The Seattle drummer, rapper and producer flits between drum kit and electronica, ferocity to tranquillity, on his third studio album
The entertaining dance between jazz and hip-hop is now in its third decade, from the likes of Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest hijacking Blue Note samples to the fuller embrace of Guru’s Jazzmatazz. Kassa Overall embodies both traditions: a drummer who has played with the late Geri Allen and the creator of 2019’s Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz and 2020’s I Think I’m Good, albums that melded beats, raps and instrumentation in startling fashion, while talking tough about big pharma and the US prison system.
Animals continues seamlessly, using a raft of guest musicians and rappers, its rhythms shuttling between drum kit and electronica. Instrumentals are short – the soulful No It Ain’t, featuring trombonist Andrae Murchison, and Still Ain’t Find Me, with Tomoki Sanders’s free-form tenor sax, are (frustratingly) under two minutes. Overall has been frank about his troubled mental health history, and there’s a polarity here between ferocity and tranquillity, typified by The Lava Is Calm (“Hanging on by a thread/ I could never be dead”) with its explosive drums and swooning trumpet by Theo Croker. The finale, Going Up, brings resolution, a floating melody with a ruminative rap, a fitting close to an album of real artistry.
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