January 15, 2014

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Chris Daly regrets investing his children’s college tuition in Eastman Kodak.

Time upon a once, jazz very much informed hip hop, with artists from Stetsasonic to A Tribe Called Quest using their parents’ record collections to form the backbone of their beats. As Q-Tip sagely pointed out, however, “don’t you know that things go in cycles?” With jazz having largely and unfortunately taken a back seat in at least the American music scene, few and far between are the days when you’ll catch a Miles sample pumping behind anything being spit on the radio. For those of us who have a deeper ear hole than Top 40 radio can fill, however, there seems to be hope. There’s a new generation of jazzy cats on the scene who seem equally, if not more, informed by the hip hop of the 80s and 90s as their musical predecessors were by the original templates.

Slowly Rolling Camera out of Cardiff, UK, are one such band, joining the ranks of everyone from BADBADNOTGOOD to Submotion Orchestra. The sound is an amalgam of everything from straight up jazz flourishes to cinematic soundtracks to hip hop to trip hop. If it’s laid back and grooving, odds are the group has mixed it into their latest, self-titled album for Edition Records. Under the tutelage of producer Deri Roberts, pianist-composer Dave Stapleton and drummer Elliot Bennett provide the perfect accompaniment to the sultry, smouldering pipes of vocalist-lyricist Dionne Bennett. With ample and additional assistance from Chris Montague on guitars, Victoria Stapleton on violin and Jasper Hoiby on double bass, this is a Hitchcock soundtrack as reinterpreted through Bonobo and played by the Cinematic Orchestra. Tracks like the ironically named “Fragile Ground” swoop and soar beyond anything resembling delicate or dainty, while opener “Protagonist” definitely has a more trip-hop feel. Things relax further on slow burners like, “Rain That Falls” and “Bridge,” but for my money, SRC arguably hits its strongest strides on songs like “Dream a Life,” where the musicians and vocalist give one another equal time to open up and show off their considerable chops.

Whether this is the future of jazz or simply a temporary eddy formed by the swirling tides that make up contemporary music, the simple fact of the matter is that Slowly Rolling Camera has locked into a sound that’s definitely worth further exploration.

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