Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Funky, modern jazz from Yesterday’s New Quintet

I had a meeting in a local coffee shop the other day and as my friend and I were packing up our stuff and getting ready to leave, the cool music we had been listening to finally penetrated my mind. I had to go ask the barista who they were spinning for us. “Yesterday’s New Quintet” is what he told me. Cool. I started to track them down and ordered a couple discs from the library.

The first album I got by the “quintet” (I’ll get to the quotes in a minute) was actually a tribute to Stevie Wonder called “Stevie” that I have to report was a little disappointing. The songs weren’t so much jazz explorations of Stevie’s grooves as they were covers given a jazzy treatment. Not as cool as I had hoped. The next one I got was called “Yesterday’s Universe: Prepare for a New Yesterday (Volume 1)” and this is where it started to get weird.

I'm going to start writing this blog under 4 or 5 different aliases. Today, I'm Brighton Webb.

At first, I thought this was an album by a band called Yesterday’s New Quintet. Then, as I was writing it up, it appeared that this is really a compilation of new jazz put together by multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ, and MC Madlib. Something still smelled funny, so I dug a little deeper and it would seem all of that Yesterday’s New Quintet is actually just Madlib. He does bring in some other musicians from time to time, but mostly it’s just him. The songs on “Yesterday’s Universe” are ostensibly performed by a variety of different bands with names like The Jahari Massamba Unit Feat. Karriem Riggins Trio, The Jazzistics, and Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble. In fact, it’s mostly Madlib. He does have other musicians contribute, but it is difficult to tell who they are. I know that a couple of jazz percussionists named Karriem Riggins and Ivan Conti were in the studio with Madlib, but if there were other artists involved, I could not figure it out.

Anyway, the fun Madlib has with aliases is not the point. I really liked a lot of the music on this album. Madlib is a hip-hop producer and he brought his production sensibilities to this project. The result is great, improvisational jazz brought forward into the 21st century. There are plenty of samples and much of the music is more groove oriented than a lot of mental jazz. There is a cerebral element to the music, but it tickles both sides of the brain. YouTube is short on cutting edge jazz, so most of these are Amazon samples. Still, give a listen to my favorites from the album and maybe pick it up.

  • Two for Strata East – Distorted viberaphone and hissing percussion is pretty much all there is to this 42-second track, but I liked it.
  • Cold Nights and Rainy Days – Spacey wind sounds and sitar set the backdrop for some meandering piano and vibraphone and cool, plodding bass work. The percussion is superlative on this track.
  • Barumba – For all it’s up-tempo, salsa percussion, the piano and vibraphone maintain an easy feel. Here, someone has set this music to people swimming at the Cayman Islands.
  • Sunny C – The busy percussion and looped keyboards barely hang together for a minute, but then mysteriously morph into a great head-bobbing groove.
  • Mtume’s Song – Layers of percussion create clouds of sound the keyboards have to claw their way through. Still, the percussion anchors the song when the keys wander around a lot.
  • Vibes from the Tribes Suite (For Phil) – I’ll be honest. This song is nearly 12 minutes long but I edited off almost all of the second half of the track. The first part, though, is fabulous, with flute decorating a cool synthesized bass line. Again, the great percussion keeps things chugging along.

I think I need to get more of this work from Madlib. I’ll let you know what I find.



November 8, 2010 - Posted by | Jazz


  1. Madlib is by far the most creative hip-hop producer working today. He’s been the undisputed king of “most creative” since around 2003 when his album of Blue Note remixes and these YNQ records started coming out. He’s not the best jazz artist, and very much an underground figure when it comes to hip-hop, but he makes up for any shortcomings by pure freedom of expression that comes through with most of his MANY releases.

    some jazz releases to check out–

    YESTERDAYS NEW QUINTET “ANGLES WITHOUT EDGES” (2001) — this was the debut of his jazz personas – all 5 of them. they did this album, a lesser album of Stevie Wonder covers, and then all did “solo” albums and EPs, which range from weird to very good.

    YOUNG JAZZ REBELS – SLAVE RIOT (2010) — the least accessible and yet my personal favorite of all his jazz stuff so far

    MADLIB – HIGH JAZZ (2010) — sort of a part 2 of the “yesterdays universe” release you reviewed here, with several new “groups” (some of which really do have other musicians, like karriem riggins and james poyser)

    hip hop–

    QUASIMOTO – THE UNSEEN (2000) — a classic of sorts, a surreal album hosted by a guy you never see with a strange voice

    MADVILLAIN – MADVILLANY (2004) — madlib’s collab with MF DOOM. many agree, one of the very best hip hop albums of the 2000’s.

    MADLIB – BEAT KONDUCTA VOL. 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 (2006-2009) — madlib instrumental series. these are not “boring records without rappers”, they’re some of his best stuff.

    sorry for leaving a comment that rivals the size of the original post … i’m a fan haha

    Comment by Vicious | November 9, 2010 | Reply

    • You had to be approved as a commenter before it would go live. This keeps my blog from being overwhelmed by spam. Definitely wanted to approve the great response, though. I had already intended to order more Madlib. Now I have some specific recommendations about what to pick up. Thanks for the knowledge. And for reading.

      Comment by MissedMusic | November 9, 2010 | Reply

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