Madlib’s been busy these last couple years. And while his recorded output always spans the gamut, he often returns to recurrent themes, spread across the genres that serve as home base – or bases, as it were. 2010 will be an ambitious one for Madlib and Stones Throw Records, with his slate of 12 Medicine Show albums and mixes, his rap albums for the likes of Strong Arm Steady, Guilty Simpson and MED and a series of albums based around the now-defunct Yesterdays New Quintet’s “spin off bands” that he introduced on the Yesterdays Universe album. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably aware of the former two categories, now on to the jazz. The first of Madlib’s 2010 jazz albums is Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble’s Miles Away.
Miles Away is Madlib’s tribute to a series of his jazz heroes from the 60s and, mainly, 70s, with suites, waltzes, ballads, modal-numbers and swinging funk inspired by and covered from the well known (Roy Ayers, Pharoah Sanders, John Coletrane) and the cult (Phil Ranelin, Harry Whitaker). This “band” shows an organic growth from their earliest releases (the limited edition Summer Suite and Fall Suite albums); electric flute, moog and synths stand aside accordions, sitars and vibraphones in an album that could only originate in the mind of a loop-digging Beat Kouducta as reverent of jazz’s deep traditions as he is revolutionary.