Two of the most memorable albums from the trip-hop and acid jazz era are by cornettist Graham Haynes (Transition) and trumpeter Ben Neill (Goldbug. Dressing for Pleasure preceeded them both. Usually, an adjective like "suave" doesn't sit easily on an ethnomusicologist whose knack for directness is grounded by his sense of beauty; neither does a label like "acid jazz." But this is Hassell's only album to fit its musical moment, following his appearance on the soundtrack of the crime film Trespass. The feel of a fully committed band is especially amazing -- Hassell and drummer Brain work with an army of bassists (six, including Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and enough programmers (three) to field a dot com startup on a coffee break. Hassell's horn flits through a sexy blend of trip-hop's hard drum programs topped with soft, impassive electronic textures like a bird circling over a crowded intersection. Woodwind player Kenny Garrett and guitarist Gregg Arreguin provide thematic voices, too, but melody is rarely enough in this genre. As always, the real fun lies in how these instruments are broken up by the programmers, led by Jamie Muhoberec, a Hassell associate on Trespass and Fascinoma. Their work helps a trumpet melody, suave enough for Herb Alpert, sound like that artist playing through the blades of an electric fan. The sample of Duke Ellington's "Bakliff," laminated into "Destination: Bakliff"'s rhythms, prefigures the jazz covers on Fascinoma. And when that horn moans from between a camera shutter and Leslie Winn's coo-oohing in the sultry "Sex Goddess." Dressing for Pleasure is all that -- an ethnomusicologist suavely dipping into a trip-hop trust fund. Old Morcheeba fans should duck into pawn shops to hunt for a copy.
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AllMusic Review by John Young