Nu jazz is the new acid jazz. Like the catchall coinage that preceded it, nu jazz covers everything from French jazz-house outfit St. Germain to veteran Chicago jazz-folk singer Terry Callier, but the group most representative of its sound is the six-member Berlin squad Jazzanova. They make chilled-out club-oriented stuff kissed by Fender Rhodes snippets and tropical rhythmic accents, but it really has nothing to do with jazz. Jazzanova’s six producer/DJs have established a big reputation over the past five years both as a DJ collective and as dance remixers. On The Remixes 1997-2000 (Compost)–a double CD that has sold more than 100,000 copies–Jazzanova lives up to its name, combining soft-focus 70s jazz fusion and bossa nova with the trip-hop/drum ‘n’ bass/downtempo melange that you can’t escape in trendy restaurants. Released this summer, the crew’s first album of original material, In Between (Ropeadope), doesn’t sound very different from their remixes. Stefan Leisering’s meticulous rhythm programs replace a four-on-the-floor dance pulse with Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian syncopations, and the other five members create a seamless, sample-heavy foreground of electric-piano patterns, pastel horn riffs, string pads, and synth washes. A slew of singers, MCs, and spoken-word artists (including Ursula Rucker, Vikter Duplaix, and Capital A) and a few guest instrumentalists are charged with providing the music’s melodic meat. In Between is an impressive technical accomplishment, a cool vibe dispenser, and a forgettable piece of music. Since nobody in Jazzanova plays a conventional instrument, they make no attempt to re-create this studio trickery live; their performance will be a 12-armed DJ set. The group also operates Compost Records, which has released music by like-minded performers such as Victor Davies, Truby Trio, Kyoto Jazz Massive, and the Swedish duo Koop, who will appear here. Koop’s recent Waltz for Koop is sparer and more swinging than Jazzanova, with elastic melodies provided by guest vocalists Callier and Yukimi Nagano. But for this gig, Koop will just DJ. Thursday, October 3, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Arens.