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Premium Blend: The Rebirth of Jazz

Miles would be proud…

Rainy day here in my beloved city of Indianapolis, and I decide that I need to do something productive with my day. And so, I decided to move forward with this new addition to blog known as “Five Crowns with Tony Styxx”. This is where I will give my review on indie or local music. And just like the infamous Source magazine, I will rate the project of single from 1 (lowest) to 5 (Highest), only instead of mics, I will use crowns (being a King and all, you get it?)

In my cd deck is an album fresh out of Naptown with a worldly vibe. “The Road”, a jazz album created by local jazz band Premium Blend. This is an album that will, and I say this with courage, redefine Jazz as a genre for a new generation.

If you are like me, born after 87’, even 84’, you grew up listening to Jazz if your uncle got to play DJ during a cook out, or you fell asleep listening to whatever your local smooth Jazz and R&B station was. So, it wasn’t the brand of music you flocked too with haste. We only really got into it when artist of the genre would do covers to Micheal Jackson’s “Human Nature” or SWV “Right Here”. Hell, even Kenny G had our attention…kinda. But, considering all that, you knew good Jazz when you heard it, right? This is no exception.

“The Road” is an album that catalogs tune that give that late night, first date, live music feel. The production puts you in the sense of being in that smoke light Jazz club, with red candles glass on the white table tops, and the crowd age being that of 25yrs to 54yrs. And on stage is the quartet of some groovy guys, hanging loose and conjuring a vibe that will surely play a nostalgic part of your night, and days to come.

The audio engineering is genius. It is as if they EQ’d the project to give a submerged feeling. Each individual instrument was given very specific attention. The saxophone is placed in the front of everything, but not single file sort to speak, but more in the middle of a well arced wall of sound. The keys are just left of sound. You can hear an arraignment of synths and traditional notes play softly to the front right along the saxophone. Like a shadow. The guitar (electric on most tracks) does what most instruments cannot: Show off without showing up. With its sound being more right of center, if doesn’t battle for volume with the keys, nor the saxophone. Lastly, the rhythm, the drums. Place right behind all the sound, but spread like the blossoming tail of a peacock. It hugs the rest of the instruments into a very comfortable vibe.

“Premium Blend” playing at Indianapolis historic Chatterbox Jazz Club.

“Ok Tony, we have all heard Jazz albums like that before dude.” Not like this. The difference? Groove and soul.

The members of Premium Blend PLAY EACH INSTRUMENT AS IF THEY ARE LIVE. You can hear it in the charisma of the saxophonist (Jared Thompson), you can feel the live wire electricity in the strings of the guitarist (Ryan Taylor). You cannot help but be lulled into a trance by the smooth keys conducted by the pianist (Steve Jones), and what groove can be complete without a heartbeat, provided by the drummer (Brian Yates). Each member turns your listening environment to a movie, as it carries your minuets into hours as if they are narrating your very day.

This album also comes with a special treat. The last track entitled “Conveyor Belt Dreams” features Indy’s own performance artist Theon Lee, as a spoken word feature. Painting a very brutal but honest picture of life as a person of color in America, almost in a very Stanley Kubrick like way, it closes this album in a very surreal but transparent manner. As if the album lived up to it’s name, and the road lead “here”. Here being wherever you end up mentally or spiritually once the last key has faded.

Is there anything I do not like about it? Yes, track arrangement. There was a moment where I felt that the song never changed, because the rhythm or vibe of the last track was like the one currently playing. So, in this, I would readjust the ebb and flow of the album to give the listener more of a range of the sound that is offered on this project. Now, do not think for a moment it ruins the listening pleasure. It doesn’t. I should know, this is my 5th time playing it. In a row.

All in All, I King of Yerpshire, His Sovereignty Tony Styxx here by give Premium Blend’s album entitled “The Road” (drum roll please….) 5 out of 5 Crowns.

Congrats gents, you just made the baby making list.

For updates and tour dates please visit Premium Blend

King.