Will Schube is a digital witness.
Kiefer Shackelford’s debut LP, Kickinit Alone answered a question no one prior was smart enough to ask. Namely, what happens when a jazz pianist with chops for days infiltrates the beat scene crowd, signs to LEAVING Records, and blends the two philosophies into something both stunningly unique and warmly familiar? The answer is obvious to anyone who’s heard Kickinit Alone: What happens is a recalibration of both genres, the presentation of a harmonious common ground that was previously undiscovered. With “Miss U,” Kiefer’s first Stones Throw single, he builds on this premise, crafting an intimate and funky ode to love and love lost without having to pen a word.
The drums come in knocking and dusty; that’s the Dilla. The keyboard freewheeling yet always hitting the right note; that’s the Monk. “Miss U” is laid back without ever veering towards boring, carefree without being nonchalant. Kiefer gives himself ample time to solo, and this is really where his pioneering of this digital jazz iteration shines. The melodic runs fit so well within the context of the boom bap while the dirty improvisations on the Rhodes speaks direct dialogue with a beat that doesn’t waver from its intended course once during the track’s duration. Kiefer has never been stuck between these two worlds. In fusing them, he shows a new throughline from jazz to Low End Theory. On “Miss U,” the young pianist suggests that this connection is more natural than anyone thought.