Debut from Gilles Peterson endorsed post acid jazz collective.
Greg Boraman 2004-01-07
Taking inspiration from the radical, spiritual jazz of the late 60s & early 70s, and blending that with a downtempo smokers soundtrack, this amalgamation of renowned producers, DJ and current UK jazz talent goes along way to prove that having one foot in the past doesn't prevent progressive music making.
The assorted members of Two Banks of Four certainly have the historical credentials to move jazz & dancefusions forward. Messrs Gallagher, Demus & Valarie Ettienne have a combined history that include Galliano, The Brand New Heavies & The Young Disciples, and combine the jazz approach with a template that won't frighten ears used to clubbier sounds. Two Banks of Four may owe a small debt to the jazz & beats feel of 4 Hero, but only for opening a musical door - not providing a roadmap.
The cover of Carlos Garnett's spiritual jazz/dance classic "Banks of the Nile" juxtaposes nicely with "Stiles" - a blend of downtempo, chilled hip hop beats and funky analogue synth sounds. Perhaps slightly incongruous to some - but it demonstrates that collectively their ears are very open.
"Blues For Brother" is very live sounding yet is beautifully crafted, blending instrumental technique and new technologies into a homogenous whole. What has not escaped their attention amongst all the jazz blowing and beat sampling is the need for melody, musical hooks and the ability to make the essence of the tunes stick in the mind.
The retro jazz influences are apparent enough, but the overall soundscape is something that could only have been made in modern times, and in the musical potpourri that is contemporary London. Intentionally this music is light years from commerciality, but is a rewarding and promising debut.