Album: ‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit’ by Jazzanova

‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit’ is the exciting new project which sees Jazzanova afforded free reign over the hallowed recordings of Strata Records.

In Collaboration with London’s BBE Records and New York’s 180 Proof Records, this project must serve as the glorious pay-off for not just legions of die-hard Strata fans the world over but also for 180 Proof Records founder, Amir Abdullah. With 180 Proof having secured the rights to reissue Strata releases for more than ten years now, to be involved with the recreation of the eleven tracks presented here must not only serve as an incredible thrill but also an immeasurable challenge when dealing with the weight of expectations from Strata’s loyal enthusiasts.

The release of last year’s DJ Amir Presents ‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit’ Volume 1 delivered the first taste of the BBE x 180 Proof collaborative projects with DJ Amir invited to hand-pick 23 of his personal classic Strata releases that would serve as a fantastic introduction to the label’s revered lineage.

Founded by pianist and composer Kenny Cox – who was keen to present his vision of unhindered jazz music that wouldn’t have to compromise its sound – Strata launched in the late-1960s releasing just six albums until its eventual closure in 1975. Boasting projects by Kenny Cox himself along with Bert Myrick, Lyman Woodard Organization and Maulawi, the label was born from the fledgling pulse of Detroit. With the city reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King, civil rights atrocities, the US involvement in the Vietnam War, the city and its inhabitants felt abandoned by their own country. In many ways, Strata stood for the desire for freedom – both creatively and socially. These are principles that been attached to the beloved label and its releases for the past 50+ years garnering it something of a cult-like status and the reason that a project like this can be embraced and highly anticipated.

And the decision to have Jazzanova helm the music on this project is no less than inspired.

Jazzanova have long worn the tag as pioneers of the nu- and future-soul genre thanks in large part to their seminal debut album release ‘In Between’ – released 20 years ago this year. But the Berlin-based DJ and production collective have seemingly relished the opportunity to redefine expectations with each subsequent full-length release. The group’s sophomore effort, ‘Of All The Things’ (Verve Records, 2008), saw Jazzanova transition their sound effortlessly to embrace a quintessential soul aesthetic for a project that was no less a classic than its predecessor; In turn, that album led the team to the live studio recording project with vocalist Paul Randolph, ‘Funkhaus Studio Sessions’ (Sonar Kollektiv, 2012) before unveiling the left-of-centre pop-inspired ‘The Pool’ in 2018.

Through this series of Strata reimaginings, Jazzanova once again reinvent themselves via this too-good-to-be-true project which sees them achieve another incredible milestone as part of their own continual evolution.

The term “reimagined” is key here as well. With the same freedom afforded to the artists in this instance as Strata’s original line-up would have been encouraged to embrace with each of their recordings, Jazzanova do stay true to the song’s core but still allow the compositions to take on new life as innovative and new concepts are lovingly introduced throughout. Some of these “new concepts” are excitingly granted even more freedom with the album’s companion remix suites including the ‘Creative Musicians EP’ which sees remixes by German deep house DJ and producer Henrik Schwarz along with Detroit’s very own hip-hop and R&B producer Waajeed, and ‘Saturday Night Special’ featuring remixes by Kai Alcé and DJ Amir & Re.decay.

‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit’ is a towering achievement and a project that will thrill Jazzanova fans while introducing entirely new audiences to the Strata treasure chest.

Imran Mirza

I love discovering something I've never heard before and sharing that feeling with like-minded people who embrace the music in the same way. You're welcome to join me on more of my musical misadventures on Blue-in-Green:RADIO. www.blueingreenradio.com

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