“Visions of Love”
(Jazz Is Dead)
As a progenitor of progressive soul-jazz, saxophonist Gary Bartz has influenced generations of jazz and hip-hop musicians. Count among them multi-instrumentalist and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who sampled Bartz’s music on recordings with his own boundary-breaking group, A Tribe Called Quest. So it’s unsurprising that Muhammad and his partner, musician and producer Adrian Younge, invited Bartz to record as part of their Jazz Is Dead series. The saxophonist, who turned 80 last September, contributed a track to the very first album in the series, a multi-artist sampler, and returns with a full album, which represents JID’s sixth release (JID006). The music echoes the spiritual vibe and deep grooves of Bartz albums such as Harlem Bush Music and Precious Energy, even as Muhammad and Younge respectfully update his sound with subtle production touches. “Visions of Love” provides a prime example, opening with a distorted bass groove and a slippery backbeat. Bartz’s lithe soprano sax dances atop the insistent rhythmic foundation, and he’s soon joined by an ethereal chorus of background vocalists and shimmering keyboard textures. The tune ends with a rising and descending electronic swoop that sounds like a police siren, likely no accident in the Black Lives Matter era.