JJ Whitefield’s debut album, Brother All Alone, is here and it’s pure fire!
But who is JJ Whitefield?
He is the mastermind behind Karl Hector & The Malcouns, but not just that since
his story goes almost three decades back.
Poets of Rhythm was the legendary band he formed -while still in school- with his brother and other forward-thinking German musicians, that created a funk revival wave. The band that started by rehearsing in the Whitefield brothers’ mom basement, signed to Ninja Tune, praised by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Dj Shadow, etc., and inspired Daptone’s crew.
Jan is a prolific artist and -apart from the Poets of Rhythm- he has participated in a lot of other bands or collaborated with a plethora of artists, throughout his career, with the most significant of them being: Whitefield Brothers, Rodinia, Woima Collective, The Heliocentrics, The Soul Surfers, Ebo Taylor, and W.I.T.C.H.
Brother All Alone is JJ Whitefield’s debut album under his name.
A mythical trip that recorded between German and Kenya, incorporating some of the best cats of the new German jazz and kraut scene.
Let’s have some background information about the artists that participated in the making process of the record, shall we?
So we have saxophonist Johannes Schleiermacher, the founder of some of the best afrofunk German bands such as Woima Collective, Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra, Onom Agemo & The Disco Jumpers, and a constant collaborator of the german jazz legend Gunter Hampel. Johannes has also offered his musicianship on Karl Hector and The Malcouns previous album, Unstraight Ahead.
Bernd Oezsevim is a highly requested drummer and percussionist and also a collaborator of Gunter Hampel since 2002. He has won several prizes with a lot of the bands he played with or co-founded, such as Ohne 4 Gespielt Drei, Matovs Garage, and Zodiak Trio. Moreover, he’s the bandmate of Schleiermacher and co-founder of Onom Agemo and the Disco Jumpers.
Marcel (Maasl) Maier is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist that plays bass in Brother All Alone.
Maasl has worked together with notable bands and artists such as Okay Temiz, Roman Bunka, Karl Hector and The Malcouns, and Christian Burchard. He is the founder of jazz, prog-rock band Karaba, plays with Express Brass Band, and works with the legendary music collective Embryo.
There have been some guest appearances also by Sam Davids, Charif Megarbane of Cosmin Analog Ensemble, and Marja Burchard (yup, late Christian Burchard’s daughter that also collaborates with The Malcouns).
Finally, the album has been mixed by the magic hand of Malcolm Catto, founder, and drummer of The Heliocentrics.
If you’re into groovy music in general, you’re interested in the krautrock sound, you have a thing for jazz and ethnic music resonates in you, then think no more. This record will definitely please you more than you might expect!
The album ideally balances different rhythm patterns, bringing together different music civilizations as he draws inspiration from the Middle East, Ethiopia, and India, to name but a few, mixing it with the kraut aesthetics, jazz philosophy, and polyrhythmic patterns.
- Seven Seas
- Zone 30
- White Queen
- Chilli Chicken
- Yellow Sari
- Shir-Khan (Interlude)
A great example of the polyrhythmic patterns is the opening track, Seven Seas, and the following to that, 14/08, while on Zone 30 his improvisational nature unfolds in this slow burner that perfectly works as an opening for the next song.
White Queen is a tribute song to her daughter, while Chilli Chicken and Metrosex are songs dedicated to his love for exotic library records and to German jazz legend Gunter Hampel respectively.
The second side opens with Rubikon, where he pays tribute to the funkiest bands ever, while Yellow Sari is another beautiful exotic track with a trippy sitar! Shir-Khan (Interlude) works as the perfect closing to the exotic chapter for now.
Drecksstück is a complex intense jazz track and as it goes to the end it becomes even more aggressive in a rhythmic way.
The last exotic attempt is with Nirguna. An Indian drone experiment, swirling in your mind as it slowly fades to the end. Magnificent!
Don’t fool yourself, Jan is a top-notch musician, a record collector, and a skilled producer. Therefore he knows the recipe to create something that will stand the test of time and that will be both sophisticated yet so catchy and pleasurable.
Accompanied by an interesting selection of other great musicians, JJ Whitefield’s debut is an outstanding album!
You liked the album? Go get it here.