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Jazzanova: A Brainy Band Gets Emotional

It's taken six years for Jazzanova to release a sequel to its debut, In Between, which was itself the product of a labor-intensive journey: The Berlin-based electronica sextet meticulously sews its aural tapestries from many tiny samples. Much has changed since In Between, which captured the zeitgeist of West London's broken-beat scene (and the Afrobeat craze) while still referencing deep house and jazz fusion. These days, vintage soul dominates many dance floors, and Jazzanova keeps pace with the changes on its superb new disc, Of All the Things, which places a greater emphasis on songcraft and old-fashioned analog production.

The epic "Little Bird" demonstrates Jazzanova's artistic maturation as it envelops the phenomenal Brooklyn-based jazz singer Jose James in an orchestral wash of strings, acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, piano, glockenspiel and inconspicuous drum programming. James' winsome baritone nestles inside the ambience perfectly, as he laments the prospects of a budding romance, now that the initial rush has passed. As Jazzanova develops, it's begun to find an emotional immediacy to match its brainy conceits, while sounding less mathematical and more effortlessly musical.

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John Murph writes about music and culture and works as a web producer for BETJazz.com. He also contributes regularly to The Washington Post Express, JazzTimes, Down Beat, and JazzWise magazines.