Moor Mom: Jazz Codes Album Overview

On Jazz Codes, the prolific artist Camae Ayewa’s 2nd album as Moor Mom in the past 9 months, the poet and musician lays the notion of style out on the operating desk and dissects it. With a occupation used in close proximity to what could nominally be explained as jazz, rap, and experimental audio, Ayewa normally takes this possibility to allow in extra legibly jazzy textures, like Keir Neuringer’s alto saxophone, so that she can peer at them with an analytical eye, exploring Black musical sorts and their histories via bold recontextualizations of her possess style and design.

Jazz Codes cycles through idiomatic sounds, usually shipped by collaborators, every single a reference that factors to an additional reference, and on and on. Jason Moran lays down rollicking piano on “ODE TO MARY,” a tribute to the early jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams that ends with an archival recording of Williams conversing about Dizzy Gillespie. On “UMZANSI”—credited to Black Quantum Futurism, Ayewa’s duo with Philadelphia’s Rasheedah Phillips—syncopated drum devices nod to Philly club and Chicago footwork. On “RAP JASM,” Ayewa slips out of spoken word to check out on a rap movement and riff on OutKast: “Forever at any time, motherfucker, you know the song.” Even as she references the past and the existing, she anxieties on “DUST TOGETHER” about factors disappearing when she falls asleep. She’s scribbling, contending not only with the erasure of marginalization but the inescapable fallibility of memory.

On “BLUES Absent,” she commences, “Now how am I s’posed to engage in the blues when I’m feeling this superior?” But what follows is a weeping complaint backed by New Jersey rap weirdo Fatboi Sharif. “You took the blues away from me,” they bawl alongside one another. So the blues is gone, and in its absence, “my heart will not sing,” “the band cannot play,” and “the drummer simply cannot swing.” This is a topic on Jazz Codes: Black genres—jazz, blues, rap—have been adulterated, both destroyed or diminished. In this case, even though, Ayewa is using a acquainted narrative to worry that acrobatic leaps of Black musicianship from one innovation to yet another are a necessity as every successive type will get altered she’s anxious with the items you have to go away powering when you’re constantly made a refugee.

Jazz Codes is also a document about the stress of the artwork’s romantic relationship to other is effective, a serious artist-as-critic sort of offer. That line of inquiry becomes clear when she contemplates Mary Lou Williams’ piano audio, or tries to remake the woundedness at the core of the blues, or constructs an assemblage of hip-hop signifiers, or traces diasporic strains from “Mississippi to East Texas” to Congo to Barbados in a spoken-word passage in excess of Aquiles Navarro’s echoing trumpet that she calls a “MEDITATION RAG.”