Berlin swings

Rating: NNNNTo suggest that Jazzanova's chilled-out In Between disc is overdue would be understating things.In the seven years since the.

Rating: NNNN

To suggest that Jazzanova’s chilled-out In Between disc is overdue would be understating things.In the seven years since the six members of the Berlin-based DJ/production collective first came together, their meticulous mash-ups of jazz, soul, bossa and hiphop have helped to define the jazzy underground club music scene.

But, as with their pals Kruder & Dorfmeister, a crew with a similar magic touch, something was missing. After a series of highly acclaimed remixes for 4Hero, Azymuth, UFO and others — collected on the 2001 set The Remixes 1997-2001 — plus occasional EPs of their own music, Jazzanova are only now getting around to releasing their first full-length album.

Then again, for a group who admit that they’re more than a year over the deadline in delivering a remix for Masters at Work, it’s a miracle that the record was ever completed.

“We had no rush,” Alex Barck smiles, munching on a pastry during a spring swing through Toronto. “We thought from the beginning that we’d take our time. We had two years of collecting ideas and then five or six months of recording every day.

“When we make music, we always work in groups of two — one producer and one DJ — and then we play it to the others. We just sit and talk about music, what the song needs, what’s possible and how we can make it happen. Unfortunately, that means we don’t really work on a fixed schedule. Deadlines get broken.”

The aptly named In Between is a dozen records in one, sliding gracefully from jazzy cut-ups to deep soul, hiphop and quiet mood music, but using hiphop, and in particular hiphop production, as a focal point.

For those expecting a return to the dance-floor-friendly beats of Jazzanova’s remixes, the more understated moments of In Between will be a shock, but the group’s got that angle covered, too. A handful of vinyl-only remixes, outtakes and reworkings have been released concurrently with the album, and the crew are also unveiling new tracks on their Web site and weekly Internet radio show.

“This album is coming out of the clubs, but because half of Jazzanova are DJs, we also define what is “club music,'” Barck insists. “There is a warm-up to the party as well as prime time for us, and that’s where we feel more comfortable. We like the listening moments as well as getting to the point.

“The record represents everything we like. And it works because normal people like everything. They listen to Missy Elliott and 4Hero as well as maybe some classical music and jazz. Give people a chance and they’ll take it, which is something a lot of music people don’t understand.”

It’s an open-eared approach to listening that Jazzanova have been active in nurturing. In addition to their weekly radio show, the crew run Sonar Kollektiv, a Berlin-based artists compound including studios, record labels and graphic design.

The constant touring by the Jazzanova DJ crew has established connections from Tokyo to Toronto, while the group’s savvy use of the Internet has given them a truly global presence. For a music that seemingly exists in the underground, Jazzanova appear to be deliriously close to the mainstream.

“There is a very good support system for this music,” Claas Brieler nods. “Independent guys have their little radio shows here and there, run record stores and host club nights all around the world.

“Even in the mainstream you can see that people are used to a different kind of music. Missy Elliott goes to number one on the charts, and we feel like with our kind of music we’re not that far away from that. Kruder & Dorfmeister came and opened some doors, and now everything seems possible.”

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