Sound Directions The Funky Side of Life

[Stones Throw; 2005]

Styles: post funk, free jazz, hip-bop
Others: Yesterday’s New Quintet, Madlib, On the Corner-era Miles Davis

Every once in a while, a musician comes around and consistently astounds you in areas you wouldn't have necessarily expected before, and afterward, you can't really imagine life without these expectations satisfied. In such cases, there is often a single defining point that puts that musician's genius into perspective. The Sound Directions album The Funky Side of Life, presented by Yesterday's New Quintet, is one such defining point for Otis Jackson Jr. Perhaps best known as Madlib, Jackson Jr. is a man of many names; you'll hear him referred to in remixing or production as The Beat Konducta and DJ Rels, or in MCing as Astro Black or Quasimoto, and every once in a while he puts on his jazz face, Yesterday's New Quintet. Although an offshoot of YNQ, Sound Directions differs from the standard YNQ material, in that it features a lineup of studio jazz musicians on top of Madlib's multi-instrumenting. Upon hearing the four original pieces on the 30-minute long player, Madlib's compositional force is cemented as nothing short of exceptional. The other seven tracks highlight the Loop Digga's fortified skill as an arranger and producer, and his mellow, yet tripped out creations are modern masterpieces in their own right. Part of it is that this album sounds like it's from an alternate reality of the '70s, which is interesting, considering at least a few of the tracks were first released in the mid to late 90s. There's something natural and earthy about the sound; it almost has the qualities of an old dollar-bin record with the grooves worn down, but without as much hiss or unintentional noise. Another part of it is just how the album feels as a whole. The tracks flow together seamlessly, and when "On the Hill" finally cuts out, you'll be so bummed that the album isn't longer that you just might be inspired to start your own sound direction.

1. Directions
2. Dice Game
3. Wanda Vidal
4. Forty Days
5. Play Car
6. A Divine Image
7. The Funky Side of Life
8. Theme for Ivory Black
9. The Horse
10. One for J.J./Harlem Clavinet
11. On the Hill