Suitable for dancefloors and headphones, it is the perfect capstone and entry point into the musical world that Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad have built, showcasing the living history, influence, and potency of Jazz through its ties to DJ culture.
Like wandering into a party with the coolest people you know, the Jazz Is Dead Series 1 Mixtape feels unrushed, content with letting the listener wander from break to groove. Opening with a drop tag from none other than Azymuth drummer Ivan “Mamao” Conti, the old school mixtape charm continues throughout. The fade outs and drops make the affair feel less like carefully handling an exclusive private press record, and more like something broadcast late at night on the radio, meant to be shared and enjoyed with friends and strangers, and especially played loud. One minute you’re swaying in Rio, the next you’re huddled in tight at an after hours jam.
With each Jazz Is Dead release comes a focus on a guest artist, showcasing their contributions and impact, and that same reverence extends to J. Rocc. An active DJ for nearly three decades and cornerstone of the Los Angeles music community, J. Rocc is a crucial figure in Jazz’s ongoing exposure to fresh ears. Here, his well-honed curatorial sensibilities guide listeners through a clinic of Jazz, Funk, Soul, and Samba, classic sounds made fresh by the icons who birthed them. It’s the kind of cultural dialogue that reminds you of the DJ’s active role as an artist- scratching, sampling, and interpolation as a means of storytelling.
The mixtape serves as more than a victory lap or promotional device, but a guidebook into the intergenerational ties between jazz and hip-hop. Aside from being an excellent party starter, it continues Jazz Is Dead’s mission of bringing to light the ongoing legacy of Black music, and its vitality as an active force in the present.