This week we delve into ‘Jazz Shit and Real Book vol.2’ by Paul Wilbury.
The Spanish producer’s love of music started early. He recalls his parents telling him how he was constantly drumming as a kid and at seven he began his tutelage under percussion legend Jeff Prentice. Continuing on to study Jazz drumming at a prestigious conservatoire as well as developing his production skills in Hip Hop, Wilbury released vol.1 of ‘Jazz Shit and Real Book’ back in July. With vol.2 now out in the world, how does it stack up?
While Jazz most definitely leads the way with this project, the general vibe transcends boxes. Being so Jazz influenced it would be easy to lump this in with Jazz Hop or derivatives but this isn’t the case. Wilbury puts his own spin on the blend. Whether it be length of tracks or tone or rhythm. The mood is reflective without judgement or imposition. ‘Jazz Shit and Real Book vol.2’ is a blank canvas for the listener to create their own picture. Take ‘Crazy’ for example. The track loops a simply lovely piano phrase over off beat drums but switches the melodic line at just the right moment. It's the perfect blend of loop magic and the occasional accent that lets your mind wonder but keeps you engaged.
Jazz and Hip Hop blend masterfully here. Using a clean overall sound to focus the audience on the interplay between the genres. The beauty of the project is the blur between the Jazz and Hip Hop. Both genres have their outstanding features and Wilbury utilises them perfectly to create gorgeous cross pollination. Intro track ‘Star’ is a stand out moment. Lush and full in instrumentation but smooth and clear enough to let thoughts formulate. Wilbury directs the vibe so you get the best of both worlds. The project captures those moments of solitary beauty you often feel when surrounded by people. Those points where your environment melts away and you get lost in your mental.
This vibe hinges on the way Wilbury treats his sound selection. Using clean, crisp tones and creating space to allow them to resonate with the listener. Even the samples are streamlined in their execution. Every note, every brush stroke, every flip has its purpose and it fits together wonderfully. Wilbury strips back the music to it’s core. Through experimentation and improvisation he serves up the purest expression of feeling hidden within the sample source. Speaking on ‘Owdfxlks’ Wilbury sums up his process: ‘I used the same process that I developed during two years of beat making. First I select a sample and basically freestyle with the chops. At some point I land on a progression that makes me think ‘oooh’ haha. I have my own style and way of understanding music. I also love to add fx, eq, compression and all that to give the sample a new flavour. A different texture from the original. I've always considered the sampler another instrument. Just another tool to express yourself.’
The project revels in the beauty that comes from simplicity. The theory that less is more is explored to its fullest here. Wilbury takes care to keep the tracks unfussy and focussed melodically. Extending this ideal to his sparse but impactful drums. The simplicity is a beautiful stylistic choice. It allows each element of the production to explore a range of tones and textures. On ‘Falling’ the listener is treated to a lush vibraphone sample, accented with a full trumpet stab and a rhythm you can’t help but be moved by. The beat is very simple but because Wilbury treats each phrase as essential; it’s stripped back vibe still translates into something beautiful. Simplicity is king here and the project is all the more complete for it.
‘Jazz Shit and Real Book vol.2’ is relaxing, reflective exploration of the relationship between Jazz and Hip Hop. Paul Wilbury masterfully manages to create lush beats whilst retaining the clean simplicity that allows an atmosphere of calm to permeate the project. The album can be a soundtrack to any mood but to suggest it doesn’t have character of it’s own is false. ‘Jazz Shit and Real Book vol.2’ simply seems to fit with however you are feeling. The clean instrumentation and melodic sample choices allow the listener to explore their own thoughts with a gorgeous variety of sound to colour their own experience.
Listen to ‘Jazz Shit and Real Book vol.2’ here:
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