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Album Review: “Roy Ayers JID002” by Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Roy Ayers

Carissa Marques, Creative Services Director

Introduction:

Roy Ayers JID002, JID being the acronym for “jazz is dead,” is the collaborative album released by jazz artists Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Roy Ayers on June 19, 2020. The release date was specifically chosen for Juneteenth to honor and celebrate Black musicians’ role in the history of jazz. Roy Ayers has been composing jazz, funk, and soul music since the 1970s. According to a bio on Bandcamp, “he was said to have more sampled hits by rappers than any other artist.” His work can be heard in Tyler the Creator’s song, “Pothole.”  Both Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad are younger composers in the jazz and soul world. Together, they started “Jazz Is Dead,” a series of live performances, as well as album releases to keep the genre alive. 

 

Track-by-track review:

  1. Synchronize Vibration – The first track on the album opens with drums and continues with synth sounds, and a combination of jazz and funk. Lyrics like, “let emotion take control and synchronize vibration / don’t let go of the way you feel,” show that this song is meant to prepare the listener for the rest of the album. I take it as a reminder to just listen to the music and not suppress any emotions while listening to it. 
  2. Hey Lover – This song is smooth with keys and drums, but has a very nice bass interlude. It was originally introduced on the JID001 album, a collaboration by Younge and Muhammad that featured a different jazz artist on each track. The lyrics are full of sweet-talk and promises of a long future. This song has more funk undertones throughout the instrumental. 
  3. Soulful and Unique – As the title points out, this song is more soulful than it is funky. They utilize technology to alter the sound of the saxophone and keys in parts of this song. My favorite lyric is, “love is not familiar without harmony.” 
  4. Shadows of The East – This is one of two complete instrumentals on the album. I think it transitions smoothly from the previous track, and also highlights the blend of soul and jazz music. The rolling of the drums and saxophone give this song a mysterious sound. 
  5. Sunflowers – I love the brass section on this song, as the saxophones seem more prominent on this track compared to others. The lyrics speak of a growing sunflower, nothing quite complex, but I think it’s good to reflect on the simplicities of nature in music. 
  6. Gravity – A jazzy love-ballad, “Gravity” talks about how someone’s love is, “the gravity attracting you to me.” This song is quick-paced and mainly acoustic. The lyrics make ties to different celestial bodies, such as the moon, stars, and galaxy when Ayers sings of the one he loves. 
  7. Solace – This is the second of two complete instrumentals on the album. This one is what I would consider more jazzy out of the two. It even sounds like there are faint bells in the background which is nice. 
  8. African Sounds – The closing song on this album is the one with the deepest lyrics, a letter of sorts to African people all over the world. It is more like spoken-word poetry being said over a funky tune of saxophones, percussion, and strings. “Look into the African sounds that reverberate throughout history reminding us of the struggle, the pain, the colour of sound / The unifying rhythm, as our hearts beat to the sympathy of tunes / We are under the same moon,” these are just a few of the impactful lyrics throughout the song. 

Summary:

I think it’s good to switch things up a bit and dive into genres we normally wouldn’t. With something like jazz, it is so important to recognize the impact it had on countless other genres, such as soul and funk featured on this album, but also R&B, rap, and hip hop. As previously mentioned Ayers is sampled by many musicians. If this review sounded interesting, I would highly recommend listening to the album, as well as checking out Muhammad and Younge’s full “Jazz Is Dead” project. I would give this album 3.5/5 Spinnaker Sails. The instrumentals were really enjoyable, but I feel like I would give it a higher rating if I understood music theory or the genre more. 

Standout Tracks: “Sunflowers,” “Gravity,” and “African Sounds.”

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Album Review: “Roy Ayers JID002” by Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Roy Ayers