Turntable master DJ Logic describes the genre-bending sound of Global Noize, his collaborative ensemble with keyboardist, composer, arranger, producer, and all around musical visionary Jason Miles, as “a hip and eclectic musical journey crossing all boundaries.” It is, the band’s website continues, “an organic, free-spirited sonic brew of some of the best elements of jazz, funk, electronica and world fusion—it is music without borders.” Whichever genre you decide to call it, the one thing you can’t call it is dull. Their music is alive with the excitement of innovation, and their latest release, Sly Reimagined: The Music of Sly and the Family Stone, is simply one more example of that creative vision.
Miles, Logic, and the group’s resident vocalist Falu are joined on the album by a horde of nine vocalists and 17 instrumentalists including the likes of Roberta Flack, Nona Hendryx, Maya Azucena, Jay Rodriguez, and Ron Holloway. Add to the mix Greg Errico, Sly and the Family Stone’s original drummer, to give the project the imprimatur of authenticity. As Errico explains in the liner notes, Miles contacted him on Facebook and explained “the vibe he wanted to achieve” and invited him to take part. “I told him I had been thinking (and dreaming) about doing something like this for the last decade,” and in all caps, he signed on.
The album’s 10 tracks include two different versions of “It’s a Family Affair” and “The Same Thing.” The “Groove Vibe Version” and the “Falu Mumbai Mix” of “Family” both feature Roberta Flack as lead vocalist. The groove vibe is a jazzy blend of horns and vocals in a rhythmic feast. The second version has a tinge of India in the rhythm and the vocal as well. Nona Hendryx sings lead on both versions of “The Same Thing.” Both are dark and funky. The first seems dominated by a growling baritone sax, the second is more open, culminating in a kind of drunken cacophony leading into Falu’s almost spiritual performance of “Dreams,” which ends the album.
“In Time” opens the disc with Hendryx singing lead and Azucena adding highlights. Azucena is featured on “Fun” and Holloway has a down and dirty tenor solo. She also takes the lead on ”You Can Make It If You Try” and a soul-stirring performance of “Stand.” Falu takes the lead on “Thank You For Talking to Me Africa,” adding her own Indian touch. Jeff Coffin contributes some work on multiple saxes.
Great music lives past the moment. It bridges generations. By reimagining the music of Sly and the Family Stone for the 21st century, Jason Miles and Global Noize have given it new life. As Miles says in the liner note: “Sly’s vision was and is timeless.” All it needs is to be heard. All it needs is the creative imagination of talented artists like Miles and Logic and Falu. All it needs is Global Noize.