Blue Note


The Finest In Jazz Since 1939
High Fidelity

Broadway & 52nd (1997)


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Broadway & 52nd continues the breakthrough formula achieved by Us3 on Hand on the Torch of mixing classic jazz samples from the Blue Note library with hip-hop. As before, producer Geoff Wilkinson (joined by Jim Hawkins, replacing Mel Simpson) augments the samples with live performances from various soloists. The fusion itself works better on this record than on most jazz-rap hybrids, with every element coming together to form one coherent whole. Whatever else might be said about it, this record definitely does not sound like an unnatural combination the way some other crossover attempts have. However, there are weak points, the weakest point being the quality of the MCs. The raps are split by KCB and Shabaam Sahdeeq, and while Sahdeeq's contributions are competent, if uninteresting, KCB just sounds stiff and forced. However, even when the raps are boring or awkward, the songs are never derailed. The main reason for this is the fact that for the most part the arrangements are rather nicely split between the samples, the raps, and the live playing. But does any of it work especially well? That answer, unfortunately, is far from an enthusiastic yes. But as the sum of its parts, Broadway & 52nd is well-worth a listen.