Very few albums manage to unveil their roots so honestly and at the same time succeed in creating something utterly distinct. ‘Of All The Things’ from Jazzanova is one of these albums. Originally released in 2008 on Universal, it now gets a luxurious reissue on Sonar Kollektiv as a 3LP with pop-up gatefold cover including previously unreleased instrumentals. This format corresponds perfectly with the elegant opulence of the music that shines even brighter eleven years after its initial release. At no time is it unclear that this album is a deep bow to soul from the 1960s and 70s as well as genres like jazz, brazil and pop music in the vein of the early Beatles. Along these lines, ‘Of All The Things’ is meant to be perceived as a tribute to the music that Jazzanova has been honoring affectionately in their DJ sets and which has always had a decisive influence on their own productions. At the same time, the Jazzanova guys have been successful in casually creating elaborate musical pieces which convey a deeply contemporary vibe – not least because of the multifarious references to electronic productions.
The path to this sophomore long player, which features the contribution of over 50 studio musicians, had been laid out beginning with Jazzanova’s first album ‘In Between’ from 2002. While the overall impression of their full length debut was more minimal and rooted in club genres like broken beat and acid jazz, it became immediately apparent with Jazzanova’s remix for Heavy’s ‘Wonderlove (for Minnie)’ in 2005 that the music collective was ready to progress towards utilizing the acoustic and electric instruments of studio musicians. Another fine step forward was the production of the soundtrack for ‘Belle Et Fou’ in 2006 with its sophisticated arrangements and live orchestra.
It could be said that ‘Of All The Things’ is the culminating point of a long developing focus on songwriting and orchestra arrangements. However, it is notable that the album doesn’t rest on indulging in its musicians’ skills. Instead, by retaining elements of electronic music production, Jazzanova always makes references to alternative ways of creating music. Particularly, methods such as sampling are very near and dear to Jazzanova: “We have tried to write songs that we would love to sample ourselves”, the DJ and producer collective points out. There was no mistaking the outstanding role of sampling on ‘In Between’ already. The further development of this technique’s utilization on ‘Of All The Things’ is that Jazzanova would like the music on the album to be read as samples – only that this time the guys have written all the samples themselves.
Combining the art of sampling with classic compositional practices and songwriting – that’s where this album excels while displaying the defining innovation of these musicians whose roots lie in DJ culture. What makes the songs on ‘Of All The Things’ even more exciting are the many features of renowned vocalists like Phonte Coleman who has been causing quite a stir in the R’n’B world together with Little Brother as Foreign Exchange. The album also features a duet from Detroit legends Leon Ware and Dwele, the unique voice of Blue Note artist Jose James and even a guest appearance from Fat Freddy’s Drop front man Joe Dukie. Furthermore, the album marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration with Paul Randolph – another Detroit legend who has gone on to become one of the leading figures in Jazzanova’s live band.
In this regard, it’s important to highlight that ‘Of All The Things’ also marked the start of Jazzanova as a live band: The band has been on tour since 2009, playing more than 250 concerts all over the world on almost every continent. So it seems very natural to celebrate the importance of this album as a vinyl reissue and to call to mind its relevance once again.