Kassa Overall

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Go Get Ice Cream And Listen to Jazz (2019), 7/10
I Think I'm Good (2020), 6/10

New York-based, Seattle-born drummer, rapper and singer Kassa Overall, was educated via eclectic experiences that included playing with jazz pianist Geri Allen, funk group Gordon Voidwell and hip-hop group Das Racist, as well as studying drumming at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music under mentors such as Elvin Jones, Billy Higgins and Billy Hart. Timeline, the band formed by Geri Allen, is documented on Timeline Live (february 2009). Kassa Overall also recorded Zebulon (march 2012) with Peter Evans and John Hebert.

He innovated jazz-rap with on debut album, Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz (Kassa Overall, 2019). After the abstract keyboards-driven instrumental The Sky Diver, he extends soul crooning and rapping over a funk-jazz base embellished by trumpeter Roy Hargrove in La Casa Azul, toys with surrealistic drum'n'bass in Mark Sampson, engages in a mellow, sensual and dreamy duet with a female singer in Do You, this time embellished by Theo Croker's trumpet, and revisits old-fashioned piano-based cocktail-lounge music in What's New With You. Prison And Pharmaceuticals transitions from a violin-accompanied rap to an angelic funk-jazz jam. Who's On The Playlist integrates chamber jazz and somnolent vocal harmonies (again with a female singer). The standout is the deliciously stoned piano-based elegy My Friend (sung with Arto Lindsay).

I Think I'm Good (Brownswood, 2020) focuses more on the traditional song format, although delivered in a stubbornly somnolent or dreamy tone. What stands out is the sophisticated blend of different genres in songs like Please Don't Kill Me and the psychedelic and cubistic piano-based jam Find Me. The downside is that the trap-infected trance-y Halfway House and the six-minute chamber ballad Darkness In Mind meander with neither energy nor cohesion. Best of the "regular" songs is the spaced-out and bluesy Show Me A Prison. The hip-hop track are generally less impressive, except for the occasional moment of brilliance, like the intricate beat that pops up in Got Me A Plan.

Shades of Flu 2 (2020) and Shades Of Flu 2 - In These Odd Times (2021) are mixtapes of jazz remixes.

Kassa Overall played on trumpeter Theo Croker's Escape Velocity (2021) and then formed a trio with him.

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )