Mark de Clive-Lowe featuring BemBe segue at the Supermarket (268 Augusta), Friday (November 4). $10. 416-840-0501. Rating: NNNNN
It's no great shock that Impulsive! - a collection of club-oriented remixes of classic jazz recordings from the Impulse! catalogue - has followed conceptually similar reworkings of the Verve and Blue Note labels' holdings. The new twist is that Impulsive! isn't a complete waste of time. Not that the raw song material recorded for Impulse! is any better. It's just that for Impulsive!, those behind the project decided to forgo the usual light-touch re-edits by celebrity DJs in favour of inviting serious remix specialists with a genuine feel for the music - like nu-jazz don Gerardo Frisina and West London broken beat boss Mark de Clive-Lowe - to do their stuff.
"I didn't want to go for any of the label's classic tracks on the modal side," explains de Clive-Lowe from London. "I love all that stuff, so there was no way I was going to mess with any of it. Actually, I wanted to do something with the track Mendacity off of Max Roach's Percussion Bitter Sweet, but I was told that Abbey Lincoln, who sings it, has a clause in her contract that says her recordings can't be remixed.
"The Chico Hamilton track El Toro had an interesting bossa-funk feel, and since we only had access to the two-track masters, it was something that gave me a little room to work. Because it was Chico Hamilton, I couldn't take off his drums, so I threw on a little extra hi-hat and clave to enhance the groove."
The best that can be said is that de Clive-Lowe's remix does no real harm. There's not much anyone can do to improve Pharoah Sanders's Astral Traveling, Oliver Nelson's Stolen Moments or Archie Shepp's Attica Blues, so what's the point?
Well, some people believe that the remix process makes the music more accessible to a younger audience, but whether Impulsive! will touch off a mad rush of teenagers clamouring for Alice Coltrane and Yusef Lateef recordings remains to be seen.
"Growing up as a jazz musician, I couldn't agree with you more - you can't improve on those classic tracks. The labels aren't really doing these projects out of purely artistic interests. If they were interested in the artistic aspects of the music, they'd be spending their money on developing exciting new repertoire instead of trying to market the old repertoire.
"I mean, the idea of getting new producers and DJs involved is cool, but having listened to the results, I've never thought, 'Wow, this is really great!' - although the Blue Note project came close. It sometimes comes down to who's involved. I'm shocked that none of my crew - 4Hero, Bugz in the Attic, I.G. Culture - have participated in any of these jazz remix projects, and that is the roots of their music."
Lately, de Clive-Lowe has been working with his frequent collaborator, broken soul diva Bembe Segue, on a new project called Politik that they'll be presenting at the Supermarket Friday. Although it's not really going to be one of his live improvisational Freesoul Sessions, as the flyers for the event suggest.
"We're actually only going to be doing the live Freesoul Session thing in Montreal this time around. But hopefully we'll be able to come back next year with the full crew. The Toronto show will just be a typical DJ set with Bembe getting on the microphone.
"She really is an amazing singer. There aren't many people with her depth and stylistic breadth. She can rock a downtempo soul song just as skilfully as she can handle an uptempo Afrobeat groove or an oddly metred cosmic jazz or broken beat thing. Bembe's crazy like that."