Mop Mop's voodoo jazz island concept undergoes a huge 15-part reconstruction process from artists vast and varied. Like the original album itself, the energy and pace flickers intemperately from euphoric steel drum emotional meltdowns (Simbad's dub of "Kamakumba") to off-beat new jazz showdowns (SoulParlor's remix of "Heritage") to crazed frenetic voodoo footwork fusion (Clap Clap's remix of "Let I Go"). Yet as disparate and disjointed as some of these sound, each reversion relates to the last with the same creative sense of subversive consistency as the original album. Welcome to Isle Of Magic - you know there's no return, right?
A truly inspired jazz album of considerable breadth, Mop Mop follow on from their Kiss of Kali album with this wide-angled follow up. Led by Italian Andrea Benini, there's a large cast of notable players featured such as trombonist Gianluca Petrella, as well as vocalists such as Alan Farrington and Baby Sol (who?s worked with Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Paloma Faith amongst others).
After the languid, David Axelrod-esque opener The Return of the King, the beats break out on the infectious be-bop of Destination. All number of funky inspirations are name checked during the spoken verses (James Brown, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk amongst others). Baby Sol turns in a fantastic vocal on Mr Know It All, a slow and bumping soul song produced with crystal clarity by Benini. There are some Mandrill-style spoken interludes too, spooky and voodoo-laden like Outerspace or the title track, which give the album a real sense of depth and concept.
Possibly the highlight of the album is Mop Mop's cover of Don Cherry's Brown Rice (here retitled Naja Haje). Picking up Cherry's distinctive 8-note phrase and rearranging it for vibraphones is a masterstroke, as is swapping the original's icy mood for a warm and soulful bass and congas backing. While many songs here might feel familiar to nu-jazz and broken beat fans, there's rarely been an album so wide in scope in either of these genres. Any jazz fans period should give themselves up to this very special piece of work.
These guys, a band who fuse jazz, funk, Latin and Italian postmodern style, hit the big time when soundtracking Woody Allen's 'To Rome With Love' movie. Although this brand new album expands on the ground claimed on their previous three albums, it really is a hugely ambitious production often featuring up to 15 musicians and paints a seductive picture of a fictitious voodoo-jazz island (possibly in the 50s). Highlights include the hypnotic "Let I Go", the steel drum lament of "Kamakumba" and the wonderfully-titled "Phantom Of the Panther".
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