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Robbie Jansen - Nomad Jez

2006-12-13 13:19
Although this is a solo album from jazz stalwart Robbie Jansen, his collaborative spirit is strongly felt. The easy, flowing tunes are enriched with the talents of Hilton Schilder, Allou April, Spencer Mbadu, Basil Moses, Buddy Wells, and a host of other Cape jazz greats.

Jansen and Schilder share the composition, and throw in a couple of cover versions - some better than others.

For the most part, Robbie Jansen takes care of the chilled but upbeat alto sax. He also flips through the slightly more fiddling flute parts, while Hilton's piano flies around effortlessly in the background and the rest of the musos keep things ticking over smoothly. You barely notice the band's individual members - they're that tight. Sticking with solid Cape jazz traditions, Jansen's album will appeal to his fans (and if you don't know Jansen's admirable work, and enjoy Abdullah Ibrahim, give it a try for a more energetic, but still stylish, take on the genre.)

The naming of tracks "Elsies toe", "Grassy Park Requiem" and so on rings of home, but (this being instrumental jazz) has no obvious connection to subject matter. Not that it matters because this music grew from those places and their names belong to it, just as the title is pronounced "Jez" cause that's how we pronounce it in South Africa.

Unfortunately, Nomad Jez loses listeners in some of its wanderings and idiosyncrasies:Firstly, with the inclusion of a horrible cover of "Redemption Song" in which Jansen staggers through a tortuous, overblown rendition of the Marley classic.

Secondly, by using highly annoying copy protection software which a) plays the music at full volume on your PC, resulting in a very off-putting ear blast. b) Does so without warning, as the warning is printed on the inside CD cover and says not a word about the volume problem c) Makes it difficult for anyone to make an iPod or other copy of this CD in order to exclude the offending "Redemption Song" from the playlist, although you can do so if you're prepared to install their custom player on your PC and risk hurting your ears again No thanks. (Note: The record company say this works well, and has an iPod friendly option.)

So a mostly great album provided you're prepared to hit the skip button.

- Jean Barker
A stylish and energetic album from Cape Town jazz icon Robbie Jansen, which lets fans down with one bad track and a horrible PC interface.

What to read next: Kalahari

patrick 2007-06-30 11:09 AM
Cape Jazz gem Listen more than once and discover the depth of this artist. Computer friendly. No trouble as main review suggests.

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