Available for the first time on CD, The Peter Franks Group‘s debut full-length ‘Days Past’ finds its re-introduction three years after its initial release.
Acting as one of the guises of Futuristica Music founder, Simon S, The Peter Franks Group provides a further aspect in the DJ and producer’s continual explorations into the intrinsic union of hip-hop and jazz. As a music fan first, it was the architects of hip-hop’s Golden Era and its flag wavers including A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr that guided Simon S towards the jazz greats that much of the genre was built upon. An affection for artists like Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock and Ronnie Foster soon followed and have remained as inspirations for the multitude of projects he has been involved with going forward.
The first foray into the relationship between hip-hop and jazz came in the form of the Jazz Chronicles project which spawned three full-length albums and some fantastic collaborations with the Futuristica faithful in Deborah Jordan, La Note and Jack Jones. But like those aforementioned Golden Era classics, Jazz Chronicles relied heavily on the art of sampling to recreate its own gems before inspiration would ultimately inspire a further development within Simon S’ musical explorations.
Much like Guru opted to veer away from sampling jazz records (most famously as a part of the hip-hop collective, Gang Starr, with DJ Premier) and actively collaborate with musicians including Donald Byrd, Ronny Jordan and Roy Ayers in 1993 with the first of his beloved ‘Jazzmatazz’ series of albums, Simon S too directs his focus on live instrumentation to bring his own vision towards reality.
Through a series of lush, nostalgia-driven compositions, ‘Days Past’ serves as a loving tribute to those inspirations while boldly, and enthusiastically, forging ahead within its own untraveled path. Some incredible musicians are enlisted to inject life within the project including the revered composer, trumpeter and founder of Gondwana Records, Matthew Halsall, who guests on the album’s opening and titular number; yana vibraphonist Corey Mwamba performs on two of the album’s tracks along with further collaborations with flautist Rachel Crennell, trumpeter Andy Urquhart, saxophonist Claire Manners and pianist Nathalie Maffei.
Digital versions of the album were bolstered by an accompanying remix suite that is thankfully also included within the CD package in its entirety providing an exciting completion to the ‘Days Past’ project. A dream team of remixers jump on board to provide wonderful new perspectives to the ten track originals featuring reinterpretations by Quiet Dawn, Mecca:83 and Electric Conversation alum, As Valet and Gus La Temp, amongst others.
Just as ‘Jazzmatazz’ was Guru’s logical next step, ‘Days Past’ is Simon S’. Creatively, Peter Franks has enabled Simon S to push forward, carving his own path with innovative new spirit that we can only hope will lead to further releases in time to come.