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The Harlem Experiment Review

by Gary Schwind

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With spoken vocals over low instrumentation, the intro to this album is reminiscent of Gil-Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

You could call this a concept album and you wouldn't be wrong. The concept is to fuse DJs with jazz. Many of the songs are classic jazz tunes with a modern urban twist. The result is a funky sound that I can easily imagine filling clubs across the country.

Some great guest vocalists appear on this album. Taj Mahal sings on "Reefer Man," which combines a Latin jazz sound with some very funky rhythms. Of course, Taj Mahal could sing the phone book and make it sound cool, so it's no surprise that this is a real highlight of the album. James Hunter sings "A Rose in Spanish Harlem." There is only one way to describe the vocals of James Hunter: S-M-O-O-T-H. Queen Esther (who does a tremendous cover of "Stand by your Man") provides the vocals for "Think," a song created using the "massive James Brown funky footprint." The liner notes nailed it. "Sure it's a serious message, but that doesn't mean you can't go right ahead and dance to it too.

"One for Malcolm" seems like a real tip of the cap to Miles Davis. It's an avant-garde jazz tune that was created when the band was given only a key a tempo and a time signature. Some sound clips of Malcolm X are laid on top of the melody. Overall, this song has a real retro feel.

"It's Just Begun" goes beyond funky background rhythms and moves a little closer to the world of trance. A little too much toward trance for my tastes. I feel like I need a glow stick when I listen to this song.

The concept of this album is certainly an interesting one, but the concept would be nothing without the great execution. The melding of jazz and turntables is seamless. This is a well-crafted album filled with songs that will make you want to get up and move.


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