Year of Release: 2016
Canadian Jazz outfit BadBadNotGood certainly haven't been resting on their laurels after dropping their free debut LP in 2011 and creating a minor Internet stir. Whereas that record saw the trio deftly reworking songs from A Tribe Called Quest, Wacka Flocka Flame, and Odd Future, their subsequent trajectory indicates a willingness to expand beyond mere savvy cover artists. On their fourth proper full release simply titled IV, BBNG take their love of hip-hop grooves and electronic beats and place it within the confines of a standard jazz album; which, let's be honest, has informed rap and modern electronic music to begin with.
There's nothing "standard" about BBNG's attention to detail and experimentation, however, as they move from uptempo percussive numbers, lounge, hip-hop-influenced beats, and more soulful R & B style tracks. With saxophonist Leland Whitty coming on as an official fourth member and clutch guest spots from Future Island crooner Samuel T. Herring and superhuman saxophonist Colin Stetson, among others, BBNG have made their most ambitious and cohesive record to date. From the rumbling sax on Stetson-honed "Confessions Pt. 2", to the proggy ambiance of "Speaking Gently", and warbly kitsch jam "Chomby's Paradise"; this is the sound of a unit synthesizing formal jazz elements into a forward-thinking paradigm. Meanwhile, drummer Alex Sowinski is a force to be reckoned here; layering incredibly tight fills and rolls over the technically impressive musicianship. Best of all, IV is an engaging and fairly accessible listen, giving off both a retro vibe as well as something bracingly modern.