Kassa Overall: Animals review – a jazz-hip-hop fusion of real artistry

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.

Continue reading…

Powered by WPeMatico