length of their own material. © James Pearce /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 18, 2015 | Lex Records

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Jazz - Released July 15, 2021 | XL Recordings

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Jazz - Released April 28, 2020 | BADBADNOTGOOD

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Jazz - Released September 8, 2021 | XL Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 22, 2017 | Innovative Leisure

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Jazz - Released October 8, 2021 | XL Recordings

BADBADNOTGOOD embodies the essence of jazz, taking influences from whatever makes sense to them to make music that’s not limited by genre or boundaries. Or at least that was the case in the last decade when collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator and Ghostface Killah made them exemplars of the fashionable idea of crossing jazz and hip hop creative streams. But no one can stay on the edge forever and innovations are inevitably surpassed by others. And so, this instrumental trio has, a decade into their career, made a straight-ahead jazz rock fusion album that honors their influences like Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra as well as a star parade of living musicians they consider to be their touchstones. Chief among those paragons still breathing is Brazilian composer/singer/arranger Arthur Verocai, whose 1972 self-titled funk-jazz-samba debut has become a great lost album, much sought after by vinyl collectors and motivational for younger musicians especially in terms of its arrangements. Here Verocai has arranged a 12-piece string section on several tracks including the ELO-like "City of Mirrors." He also lends lush strings to "Besides April," its short, very delicate palette cleanser, "Beside April (Reprise)" and Talk Memory's most fully realized track, the '60s flavored "Love Proceeding," which opens with a trembling synth before stretching out into an easygoing pop vibe highlighted by a long and apropos solo by saxophonist Leland Whitty. Recorded by Nic Jodoin and Travis Pavur, the sound of Talk Memory is spacious if slightly compressed. Another inspiration, whom they honor on the track "Unfolding (Momentum 73)," is Philadelphia zither player Laraaji who's most famous for his Brian Eno-produced album Ambient 3: Day of Radiance. And there's drummer Karriem Riggins on "Beside April" whose ambidextrous career of switching back and forth between jazz players like Diana Krall and rappers like Common fits perfectly with BBNG's shifting identity. Tracks here are all short other than the deliberately distorted opener, "Signal From the Noise," which feels like a sonic manifesto of sorts (though its gist is cloudy). And while the liner notes speak of an "aural odyssey" and a "psychedelic narrative," this once revolutionary group has here become oddly conventional, with Whitty, bassist/pianist Chester Hansen and drummer Alexander Sowinski treading the well-worn path of synth-assisted jazz fusion. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Soul - Released December 6, 2019 | Light in the Attic Records & Distribution

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Jazz - Released September 26, 2018 | Innovative Leisure

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Jazz - Released July 15, 2021 | XL Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 7, 2015 | Innovative Leisure

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Electronic - Released May 24, 2017 | Late Night Tales

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Jazz - Released September 8, 2021 | XL Recordings

Alternative & Indie - Released June 17, 2016 | Innovative Leisure

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Electronic - Released July 28, 2017 | Late Night Tales

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 15, 2016 | Innovative Leisure

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