Even before I first listened to Concept’s beautiful Impromptu Notes, I knew I would most probably love it. An album that is described as a “Jazz inspired homage to an art form that paved the way for Hip-Hop” already sounded like something I would greatly appreciate. Blending jazz and hip-hop is obviously nothing new, as the quote itself suggests, but making the importance of the former genre of music and its influence on the latter that obvious and natural is something few producers choose to do. Those lovely notes played by the New Zealand-based producer take us on a journey through time, music and space, as the different tracks explore peaceful, soothing and cosmic landscapes, while the few guests sprinkle the music with inspiring and uplifting gems.
One of the most beautiful and interesting things about Concept’s Impromptu Notes is precisely the concept (bad pun not intended), a very successful homage to jazz and to its contribution to hip-hop. From the very first notes of the introduction, you enter a wonderful dimension of music where jazz is omnipresent, as an old friend or beloved family member. There is a sort of familiarity, which I’m sure most hip-hop heads will feel, as hip-hop and jazz have indeed been interlaced from the very beginning and have a common history. It will be very difficult for you not to nod your head to the beat, as the drums play an important role and give all the tracks an undeniable energy, but you will most probably be mesmerised by the flute, seduced by the horns and delighted by the piano and synths. The different instruments add to the beauty of the project and give it an emotional or sensual twist on certain occasions, but always blending perfectly with the beat, in a sort of natural dance. Some of the most “jazzy” tracks, which are among my favourites, include Nita’s Reprise, Low Key or The Proof. On the whole, Impromptu Notes makes your mind travel and it is very easy to imagine yourself in a jazz club in downtown Chicago in the 1920s or as part of the cast of Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Soul.
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Something else that really appeals to me with Concept’s album is how the music enables you to use your imagination and escape reality for a while. This is also the case with a lot of music and I usually appreciate all kinds of tracks because of this power they have to touch my mind and heart at the same time, but it is part of the concept as well, in my opinion. The producer takes you on a journey, creating different dimensions, from extremely peaceful and introspective to deep and mysterious or more energetic and uplifting. The addition of all those landscapes makes this album a beautiful collection of sonic moments, somewhat like a film, as you create your own scenes and memories. From a stroll in the park to cosmic journey or looking at deserted streets in the late hours of the night, you will be able to envision a myriad of possibilities which can also relate to personal memories and experiences. This is how I felt in any case and Impromptu Notes really made me feel grateful for having such a vivid imagination. I guess everyone can create their own story, but some of the tracks that really emphasised this element for me were Bad Notes, with its beautiful piano, horns and drums or the incredible Nightfall which captures all the subtle elements of this very special time of the day with great acuity.
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Finally the few collaborations on the album add to its depth and make the connection between jazz and hip-hop all the more obvious and powerful. Well-known for his love and appreciation of jazz, Scienz of Life’s John Robinson appears on two tracks on his own and is joined by his group mates on another, while Stahhr blesses the fourth collaborative track of the album. All MCs have impressive flows and writing skills, but even more than that, provide the listener with some extremely interesting, deep and inspiring lyrics. Complementing the beautiful musical pattern perfectly, they invite you to dig further within and explore all the possibilities this world has to offer, while opening up your mind and envisioning realities beyond our solar system. This may get a little bit too mystical or spiritual for some, but it is a delight to my ears and mind, adding a new layer to the album and enticing you to pay attention and press replay to get all the hidden meaning. Breakthrough, is a “lyrical healing” according to John Robinson and is a way for him to explain how he is moving forward and encourages you to do the same, as “the movement never stops so we give it all we got”. Similarly, Stahhr encourages you to follow her example in All I Got, to keep pushing forward and stay inspired. On a more spiritual and cosmic note, Constellations and Voyage deal with the universe and how we are connected to it. Very spiritual and introspective, both tracks are among my favourites and definitely got me to think deeper.
To all the appreciators of jazz and hip-hop, those Impromptu Notes are for you. Concept crafted a lovely, soothing, head-nodding homage to jazz, while creating beautiful landscapes and inviting you to use your imagination for this journey through time, music and space. The different tracks create different moods and take the listener through successive atmospheres, from the most soothing and peaceful to the deepest and most spiritual. If you love music, this is sure to touch your heart and mind and become a regular choice in your playlist.
[easyreview title=”Word Is Bond Rating” cat1title=”Lyrics” cat1detail=”THE DIFFERENT MCS SHOWCASE EXCELLENT WRITING SKILLS AND WORDPLAY, PROVIDING THE LISTENER WITH DEEP, SPIRITUAL AND INSPIRING LYRICAL GEMS” cat1rating=”5″ cat2title=”Production” cat2detail=”SPOTLESS PRODUCTION FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL HOMAGE TO JAZZ, GREAT USE OF ALL THE DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS AND CREATION OF LOVELY SOUNDSCAPES” cat2rating=”5″ cat3title=”Originality” cat3detail=”THE BLENDING OF JAZZ AND HIP-HOP IS NOTHING NEW BUT THIS IS DONE WITH A LOT OF RESPECT AND LOVE, WHICH MAKES THE ALBUM A TIMELESS TREASURE” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Replayability” cat4detail=”IT IS SO EASY TO GET CAUGHT UP IN THE BEAUTY OF THE ALBUM, IT WILL BECOME NATURAL TO PRESS REPLAY” cat4rating=”4.5″ summary=”DEFINITELY A MUST-HAVE FOR ALL LOVERS OF JAZZ AND MUSIC IN GENERAL, THIS ALBUM IS PURE PLEASURE FOR YOUR EARS, HEART AND MIND”]