First Listen: Jorja Smith reimagines a classic

Photo courtesy of Blue Note Records

(June 22, 2020) You cannot talk about jazz music and the history of jazz music without talking about Blue Note Records. The label encompasses more than 80 years of music history, from 1939 to 2020, in a line that runs from  Sidney Bechet and Clifford Brown to Gregory Porter and Robert Glasper.

The label has waxed and waned over time, much like the musical art form that it has championed. But like jazz, Blue Note survives by being a tireless advocate and promoter of the genre and through the label’s openness to reimaging an art form that constantly reinvents itself. Those qualities can be heard in the label’s most recent project, Blue Note Re: Imagined. The album features reworked and newly recorded versions of classic Blue Note tunes and is due to be released in September.

(June 22, 2020) You cannot talk about jazz music and the history of jazz music without talking about Blue Note Records. The label encompasses more than 80 years of music history, from 1939 to 2020, in a line that runs from  Sidney Bechet and Clifford Brown to Gregory Porter and Robert Glasper.

The label has waxed and waned over time, much like the musical art form that it has championed. But like jazz, Blue Note survives by being a tireless advocate and promoter of the genre and through the label’s openness to reimaging an art form that constantly reinvents itself. Those qualities can be heard in the label’s most recent project, Blue Note Re: Imagined. The album features reworked and newly recorded versions of classic Blue Note tunes and is due to be released in September.

Blue Note Re: Imagined features reinterpretations of tunes by Blue Note artists who helped to solidify the label’s cutting-edge modern jazz reputation like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Donald Byrd. The project also includes more recent Blue Note tunes like “Rose Rouge,” by St. Germain (Ludovic Navarre).

St. Germain’s “Rose Rouge,” a cut that he recorded in 2000, is the first single from Blue Note Re: Imagined  and is featured in this First Listen. The track features Jorja Smith on the vocals and it shares some similarities with St. Germain’s original, mainly a sleek, house inspired arrangement. But there are also some differences. St. Germain’s original is propelled by its looped sample of Joe Morello’s drum riff from the legendary modern jazz classic “Take Five.”

The cover version opens with Smith vocalizing over a cacophony of improvised instruments. The looped sample of the drums from “Take Five” is gone, replaced by a give and take between drums and an upright bass that lay down a funky foundation for some tight saxophone and trumpet improvisation. Check out “Rose Rouge” here.

By Howard Dukes

Jorja Smith - "Rose Rouge"
 
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