Don’t let the name fool you. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions is a group of Japanese musicians whose brand of jazz is unconventional, yet noteworthy. Their new release, Black Track (Red River Entertainment, 2017) combines elements of what’s commonly known as “black music,” a mix of R&B, hip-hop and jazz.
“By Your Side” features special guests Bambu and Nia Andrews. It’s a soulful rap. Unlike conventional hip-hop where the rap and the beat are all that matters, this song is underscored by a hybrid of smooth jazz and R&B instrumentation. Bambu handles the rap skillfully, like some of the old-school artists of the genre. Andrews provides a change of mood, singing the melody in a soft, romantic style. As the song progresses, a lead vocal sings different lyrics while the title is sung in the background, following the phrase of “For Your Love,” an obscure album track from producer Peter Brown’s only release as a vocalist. The piano and soprano sax are prominent throughout.
“Black Milk” is a lively instrumental. The main theme features the soprano out front, joined by a trumpet on alternating phrases. Emphasis on bass line and percussion complementing the other instruments. The piano and soprano are frantic during their high-speed solos. And just when you think they’re about to revert to the main theme, the soprano enters a mind-blowing sequence, with the piano offering a Latin-style counter-solo.
A few tracks may shock the senses, but several are perfectly mainstream. The six-piece ensemble, with a little help from the guests, delivers an interesting mix of instrumental and vocal.
Soil & “Pimp” Sessions emerged from the Tokyo scene. Their debut recording was 2006’s Pimp Master.