Total Refreshment Centre: Transmissions From Total Refreshment Centre Album Review

A Parisian whose gateway to jazz and hip-hop was the Beastie Boys, Lex Blondin opened the Total Refreshment Center in a London warehouse in 2012, creating a space that tripled as a recording studio, artist studio, and living room. concerts. Within a few short years, the community that TRC orbited became the epicenter of an adventurous jazz scene that could not be confined to Britain. Soon, acts like Comet Is Coming and Moses Boyd established an international reputation, helping to seal Total Refreshment Center’s position in the musical forefront.

Just as the popularity of the Total Refreshment Center and its associated artists were beginning to grow, complaints about neighborhood noise led Hackney City Council to refuse to renew its live music license in 2019. The concert venue closed, but the studio recording and artistic community remained. Blondin and TRC are currently on a mission to popularize the Total Refreshment Center brand, launching an eponymous label and collaborating with Blue Note on Streams from Total Refreshment Center, a seven-track collection featuring musicians associated with TRC. Some of this music was recorded at the Total Refreshment Centre, elsewhere in London or Europe, meaning the compilation isn’t so much a chronicle of a scene as it is a definition of an aesthetic: elegant artifacts repurposed as a vehicle into the future. .

In the liner notes, Emma Warren, author of a 2019 book on Total Refreshment Center called make some space—calls featured artists “the widescreen young cousins ​​of Guru’s landmark jazzmatazz”, a reference to the groundbreaking album the rapper released in 1993 after leaving Gang Starr. Guru enlisted jazz titans like Donald Byrd, Lonnie Liston Smith and Roy Ayers to record live in the studio, an innovation that produced livelier results than British jazz-rap group Us3. hand on torch, a 1993 record created free to sample from Blue Note’s vast catalogue. With the US Top 10 hit “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)”, hand on torch was part of the Blue Note modernization mission of the 1990s, a project that also produced the blue breakout beats series, compilations that culled highlights from funky soul-jazz LPs of the late ’60s and ’70s, and were discarded by sweltering jazz fans upon release.

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Nearly 30 years later, sampled loops and jazz-rap fusion were forged on albums like jazzmatazz are part of the lingua franca of jazz, something Streams from Total Refreshment Center clarifies. None of her juxtapositions are surprising; they feel like the natural evolution of a process started years ago. Each track traces a connection to the box-digging cross-pollination of the ’90s, ignoring the perceived boundaries between dance, experimental, hip-hop and pop. The proceedings take on a slight air of nostalgia, not because of the initial sources but because of their rediscovery, the moment when these disparate threads first came together. When Miryam Solomon sings sweetly over Matters Unknown’s revamped bossa nova groove—no reminiscence of ’60s Latin LPs—he sounds like the ultimate Stereolab.

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