Doug Stone / Josiah Williams
"The Early Riser"
Over the last decade, artists like Robert Glasper and Q-Tip have explored the intersection of jazz and hip-hop. But the jazz side of that equation has usually consisted of pretty light grooves. Local saxophonist extraordinaire Doug Stone has teamed up with Peoria, Illinois, rapper Josiah Williams to explore similar territory but with a big difference. On "The Early Riser" the jazz is hardcore hard-bop. Stone, guitarist Chris Potter, bassist John Tate, and drummer Chase Ellison are on fire from start to finish.
One tricky aspect of this fairly radical form of fusion is that jazz aficionados are often not hip-hop connoisseurs, and aren't the best judges of it. In this case, I can say Williams' raps are all positive and sometimes clever (like on the track "Hidden Wisdom"). Each tune has only one verse and those same words are repeated twice or three times, and, in one case, five times. That's a bit repetitive for me, but overall the album is a bold experiment in merging two disparate genres. The response by jazz and rap fans should be fascinating.