Too Blue Lou and the Groove: Blue in Green


Blue in Green


Too Blue Lou and the Groove


The Birth of Hip Bop (Jazzheads JH1157)

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Eric Huff (sax), Lou Montelione (keyboards), Daisuke Abe (guitar), Roy Weinberger (drums)


Composed by Miles Davis & Bill Evans


Recorded: New York, May 28, 2007


Rating: 90/100 (learn more)

According to the April 19, 2033 newspaper article located inside the CD case, this album represented the first instance of a new form of music that would become known as Hip Bop. Soon-to-be-famous music writer Gregory George Aston calls it a "unique blend of groove-oriented improvisations, scat vocals and rap, played over heavy beats and a traditional walking bass." He goes on to claim that this music would help spawn a whole new jazz dance movement. Indeed, as I write these words, my young daughter is dancing to the music unprovoked.

I am not particularly a fan of hip hop or rap. It seems the best music from those genres is made only when infectious music samples or popular hit song melodies are used in the mix. That mix occurs in the opposite way on The Birth of Hip Bop. The beats of rap, hip hop, scat singing and rap vocals are heard here. But they are still mainly seasoning. The main ingredient is some very fine jazz playing with interesting compositions and arrangements.

I prefer the album's pure instrumentals. The best of the bunch is an absolutely inspired take on "Blue in Green." Too Blue Lou and the Groove have turned this classic ballad into a true progressive jazz anthem. As far as I know, "Blue In Green" has never been approached from this aggressive angle. We usually want to hear how beautiful the piece is played, rather than thinking of the tune as a great power showcase. This performance has propulsive rhythmic force and melodic imagination. Though the whole band is in the groove, saxophonist Huff is especially impressive. This is a performance worthy of hitting the repeat button.

Since 2033 is still a few decades off, Too Blue Lou and the Groove have plenty of time to prove the words in that newspaper article are true. I am not so sure, though, that there will be newspapers in 2033.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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