Labyrinth Lounge is a jazz collective comprised of Valerie Troutt with her powerful deep vocals, Ambessa ‘the Articulate’ Cantave with clever rap vocals, Emanuel Ruffler on keyboards, John Ormond on bass, and Jaz Sawyer on drums. After we heard their track Porgy, we’ve been hoping to get some insight on the group’s influences. Fortunately, Labyrinth Lounge has been generous enough to put together an eclectic playlist packed with some quality artists.
After putting together a playlist of left-field favorites, we have been trying to come up with the thread that ties it all together. The styles don’t match, some are famous, some aren’t. What we ended up noticing is that all these songs or artists have a connection to jazz that you may not notice at first, and we won’t try to explain it. Some of the bands have a jazz sounds, some bands consist of accomplished jazz cats that went off the beaten path. See if you can hear it…
Pegasus Warning – Try So Hard
This is a song I have been listening to a lot – future funk with a touch of romanticism thrown in. The band Pegasus warning is absolutely amazing live. They recently relocated to LA so I don’t get to hear them as much. What I really like about this piece is the way is how this stripped down arrangement brings out the vocal and how transparent and minimal the beat is.
Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble – Oluya
Here is a band that I have heard many years ago in Williamsburg. Hey! That was an incredible experience and I will never forget the feeling of hearing the band outside the club in the snow… I felt the groove in my bones and when I was finally in front of the stage I just couldn’t stop grinning over this ridiculous beat they created. Their sound is obviously built around the original Afrobeat classics. But this band has some other interesting twists on it and when I heard them again last year they played at rough trade records. Some accomplished soloists are in this band including the amazing trumpeter Takuya Kuroda.
KOOL A.D. – FREE EVERYBODY
Here is a rapper that is just so interesting. Avant-garde rap? Or is this the classic feel we all look for when consuming raw rap? This dude has his own horoscope column, which is completely bananas, and he is a great visual artist. I really like his voice and that “smart” part of his rap. I guess it’s both smart, complex and basic. Great music and great message.
Kassa – NAKED LIGHT
This MC is also an accomplished drummer, tastemaker and composer. Had the chance to collaborate with this heavyweight creative genius in the band Painting, which was a duo of just piano and drums. Here you can hear him at his swaggerest, Seattle meets New York feel.
Jesse Boykins III – The Wonder Years
I enjoy all his beats but this song and video sum up Jesse’s vibe.We went to the same college and Jesse has deep jazz roots. But he took it further and created his own sound.
Brazilian Girls – The Critic
The latest song from this cool band. Really appreciate how they mix up their diverse influences and turn it into their OWN. This song’s message is great: “Don’t play the critic
Try to forget it” True! Judging others is so overdone and unnecessary.
Sampha – Kora Sings
This is not exactly an underground record or an up-and coming record…. Sampha is everywhere right now, but I have to include his song just because I listen to it so much. The album builds up nicely to this song, don’t forget to check out the whole thing… ‘s sound has something eclectic that you can’t even put your finger on.
Prefuse 73 – Still Pretending
Recently got exposed more to prefuse’s sound when we recorded some vocals with kareem from on-high for one of his new songs. Prefuse 73 really created his own vibe. Very much about the texture, I hear a lot of bells, which is soothing for some reason. And there is true harmonic motion and chord changes that you don’t always find in music created electronically.
Run The Jewels – Thursday In The Danger Room (feat. Kamasi Washington)
Some of my homies from college worked on this record and we were all really surprised by just how HUGE this record has blown up. This song is a nice east coast / west coast collaboration with . Just a little bit of his horn can go a long way to putting his spin on the music. I am hoping that the tenor sax will eventually come back as a main voice in popular music.
Knower – Overtime (Live Band sesh)
Brand new and already a viral video. This song is mad fun. It seems like homemade web videos are now catching eyes more than ever before. We sort of got used to the polished production look, and a low budget video is probably way better at getting the audience interested. This is a good example of a song where I prefer the live version over the album.