Various Artists – White Gardenia Vol. 1

white gardeniaBerlin’s Jazz-O-Tech label is off to a ripping start with its first release. The White Gardenia Vol.1 compilation offers up half a dozen acts combining sophisticated electronics with varying degrees of jazz influence. Every name here is worth marking down.

Painè starts us off with an old-fashioned bop drum solo, sax and snapping fingers. He uses echo effects to stretch the drums and horn out. Paine is essentially playing these acoustic recordings digitally, with the compositional style of a traditionalist. “Yellowblack” is the album’s first highlight.

Flat Maze is next. “Room 111” is a more straightforward electronic track. Its lounge beat is complemented by sharp synth lines and acoustic piano. The combination is nicely balanced. You’ll also appreciate the creative use of space halfway in.

“Interlude” by Jazz Reason is third. An acoustic piano solo carries the track, with a pleasant drum loop behind it. Quiet synths come in at about the two-minute mark, first in place of the piano and then later with it. If your favourite jazz piano bar presented an ambient night, this is what it would sound like.

Duke Zilla turns up the bass on a killer track called “Messicho.” More complex than the others, this might be the album’s best. His combination of jazz drums with a heavy funk electronic beat suggests Zilla may be a standout talent here.

DN3’s “Lee Theme” turns a juicy bass sample into a wicked techno house track. But that’s not all we get. More acoustic piano and trumpet turn this into a track any progressive jazz DJ would be proud to feature.

Gamapawa and Gianni Mimmo wrap the album with their “Nobossa.” A wide open trumpet solo – some of it muted – dominates the track. Electronics build gently during the first two and a half minutes, at which point it transitions into a solid ambient house number sporting a tight mid-1960s-style trumpet solo.

There’s no shortage of compilations exploring the mashup of jazz and electronic music. Few of them age well. The jazz hooks are too obvious or gimmicky. They’re stylish, but not much more.

What Jazz-O-Tech has given us here is more holistic. These aren’t electronic tracks with jazz flourishes. This is electronic jazz, skillfully executed.

Kevin Press

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