Alphabetical Order: J
J.A.N by Moodymann 1997 KDJ Records
Moodymann, initially known as ‘House’, came through as a DJ in early nineties Detroit, before he started putting out his own productions on Planet E and his own label KDJ. His organic, sample laden, warm productions avoid classification – there’s techno in there, house, jazz, funk, soul, hip hop, everything – all thrown into a melting pot and inverted to bring about something new but, simultaneously, as rootsy as can be.
First pressed in 1997 as a white label with a run of 200, Moodymann’s J.A.N eventually saw a full release on Moody’s own KDJ label in 2001. The track is a beautiful mix of the raw and the refined, with a typically off centre 11-plus-minute arrangement that starts as House and ends as Jazz.
J.A.N has Moody’s trademark rawness from the start: growling analogue bass lolloping along, cut into organic, warm drums, touches of Rhodes piano, those disconcerting, warped and sucked synth string stabs and haunting choral snatches all punctuated by samples of Prince talking, taken from a radio interview. The content of the Prince dialogue has been edited and reshaped to Moody’s liking; becoming a spoken, autobiographical manifesto on Moody’s fiercly independent approach to creating music. All the while, he brings the musical elements in and out, up and down, holding back just enough to push along.
After seven and a bit minutes of this hypnotic workout, Moody brings everything down, before dropping into a completely new, Rhodes led jazz out, keeping locked to the original groove all the same. Not many people could pull off such a sudden lurch in a track, but on this it sounds absolutely right and completely instinctive.
Moodymann is a living legend; an unusual, debonair and sometimes controversial man; and an artist in the proper sense of the word. In a world where music seems to be increasingly dominated by dull, faceless producers pushing blocks of suburban sound around in a game of musical tetris, it’s refreshing that people like Moodymann still exist; real, unpredictable, volatile and making music with heart and soul.
By Joe Evans