Thursday, July 21, 2005
DEF JAZZ COMING FROM GRP RECORDS
GRP Records is set to release Def Jazz on August 9, a collection of smooth jazz interpretations of rap, hip-hop, and R&B classics from the vaults of Def Jam Records. Each of the 10 songs, performed by an all-star rosterfrom the world of contemporary jazz, was carefully selected from the archives of the hip-hop giant Def Jam - a company celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2005. Def Jazz is the brainchild of record producer Tony Joseph, a former radio and club DJ who has enjoyed success with Unwrapped, a series of largely instrumental CDs fusing smooth jazz and hip-hop. For this urban jazz project, Joseph, along with GRP/Verve's VP of A&R Bud Harner, assembled some top names in jazz to tip their hats to some of the biggest stars of rap and hip-hop. Among those featured on Def Jazz are Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Joey DeFrancesco, Roy Hargrove, and Jeff Lorber. These outstanding instrumentalists are just some of the musicians who pay tribute to Def Jam tracks, which range from undiscovered gems to more modern hits. Songs such as Jay-Z's Can I Get A..., and LL Cool J's Back Seat, and Doin' It are among the tunes selected for Def Jazz. One ofthe highlights on De Jazz is a remake of The Rain, the #1 R&B smash hit by Oran "Juice" Jones. Jones chose to revisit the classic, but with a new twist. "The spin is Juice has a daughter now," Joseph explains, "whocatches her man with another man." In the role of the daughter is emerging neo soul singer Ledisi, and she is joined on the track by Jones himself. Through a random connection, Jones found out about the remix and was excited to join in on the action. Some of the standouts on the disc are Hey Young World (Slick Rick) featuring Albright on sax and Kevin Toney on vibes and Wurlitzer, All I Need (Method Man) with Hargrove on trumpet and DeFrancesco on Hammond B-3, and Ghetto Jam (Domino) showcasing Braun ontrumpet and Dwight Sills on guitar. With the release of Def Jazz, Joseph is now eager to take the music to the stage. He envisions a mixed lineup of both young musicians and seasoned veterans for some live old school/newschool flavor.