Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Elite freedoms

Posted By on Wed, Sep 20, 2000 at 12:00 AM

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Gilles Peterson has made a living by keeping contemporary musical forms open and responsive to the debris of the posts — post-house, post-jazz, post-hip hop, etc. From his label, Talking Loud, featuring drum-and-bass masters 4 Hero and Roni Size, to steady DJ gigs since his teens in clubs and on pirate radio, Peterson has forced all of his musical loves to share time and inspiration with each other. His newest mix CD, INCredible: Sound of Gilles Peterson, is a sterling synthesis of this approach, a master’s thesis of interdisciplinary musical collage, a blueprint for a musical world bounded only by love, respect and determination.

Starting with the acid-jazz feel that made Peterson the musical shaker-maker he has become, INCredible, begins with Incognito’s “I Can See the Future,” a robust workout filled with sax solos and uplifting female choruses. But Peterson’s up-tempo jazz sound is merely a calling card — a shot off the starboard bow. Instead, the true beginning of the record lies in the string-laced Latin-soul-house genius of “I Am the Black Gold of the Sun,” by musical designers Masters At Work (Gonzalez and Vega) aka Nu Yorican Soul. This is where Peterson’s modus operandi really kicks in; like the two house-masters of Nu Yorican Soul, Peterson opens the floodgates between genres, letting rhythm and message, melody and freedom bleed into one another.

Andy Bey doing a Nick Drake cover. Minnie Riperton singing “Les Fleurs.” Moloko and J-Live. Sarah Jones retranslating and feminizing “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” By giving each song its own space and subtle introduction, Peterson sets up each track as its own validation. Like a future radical democracy, where the whole can only exist after the individual positing of the self in its multitudes, Peterson has found a group of tracks that speak freedom at every step. From the softly spoken feminine invitations that float over Pharoah Sanders’ “Rejoice” (“Greetings to all of you/welcome all/join us in our tribute to peace and beauty”) to the invigorating house-pulse of “Messages,” with its beckoning male vocals (“This is a message to all of those who think that everyday life is too much to deal with/come and take a ride.”), Peterson’s message is simple: Music is love.

And if you believe this, as Peterson does, then the only question left is, in the words of Alive!’s “Skindo Le Le,” also included here, “Things are getting better every day — why don’t you join us?”

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