(Jazz Is Dead)
As opposed to recordings by Milt Jackson or Lionel Hampton, Roy Ayers’ music is less about the vibraphone than the vibe. This is certainly true of Ayers’ Jazz Is Dead recording (JID002), in which his instrument remains more of a color in the prism than the dominant hue. His minimalist approach is evident from the very first track, “Synchronize Vibration,” which he composed with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who also layer the track with Fender Rhodes, synths, Mellotron and clavinet. A chorus of whispery voices breeze in, as well, recalling the groovy era of early-’70s soul-jazz, while Greg Paul’s skillful drumming straddles the line between old-school and new. With its spiritual lyrics and laid-back groove, the song wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Ayers’ classic Polydor recordings, which have earned him new fans such as Alicia Keys, Thundercat and Tyler the Creator, who have sought out his talents in recent years.