"Miles Away" by The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble

The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble
Miles Away

Stones Throw Records
2010

Review

Madlib's latest Jazz project reminds me of what the true heart and soul of Instrumental Hip-Hop really is and for that I have to say 'thanks'.

It is really hard for me to write about Madlib's Jazz projects only because I don't generally listen to that much Jazz to start with and am generally lacking in the vocabulary to be able to describe it adequately. Sure I've listened to some of the Jazz greats like Mile Davis, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane, but while I retain a certain respect for Jazz music I tend to like listening to the modern-day version of the Jazz record which I often refer to as Instrumental Hip-Hop.

I tend to pickup anything associated with Madlib. So I've listened to his work as Yesterday's New Quintet, DJ Rells, and as (well) Madlib on Shades of Blue. There can be no doubt that Madlib is a musical mad scientist/genius who is as verstile as he is intriguing but for me, his Jazz projects have been hit-or-miss. That said, out of all the Madlib pure Jazz records that I've heard, that this one is my favorite.

My first experience with this album was that I sat in a nice comfy chair and zoned out to this entire album for three complete plays. This is not an exercise in instrumental Hip-Hop, so don't come into this expecting that (I didn't). Nope, this is a Madlib Jazz project through and through and the title of the album very adequately described what you are getting into (well, except maybe for the "last" part...the "electro" element took me some time to figure out). This is some spaced out Jazz & Percussion; there may indeed be some electric elements on it as well (maybe as in the electricity that powered the keyboards?) but for the most part this is all live (read: real) instrumentation.

If anything this should demonstrate that Madlib is indeed a bonafide Musician and not just a "Hip-Hop Producer" (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you) and I'm glad that he continues to make these Jazz records even if I am not always able to describe what it is that I love about them when I find elements to love. The best way for me to describe it would be to say that this Madlib Jazz album more so than any other that he has done made me want to learn more about Jazz music. It also provided me a bit of insight into the acoustic origin of the electronic music that I love so much. I can imagine this entire album being made with weird distorted computerized sounds processed again and again through samplers and all sorts of effects hardware and in many ways it would still sound the same to me. So maybe that is the "electro" in the album title...maybe Madlib is trying to say, "All that crazy electronic stuff you love so much - that so-called Instrumental Hip-Hop - has this at its heart. So you can run it through all sorts of filters and effects, but really this is the sound that is the basis of everything you love...I hear it, Madlib. I hear it, and I understand it.

Thanks for the lesson.

4.000 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Derf (For Derf Reklaw) (08:07) 5
2. One for the Monica Lingas Band (06:29) 5
3. Horace (For Horace Tapscott) (05:10) 3
4. Waltz for Woody (For Woody Shaw) (03:57) 3
5. Shades of Phil (For Phil Ranelin) (05:06) 4
6. Black Renaissance (For Harry Whitaker) (06:02) 5
7. Tones for Larry Young (05:15) 5
8. Mystic Voyage (For Roy Ayers) (04:25) 4
9. Two Stories for Dwight (For Dwight Tribble) (05:54) 3
10. The Trane & The Pharoah (For John Coltrane & Pharoah Sanders) (09:23) 3