Guru’s Jazzmatazz – “An experimental fusion of hip hop and live jazz”

Guru’s Jazzmatazz – “An experimental fusion of hip hop and live jazz”

When you have a true bond as a group, you can step outside of the collective to dabble in other things. Great things. Expressing another side of yourself through a different medium or sometimes the same medium but slightly different style. I believe Guru and Premier had that and thus Mr. Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal was able to release solo projects and still rep Gang Starr, including the soulful innovative Jazzmatazz albums.

Guru’s Jazzmatazz, “An experimental fusion of hip hop and live jazz” is how the man himself introduces us to the first of the 4 part series released between 1993 and 2007. An intro, which would appear on most of the albums thereafter – Setting the tone for what your ears were about to lock into. Each disc striving to stay current to the music trends at the time while fusing Hip Hop and Jazz, a very likely connection. As well as providing something of substance that was thought provoking to its listener. Well that’s a tall order. Between the four Jazzmatazz albums, Guru collaborated with and featured a wide range of new and seasoned musicians and musical artists including: Brandord Marsalis, Ronny Jordan, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Angie Stone, Common, The Roots, Blackalicious, Bahamadia and Slum Village. Plus Chaka Khan, Craig David, Jamiroquai, Donell Jones, Erykah Badu, Macy Gray, Raheem DeVaughn, Junior Reid, Patra, Damian Marley and many more. Wow – How many of your favourite Hip Hop artists can boast such a list of collabs?

Here are five standout tracks from the collection. However Guru’s Jazzmatazz are the type of albums you put on and just let play – A Sunday afternoon soundtrack, woven together for your listening pleasure. Rest in peace Guru.


Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1
No Time to Play
feat. Ronny Jordan & D. C. Lee | 1993

This chorus can easily get stuck in your head and that’s not a bad thing either. D.C. Lee’s vocals can be your daily reminder to stay on your grind “gotta make moves”. However I do disagree partly – got to have time to play! Anyhow Ronny Jordan stringing away on the track makes it such a great one to mellow out to with Guru’s signature smooth monotone-like delivery laced on top.


Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1
Trust Me feat. N’Dea Davenport | 1993

I heart when Keith raps about love and relationships. Not all can do it well but he sure does. It’s that sincerity that comes through when he rhymes and that relatable factor whether you’re a female or male listener. Plus, nothing soft about it – Strong male expression at it’s best. Trust me features the melodic vocals of N’Dea Davenport, best known for being the leading lady of The Brand New Heavies. Yah remember her? Perfect layering for this light airy love struck track.


Guru’s Jazzmatazz Vol 2.: The New Reality
Watch What You Say feat. Chaka Khan produced by DJ Premier | 1995

The much-heated topic of – Are rappers role models? Should they have to watch what they say? Well, Guru addresses the topic head on. Calling for substance and a sense of purpose in what you spit. Something Guru had always done while he was here with us. The queen Chaka Khan blessed the track while bridging the generation gap and the team reunites with Premier on production, and of course it sounds so sweet.


Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul
Certified feat. Bilal, produced by Jay Dee/J.Dilla | 2000

To say that this is my all time favourite Jazzmatazz collaboration would be the absolute truth. Plus one of my favourite Dilla masterpieces and yes I covet Bilal but all biases aside this track can do nothing but put you in a good mood. It’s so hip-hop. It’s so summertime BBQ and it’s down right funky. A whole lot of greatness within these 4 and half minutes. Yes, certified greatness. It’s just an all around great piece of music.


Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 3: Streetsoul
Guidance feat. Amel Larrieux | 2000

Oh Amel. Her voice is like a sprinkling of fairy dust and the contrast between Ms. Larrieux and Mr.Elam’s textures is grand. A song dedicated to his son just before his birth, Guru touches on life lessons he want to teach him upon his arrival and growing into the responsibility of settling down and bringing a child into the World.


Special mention to Lift Your Fist feat. The Roots – Powerful
Loungin feat. Donald Byrd


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