Reviews

Mocean Worker

There are two criticisms frequently leveled at the current jazz scene: The musicians are too slick and averse to risk, and the industry is concentrating on repackaging past glories rather than encouraging innovation.

Both of these concerns apply in some measure to Adam Dorn. He's definitely a jazz guy, a trained bassist/vocalist with plenty of session work under his belt, and his famous old man Joel produced Mingus and hung out with Miles. As Mocean Worker, he has spent the past several years fusing those roots with jungle, house, and trip-hop. Stylish and skillfully executed? Sure. But he seems to have arrived at the party too late -- his jazztronica marriage was a lot more exciting a decade ago.

His new album, Enter the Mowo!, rarely offers new twists on the script. Swingin' tunes like "Chick a Boom Boom Boom" and "Move" recall Us3's Blue Note raids and Lionrock's mod obsession. Elsewhere, moods and grooves well-farmed by the likes of St. Germain, Cinematic Orchestra, and DJs Krush and Cam turn up. Dorn even reanimates the dead for a couple of numbers -- Rahsaan Roland Kirk's flute powers "Shamma Lamma Ding Dong," while Nina Simone's husky voice haunts "Blackbird." Mining the vaults for samples is okay, but drawing from jazz's protean, adventurous spirit to create something fresh and exhilarating would have been a lot better.

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Michael Alan Goldberg