VA: Tall Black Guy Presents… Tempo Dreams Vol. 1
Bastard Jazz Recordings

Equally jazzy and dusty, Tall Black Guy Presents… Tempo Dreams Vol. 1 presents a dozen choice post-Dilla-fied jams of downtempo hip-hop perfectly timed for the summer season. Beatmakers from the US and around the globe pool their considerable talents on this superb compilation midwifed by Terrel Wallace (aka Tall Black Guy), with each of their cuts pointing in directions that are different yet not so different that the collection starts to sound disjointed.

Laid-back, head-nodding grooves are in place the moment the needle drops when French producer Teru's “Time To Reinvent” establishes the disc's trippy, Rhodes-kissed vibe and its loping groove sets the tempo. Funk is more the order of the day where Chief's “Scanner Resurrection” is concerned, but the Switzerland-based producer's slow groove is a natural fit for the recording. Chicago outfit Tensei dishes out a free-form take on instrumental jazz and hip-hop in their “Space Colony,” and even manages to sneak in some tasty flute, strings, and guitar playing while they're at it; FloydCheung's “Pain” likewise merges the two forms seamlessly. Slo-mo hip-hop gets a dusting off in “Horizons” by Pittsburgh producer Buscrates, while Doc Illingsworth's “Snooze Bar” takes things slow, too, though this time with a clipped beat pattern that oozes no small amount of Dilla DNA. Deliciously dusted, too, is the sunlit snap, crackle, and pop of “Smile” whose strings, piano, and synths are pieced together by crate-digger Ta-Ku. The tempo picks up slightly in Brussels-based Monkey Robot's “Basement Infusion,” a serpentine slab of radiant, synth-heavy house, and Tall Black Guy shows himself to be no slouch in the beatmaker department either, as the slippery breaks driving “Sparking Adventure” attest. At disc's end, Atlanta-based producer Applejac, appearing under his Schecky's Jazzy Tofu alias, delivers a hard-hitting cover of Roy Ayer's “Butterfly” that's also strong.

There's not a weak cut in the bunch, and Bastard Jazz Recordings founder DJ DRM chose well in charging Wallace with the task of assembling a proper full-length for the Brooklyn-based imprint. In a splendid collection that conveys the laid-back and communal feel one associates with the locale, early hip-hop, jazz, funk, and soul repeatedly come together in lush tracks infused with humanity and warmth.

July-August 2012