Saxophonist’s Blue Note début meaningfully entitled Nihil Novi straight on eliminates all the theories one my have about what he is listening to here. It is nothing new indeed but this is what a good Chef is supposed to do with the same old and well known ingredients: A New and Tasty Dish. But the other Cooks involved also matter and that’s why their finishing touches are all so recognizable.
All music in the album contains only originals but you listen to it as if you know it all too well. I am not sure if that is a complement but this is how I feel. Arrangements are beautifully written and so are solos and instrumental interludes. I especially enjoy duos written for both brass instruments present in the group, trumpet played by Keyron Harrold and leader’s tenor obviously.
Strickland proclaims his music as a process created as it goes. Based on the values represented by particular musicians and tradition they are representing , do enjoy or came from . I agree , but this is a case with every art creation isn’t it ? The rhythmic section’s work is particularly important here as it contains so many samples and synthesized layers involved and present. The fact that Glasper takes a part in this project makes it eclectic in a specific way too. I was referring to this previously when writing about his own hip hop influenced projects.
The Entire recording comes as a vivid and rather dark palette based constant flow. It is very energetic and driving. Funk bit holds on almost all the time and the brass solos are the main driving forces in the entire tissue. Lots of connection with Soul ,Funk and Rap music makes it all a very multi generational proposition. In fact every one can find something catchy for himself. Again what is the strength of such a foundation is also its weakness.
When I am thinking about what was before, from Afro Beat , through Funky , Jazz , Blues , Hip Hop , then Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Quincy Jones , (both early and late) , I am coming to the conclusion that the title actually CLAIMS – that there is nothing new. All of it is old and we heard it before. The fact is that this New – Old is well arranged and played. It is very pleasant to listen to but the main problem here is that it doesn’t challenge me at all . Again one might ask why should it ? The answer is because this is what ART is supposed to do to STAY an art, isn’t it?
Either way I could listen to this on a night out with great pleasure or enjoy it in the background of my car. To me then Nihil Novi comes as Meaning Less, but I accept that as something intentional. No reason to go through the tunes then as I can compare each with few other from the past. If that’s boring to me it will be even more boring to those who will be reading it.