LiveHuman, “Miles From Miles” from Scratchbop: Something Else! exclusive stream (2017)

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People have been trying to make alchemy out of jazz and hip hop at least since Herbie Hancock had some unexpected mainstream success with 1983’s Future Shock. San Francisco’s LiveHuman has been at it since 1997 and I’d argue that they get much better results out it than most. That’s because the Albert Mathias’ drums and Andrew Ross Kushin’s bass is fronted only by wunderkind turntablist, DJ Quest. DJ Quest exploits all the possibilities of his turntable to make the band sound as big or small as the moment calls for and he’s nimble and resourceful enough to take the smallest sample and spin off an endless stream of ideas from it.

Enough ideas for fifteen albums’ worth. Make that sixteen with the release last Friday (January 27) of Scratchbop, and to mark the occasion, we’re introducing a stream (above) from this album entitled “Miles From Miles.”

The Mathias/Kushin rhythm section kicks things off by getting a loose, jazz groove going. DJ Quest begins to sample a sax, then loops it and lets it fly, literally resembling a flock of geese. He takes other sax figures, smears them and sets ’em on echo effect, using layering to manipulate the mass of the sound. But by the very act of contorting that sax sound he’s improvising just as much as an actual live sax player — if not more — because of all the tools he has at his disposal for doing so. And Kushin ends up putting a bow to his bass to improvise right along with him.

“Miles From Miles” as well as the rest of Scratchbop was recorded live with no forethought or after-edits. So maybe you can call this hip hop/jazz but it hardly gets more jazz in spirit than this.

Pick up Scratchbop from LiveHuman’s Bandcamp site.

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