If you can believe it, there was a time in our country, not so long ago, in which the sounds of the nation weren’t comprised mostly of pop music. Not of rock, or of hip hop either, but of jazz. From Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald, to Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk, jazz is writ large across American musical history. Beginning at around 1910, all over the country, African musical traditions began blending with European and Caribbean sounds to form a genre that would birth musical titans for throughout the century. While jazz music currently holds the attention of a far lesser slice of the population as compared to back then, it’s stock is on the rise again, thanks to licks of influence in today’s hip hop and neo-soul scenes. Though he’s been making jazz music since the turn of the millennium, Quantic has never been so poised to break into the mainstream.
This week, Will “Quantic” Holland released the debut record for a new side project. Holland is a man of many projects, including The Quantic Soul Orchestra, The Limp Twins, Quantic and his Combo Barbaro, as well as numerous one on one collaborations. His latest is called Quantic Presents The Western Transient, and the record, A New Constellation. At seconds under the 3/4 hour mark, the record delivers ten locations for his dream jazz vacation, and is recorded with artists and performers handpicked by the maestro. From balmy Caribbean, to melodic 70’s, A New Constellation is a warm and snuggly love letter to jazz and soul music, with just enough “Quantic” thrown in.
“Latitude,” the face of the record, has the all the urgency of gondolas gliding down a stream, and the ease of sipping ice tea through a straw. This is a common tone throughout. Rather than the visceral tones of a squelching sax, or machine gun snares, warm brass and a 2-and-4 Hi hat envelop the ears in sweet, jazzy honey. The record is not without its more bustling tunes though. Every song has a story, and a jovial, inherent movement. “Nordeste” feels like the soundtrack of discovery, of holding hands and people walking on the beach. It’s easy to put yourself into each song, to make yourself a character in each scene. While the brass plays the lead in most tracks, a backing flute makes the trumpets feel much brighter, a testament to the production abilities at work here.
While jazz music has been hiding in corners of chart toppers for the past decade, slowly but surely, it’s beginning to make its way back into the hearts, ears, and playlists of the average American music lover. I’ve always liked jazz music, but only in the past year or so have I been digging deeper, and developing personal tastes. Some of my favorites I’ve found so far include Chet Baker, Buddy Rich, and Kamasi Washington, and after listening to this album, I’d probably add Quantic to that list as well. If you’re finding yourself in a jazz mood lately, but don’t know where to begin, first listen to A New Constellation by Quantic Presents The Western Transient, but then, check out NPR’s “What is Jazz?” as well as their guide for jazz beginners. You can also find Quantic at his own site, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. If you’re looking for more music, check out his SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages.