Jazz

VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases

The NEXT Art Form

06 FEB 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI

NEXT Collective is a new young lions of jazz ensemble who announce their presence with Cover Art (Concord Jazz), a debut completely assembled from the music of their rock, rap, R&B, hip-hop and pop contemporaries, coming February 26. Just like Charlie Parker carved his bebop classic "Koko" out from the chords of the orchestral dance tune "Cherokee," Cover Art is most certainly jazz even though there's not one "jazz tune" on it.

With piano and saxophone doubling on the verses and counterpointing through the choruses, the ubiquitous "Thank You" (Dido) simultaneously opens new musical horizons while reviewing familiar ground. "Perth" (Bon Iver) and "Oceans" (Pearl Jam) are remodeled into harmonic moods that float through suspended time. "Refractions in the Plastic Pulse" (Stereolab) sounds more organic, adorned in gentle flute and acoustic piano, than plastic. The quiet, rippling funk from "Africa" (D'Angelo) and the luxuriously evocative "Come Smoke My Herb (Meshell Ndegeocello) do, too.

Trumpeter Christian Scott heralds this NEXT Collective with a howling wind on "No Church in the Wild" (Jay Z & Kanye West), while the somber mood of "Marvin's Room" (Drake) allows Scott to channel his inner Miles Davis in deep shades of melancholy blue.

NEXT Collective features saxophonists Logan Richardson and Walter Smith III, keyboardists Kris Bowers and Gerald Clayton, guitarist Matthew Stevens, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Jamire Williams. Bassist Williams won the prestigious 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition; Stevens and drummer Williams both appeared on Scott's recent landmark Christian aTunde Adjuah (2012, Concord Jazz).