Jon Batiste, Bill Laswell, & Chad Smith
With the compelling tagline “Three master musicians who’ve never met came together to score a film that would never be made,” über-producer and bassist Bill Laswell, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s drummer Chad Smith and local pianist/showman Jon Batiste combine forces to record a semi-spontaneous album. Dubbed “The Process,” their self-titled debut also features guest appearances by Tunde Adempe (TV On The Radio), Killer Priest (Wu-Tang Clan), and mulit-reedist Peter Apfelbaum.
The album is as eclectic as the resume of its participants.
The first track, “B1” begins in ambient, New Age territory, Batiste’s supple piano lines lulling the listener into a peaceful, Zen state. Two minutes later, Smith kicks in a tribal beat, and the band launches into the afro-funk of “Drop Away,” the closest thing the album has to a “single.” Adempe adds his swooning falsetto over a propulsive groove set by Smith and Laswell. The power trio has moments reminiscent of 80s-era King Crimson, but instead of Fripp’s guitar heroics, we have Batiste’s tasty organ licks setting the tone.
Batiste is the most present force on the album. On “Timeline,” another funk workout, his organ takes the lead, while on “Spiral” he lays back, creating synthesizer textures that nicely compliment Smith’s drum-circle beats. Two tracks similar to the first (“B2” & “B3”), are essentially solo piano pieces.
Elsewhere, “Haunted” ventures into psych-funk a la Miles Davis’ Live- Evil, with guest Toshinori Kondo’s processed trumpet lines reminiscent of the master. Perhaps the most interesting track, “Turn on the Light/Ascent,” begins as a Killer Priest-led hip-hop jam, journeys through the dub-rap style of guest Garrison Hawk, and then mutates into a slow, heavy Pink Floyd style space-jam complete with wild sax solos and Smith’s metal-heavy drumming.
This would be a great trio to see live, but in the meantime, check out The Process to hear three talented musicians performing at their peak.