Of course the history of dance music reveals an uneasy relationship with the whole album concept. It’s always been about the cut, the twelve inch, the killer track. As a relatively young branch of the popular music tree, dance music doesn’t have it’s roots entangled in that whole mythology, rock’n roll’s history can be persuasively told by just selecting a list of iconic landmark albums. Then there’s the addled old cliché of the faceless dance music producer, the image of the knob twiddler hiding behind some suitably exotic production moniker.
At least Aaron Jerome is just himself and even if he does have seven guest artists in tow on Time To Rearrange that’s just because he doesn’t sing! However he does play instruments and he does nurture great performances from his collaborators, and even with the humble means available to him he does have a way of conjuring epic music on a shoestring. One man and his laptop against the world, the boy who would be Quincy Jones; or Charles Stepney, or Larry Mizzell or even Marc Mac! No cast of crack musicians available, no big studio, no huge advance. Surely there must be better career options? A young man like Aaron has no choice, one of the afflicted, he’s got the bug and music is very much his master. What kind of music? Do we have to call it something?
This music is deeply unfashionable, if you’re reading this you’re probably painfully unhip. If jazz is a four-letter word then “jazzy” is a foul-mouthed string of expletives. Aaron Jerome’s music is undoubtedly jazzy, unashamedly so, but more to the point unselfconsciously so. That’s where he has an advantage. Young enough to be untainted by it’s history but old enough to have learned the lessons and absorbed the aesthetic; Aaron brings a new vitality to a familiar palette. Time To Rearrange mixes all the familiar colours, warm electric piano, crisp drums, lush strings, horns, and acoustic bass. A dash of hip-hop attitude and a whole heap of old-school musicality. Though sometimes these elements combine in a surprising way, it’s a record that sounds both familiar and strange. Lurking beneath the surface is an attitude that is both irreverent and audacious, there’s a vein of positivity that runs through it that seems to say why not have a go? It’s the sound of talent falling in love with it can achieve, the sound of possibilities being explored.
21st century soul-fusion?