Half Notes: The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble – Miles Away (2010)

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by S. Victor Aaron

A side project of hip-hop artist Madlib, the music is pretty much what the ensemble’s name advertises. It’s loose, trippy and stretched out. There isn’t a whole lot of standout improvisation going on, because this is more of a groovy vibe based affair. But as far as groovy vibes go, it does those things rather well. The meshing of disparate instruments such as sitar, harp and vibes gives it a psychedelica sound without resorting to electronic trickery. Instead, it’s organic and warm. The songs each pay tribute to a different musical inspiration, although one of them, Roy Ayers, comes to mind on nearly every track (probably because anytime the vibraphone is used in funky-jazzy music, I think of Roy Ayers). This is more like what I expected ALO to sound like, put I was pleasantly surprised how either of these records turned out.

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