Here’s the short version of the review: fun, glitchy acid jazz done exactly right. Collective Acoustics are essentially a jazz trio creating feel-good grooves with feet firmly planted in electronica land, and BC>AD is a fast, cool ride through that hybrid space. Adding to the disc’s already considerable allure is this info, taken from the band’s bio: “All material is played on real instruments by real people and recorded with vintage and custom built microphones, preamps, delays, compressors and EQs. No samples. No Loops. No MIDI.” This adds up to a genuine jam vibe with hints of Herbie Hancock, George Duke and Return to Forever hiding in the mix–have a listen to George Hazelrigg’s electric piano on “Don’t Text Me Bro” or “You Should Be Danson” for a solid hit of that bit of influence. “…Danson” is one of my favorite tracks as it hits firmly on my love of the traditional jazz trio setup. (Give me some Ahmad Jamal and I’m a happy boy.) Here, Geoff Hazelrigg lays down a steady, repetitive bass line for George to course over, and drummer Eric Hastings gets to show off a touch. Pretty sweet. The element that really makes BC>AD work is the underlying sense of musicians just loving the heck out of what they’re doing. The live-playing arrangement feeds that fire and pumps the results. Even the song titles play in, as evidenced by the two already mentioned–not to mention the best title here, “What Would Joe Jackson Do?” a great track that speeds along on a fast Hastings shuffle with comfort provided by lounge-smooth piano. Also worth calling out is the contribution of resophonic slide guitar by Troy Straszheim on the opening track, “Xeritown.” It adds a smoky, laid-back touch.
I must confess that BC>AD has turned me into a Collective Acoustics fan. It’s smart, polished and just downright fun. If you’ve got a taste for jazz in your musical palate, you need to give Collective Acoustics a listen. I’ll be over here, listening to BC>AD again.
Available from the Collective Acoustics web site.