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Josef Leimberg – Astral Progressions

January 1, 2017

If you are a fan of Kamasi Washington you are going to like this release.  I discovered this release via the purveyor of hip – the Wall Street Journal.  Leimberg is a jazz musician, similar to Washington, who has grown up on hip hop and is affiliated with the Kendrick Lamar/Terrace Martin production team.  For some more background on this album and Leimberg check out his label’s Bandcamp site.  As of today the album is only available to download or on streaming service.  Per Leimberg’s twitter (@josefleimberg) the album is available on CD in Japan and will soon be available on vinyl in the States.

Similar to Terrace Martin’s Velvet Portraits, Astral Progressions is a collection of styles and sounds.  It has a very 70s jazz fusion feel, but its hip hop influence makes it sound contemporary.

Highlights of the album are:

  • “Interstellar Universe” which sounds like John Coltrane (as channeled by Kamasi Washington) sitting in on a late 80’s/early 90’s Pat Metheny album (rich orchestration and vocals).
  • “Lonely Fire” which has a nice electric Miles feel (assuming he was sitting in with the Thievery Corporation) – this is actually a Miles cover (from the album Big Fun).
  • “Astral Progressions” a nice hip hop piece featuring Kurupt.
  • “Between Us 2” is a great Prince inspired track featuring Bilal.
  • Psychedelic Sonia” which closes the album is a recording of Leimberg’s mother reflecting on her life backed by a gorgeous soundscape.  Per Leimberg: “She was dropping some jewels on what she felt about life and people”, he says, describing the track as “an homage to her, because a lot of what I do is because of her, and I had to pay tribute to that.”

If you are not a jazz fan, this would be great gateway drug. If you are a jazz fan this is a great opportunity to hear a hip hop inspired jazz artist who has figured out the fine line between pop and jazz.


From → Music Reviews

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